The purpose of this thesis is to investigate whether or not there is community formation among Iraqi refugees living in Amman, Jordan and Cairo, Egypt. These two countries were chosen as case studies because they offer an opportunity to analyze how different host country conditions in the Global South have an impact on the process of community formation. While Egypt is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and Jordan is not, access to rights in both countries is similarly restrictive. Furthermore, whereas there has been a long history of forced migration from Iraq to Jordan and Iraqi social networks are already in place, there were very few Iraqis living in Cairo before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Community formation will be studied by examining social support networks, livelihood strategies, articulations of collective identities and community building initiatives of Iraqi refugees. Research for this thesis was conducted over a period of three months, through interviews with 24 Iraqis and 4 focus group discussions with a total of 25 participants. The study finds that Iraqi refugees use a number of different social networks to secure livelihoods, information about resources and resettlement, housing, and other necessities, but that these social networks are primarily family-based. There is no community formation in the form of collective pooling of material resources in host countries; instead, remittances from family members living in Iraq or in third countries are the main source of livelihoods. However, there are some emerging manifestations of a sense of community, including a strong discourse of a collective Iraqi identity and the rejection of sectarian identity, the development of new social relationships among Iraqi refugees living in host countries, and a few community building initiatives established to assist other Iraqi refugees in need. Among those Iraqi refugees who cannot return to Iraq and do not have the opportunity to be resettled in Western countries, community formation in Amman and Cairo will continue to develop as it will become a necessity for survival.


School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Center for Migration and Refugee Studies

Degree Name

MA in Migration & Refugee Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date


First Advisor

Mulki Al-Sharmani

Committee Member 1

Mulki Al-Sharmani

Committee Member 2

Ray Jureidini


151 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License