Refugee Economies: Rethinking Popular Assumptions
Alexander Betts, Louise Bloom, Josiah Kaplan, Naohiko Omata
In the words of UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, we face ‘the most serious refugee crisis for 20 years’. Recent displacement from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, and Somalia has increased the number of refugees in the world to 15.4 million. Significantly, some 10.2 million of these people are in protracted refugee situations. In other words, they have been in limbo for at least 5 years, with an average length of stay in exile of nearly 20 years. Rather than transitioning from emergency relief to long-term reintegration, displaced populations too often get trapped within the system. This report aims to challenge the current model of donor state-led assistance, drawing on ground-breaking new research on the economic life of refugees. By attempting to understand the economic systems of displaced populations, we hope to generate new ideas which can turn humanitarian challenges into sustainable opportunities.