BICC: brief 42 “Diasporas and Peace”


In recent years, following the political upheavals in Ethiopia, Somalia and what later became Eritrea, large-scale migration from the Horn of Africa has to a significant extent been conflict-induced. Conflict-generated migration is usually large, rapid and includes entire extended families or communities. It is assumed that these migrant communities tend to be predominantly characterised by the source of their migration or flight which subsequently continues to shape the communities’ identities in their new residence country and serves as a focal point for community mobilisation.

Nonetheless, while diaspora groups or networks originating from the same homeland are frequently referred to as “the diaspora”, it is evident that diasporas are neither homogeneous nor static entities but composed of rather diverse and dynamic groups, factions and ethnic, religious, political, etc. identities. In addition, the social, political and economic framework conditions that influence and shape the perceptions and activities of diaspora groups on different levels are subject to permanent change. Accordingly, the engagement of diasporas in conflict processes has to be analysed by simultaneously assessing both diasporas’ aims and activities and the ensuing framework conditions in the countries of origin, residence and on the transnational level.

Taking up this conceptual approach, the study investigates the context in which diasporas in Europe act and adopt or dispose of certain strategies and objectives. Based on extensive fieldwork, including both qualitative and quantitative data, on Ethiopian and Somali diaspora communities in Europe (Finland, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom) the study describes and analyses diaspora activities and modes of engagement towards peace and stability in the origin country and develops a first typology of factors influencing diaspora engagement.