Individual Submission Summary

Direct link:

Refugee Settlement Patterns and Inter-Group Conflict in Africa

Sat, September 2, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hilton Union Square, Continental Parlor 9


Are areas home to refugee populations more likely to experience conflict, and under what conditions? Previous research has focused on refugees’ effects on the onset of conflict involving formally organized rebel groups and the state, finding mixed results (Salehyan and Gleditsch 2006; Fisk 2014). While insights from the refugee studies literature suggest that the presence of a refugee population can lead to a rise in inter-communal conflict and violence, this has yet to be examined in a large-N analysis.

Camp settlement in particular has been theorized to exacerbate conflict-inducing inter-group tensions in previous work (Duncan 2005; Jacobsen 1997). The key reasons put forward are that camp-settled refugees, in contrast to self-settled refugees, are 1) less likely to interact with locals in a way that facilitates their integration, and 2) are provided with aid and services (e.g. shelter, food, health care, schooling), which locals come to resent. Yet others maintain that self-settlement is more likely to lead to inter-group conflict, based on the argument that self-settled refugees enter into more direct competition with locals for jobs and do more to deplete local resources compared to camp-based refugees (e.g. Kibreab 1989).

Using geo-referenced refugee data (Geo-Refugee) and the Social Conflict Analyis Database (SCAD), this paper investigates the relationship between refugee settlement and violent communal conflict at the sub-national level throughout Africa from 2000 to 2015. It first tests for a relationship between settlement type and intergroup conflict before examining whether this relationship is conditional upon key factors, including the political and economic marginalization of locals in the host state.