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Over the past two decades the borderland between Uganda and Sudan has experienced some of the most intense levels of violence and displacement in the world. Coups d’ êtat, civil conflicts and proxy war have forced millions of civilians to flee from their homes to become either refugees or internally displaced people, producing major humanitarian crises that have prompted massive international responses on both sides of the border.

More recently, the achievement of relative peace in both Southern Sudan and Northern Uganda has prompted many displaced people to return tentatively to their homelands and has led to the initial implementation of large-scale post-conflict reconstruction programmes that have the return, rehabilitation and reintegration of displaced people as central objectives.

These cycles of violence, displacement and humanitarian intervention have served to transform this border region into a unique landscape that raises important questions about the relationships between forced migration, citizenship and the state in contemporary Africa. How have violence, displacement and humanitarian intervention interacted to produce specific forms of (un)governable space in the region? How significant a role has the border played in shaping the identities, vulnerabilities and opportunities of displaced people? How have violence and humanitarian intervention shaped the emergence of new political identities, and how have these influenced both the experience of citizenship and the very fabric of state?

What lessons can be learned from the specific approaches to humanitarian intervention that have been mobilised in the region, particularly with regard to the protection of displaced people and their eventual return to the homeland? What particular challenges do returning displaced people face at this time, and what are the implications of return and reintegration for peace-building and the consolidation of the post-conflict state?