Making ‘The Process’: Sexual Vulnerability and Burundian Refugee Boys and Young Men’ Strategies for Onward Migration from Nakivale Refugee Settlement in Uganda

Based on ethnographic research among Burundian refugee boys and young men in Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda, the authors explore how boys and young men in the camp, guided by the longing for a better life, aspire for onward migration and develop strategies based on their knowledge of relevant legal frameworks. Given that onward migration under the UNHCR framework is possible for only the most ‘vulnerable’, the authors highlight the negotiation strategies adopted by some boys and young men to support their ‘process’, based on sexual vulnerability related to being in same-sex relationships. Notwithstanding the deprivation and bleak prospects, the authors thus propose to look at the refugee settlement also as a space opening chance for vital transformation. At the same time, the authors point out that the restricting frameworks seeking to foster protection of refugees, may, in an environment hostile to same-sex relations, unintentionally render refugee boys and young men more vulnerable to gendered exploitation.

This article by Yvette Ruzibiza and Lidewyde H Berckmoes was published in Journal of Refugee Studies, 2022;, feac017,

Read the articel (open access).

Author(s) / editor(s)

Yvette Ruzibiza, Lidewyde H. Berckmoes

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Yvette Ruzibiza works for the Department of Anthropology, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam.

Lidewyde Berckmoes is a senior researcher at the ASCL and Associate Professor Regional Conflict in Contemporary Africa at Leiden University.