Refugee Economies: Rethinking Popular Assumptions

Examining the true nature of refugee communities

Published on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2014, Refugee Economies: Rethinking Popular Assumptions aims to challenge the current model of donor state-led assistance, drawing on ground-breaking new research on the economic life of refugees in Uganda. By attempting to understand the economic systems of displaced populations, it hopes to generate new ideas which can turn current humanitarian challenges into sustainable opportunities.

The research findings are organized around five popular myths:

  1. that refugees are economically isolated;
  2. that they are a burden on host states;
  3. that they are economically homogeneous;
  4. that they are technologically illiterate;
  5. that they are dependent on humanitarian assistance.

In each case, we show that the data challenges or fundamentally nuances each of those ideas. It shows a refugee community that is nationally and transnationally integrated, contributes in positive ways to the national economy, is economically diverse, uses and creates technology, and is far from uniformly dependent on international assistance.

About this Publication

By Betts, A., Bloom, L., Kaplan, L., and Omata, N.