Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

Harvey Starr


This study examines the effects of conflict and international humanitarian responses on forced migration in Sub-Saharan Africa between 1980 and 2007. In facing violent conflicts, not all people leave their homes. Some people decide to stay. Some people seek a refuge outside their countries while others stay inside their countries. Some displaced people become involved in military actions while others stay in humanitarian camps with the assistance of the international community. In other words, forced migration is not determined by preconditions, but is precipitated by a political process through which forced migrants affect processes and outcomes of forced migration by making decisions about whether to leave, to cross international borders, and/or to become involved in military actions. Forced migrants make decisions, with their constrained freedom of choice, not only based on their expectations of being victimized but also based on their expectations of being assisted by the international community. Multi-methods of a count data analysis, a fractional data analysis, and a comparative case analysis, combined with a game theory approach, are all applied to the investigation of these choices.

Empirical findings are as follows. First, conflict and political violence in a country are dominant factors, but international humanitarian assistance reduces the likelihood that a country that once produced forced migrants will produce additional forced migrants. Second, as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expands its mandates from conventional refugees to include internally displaced persons (IDPs), the ratio of refugees decreases because displaced people find a refuge with the help of UNHCR-involved field operations inside their countries. Third, while international humanitarian assistance and effective protection have contributed to maintaining the humanitarian character of refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya, the access of international humanitarian agencies to IDPs in Darfur, Sudan, has been very limited, which has led to a higher level of camp militarization. Although governments politicize and securitize refugees and IDPs, they can hardly refuse the international humanitarian operations within their territories. From this study, two general lessons can be learned: not all international relations are determined by the principle of reciprocity among sovereign states, and the growing awareness of international norms regarding human rights and human security is important to forced migration and international relations.


© 2011, Young Hoon Song