People on the Move

The world has 23 million refugees, most of whom are living in urban areas.

We explore and document the experiences of people displaced by armed conflict, persecution, and environmental change. We examine the national and international humanitarian and political systems’ responses to migration flows.

The scope of this work is worldwide.

Islamabad, Pakistan: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
By Madeeha Ansari | October 2019

Pakistan has experienced several waves of refugees due to recurring conflict in neighboring Afghanistan, as well as repeated internal displacement caused by complex emergencies within the country. This case report…

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Tel Aviv, Israel: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
By Taj Haround, Gina Walker | October 2019

Fleeing persecution, discrimination, and lack of economic opportunities, thousands of Eritrean, Sudanese, and other sub-Saharan African asylum seekers arrived in Israel’s cities after making a dangerous crossing through Egypt’s Sinai…

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Athens, Greece: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
By Katerina Voutsina | October 2019

Amidst an economic crisis, Greece’s cities found themselves host to thousands of refugees stuck in transit along the Balkans Route on their way to Northern Europe. This case study attempts…

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Synthesis Report: An Analysis of Four Case Studies of Youth Migration

This paper synthesizes findings from four studies on youth migration and resilience in different urban contexts. This work emerges from a collaboration between Save the Children US (Save US) and…

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“Don’t forget, you’re the responsible person.” Opportunities, Obligations,and Challenges Experienced by Young Adult Eritrean Migrants in Kampala
By Erica Shaps | September 2019

This study explores how Eritrean migrants’ different journeys influence their resilience capabilities and overall well-being in Kampala.

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“If you work hard, you will move ahead.” Migrants in the Platform Economy: Experience of Migrant Youth in Bengaluru, India
By Niharika Betkerur | September 2019

This study focuses on the financial and social impact of rural-urban migration on young men engaged in the platform economy in Bengaluru, India.

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“I haven’t changed like I wanted to. Until then, I will stay here.” Enabling Successful Migration for Young Rural-Urban Migrants in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
By Sarah Carson | September 2019

This case study describes the experiences, livelihoods, and aspirations of Ethiopian youth who have migrated to Addis Ababa from rural areas.

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“If my mom were here:” Short-Term Success and Long-Term Resiliencies Among Unaccompanied and Accompanied Minors in Vienna, Austria
By Mackenzie Seaman | September 2019

This study examined the integration experiences of protected persons in Vienna, Austria who arrived as unaccompanied and accompanied asylum-seeking older minors.

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Johannesburg, South Africa: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
Malawian migrants
By Mwaona Nyirongo | August 2019

The Johannesburg case report looks at Malawian migrants in one of South Africa’s largest cities. It explores the ways value transfer and financial obligations back home both obstruct integration into new neighborhoods and maintain integration with old villages.

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Amman, Jordan: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
refugee populations

This case report focuses on Amman, Jordan, which has for years been at the center of prolonged refugee experiences.

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Kyiv, Ukraine: A Case Report for Refugees in Towns
By Yuliia Kabanets | July 2019

This case report reviews the ways internally displaced persons (IDPs) from eastern Ukraine both struggle with integration to the capital, but also become agents of change to transfer the culture and economy of the city.

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Irbid, Jordan: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns

Irbid, Jordan is now inhabited by more Syrian refugees than Jordanian hosts. Yet the most profound changes in the city—affecting and being affected by refugees’ integration—are megatrends affecting cities the world over

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Izmir, Turkey: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
By Noor Ogli | March 2019

This case report explores what happened to a coastal Mediterranean city in Turkey that was transformed from a smuggling transit hub to Greece and the EU into a home for tens of thousands of Syrian refugees after the closing the Balkans Route in 2015.

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‘She told me that life here is so easy’: Urban migration of Acholi youth, Uganda

This working paper presents findings on the migration of youth from Acholi, Uganda to the urban areas of Gulu and Pabbo in northern Uganda, and to the Acholi Quarter neighborhood in Kampala.

