Researching Refugees and Forced Migration in Eastern and Horn of Africa: Introducing the Issues

  • Johannes Dragsbæk SchmidtEmail author
  • Leah Kimathi
  • Michael Omondi Owiso
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


Refugees, forced migration, and human displacement are growing across the globe, and increasingly a growing body of scholarly literature has tried to capture the most important implications of this disturbing trend. Similarly, studies in Eastern and Horn of Africa have dramatically increased because of the complex and dynamic nature of displacement. While this is the case, researching refugees and forced migration remains challenging as evidenced in historical, political, policy, sociological, and anthropological studies. A systematic categorization of this academic literature focusing on the region is however lacking. This chapter traces the evolution of refugees and forced migration; identifies the issues and trends, the dominant conceptualizations, and policy responses; and uncovers the gaps that form suggestions for future studies.


  1. Agamben, G. (2000). Means without end: Notes on politics. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  2. Betts, A. (2009). Forced migration and global politics. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brankamp, H. (2015). Challenging the ‘refugee-victim’ narrative. Pambazuka News, 2 July. Accessed July 8, 2016, from
  4. Campbell, J. (2018) Conflicting perspectives on the “migrant crisis” in the Horn of Africa. In Menjivar, C., Ruis, M., & Ness, I. (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of migration crises. Oxford University Press. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from
  5. Carter, B., & Rohwerder, B. (2016). Rapid fragility and migration assessment for Ethiopia. Rapid Literature Review. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
  6. Chimni, B. S. (2009). The birth of a ‘discipline’: From refugee to forced migration studies. Journal of Refugee Studies, 22(1), 11–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Colson, E. (2003). Forced migration and the anthropological response. Journal of Refugee Studies, 16(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cooper, C. B. (2012). Refugees and national security: Crossing the threshold of insecurity. In D. Elliot & A. U. Segal (Eds.), Refugees worldwide: Global perspectives (Vol. 1, pp. 172–205). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.Google Scholar
  9. Farah, I., & Otondi, T. S. (2015). Migration and asylum in the Horn of Africa: Causes, factors and possible solutions. Uppsala: Horn of Africa Bulletin, Life & Peace Institute.Google Scholar
  10. Flahaux, M. L., & De Haas, H. (2016). African migration: Trends, patterns, drivers. Comparative Migration Studies, 4(1), 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Frelick, B. (2012). Refugees worldwide: Regional issues. In D. Elliot & A. U. Segal (Eds.), Refugees worldwide: Global perspectives (Vol. 1, pp. 267–297). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.Google Scholar
  12. GSDRC. (2016). Rapid fragility and migration assessment for Eritrea. Rapid Literature Review. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
  13. HAART Report. (2012). The scope of human trafficking in Nairobi and its environs. Nairobi: HAART Report on Survey Findings.Google Scholar
  14. Hathaway, J. C. (2007). Forced migration studies: Could we agree just to ‘date’? Journal of Refugee Studies, 20(3), 349–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Horst, A. M. C., & van Hear, N. (2002). Counting the cost. Refugees, remittances and the ‘war against terrorism’. Forced Migration Review. Oxford: University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  16. Hyndman, J. (2011). A refugee camp conundrum: Geopolitics, liberal democracy, and protracted refugee situations. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 28(2), 7–15.Google Scholar
  17. International Center for Migration and Policy Development. (2008). East Africa migration route initiative gaps & needs analysis project country reports. Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya: ICMPD.Google Scholar
  18. Jacobsen, K., & Landau, L. B. (2003). The dual imperative in refugee research: Some methodological and ethical considerations in social science research on forced migration. Disasters, 27(3), 185–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kunz, E. F. (1981). Exile and resettlement: Refugee theory. The International Migration Review: Refugees Today (Spring–Summer), 15(1/2), 42–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Malkki, L. (1997). Speechless emissaries: Refugees, humanitarianism, and dehistoricization. In K. F. Olwig & K. Hastrup (Eds.), Siting culture: The shifting anthropological object (pp. 377–404). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Martin, I., & Bonfanti, S. (2015). Migration and asylum challenges in Eastern Africa: Mixed migration flows require dual policy approaches. Policy Briefs. Florence: Migration Policy Center.Google Scholar
  22. Mason, E. (1999). Researching refugee and forced migration studies: An introduction to the field and the reference literature. Behavioral and Social Sciences Librarian, 18(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mogire, E. (2013). Victims as security threats: Refugee impact on host state security in Africa. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.Google Scholar
  24. Mogire, E. (2009). Refugee realities: Refugee rights versus state security in Kenya and Tanzania. Transformation, 26(1), 15–29. Retrieved from CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. National Crime Research Centre. (2014). Human trafficking in Kenya. Nairobi: National Crime Research Centre. Accessed July 21, 2016, from
  26. Owens, P. (2009). Reclaiming ‘bare life’? Against Agamben on refugees. Journal of International Relations, 23(4), 567–582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pavanello, S., Elhawary, S., & Pantuliano, S. (2010). Hidden and exposed: Urban refugees in Nairobi, Kenya. Humanitarian Policy Group Working Paper, London: HPC, Overseas Development Institute.Google Scholar
  28. Rutinwa, B. (2002). The end of asylum? The changing nature of refugee policies in Africa. Refugee Survey Quarterly, 21(1/2), 35–64.Google Scholar
  29. Said, E. (1993). After the last sky. Palestinian lives. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
  30. Strachan, A. L. (2016). Rapid fragility and migration assessment for Sudan. Rapid Literature Review. Birmingham: GSDRC, University of Birmingham.Google Scholar
  31. Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). (2013). Cooperation strategy: Horn of Africa 2013-2016: A ‘whole-of-government’ approach (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, North/North Eastern Kenya, Somalia). Bern: SDC.Google Scholar
  32. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (2004). Executive Committee, protracted refugee situations, standing committee, 30th meeting, UN Doc. EC/54/SC/CRP, June 10.Google Scholar
  33. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). (2016). Global trends: Forced displacement in 2015. Geneva: UNHCR.Google Scholar
  34. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2008). UN.GIFT. Human trafficking: An overview. New York: UN.Google Scholar
  35. Veney, C. R. (2007). Forced migration in Eastern Africa: Democratization, structural adjustment and refugees. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. World Bank. (2015). Eastern Africa: Forced displacement and mixed migration in the Horn of Africa. Washington, DC: World Bank Group. Accessed July 8, 2016, from
  37. Zetter, R. (2015). Protection in crisis: Forced migration and protection in a global era. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes Dragsbæk Schmidt
    • 1
    Email author
  • Leah Kimathi
    • 2
  • Michael Omondi Owiso
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceAalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark
  2. 2.Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and TechnologyNairobiKenya
  3. 3.Department of Political ScienceSchool of Development and Strategic Studies, Maseno UniversityMasenoKenya

Personalised recommendations