Gate of Tears: Migration and Impasse in Yemen and the Horn of Africa


ACLS Fellowship Program


Arab Crossroads Studies


This project examines the lived effects of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Compact on Refugees in an era of gated nations and shrinking humanitarian spaces. Based on ethnographic research in a Yemeni refugee camp in Djibouti between 2016 and 2019, “Gate of Tears” analyzes a complex set of displacements in a geopolitically-sensitive region where encamped Yemeni refugees come into direct daily contact with Ethiopian migrants walking toward Yemen. In this precarious climate, where “Arab” refugees are effectively held captive while “African” migrants are abandoned, the Compact reads less like a global commitment than it does a continuation of Southern captivity and Northern abandonment. This timely case study brings vital refugee voices and historical experiences to bear on academic and practitioner debates on refugee integration, self-reliance, and (im)mobility.