Diaspora engagement in a constricted political space: The case of Ethiopian diaspora organisations in the Netherland

Type Working Paper - ECDPM Discussion Paper
Title Diaspora engagement in a constricted political space: The case of Ethiopian diaspora organisations in the Netherland
Issue 168
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL https://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/307959/DP_168_Diaspora_Engagement_Constricted_Pol​itical_Space_Ethiopian_Diaspora_Netherlands.pdf?sequence=1
This paper examines the implications of a restricted political space in the country of origin for collective
diaspora engagement and participation, taking the case of Ethiopian diaspora in the Netherlands as an
The Ethiopian diaspora in the Netherlands may be characterised as both conflict-generated and regime
condition-generated. Successive authoritarian regimes, political and state violence (Abbink, 1995) and the
war with Eritrea (Sarbo 2009, pp.222/257/) have contributed to the forced migration of a number of
population groups in Ethiopia (Bulcha, 2002). The consequence has been the formation of Ethiopian
diaspora in various countries in Europe (Warnecke, 2010; Bulcha, 1988), North America (Kebede, 2010,
p.8) the Middle East (de Regt, 2012) and other parts of Africa (Gebre, 2007).
Chapter 2 begins by summarising the history of Ethiopian migration and showing how the diaspora in the
Netherlands attempt to engage and participate in the country of origin. Chapter 3 discusses the
characteristics of Ethiopian diaspora organisations in the Netherlands, in terms of types of organisations
and their legal status. Chapter 4 examines the institutional, policy and legislative framework for the
management of migration in Ethiopia and its implications for diaspora return and engagement. Chapter 5
analyses the political opportunity structures in the Netherlands that facilitate Ethiopian diaspora
engagement. Chapter 6 examines the implications of EU policies for diaspora organisations in EU member
states. Chapter 7 discusses the challenges faced by Ethiopian diaspora organisations in undertaking
transnational engagement. The paper concludes by exploring the opportunities for effective engagement
strategies. It presents a number of recommendations for EU member states in terms of scaling up their
policies on diaspora engagement in Ethiopia in the prevailing political environment.
The data for this paper are based on field study and interviews conducted in the Netherlands and various
regions in Ethiopia where Dutch-based Ethiopian diaspora organisations have performed community
development activities. Additional data and the analytical framework are taken from a PhD research
project, i.e. a study of the evolution of Ghanaian diaspora organisations and their contribution to
development in the Netherlands and the country of origin (Ong’ayo, forthcoming, and Ong’ayo 2014).

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