Research project on displacement in Africa
The African Union has declared 2019 as the year of the ‘Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons’ on the African continent. On the 50th anniversary of the 1969 refugee convention from the Organisation of African Unity as well as the 10-year anniversary of the 2009 Kampala Convention on internally displaced people, the continent has some of the most sophisticated instruments to deal with displacement, but also some of the most challenges, with roughly 7.4 million refugees and asylum seekers in Africa by the end of 2018. Political decisions from the AU and relevant conventions need to be implemented by individual member states however. Yet, despite the political attention (African) migration has received in recent times, little is still known about how individual African states deal with migration in their own contexts, and how policies are made, unfold and become to be contested.
Empirically, this project seeks to address this research gap, by considering the political stakes and societal discourse related to migration governance in (and across) four cases in Sub-Saharan Africa, namely South Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa. This variation allows for a comparison of receiving and sending nations, different types of conflict sources as well as regional differences.
Theoretically, the research endeavours to bridge migration research with conflict studies. In particular peacebuilding debates adds to our understanding of the political dimension of migration for several reasons. First, like for peacebuilding, migration governance builds on a complex interaction of actors that also highlights the political agency of non-governmental ones. Second, we can use the idea of intervention – both external and internal – as a heuristic tool to further differentiate about the varying political impact that different levels of migration governance can have. Building on this, the project seeks to further consider the different types of stakeholders (including both governmental and non-governmental ones) involved in developing migration governance polices, their role and type of influence. Thus, the project applies a multi-scalar perspective, differentiating between multiple types of agency (external/internal) and actors (governmental/non-governmental).
Methodologically, the research is qualitative and will apply process-tracing, discourse and actor analysis methods. It will involve a mixture of both desk research (South Sudan, Zimbabwe) and fieldwork (Uganda, South Africa), including both interviews and focus groups. Fieldwork was scheduled for 2020 and due to the pandemic has been extended to 2021 and is partially implented digitally.
Though the focus of the project is on the governance of refugees and displaced people, it considers the political relevance of a type of migration journey which is not to be equated with individual form of (im-) mobility, which are likely to take place across different categories. Only by considering the way refugees and other migrants are dealt with together, can we understand how different forms of migration may become politically instrumentalized or played off against each other. For this reason, this project considers displacement amongst other forms of migration (e.g. regular and irregular emigration and immigration).
The project is funded by the German Foundation for Peace Research started in June 2019 and will run to 2022.
More on the project-related study on refugee protection during the COVID-19 pandemic here.
Moyo, Khangelani; Zanker Franzisca (2022) No hope for the ‘foreigners’: The conflation of refugees and migrants in South Africa in: Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies
Moyo, Khangelani; Sebba, Kalyango Ronald; Zanker Franzisca (2021) Who is watching? Refugee protection during a pandemic - responses from Uganda and South Africa, In: Comparative Migration Studies, 9, 37, pp. 1-19
Zanker, Franzisca (2021) African perspectives on migration: Re-centring Southern Africa, In: Migration Studies, June, online first.
Zanker, Franzisca Luise; Moyo, Khangelani (2020), The Corona Virus and Migration Governance in South Africa: Business as Usual? In: Africa Spectrum, 55, 1, pp. 100–112.
Working Papers and Reports:
Segadlo, Nadine; Krause, Ulrike; Zanker, Franzisca; Edler, Hannah (2021). Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees and their protection in Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe. ABI Working Paper 18, Freiburg: ABI.
Segadlo, Nadine; Krause, Ulrike; Zanker, Franzisca; Edler, Hannah (2021): “Everyone was overwhelmed by the fears and the panic of the unknown disease”. Kenyan Refugee Protection and the COVID-19 Pandemic. IMIS Working Paper 10, Institut für Migrationsforschung und Interkulturelle Studien (IMIS) der Universität Osnabrück. Osnabrück: IMIS.
Kuyang Harriet Logo, The Political Stakes of Displacement in South Sudan, February 2021, Freiburg: Arnold-Bergstraesser Institute.
Joyce Takaindisa, The Political Stakes of Displacement and Migration in / from Zimbabwe, January 2021, Freiburg: Arnold-Bergstraesser Institute.
Khangelani Moyo and Franzisca Zanker, Political Contestations within South African Migration Governance, December 2020, Freiburg: Arnold-Bergstraesser Institute.
Op-Eds and Blogs:
Franzisca Zanker Plans for offshoring refugee protection undermine human dignity, African political interests, and international norms, February 2022, Migration Control.
Franzisca Zanker Südafrika: Gestrandet am Kap der guten Hoffnung, July 2021, iz3W (in German)
Franzisca Zanker “Nowhere to be found”: Three Decades of UNHCR in South Africa, March 2021, Völkerrechtsblog
Kalyango Ronald Sebba, Mobility and COVID-19: A case study of Uganda, August 2020, Research and Evidence Facility (REF) EU Trust Fund
Khangelani Moyo and Franzisca Zanker, COVID-19 and Refugees and Asylum Seekers in South Africa, July 2020, Fluchtforschungsblog
Khangelani Moyo and Franzisca Zanker, South Africa’s xenoph bic agenda is impeding its coronavirus response, April 2020, African Arguments
Talks and Media Engagements (selection):
Ulrike Krause, Nadine Segadlo and Franzisca Zanker; Press Release, "Studie: Corona-Pandemie hat weitreichende Folgen für Geflüchtete in afrikanischen Staaten", 20 Dezember 2021, Universität Osnabrück (in German)
Franzisca Zanker, "Refugee hosting as a political instrument: South African and Ugandan perspectives", BICC Brown Bag Lecture, 15th December 2021
Ulrike Krause, Nadine Segadlo and Franzisca Zanker Forschungen zur Situation in afrikanischen Flüchtlingscamps, Interview Deutschlandfunk Kultur, 11 November 2021 (in German)
Ulrike Krause, Nadine Segadlo and Franzisca Zanker "Roundtable: The impact of Covid-19 on refugee protection in Africa," International Association for the Study of Forced Migration, 28th July 2021
Photo: AU Summit February 2019 © GovernmentZA
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected refugees and their protection? To respond to this question, Nadine Segadlo, Ulrike Krause, Franzisca Zanker, Hannah Edler conducted a study using a qualitative questionnaire in six countries in East Africa, Southern Africa and West Africa, namely Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. In this paper, they explore the information provided by the 90 respondents and focus on three main areas.
Franzisca Zanker together with Nadine Segadlo, Ulrike Krause and Hannah Edler published a working paper and find that the corona pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges for refugees, and partly created new ones. Economic issues and the anxiety that accompanies them have intensified due to lockdowns, restricted movements and business closures. Aid was scaled down and funding cuts further complicated conditions.
Franzisca Zanker together with Khangelani Moyo and Kalyango Ronald Sebba published an article on the political responses to refugees from Uganda and South Africa during the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Franzisca Zanker published a review essay on emerging migration literature from Southern African scholars
Within the research project on Displacement in Africa, Kuyang Harriet Logo published a policy brief focussed on how forced displacement has affected South Sudan, in relation to its neighbours.
Within the research project on Displacement in Africa, Joyce Takaindisa published a policy brief focussed on legal frameworks and political contestations of refugee and migration governance in Zimbabwe.
Within their research project on displacement in Africa Franzisca Zanker and Khangelani Moyo published a paper on South African migration governance which has adopted an increasingly securitised approach which also blurs the boundaries between refugees and migrants.
is the title of the published article by Franzisca Zanker and Khangelani Moyo in the journal Africa Spectrum.