The potential for productive collaboration between European relief and development actors, on the one hand, and refugee diasporas from the Horn of Africa, on the other, has been seriously undermined by misunderstandings about the apolitical role diasporas ought to have. This article, which is based on findings from multi-sited research on diasporas from the Horn of Africa in Europe, analyses how current diaspora discourse and practice depoliticises refugee diasporas by demanding that they adhere to the principles of impartiality, neutrality and unity. Instead of seeking to understand diaspora engagement in terms of the so-called migration-development nexus, I argue in favour of focusing on such engagement as a form of civic participation in the country of settlement: engaged European citizens from the Horn of Africa give voice to societal concerns and organise solidarity in their countries of origin. Through their actions, they take an active role in public (foreign) affairs in their countries of settlement.
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