Remittances to Conflict Zones, Phase 2: Sudanese Refugees in Cairo

Refugees and migrants in transit countries like Egypt are linked into wider diaspora networks that help support them, and in turn enable the migrants to support their families and communities back home. In this study we explore the significance of these transnational linkages, particularly remittances, for Sudanese refugees and migrants in Cairo.

Cairo is selected as a case study of a transition, ‘near’ diaspora country and a good example of a transit country representing South-South remittance and migration flows. Cairo is a primary destination of Sudanese migrants and a key refugee host country.

Our three objectives are:

  1. To map the extent of remittance receiving and sending in Cairo’s urban migrant population
  2. To understand the importance of remittances in migrants’ urban livelihoods and whether and how remittances influence migrants’ political involvement in their home regions
  3. To understand the obstacles to remittance sending and receiving and how these obstacles could be addressed by policy or programmatic interventions

The Cairo study is the second phase of a larger study of remittances to Darfur conducted by the center. For this project Feinstein collaborated with the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) at the American University in Cairo (AUC) to explore remittance patterns of different Sudanese groups.

This research builds on earlier remittance research conducted in Darfur, and among Sudanese in Portland, Maine. It also builds on Karen Jacobsen’s earlier research on urban refugees.

Part of our study explores the wider processes (donor and government policies, political and economic trends, actions of civil society) that hinder or help the diaspora in transit countries like Egypt send remittances to their home countries and receive remittances from the far diaspora. The goal is to explore ways in which the humanitarian system or wider international responses (humanitarian, development, and recovery) can enable remittance flows. This to support the livelihoods of the diaspora in transit countries, and also support reconstruction and peace processes in countries of origin (in this case, Sudan). Evidence from Egypt allows comparison with other country case studies, to better understand how to harness and build on the positive developmental aspects of remittances and avoid their negative impact of fostering war.