World Refugee Day is this Friday, 20 June, and the Humanitarian Innovation Project (based at the Refugee Studies Centre in Oxford Dept of International Development) is launching a new report titled 'Refugee Economies: Rethinking Popular Assumptions.' It is one of the very first studies on the economic life of refugees and fundamentally challenges existing models of refugee assistance.
The report is based on participatory, mixed methods research including about 1,600 surveys in Uganda, one of the few refugee-hosting countries in Africa that allows refugees the right to work and freedom of movement. However, it has wider implications for the emerging refugee crises around the world.
Far from being uniformly dependent, refugees are part of complex and vibrant economic systems. They are often entrepreneurial and, if given the opportunity, can help themselves and their communities, as well as contributing to the host economy. The data in the new report challenges five popular myths about refugees’ economic lives: that refugees are economically isolated; that they are a burden on host states; that they are economically homogenous; that they are technologically illiterate; that they are dependent on humanitarian assistance.