With most refugees now living in urban areas, governments, nongovernmental organisations and relief agencies must find new ways to help this vulnerable population secure stable livelihoods. ‘Refugee economies’ — the economy created by urban refugees through their work, entrepreneurship, consumption and support networks — can make significant contributions to host city economies. Drawing on our case study of Addis Ababa, where refugee-run businesses are tightly integrated into the city’s wider economy, we explore the obstacles that can limit refugees’ economic contribution and recommend policies to overcome them. As a first step, humanitarian agencies should encourage host governments to grant urban refugees the right to work so host cities can share the benefits of their innovation, creativity and international links.
This paper is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through the Urban Crises Learning Fund. The fund is part of DFID’s Urban Crises Programme on the urban aspects of humanitarian action, which involves IIED and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Alison Brown, Peter Mackie, Kate Dickenson, Tegegne Gebre-Egziabher (2017) Refugee economies: lessons from Addis Ababa, The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Briefing
Published 31 December 2017