, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 99–106 | Cite as

The agonies of displacement: Ethiopian women refugees in Khartoum, Sudan

  • Kebbede Girma 


For the overwhelming majority of the Ethiopian refugees in urban Sudan, there seems to be no end to their plight. Their lives are in limbo. When they left their homeland most thought thei exile would be temporary. They sought temporary refuge only until the conditions at home improved and they might return in safety. Unfortunately, the conditions for their repatriation have never developed. Armed conflicts in Ethiopia still continue to rage unabated. the regime in power also continues to abuse fundamental human rights.

Many of the refugees also thought they would have peace and security and, perhaps, a decent livelihood in their asylum home. These have not materialized either. The Sudan, faced with numerous problems, including civil war, drought, famine, huge external debt (in excess of $12 billion), open unemployment, and pervasive underemployment, is not even able to cope adequately with the basic needs of its own citizens, let along that of a refugee population of over a million. Worse, refugees are blamed for every problem from bread and water shortages to skyrocketing rents and have become convenient targets for harassment by the frustrated public.

Others hoped for resettlement in another country. However, for the vast majority of refugees, resettlement opportunities elsewhere are virtually impossible to attin. The industrial countried are unwilling to grant asylum to large numbers of Third World refugees. These countries content that most Third World refugees are not victims of political persecution but simply migrants in search of better economoc opportunities. The few refugees to whom these countries are willing to grant asylum are those with the best qualifications: the young, the educated, and the highly skilled.

As long as the current status quo in Ethiopia remains unaltered, voluntary repatriation is highly unlikelt. On the contrary, one sees more and more evidence in the country of continued uprooting of masses of people from their homes and land. It is sad that, goven the immense contradictions in the country, the possibility of negotiated solutions to the wars and a return to democracy is nowhere in sight. The plight of hundred of thousands of innocent women and men will not be solved anytime in the immediate future of them to return home in safety, peace, and dignity. For most of these refugees the future is uncertain, probably unpleasant, possibly bleak.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kebbede Girma 
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyMount Holyoke CollegeSouth HadleyUSA

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