The MigraTion-inTersTaTe ConfliCT nexus

The MigraTion-inTersTaTe ConfliCT nexus


  • Journal title: Social Affairs
  • ISSN: 2362-0889 (print) 2478-107X (online)
  • Publisher: WUFI
  • Country of publisher: sri lanka
  • Date added to EuroPub: 2018/Jan/23

Subject and more

  • LCC Subject Category: Social Sciences, Economics, History , Law, International Relations, Political Science, Sociology
  • Publisher's keywords: Forced Migration, Inter-State Conflict, Great Lakes Region, Uganda-Tanzania War, Rwanda-DRC Wars
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF


    Sabastiano Rwengabo



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When and how does forced migration strain security relations between neighbouring States? Drawing from secondary research on two interstate conflicts in Africa’s Great Lakes Region during the 1970s and 1990s, I examine the socio-political conditions in both the migrants’ home and recipient States that interweave migrants into both States’ security calculations. I argue that refugees strain neighbouring States’ security relations under conditions of domestic socio-political violence, geographical proximity, and opportunities for refugees’ forced-return mobilisation. Evidence from the 1978-79 Uganda-Tanzania war, and the post-1994 DRC-Rwanda conflict, indicates that given these conditions forced migration strains interstate security relations by arousing suspicion and fear of migrants living in neighbouring States among leaders of refugees’ home country; and provoking migrants’ desire to forcefully return home expressed through politico-military mobilisation and declaration of war. Sending States pressure host States to ‘contain’ refugees’ mobilisation for forceful return. When recipient States are unable or unwilling to satisfy sending States’ demands, refugees become infused in both countries’ security calculations. These convergent processes generate interstate conflicts and may result in armed confrontation. The fndings are useful for grasping the transformation of civil wars into transnational and regional conflicts, such as prevailed in the Region since the 1990s.

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