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ASPIRE: How young South Sudanese refugees endeavour to create peaceful communities

Aspiring for Peace and Inclusion Research (ASPIRE) is a unique project, that follows a generation of young South Sudanese refugees over a period of 15 years, exploring how they perceive and pursue opportunities for peace in their communities.

Seemingly endless periods of violence, conflict and instability in South Sudan have severely impacted the lives of most South Sudanese for generations. Today, the country is facing the largest refugee crisis in Africa and a growing youth population is living in refugee camps and settlements across the East Africa region.

ASPIRE aims at providing new knowledge about how young South Sudanese affected by the civil war(s) in their country over time contributes to peaceful coexistence in their communities, perceive their options and take action towards a more peaceful future. And simultaneously how humanitarian actors are used by - and influence- this progress.

The project is a partnership with UNHCR and implemented alongside their Regional Youth Peacebuilding Project (RYPP) in Uganda and will over time extend to Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan, as well as inside South Sudan, conditions permitting. Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen (UCPH) is partnering on the project and collaborations with local research institutions in the implementation areas will be explored.

This page will continuously be updated with preliminary findings as the research progresses.

Supporting young people on their terms

No other study has ever attempted to capture how young people in multiple countries, displaced by the same armed conflict, over 15 years, engage in peacebuilding and with humanitarian actors.

Mapping these dynamics over decades will offer a better picture of how and where humanitarian actors should focus their efforts in the region. As opposed to most studies, ASPIRE seeks to put young people and their efforts for positive change at the centre of the research, providing much-needed knowledge about how humanitarian actors best can support youths’ own aspirations and efforts, on their terms.

This focus builds on findings from a 5-year PhD project, which demonstrated that many young South Sudanese refugees aspire to - and often succeed in - breaking out of negative patterns of domestic and inter-ethnic violence, while promoting peaceful coexistence in their communities and sometimes organising high level and wide scale initiatives to promote peace in their countries of asylum and even inside South Sudan.

University of Copenhagen
University of Copenhagen
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