“It is like the world has forgotten us” : A case study about Liberians living in a protracted refugee situation in Ghana

University essay from Umeå universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Protracted refugee situations are a world-wide problem,yetlittle research isavailable. Despite obvious practical obstacles,it is the individual that must decide whether to return, which is why it is interesting to examine if the choice is deliberate or involuntary. This thesis aims to specifically study why Liberian refugees, who fled from the civil wars in the 1990’s, still livesin the refugee camp Buduburam in Ghana, where they have stayed for more than two decades even though their living conditions are continuing toworsen.To understand their choice of not repatriating, the Rational Choice Theory and Social Identity Theory,which separately describeshow and why individuals make decisions, are being compared. The former claims that people always make choices based on selfish and rational assumptions after considering both positive and negative consequences, and then choose the most profitable option. In contrast, the Social Identity Theory implies that an individual’s decision-making is based on group belonging, norms and surroundings.To further achieve the purpose of the study, the theories are appliedto the empirical materialgathered from semi-structured interviews made with eight refugees that stays in the camp, who individually describestheir situation and reason for not repatriating. Lastly, the analysis discusses whyneither of the theories has a complete explanation forthe problematic situation,although interesting approaches are acknowledged.

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