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Accepted Paper:

The Impact of Forced Displacement on the Social Networks of Support and Livelihoods of Older Refugees in Uganda  


Evelyn Avalos (University of Dundee)

Paper short abstract:

This paper aims to present lived experiences and livelihood strategies of older refugees when intergenerational relations are disrupted due to forced displacement. It explores the generation of unbalanced inter-dependencies in the lives of aged refugees and provides recommendations for action.

Paper long abstract:

Globally UNHCR (2020) indicates the highest levels of forced displacement in human history, positioning Uganda as the fourth largest country hosting refugees worldwide, and with the largest refugee population in sub-Saharan Africa. This research uses a qualitative ethnographic approach and remote methodologies within one refugee settlement in Western Uganda to explore the daily lived experiences and livelihood strategies of older refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

This paper draws on in-depth interviews with aged refugees in a unique context where intergenerational relations and livelihoods are disrupted due to ethnic conflicts in the DRC. The paper unveils different social networks of support and livelihoods strategies that older people and their families implement as refugees in Uganda. The generation of inter-dependencies between aged refugees and humanitarian assistance organisations strongly emerge to cope with their physiological needs in fragile contexts. Similarly, an analysis on the relations between older refugees and family members to cope with emotional and economic burdens is discussed using intergenerationality and intersectionality approaches. Unbalanced inter-dependencies coupled with scarce self-reliance strategies challenge the lives of older refugees, particularly, when humanitarian aid decreases during external shocks, i.e. COVID 19 pandemic.

In conclusion, the paper identifies that a mix of strengthening social networks of support and the creation of self-development opportunities positively impacts on the well-being of aged refugees.


- UNHCR (2020). Mid Year Trends. Available at:

Panel P20a
Ageing and older age: unsettling development assumptions I