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Diasporas for Peace: Patterns, Trends and Potential of Long-distance Diaspora Involvement in Conflict Settings. Case studies from the Horn of Africa

Periodic Report Summary - DIASPEACE (Diasporas for peace: patterns, trends and potential of long-distance diaspora involvement in conflict settings. case studies from the horn of Africa)

DIASPEACE seeks to generate policy-relevant, evidence-based knowledge on how exiled populations from conflict regions play into the dynamics of conflict and peace in their countries of origin. It focuses on Diaspora networks operating in Europe, with activities in the Horn of Africa. This is a region where decades of violent conflict have resulted in state collapse and the dispersal of two million people. The project involves six partners from Europe and two from the Horn, and conducts field research in both Europe and Africa (see online).

The project consists of five main work packages focusing on development of joint analytical tools and research methodologies (WP1), comparative assessment of transnational Diaspora networks from the Horn and their interfaces with European institutions (WP2), case studies of Diaspora as agents of conflict and peace in the Horn (WP3), interaction between European institutions and Diasporas (WP4), and synthesis and dissemination of the research findings (WP5).

Overall the project has progressed as planned, with only minor changes. WP1 has already been concluded and WP2 and 3 are ongoing, while WP4 has just started.

A kick-off workshop in Brussels was a key event to start WP1. Significant gaps in current research were identified and joint methodological approach discussed. The discussion was subsequently continued, leading to the publication of a key article on multi-sited methodology and a literature review.

Under WP2, a comparative empirical assessment of Diaspora groups originating in the region resulted in a data set of 1 000 Diaspora networks in 7 European countries. The main results of the data and subsequent case studies are summarised in a working paper. Positive interaction between Diaspora communities and other stakeholders in peace building and conflict resolution has been facilitated by an interactive online database of Diaspora organisations (see online). Interaction is also promoted by a series of cooperation seminars, which started in the Netherlands in July 2009.

The case studies reveal the importance of historical interstate ties not only as pull factors of migration, but also in the integration process. The institutional framework and funding mechanisms differ considerably between countries of settlement and have a major impact on the organisational structures and activities of Diaspora organisations. Existing government structures in the country of origin also influence the modes of Diaspora engagement and largely define the access of Diaspora groups to home country. The results show a positive and mutually reinforcing link between transnational engagement and integration: Diaspora organisations and engagements in peace related activities are mostly established and run by those who are well-integrated.

Progress in WP3 has been good despite some political and security problems encountered in the field research regions. New empirical data was collected from Somalia and Ethiopia to complement the data by WP2. WP3 researchers are currently finalising six working papers on Somalia/Somaliland, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, which look at Diaspora engagement in different sectors. One paper was already published in an academic journal.

Comparison of case studies and development of a medium range theoretical perspective on the role of remittances in the dynamics of peace and conflict is done in collaboration with WP2. As the analysis of field data has not been completed yet, the results are tentative. They highlight the need to understand peace-building rather broadly, i.e. inclusive of local development activities at least when they seek to redress existing disparities and secure entitlements to all groups, or to bridge religious, ethnic and clan boundaries.