This Place Will Become Home: Refugee Repatriation to Ethiopia

In This Review

This Place Will Become Home: Refugee Repatriation to Ethiopia

By Laura C. Hammond
Cornell University Press, 2004
272 pp. $45.00
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Africa's many long-lasting conflicts have created some 15 million refugees. As much as a third of public and private aid to the region goes to providing services to refugee populations, yet there have been remarkably few good analyses of their attitudes and quality of life. In this perceptive book, Hammond focuses on several thousand Ethiopians who were driven by war to a camp in Sudan and then resettled in a different part of Ethiopia, describing how they adapted to their new surroundings and began to forge a new identity while maintaining some of their past attitudes and relying on age-old knowledge to survive in the bleak countryside of Tigray. Her jargon-free analysis suggests that refugees do not succumb to a "culture of dependency" but maintain the ability to adapt and innovate--a useful antidote to some previous accounts. She also lays bare the perplexing tendency of aid to focus resources on refugee camps rather than resettlement; the village she lived in did not receive any support after the first few months, and her interviewees all agreed that life in the camps was easier. Despite such a counterproductive incentive structure, villagers were eager to forge a new life away from the camps, and readers will come away from this book heartened by their resilience and courage.