How do refugees affect social life in host communities? The case of Congolese refugees in Rwanda

V. Fajth, Ö. Bilgili*, C. Loschmann, M. Siegel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper investigates how social dimensions of life in local communities are affected by the long-term presence of Congolese refugees in Rwanda, paying particular attention to feelings of safety, social networks and trust. To gauge whether increased probability of interaction with refugees reduces cohesion, these outcomes are compared across local households at varying distances from a refugee camp. This paper is based on mixed methods approach including new data originating from a household survey conducted in host communities surrounding three refugee camps, as well as information from focus group discussions. The quantitative analysis shows no statistically significant differences between host communities with the exception of informal social networks, which are higher in communities closer to refugee camps. However, qualitative evidence illustrates how greater (economic) interaction between the two populations helps increase trust between refugees and host communities over time. Moreover, locals argue that economic and social support given to refugees plays a key role in reducing and preventing conflict between the two groups. These findings map the experiences and give voice to host communities’ perspectives on social life in their community
Original languageEnglish
Article number33
Number of pages21
JournalComparative Migration Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019

JEL classifications

  • f22 - International Migration


  • Community integrated approach
  • Congolese refugees
  • Forced migration
  • Impact of migration
  • Refugees
  • Rwanda
  • Social cohesion
  • Social networks
  • Trust

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