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The Role of Social Networks in Maintaining Livelihoods among African Migrant Refugees in Durban, South Africa

Beatrice Samson Umubyeyi and Oliver Mtapuri

Published: 2024/06/01


Globally, migrants and refugees face numerous socio-economic and institutional challenges in their host cities, and some countries deter their participation in the labor market. Therefore, when migrants and refugees are faced with harsh and exclusionary policies in host countries, they rely on their social networks for their livelihoods. Informed by sustainable livelihoods theory (SLT), the study focuses on the forms of livelihood undertaken by African refugees in South Africa and the role of social networks in maintaining these livelihoods. Participants aged 18 and above were drawn from community groups of migrants from three African origin countries, DR Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi, living in the inner city of Durban. Face-to-face interviews were used for data collection. The study found that almost all participants worked in the informal sector. It also showed that social networks and social ties among these African refugees played critical roles in their self-employment and other aspects of life. Keywords: Social networks, Livelihood, African migrant, Refugees, Durban, South Africa

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