Coping with Displacement: The Case of Internally Displaced Persons in Jinja, Uganda
Sohne, Sandra I.
- Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Abstract: Even though Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are among the most vulnerable victims of conflict, and constitute arguably the largest at-risk population in the world, the Global IDP Project has noted that research on the numbers and needs of this population is ... read morelimited. In many war-affected countries, IDPs are reduced to the role of silent victims, as they have little opportunity to simply voice their concerns to the authorities. As such, understanding the strategies IDPs have developed to voice their concerns to authorities and integrate into urban communities will allow for a broader understanding of IDP experiences and coping strategies. Drawing on field research conducted in June and July of 2005 in Uganda, the country with the third largest displaced population, this thesis explores how belonging to a social network, neighborhood association, or group enhances the experiences of Acholi IDPs in Jinja, the second-largest city in Uganda. This research explores the hypothesis that IDPs who work in groups and align with internal and external networks, are better able to cope with displacement than IDPs who work alone to pursue individual livelihoods. Those who work in groups and align themselves with networks find employment and gain protection from threats more easily than those working alone. Networks also give members access to assets, services, livelihoods, shelter, and education and promote positive mental health and well-being. Membership in a network or alignment with an association also promotes peaceful co-existence with the indigenous population. Hence, IDPs who align themselves with networks are more successful at integrating into their urban communities than those who work alone. Using the case study of Jinja, Uganda, this research will contribute to our understanding of how urban IDPs respond to crises. This research explores the difference between how IDPs and indigenous populations in urban areas experience poverty. It explores individual agency in making decisions about whether to flee, where to flee to, and how to recreate important social, economic, and cultural aspects of their lives. This research looks at the patterns of displacement to urban areas and the ways in which IDPs access resources through social networks.read less