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Darfuri migration from Sudan to Europe: from displacement to despair

Research report

Written by Margie Buchanan-Smith

Research report

Significant numbers of Sudanese, many from Darfur, have made the journey from Sudan to Europe in search of safety and a better life. While there has been significant interest in Sudan as a transit country for migration from Africa to Europe, little attention has been paid to Sudan as a source of migrants and refugees. Yet the Sudanese were the fifth, sixth and seventh largest categories of migrants and refugees arriving in Italy in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively.

This study documents for the first time the experiences of young Darfuris fleeing Sudan for Europe. It aims to deepen understanding of the trends, drivers and causes of migration and displacement from Darfur.

With fieldwork in Darfur, Khartoum, Italy, France, Belgium and the UK, the study follows the entire migrant journey. It takes account of historical patterns of migration and the political and economic context in Sudan and Darfur to understand the causes of migration, the journeys that Darfuris make and their experiences along the journey and at their destination, as well as the many influences on migration strategies and decision-making. The report also explores the impact of migration to Europe on families and communities left behind, and on the wider political economy of Darfur.

This study was jointly led by researchers from SOAS University of London and HPG. The partners in Sudan were CEDEJ-Khartoum, the Faculty of Economic and Social Studies, University of Khartoum and Oxfam Sudan.  It was jointly funded by the EUTF Trust Fund for Africa’s Research and Evidence Facility and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department for Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid, with in kind resources from Oxfam Sudan. 

Susanne Jaspars and Margie Buchanan-Smith