Maya Moseley


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been facing a displacement crisis since 1994. This study focused on eastern DRC, as it has endured protracted conflict resulting in the forced displacement of millions of people. The majority of internally displaced persons (IDPs) are located in the eastern region of the country, finding refuge with host families and communities. Despite the vast number of IDPs living outside of displacement camps, scholars and practitioners generally focus their attention on camps. The purpose of this research was to examine the experiences of IDPs living in host communities, to shed light on this invisible population. Interviews were conducted with IDPs who had self-settled in the towns of Bukavu and Mudaka in the province of South Kivu. The research explored three aspects of displacement: cause of displacement, flight, and settlement. The thesis found that a high number of IDPs experienced direct violence related to the conflict that forced them to flee. Many brave risks of future attacks to stay near their homes and livelihoods but eventually decide to flee further from the violence, leaving behind their personal resources. Once in a host community, IDPs are faced with the dilemma of securing food and shelter despite having lost their livelihoods and resources during displacement. IDPs demonstrate resilience in developing new livelihoods but are confined by the informal job market in their host communities. The research found that IDPs in Mudaka were able to find employment in the local agriculture sector, similar to their traditional livelihoods; while IDPs in Bukavu were forced to find work in the over-saturated urban environment, most often as porters. In both cases livelihoods only provided enough income to live on a subsistence basis, where choices between food, shelter, and education had to be made. Finally, the research highlighted questions of integration into host communities as well as possibilities of return and reintegration. Participants from Bukavu overwhelmingly wished to return to their homes once their villages become secure enough, where as those in Mudaka had little desire to return to their homes.


Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Degree Name

MA in Migration & Refugee Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

January 2013

First Advisor

Ullah, Akm Ahsan

Committee Member 1

Foster, Erin

Committee Member 2

tarajan, Usha


83 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Refugees -- Congo (Democratic Republic).

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Congo (Democratic Republic) -- History.


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