Type of Culminating Activity

Graduate Student Project

Graduation Date


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies



Major Advisor

Peter Buhler


The purpose of this project is to lay the foundations for the launching of a non-government organization (NGO) focused upon providing marginalized Sudanese women and their children with means whereby to reintegrate into their communities following long-term residence in refugee camps. The guiding premise is that the determination of those needs must arise out of the experiences they have had in the process of their displacement to camps, in the camps themselves, and in the communities to which they have returned. Consequently, this study entails visits to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya and South Sudan, the prospective venues for such an NGO. Research on the evolution of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and its mandates, as well as the historical and political evolution of Sudan, which led to the wars displacing these women is also included. That work and that on Kakuma Refugee Camp includes site visits, consultation of available literature and government documents, interviews with refugees and others both in Africa and the United States. Much information was also drawn from attendance in two sessions of the Rift Valley Institute Courses.

The first chapter of the narrative examines the history of the evolution of the UNHCR, its mandates and their execution in Europe after World War II, as well as the adaptation and application of those mandates as they addressed world-wide refugee crisis from the 1960s onward.

In an effort to relate the Sudanese context of current social, political, religious and economic circumstances, the second chapter addresses the roots of the development of the post-independence conflicts leading to the secession of South Sudan and their aftermath.

The third chapter relates the establishment of Kakuma Refugee Camp, the juncture of UNHCR and Government of Kenya policy, describing the physical facility and the conditions under which refugees now live.

A proposal for the establishment of a program to help women and their host communities in Sudan is offered in the fourth chapter. Also forwarded are two related, alternate proposals, should conditions in South Sudan not allow engagement there.