An increase in asylum applications and refugee populations from conflict zones since
the late 1980s has led to considerable public, political and policy concern within the
European Union. Somalia has been one of the top refugee-producing countries in the
world for more than twenty years given the protracted nature of its conflict. Around
245,000 Somali asylum applications have been lodged in Europe since 1990, after
civil war began affecting large parts of country. Estimates of the remaining
population vary, but one World Bank estimate put this at 8.9m in 2008. There were
approximately 1.5m internally displaced persons in 2009, in addition to a total
estimated refugee population of nearly 700,000.
Based upon qualitative research with Somali refugees in two European host
countries – the UK and the Netherlands - this paper explores the micro-level
experiences and ongoing effects of the Somali conflict on their lives in exile.
Challenging predominant macro-level framings of refugees in these settings, it
supports a micro-level analysis of their experiences and lives. It analyses their
ongoing connections with the conflict in Somalia, and reveals how this can affect
aspects of their integration and emotional health while in exile, alongside social
problems such as poverty, drug use and divorce.