Refugee Rights

Ethics, Advocacy, and Africa

David Hollenbach, SJ, Editor

"This is a challenging, illuminating, and ground-breaking collection, representing the best of contemporary Christian ethical endeavor."
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Of the over 33 million refugees and internally displaced people in the world today, a disproportionate percentage are found in Africa. Most have been driven from their homes by armed strife, displacing people into settings that fail to meet standards for even basic human dignity. Protection of the human rights of these people is highly uncertain and unpredictable. Many refugee service agencies agree advocacy on behalf of the displaced is a key aspect of their task. But those working in the field are so pressed by urgent crises that they can rarely analyze the requirements of advocacy systematically. Yet advocacy must go beyond international law to human rights as an ethical standard to prevent displaced people from falling through the cracks of our conflicted world.

Refugee Rights: Ethics, Advocacy, and Africa draws upon David Hollenbach, SJ's work as founder and director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Boston College to provide an analytical framework for vigorous advocacy on behalf of refugees and internally displaced people. Representing both religious and secular perspectives, the contributors are scholars, practitioners, and refugee advocates—all of whom have spent time "on the ground" in Africa. The book begins with the poignant narrative of Abebe Feyissa, an Ethiopian refugee who has spent over fifteen years in a refugee camp from hell. Other chapters identify the social and political conditions integral to the plight of refugees and displaced persons. Topics discussed include the fundamental right to freedom of movement, gender roles and the rights of women, the effects of war, and the importance of reconstruction and reintegration following armed conflict. The book concludes with suggestions of how humanitarian groups and international organizations can help mitigate the problem of forced displacement and enforce the belief that all displaced people have the right to be treated as their human dignity demands.

Refugee Rights offers an important analytical resource for advocates and students of human rights. It will be of particular value to practitioners working in the field.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Human Rights as an Ethical Framework for Advocacy
David Hollenbach

Part I: Displacement as a Human Rights Challenge

1. There is More than One Way of Dying: An Ethiopian Perspective on the Effects of Long-Term Stays in Refugee Camps
Abebe Feyissa, with Rebecca Horn

2. What We Owe to Refugees and IDPs: An Inquiry into the Rights of the Forcibly Displaced
William O'Neill

Part II: Camps, Settlement, and Human Rights

3. The Presence of Burundian Refugees in Western Tanzania: Ethical Responsibilities as a Framework for Advocacy
Joint Commission for Refugees of the Burundi and Tanzania Episcopal Conferences

4. The Right to Freedom of Movement for Refugees in Uganda
Lucy Hovil and Moses Chrispus Okello

5. The Plight of Urban Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya
John Burton Wagacha and John Guiney

6. Protection as Capability Expansion: Practical Ethics for Assisting Urban Refugees

Loren B. Landau

Part III: Gender and The Rights of the Displaced

7. Sexual Violence, Gender Roles, and Displacement
Binaifer Nowrojee

8. Justice, Women's Rights, and Forced Migration
Susan Martin

Part IV: Conflict, Protection, and Return

9. Human Rights, the Use of Force, and Displacement in the Great Lakes Region: Reflections on a Troubling Trend
Khoti Kamanga

10. Internally Displaced People, Sovereignty, and the Responsibility to Protect
David Hollenbach

11. Internally Displaced Persons in Northern Uganda: A Challenge for Peace and Reconciliation
Lam Oryem Cosmas

12. Justice and Peace: Reintegration and Reconciliation of Returning Displaced Persons in Postconflict Situations
Stephen J. Pope

Part V: Ethics and Rights in Practice

13. Key Ethical Issues in the Practices and Policies of Refugee-Serving NGOs and Churches
Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator


"This is a challenging, illuminating, and ground-breaking collection, representing the best of contemporary Christian ethical endeavor."—Theological Studies

"Refugee Rights addresses one of the most crucial issues concerning the plight of Africa since the 1980s. We warmly welcome the effort to explore the refugee issue from different perspectives: theological, ethical, legal, political, economic, and cultural. Such a holistic approach makes this book a seminal study in the attempt to understand our individual and collective responsibility vis-à-vis the refugee problem; and there is no doubt that this book will become a magnum opus for NGOs, activists, and many centers and institutes of peace in Africa."—Paulin Manwelo, SJ, director, Hekima College Institute of Peace Studies & International Relations, Nairobi, Kenya


Lam Oryem Cosmas, Justice and Peace Council (JPC), Gulu, Uganda Abebe Feyissa Demo fled from Ethiopia to Kenya in 1991 and has lived in a refugee camp for the last sixteen years. John Guiney, SJ, Jesuit Refugee Service David Hollenbach, SJ, Center for Human Rights and International Justice, Boston College and Hekima College, Nairobi Rebecca Horn, Jesuit Refugee Service Lucy Hovil, Refugee Law Project, Makerere University The Joint Commission for Refugees, a commission of the Burundi and Tanzania Roman Catholic Episcopal Conferences Khoti Chilomba Kamanga, Centre for the Study of Forced Migration, University of Dar es Salaam and the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration Loren B. Landau, Forced Migration Programme, University of Witwatersrand and the Consortium of Refugees and Migrants in South Africa Susan Martin, Georgetown University and the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration Binaifer Nowrojee, Open Society Initiative for East Africa and Harvard Law School Moses Chrispus Okello, Refugee Law Project, Makerere University William O'Neill, SJ, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and Hekima College, Nairobi Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ, Hekima College, Nairobi Stephen J. Pope, Theology Department, Boston College John Burton Wagacha, Mapendo International, Nairobi

Supplemental Materials


Winner of the 2009 Illustrated Jacket or Cover, Large Nonprofit Publishers Category of the Washington Publishers Book Design and Effectiveness Awards

About the Author

David Hollenbach, SJ, is director of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice and holds the Human Rights and International Justice University Chair at Boston College. He is the author of The Global Face of Public Faith: Politics, Human Rights, and Christian Ethics.

272 pp., 6 x 9

Apr 2008

272 pp., 6 x 9

ISBN: 978-1-58901-202-8
Apr 2008

272 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-58901-405-3
Apr 2008

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