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International Migration Institute researchers have returned to Oxford after a recent workshop in Kampala, Uganda to work with project partners to initiate the next phase of the Mobility in the African Great Lakes project

The Mobility in the African Great Lakes project is funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Global Migration and Human Mobility programme to examine the movement of people from the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The region is best known for the conflict and violence that has plagued it for decades, creating thousands of refugees. However, even in the midst of war, other factors affect patterns of mobility – people move in search of education or marriage, while bereavement and divorce can push people in new directions, and as the cities grow they attract ever more migrants from across the region. This project aims to understand these underlying everyday social processes that shape people’s mobility in the Great Lakes and how they interact with the conflict in the region.

The project workshop in April brought together all of the project partners: from Uganda – the Refugee Law Project, Makere University and the International Refugee Rights Initiative; from Kenya – the Peace and Reconciliation Centre, Moi University; and, from DR Congo – the Faculty of Social, Political and Administrative Sciences, University of Lubumbashi. The two day workshop enabled the teams to discuss the project in great detail, plan fieldwork and agree principals for sharing data. IMI co-director Oliver Bakewell said that ‘it was an excellent opportunity for the teams to meet each other, exchange experiences and establish strong working relationships.’

This workshop moves the project forward into the next major phase – gathering data. Over the next five to six months, the teams will be undertaking short surveys and biographical interviews with Congolese migrants in Kampala, Eldoret, and Lubumbashi (where internal migrants from the eastern DR Congo will be interviewed). In addition, the project teams will interview some key informants such as leaders of the Congolese communities and local authorities.

As part of the project, we will also be employing visual methods, including still photography and video – the expert team at the Refugee Law Project will work on a short film to capture the key findings from the research.