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The United Nations University (UNU) is the academic arm of the United Nations (UN). It bridges the academic world and the UN system. Its goal is to develop sustainable solutions for current and future problems of humankind in all aspects of life. Through a problem-oriented and interdisciplinary approach it aims at applied research and education on a global scale. UNU was founded in 1973 and is an autonomous organ of the UN General Assembly. The University comprises headquarters Tokyo, Japan, and more than a dozen Institutes and Programmes worldwide.


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Human Mobility in the Horn of Africa

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has observed that environmental considerations are increasingly affecting the movement of refugees in the Horn of Africa. According to available qualitative and quantitative information ( IPCC 2007) , this region – in which many people of concern to UNCHR are located – is one of the areas projected to be most negatively affected by climate change. Environmental change in the Horn of Africa today includes prolonged droughts, desertification, flash floods and land degradation, all of which may be exacerbated by climate change in the medium and long term.

Time Span

The project started in November 2010 and will continue through the summer of 2011.

Key Goals

  • To review relevant literature on environmental change and conflict and extract key findings. Much environmental science, social science and locally-focused ethnographic research has been conducted on this

  • To assess whether the reality for people of concern to UNHCR in the Horn of Africa supports the findings in the literature about the links between environmental change and conflict in the literature

  • To determine, based on observations and narratives in field locations, what relative weight can be placed on environmental factors as a contributor to human mobility.

Working Methods

The locations of the site visits – Uganda and Ethiopia - have been selected due to recognition by UNHCR that environmental factors are playing an increasing role in the movement of refugees in the Horn of Africa. Interviews were held in refugee camps with refugees from Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda as well as with Internally Displaced People (IDPs) from Uganda and Ethiopia.

Partner Organization


Funded by



  • Dr Koko Warner

  • Tel.: + 49-228-815-0226

  • Fax: + 49-228-422-855-99

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