Recent debates on “refugee participation” and the “localisation” of refugee programmes have focused on the potential role of refugee-led organisations. In this article, we explore the engagement of humanitarian actors with South Sudanese refugees in Gambella (western Ethiopia) in order to problematise this focus. There are no formally registered refugee-led organisations in Gambella. Community organisations operating in the region tend to be informal, highly decentralised, networked, transnational, fluid, and under-bureaucratised. They are organisations that strictly hierarchical, centralised, and intensively administered humanitarian agencies find extremely difficult to fathom or work with. We argue that a serious commitment to localisation and participation would require aid actors to explore how they could make their own modes of organisation and operation more relevant to the networked, transnational structures already present in the daily lives of people – even when these challenge the frameworks based on which aid is commonly delivered – rather than encourage the formation of new refugee-led organisations mimicking the priorities and structures of the humanitarian community.