The international community and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today operate with three ‘durable solutions’ to solve the so-called international refugee problem. Through these solutions, the refugees are assisted to enter under the legal protection either of the home country (repatriation), the country of first asylum (naturalisation) or a third country (resettlement). For many refugees in Africa none of these solutions are in immediate sight, and a large number of refugee populations see their exile as ever more protracted.
One alternative that has been suggested for the solution of the refugee problem during the last couple of years is transnationalism. Through the option of transnationalism, members of refugee families settle at several localities in two or more countries, maintaining cross-border activities. This thesis sets out to shed light upon and problematise transnationalism as a durable solution to the ‘refugee problem’.
First, the thesis shows that some refugees make use of transnational strategies as a means to minimize risk by maintaining contact with networks in area of origin and exile simultaneously. Secondly, it questions the effectiveness of resettlement programmes to third-countries, by arguing that the remaining refugees' aspiration to integrate locally or to repatriate to the country of origin consequently decreases.
Furthermore, the thesis shows that transnational activities and aspirations can be subject to deep disagreements among the refugees; both leading to the under- and over-communicating of the refugee label as well as contributing in the formation of refugee identity and shaping social interaction.
The empirical material is drawn from four months of fieldwork in a Mauritanian refugee settlement in the border town of Dagana, Northern Senegal. The thirteen refugees that took part in the investigation are all young men.