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Publication Details

Amisi, B Baruti  (2006) Social Capital, Social Networks, and Refugee Migration: An Exploration of the Livelihood Strategies of Durban Congolese Refugees. Centre for Civil Society : 1-48.

This study investigates Congolese refugees’ economic activities in the Durban in order to understand why some refugees adapt and integrate in the local economy whereas others fail and migrate to refugee camps outside South Africa.

I use the concept of social exclusion to understand refugee action, and highlight the importance of social networks as a form social capital among refugees.

Quantitative data revealed that Congolese refugees are skilled and very heterogeneous.

They survive from a wide range of economic activities in both the informal and the formal economy. Income also comes from important flows of money between Durban and other South African Cities, and between South Africa and other countries including the DRC.

Qualitative data revealed that social networks are the key to livelihood strategies. Yet, these social networks may be positive or negative. Social exclusion, exploitation and xenophobia are the main problems which Congolese refugees face on daily basis. However, xenophobia is a result of perceived or real competition over scarce resources.

Mistrust is, for numerous reasons, the Achilles heel of this community and represents a permanent threat to sustainable livelihoods of this community. The proliferation of small churches, ethnical political parties and self-help projects is symptomatic of this fragmentation.

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