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Causes and consequences of Darfuri migration to Europe

Time (GMT +01) 13:30 15:00


Christina Bennett @cr_bennett - Head, Humanitarian Policy Group, ODI


Margie Buchanan-Smith - Senior Research Associate, ODI

Susanne Jaspars - Research Associate, SOAS

Dame Rosalind Marsden - Former EU Special Representative for Sudan and Associate Fellow, Africa Programme, Chatham House

Zuhair Bashar - Independent researcher,  Sudanese refugee and community leader 



Significant numbers of Sudanese have made the journey from Sudan to Europe in search of safety and a better life. Many hail from Darfur. While there has been significant interest in Sudan as a transit country for migration from Africa to Europe, the fact that Sudan is also a source of migrants and refugees has received much less attention.

This event launches a joint study by the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG, at ODI) and the Research and Evidence Facility on Migration in the Horn of Africa (EUTF-REF, led by SOAS). It fills a major gap in knowledge and understanding about the causes and consequences of Darfuri migration to Europe.

For many young Darfuris, attack, arrest and harassment are primary reasons for leaving Sudan. Violence remains common amid a conflict now in its fifteenth year and is the major cause of displacement for those migrating to Europe. This has implications for asylum claims, as well as for how European governments engage with the government of Sudan. Darfuris are also among the most vulnerable migrants travelling from Africa to Europe, subject to exploitation and abduction in Libya, and often on the street and subjected to further violence in Europe.

The panel discuss key findings of the study and the implications for migration and asylum policies.


Margie Buchanan-Smith is a Senior Research Associate at ODI who has been involved in the humanitarian aid sector for over 20 years. Her current focus is Sudan, especially Darfur, where she first worked in the late 1980s, specialising in policy and practice, livelihoods and evaluations. She is also currently a Visiting Fellow at the Feinstein International Center team at Tufts University.

Susanne Jaspars is a Research Associate at SOAS. She has 30 years’ experience of research and operational work in the social and political aspects of food security, livelihoods and aid in situations of humanitarian crisis. She recently completed a PhD at Bristol University examining the history and politics of food aid in Sudan. Susanne first worked in Darfur in 1989 and continued her engagement ever since.   

Dame Rosalind Marsden is an Associate Fellow at Chatham House and from 2010 to 2013 was the EU Special Representative for Sudan. Before joining the EU, Dame Marsden had a long career in the British diplomatic service, including postings as Consul-General in Basra, British Ambassador to Sudan and British Ambassador to Afghanistan.

Zuhair Bashar is currently an independent researcher  with over 20 years of work experience in conflict resolution/management, sustainable development, humanitarian, political, civil affairs and private sector, mainly in Africa and the Middle East. Zuhair is a refugee from Sudan and a leader of the Sudanese community and refugee community in Bradford. 

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