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Back | Programme Area: Promoting a Holistic and Multidisciplinary Approach to Social Development

The Flight, Exile and Return of Chadian Refugees: A Case Study with a Special Focus on Women

Volume prepared by Carol Watson.

One of the least developed countries, Chad has gone through the horror of an endless cycle of civil wars: between 1965 and 1992, there were 10 waves of refugees fleeing the country and at least 8 waves of returnees. These events have resulted in dramatic loss of life, collapse of social networks, threats to people’s livelihood and destruction of a great deal of the physical infrastructure of the country. This book, based upon original data collected through questionnaires and interviews, sheds invaluable light on the experiences of women refugees in exile and after their return to Chad. The personal testimonies of farmers, pastoralists, mothers, widows and wives tell vivid stories of struggle, suffering, trauma and despair — and also of courage and hope.

The book argues that, when it comes to real day-to-day problems, it does not make sense to make distinctions between refugees and internally displaced persons or between refugees fleeing from civil war, drought or environmental disaster. Women and children constitute more than 80 per cent of the world’s refugees; yet projects for resettlement, employment and income generation continue for the most part to be male-oriented. The volume brings out the wide diversity in social and economic conditions in different parts of the country. Uniform programmes and projects insensitive to these differences are thus doomed to failure.

One of the interesting points made in the pages that follow relates to changes in attitudes, values, relations and skills brought about by refugees’ experiences in exile. For women refugees, this is manifested in an erosion of cultural taboos and social stigma, a new-found freedom in the face of male incapacity, new patterns of gender division of labour, opportunities for learning new occupations, a sense of greater independence, and recognition and forging of new social networks. On return to their regions, many women are forced to conform to traditional social and economic patterns, but the experience in exile often opens up liberating and challenging avenues. There is much in this book of interest to scholars of refugee studies and to the policy makers, aid agencies and NGOs involved in settlement and integration of returning refugees

Contents: Introduction – The Chadian Setting: Underdevelopment, Social Upheaval and Uprootedness - Flight and Exile: The Refugee Experience – Coming Home: Risking the Return - Picking up the Pieces: Processes of Resettlement - General Conclusions
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 1 Jan 1996
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISBN: 92 9085 017 5
    Type: Paperback
    From: UNRISD