Refugees are diverse and often politically active. The case of Sudanese refugees forced into exile by civil conflict illustrates these characteristics. Sudanese belong to various ethnic groups that became highly politicized by conflict. Sudanese identities are also politicized in exile due to competition over resources, memories of victimization, and current circumstances in their countries of origin and asylum.

In the Adjumani district of Uganda, refugees from the Sudanese ethnic groups of Madi and Kuku, which had been good neighbours in Sudan, became hostile to each other due to competition over resources. The Dinka were denied settlement among other refugees due to past grievances. In Cairo, conflicts between the Nuer and Dinka were fuelled by atrocities committed by factions of the armed opposition in southern Sudan. These conflicts led to the dissolution of the inclusive South Sudan Students Association (SOSSA) and the emergence of ‘tribal’ organizations.