The UNHCR Handbook on Voluntary Repatriations, as well as Executive Committee Conclusions, highlights the importance of adequate information upon evaluating repatriation. Nonetheless, few studies have concentrated on how refugees collect and evaluate available information regarding conditions in country of origin, and whether the accessible information is adequate to make an informed decision on repatriation.

This thesis analyses how southern Sudanese refugees in Cairo collect, evaluate, and use information about conditions in Sudan when they evaluate the possibilities of a return to Sudan. Five sources of information are available to the refugee community: the general Sudanese community in Cairo, including newcomers and traders; Sudanese kin and friends in other countries, including resettlement countries and Sudan; refugee agencies in Cairo, such as UNHCR and NGOs; the media; and finally, the office of the SPLA/M. The refugees choose to rely on some information sources while others are left unexploited. The refugees assessment and choice of information sources is closely linked to the notion of trust. The media and UNHCR are not considered trustworthy sources by the Sudanese refugees and are consequently not used, or in some cases, used only as support material. Informal and personal sources, such as the general refugee community in Cairo, as well as kin and friends in Sudan and resettlement countries, were viewed as trustworthy and useful. However, the communication with kin and friends in Sudan is unstable, as communication with the southern part of Sudan is difficult. Thus, the Sudanese refugees receive more news from the general Sudanese community in Cairo. However, this information is to a large extent misinformation and based on unsupported gossip. The lack of sufficient information being provided to the refugees from refugee agencies and other bodies who have the ability to provide refugees with needed news, have led to an increase in rumour-spreading among the refugees community. The source of information which was considered most favourable to the Sudanese refugees, due to its accessibility and perceived trustworthiness, is the SFLA/M office. Thus, the Sudanese refugees receive most of their information concerning conditions in Sudan from a highly political non-governmental movement and rumours from the general refugee community.

This thesis argues that the information available to southern Sudanese in Cairo is not adequate for them to make an informed decision on repatriation. The consequences of such an information gap can lead to a prolonged stay in exile and hence a delay in voluntary repatriation.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Date of Award

Spring 6-1-2005

Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Kevin Dwyer

Committee Member 1

Fateh Azzam

Committee Member 2

Barbara Harrell-Bond

Document Type



141 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Refugees, Sudanese

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2



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Call Number

Thesis 2005/9