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Contributors or competitors? Complexity and variability of refugees’ economic ‘impacts’ within a Kenyan host community

Naohiko Omata

Abstract

Drawing upon in-depth qualitative research with refugees and host populations in Kenya, this article offers a diverging viewpoint towards refugees’ economic impacts within a hosting area and sheds light on the complexity and variability of such impacts perceived by different members of a host community. Due to the unprecedented numbers of refugees worldwide, assessing the impacts of hosting refugees is currently a ‘hot topic’ in the international community. However, the primary complication for studies that attempt to measure economic impacts are the complex patterns of economic interactions that refugees have with host communities. This means that refugees’ economic impacts may be viewed, experienced and distributed unequally amongst the members of receiving society. Through a case-study in Nairobi’s outskirts, this article demonstrates different patterns of engagement between refugees and the local population in the context of a labour market, and reveals contrasting views towards refugees’ economic impacts within the host community.

Keywords

Kenya; economic impact; host community; refugees

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