Although political and academic attention given to African migration is increasing, the political dimensions in which individual African states manage migration in their respective contexts remain largely unexplored. The principal objective of this research project was to respond empirically to this research gap by examining the political interests and social discourses that affect refugee projection and migration governance in South Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. The research included fieldwork with 13 focus groups and 65 interviews in South Africa, Uganda and digitally between 2020-2021. The research project led to four main research outputs contributing to the field of forced migration research more broadly. Firstly, the research showed how both domestic and international interests are relevant for states when considering how they deal with refugees and migrants, with the former especially often overlooked in studies with a Global South focus. Secondly, the research found that a conceptual merging of refugees and migrants might be in the interest of dismantling the rights of all non-citizens. Thirdly, the research has also shown how non-governmental actors belong to the spectrum of political actors engaged in migration and refugee governance. Finally, the research took on the impact of the global pandemic, addressing the question of how COVID-19 has affected refugee protection.