Resettlement or resentment? Expectations and experiences of resettlement of Somali and Sudanese refugees living in New Zealand who have come from refugee camps in Kenya.
Marete, Julius Muriungi
Thesis DisciplineSocial Work
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Today the world has over 42 million refugees and displaced people. Of these, Africa has approximately 7.5 million refugees, most from the Horn of Africa, and 21 million internally displaced people. Historical injustices stemming from colonialism, as well as other political and socio-economic factors, have contributed to continuous conflict between communities in Africa. In particular, political turmoil in Somalia and the civil wars in Sudan have led to a refugee influx into refugee camps in Kenya. The Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps host about 360,000 refugees mainly from these two countries. Kenya, like many other countries to which refugees flee, lacks adequate resources to cater for such a large number of refugees. For this reason, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has embarked on a resettlement program to relocate some refugees into western countries, including New Zealand. New Zealand is a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention and 1967 protocol relating to the status of refugee protection and hosts 750 refugees annually; some from refugee camps in Kenya. This study focuses on Sudanese and Somali refugee migrants in New Zealand who have been resettled from refugee camps from Kenya. It examines the expectations and experiences of these refugees in the camps in Kenya, how these impact their resettlement in New Zealand, and the policies which the two countries have in place to address their issues. Somali and Sudanese refugees in the process of being resettled in New Zealand, as well as agencies working in the Dadaab Camps in Kenya, were interviewed in eight in-depth interviews and two focus group discussions. Data were also gathered in New Zealand in eight semi-structured in-depth interviews and two focus group discussions. The findings indicate that refugees are persecuted and tortured during their flights to the camps. In the camps they face insecurity, rape, and structural oppression. They lack basic necessities such as food, clean water, and sanitation, and live in overcrowded makeshift homes with no educational or health services. In contrast to what is actually presented, refugees generally have very high expectations of a successful life in resettlement contexts. Upon resettlement in New Zealand, Somali and Sudanese refugees report feeling secure and enjoying access to better education, health and social services. They also, however, face challenges ranging from culture shock, different climatic conditions, language barriers, discrimination and racism. The findings further show that pre-arrival expectations and experiences of Somali and Sudanese refugees affect their subsequent behaviour, well-being, and health, which in turn impacts positively or negatively their efforts to integrate into their new communities in New Zealand. Appropriate human-services responses that could help to resolve some of the resettlement challenges faced by refugees are identified. Substantive policies, both in Kenya and in New Zealand, to address inequalities between refugees and host populations are recommended, and refugee issues that require further research are suggested.