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How do seemingly liberal refugee policies sometimes emerge from illiberal politics? In the Refugee History blog this week, Alexander Betts charts the origins of Uganda’s widely-praised ‘self-reliance’ policy.

The Ugandan model is celebrated because self-reliance is assumed to offer an alternative to refugee camps and to support opportunities for refugees to be independent of aid. But the complex and sometimes ambivalent politics and historical contingencies that underpin self-reliance have received less scrutiny.

Though they are often represented as novel, Uganda’s refugee policies show significant continuity since the country’s independence in 1962, and even before. So do the politics that underlie them - and often, there was nothing liberal about the politics. Betts’ post explores these illiberal politics, especially in and around the years of Idi Amin.

Read it here: ‘The political history of Uganda’s refugee policies

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