The article is based on findings of a research study on the impact of spontaneously settled Eritrean refugees on the town of Kassala and its surrounding area, which are constituent parts of the border region in eastern Sudan. The main conclusion is that the congeniality of the hosting area determines the survival strategies of self-settled refugees. Needless to say, in the Kassala region, region-specific factors have mitigated the socio-economic and socio-cultural burden of refugees. In the light of the study's findings, the alleged helplessness of the refugee is considered a myth. It is recommended that the Sudanese Government designate distinct regions – such as Kassala region – for the settlement of refugees. The prevalent policy of the Sudanese Government, and also of UNHCR, to invest most of the funds for the accommodation of refugees in planned settlements, is questioned.