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Refugee EconomiesForced Displacement and Development$
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Alexander Betts, Louise Bloom, Josiah Kaplan, and Naohiko Omata

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795681

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198795681.001.0001

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Urban areas

Urban areas

(p.86) 5 Urban areas
Refugee Economies

Alexander Betts

Louise Bloom

Josiah Kaplan

Josiah Naohiko

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores urban refugee economies through the case of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. It first describes the lives and settlement patterns of communities across the city, then explains the governance framework regulating refugees’ economic lives in Kampala, where, despite some harassment by municipal authorities, refugees have the greatest economic freedoms out of all the sites selected. It shows how even urban refugees are in a distinctive institutional position, since they lie between formal and informal sectors and national and transnational opportunity structures. Different communities respond to these opportunities and constraints in distinctive ways. Alongside quantitative data, examples of the Congolese bitenge trade, Rwandan dairy industry, and Oromo FOREX businesses illustrate how refugees engage in arbitrage based on their transnational connections. Nationality also influences opportunity structures, thus Somali communities enjoy exceptional access to remittances, whereas Rwandans face constant regulatory scrutiny due to close ties between the Ugandan and Rwandan governments.

Keywords:   Kampala, urban refugees, Uganda, Owino market, Somali refugees, Congolese refugees, Rwandan refugees

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