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Market stalls and an auto rickshaw © RSC/Raphael Bradenbrink
Old market in Bokolmanyo camp, Dollo Ado

We are delighted to announce a new three-year funding agreement with the IKEA Foundation to continue the research of the Refugee Economies Programme at the Refugee Studies Centre (RSC). This new agreement, which provides £1.54 million, builds upon previous funding from the Foundation that enabled the Programme to undertake pioneering work on the economic lives of refugees.

The new funding will cover a series of research and related activities for the period 2021–24 that build on the Programme’s previous research on the socio-economic inclusion of refugees, based on participatory research methods. These activities focus on refugees in camps and cities in East Africa. In this region – as in other parts of the world – refugees face major challenges to economic participation, for example, due to legal barriers, the remoteness of refugee camps, and a lack of job or business opportunities.

The new grant will support four new areas of work, highlighted by the Programme’s previous research: Borders, mobility, and livelihoods; Shocks, vulnerability, and livelihoods; The politics of socio-economic rights; and a new Refugee-Led Research Hub (RLRH) hosted at the British Institute in Eastern Africa in Nairobi, which will provide training, mentorship, and support to aspiring refugee researchers.

Collectively, these activities aim to produce original and impactful research, which will be shared with policy-makers, practitioners, and the general public, and help build the capacity of refugees to participate meaningfully in research. The ultimate aim is to influence international and national humanitarian policy and practice for the longer-term benefit of refugees globally.

Professor Alexander Betts, who leads the Refugee Economies Programme, said: “Thanks to the IKEA Foundation, we will continue to undertake impactful research that supports the economic inclusion of refugees. This grant enables us to explore a range of emerging and policy-relevant themes, and to build the new Refugee-Led Research Hub in Nairobi, which will support refugees to participate in and lead research.”

Annemieke de Jong, Head of Portfolio, Refugee Livelihoods, at the IKEA Foundation, said: “The Refugee Studies Centre’s innovative research will help develop practical solutions to empower refugees, in both camps and cities, to become self-sufficient. This will enable them to afford a better life for themselves and provide a brighter future for their children.”


Tamsin Kelk, Communications Officer, Refugee Studies Centre, + 44 (0)1865 281707,

Professor Alexander Betts, Refugee Studies Centre, +44 (0)1865 281727,

Notes for editors

About the IKEA Foundation

The IKEA Foundation is funded by INGKA Foundation, owner of the Ingka Group of companies. The IKEA Foundation is independent from the retail business with a sole focus on creating brighter lives on a liveable planet through philanthropy and grantmaking.

About the Refugee Studies Centre

The Refugee Studies Centre was founded in 1982 to engage in research, teaching, and outreach relating to all aspects of forced migration. An integral part of the Oxford Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, it has won an international reputation as the foremost institution for research and teaching on forced migration and refugee studies, with regional expertise covering Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Australasia. The Centre runs a prestigious Master’s degree in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies and an annual International Summer School on Forced Migration.

About the Refugee Economies Programme

The Refugee Economies Programme was created in 2016. It built upon previous research carried out by the RSC, including through a pilot study on the economic lives of refugees in Uganda carried out between 2013 and 2016. Its aim is to develop a programme of research on the socio-economic inclusion of refugees that is original and impactful, relevant to policy and practice, and is based on participatory research methods. During the first phase of research, it focused on creating the wide-ranging Refugee Economies Dataset, and using it to explore a series of questions including explaining variation in welfare outcomes, social cohesion, and mobility choices. The Dataset, with over 16,000 respondents, is pioneering in being multi-country, including both refugees and the host community, and covering cities and camps.