Youth transitions in protracted crises: conceptualising the ‘rupture’ of refugees’ pathways to adulthood in Uganda and Jordan

Lorraine van Blerk, Wayne Shand, Laura Prazeres, Badru Bukenya, Aida Essaid, Janine Hunter, Rawan Ibrahim, Rogers Kasirye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Youth displaced from home by war, civil conflict, and poverty face a difficult transition into adulthood. Their ability to access education, employment, and social adulthood is often disrupted, restricted, and delayed. Yet, despite youth making up a large percentage of refugees in Africa and the Middle East, their specific circumstances are rarely considered. While international humanitarian and development programming aims to respond to the disrupted lives of youth affected by prolonged displacement, little is known about how these conditions affect transitions as youth struggle to create adult lives in contexts of multiple and competing survival pressures. This paper conceptualises youth transitions to adulthood for young refugees growing up in situations of protracted crisis, suggesting that major global challenges such as conflict not only delay, modify, or disrupt certain life events but in fact can have a rupturing effect on young people's capabilities and aspirations for the future. The paper draws on research with over 500 10–24-year-olds growing up as refugees in Uganda and Jordan, from five different national groups and located in camp and urban settings. Analysis of their in-depth experiences highlights that current thinking around youth transitions has not yet accounted for the ruptures they experience, located outside of their home countries for extended periods of time. This "rupture," as an accumulation of the effects of displacement itself, the extended temporality of displacement, and the life course phase affected, more fundamentally impacts on the key phase for creating adult lives than has previously been understood.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Early online date18 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2021


  • Jordan
  • Uganda
  • protracted crisis
  • refugees
  • transitions
  • youth

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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