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Beirut, Lebanon: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns No Rainbow, No integration: LGBTQI+ Refugees in Hiding
By Akram | February 2019

This case report explores the ways members of the LGBTQI+ Syrian refugee community survive in Beirut, Lebanon amidst extreme prejudice from much of the Lebanese population, the Lebanese government, and other Syrians.

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Bloemfontein, South Africa: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns Finding a new life in the City of Roses
By Alice Ncube | February 2019

The Bloemfontein case report explores the way migrants from across Africa have succeeded and struggled with integration to a major urban center in South Africa.

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Makhanda, South Africa: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
By Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti | February 2019

The Makhanda case report compares the experiences of migrants integrating to a small African town named Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) to the experiences of those living in South Africa’s major urban centers like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.

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Pokrovsk, Ukraine: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
Ukraine RIT Case Study Cover
By Maryna Kabanets | December 2018

This case report examines the impact of internally displaced persons (IDPs) on the social life and culture of an eastern Ukrainian town: Pokrovsk. It explores the impact on this town…

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Aarhus, Denmark: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
Nordic welfare state
By Abdullah Alsmaeel | November 2018

Aarhus is Denmark’s second largest city with a population of 336,411. The Refugees in Towns Aarhus case report looks at the integration experience of refugees within a Nordic welfare state….

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Refugees in Towns: Experiences of Integration
experiences of integration
By Karen Jacobsen | November 2018

In this Forced Migration Review article, Refugees in Towns (RIT) project director Karen Jacobsen presents the project, why it is of importance in our current political climate, and what the…

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Jalalabad, Afghanistan: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
reintegration
By Wali Mohammad Kandiwal | October 2018

This case report explores the challenges faced by Afghan refugees who had been living in Pakistan and returned to Nangarhar Province of Afghanistan. It explores the returnees’ experience of reintegration…

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Cairo, Egypt: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
sub-Saharan African refugee integration
By Paul Miranda | June 2018

The Cairo report shares the experiences of Egypt’s largely overlooked Sudanese, Ethiopian, Eritrean, South Sudanese, and Somali refugees, as well as their impact on the several neighborhoods in the city.

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Austin, Texas, USA: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
Syrian refugees living in Austin
By May Mzayek | June 2018

The Austin case report looks at Syrian refugees living in the deep American southwest, and how their wellbeing impacts their experiences with integration.

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Augusta, Maine, USA: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
Middle Eastern refugees in Augusta

The Augusta report explores primarily Middle Eastern refugees who arrived as “secondary” migrants to a small town in Maine.

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East Boston, Massachusetts, USA: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
integration of Latin American immigrants
By Sharon Granados Mahato | June 2018

The East Boston report explores a rapidly changing neighborhood that is being transformed both by immigration (largely from Hispanic populations), and by gentrification including the skyrocketing cost of rent, particularly along certain streets.

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Concord, New Hampshire, USA: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
Refugees in Concord New Hampshire
By Brinkley Brown | June 2018

The Concord report looks from the eyes of a lifelong resident on a city that has worked to make itself a local bastion of inclusiveness against anti-immigrant rhetoric at the national level.

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Sultanbeyli, Istanbul: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
refugee integration in Istanbul
By Zeynep Balcioglu | April 2018

The Sultanbeyli, Istanbul case report focuses on social capital as a resource for integration of Syrian refugees.

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Hamburg, Germany: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
Germany's refugee housing policy
By Jessica Sadye Wolff | April 2018

The Hamburg case report focuses on the domain of housing in integration.

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Delhi, India: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
refugees in Delhi
By Protiti Roy | April 2018

The Delhi case report considers food as an element of social and economic integration.

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Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
vulnerabilities of urban refugees

This report examines the vulnerabilities of urban refugees, and the difficulties they encounter in accessing basic services in Dar Es Salaam.

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Belgrade, Serbia: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
European migrant crisis in Belgrade

The Belgrade case report explores the relationship between the European migrant crisis and political movements in Serbia.

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Cape Town, South Africa: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns
integration of first-generation immigrants
By Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti | April 2018

The Cape Town report focuses on the educational integration of 15-20-year-old first-generation immigrant pupils in four different schools of Cape Town, and their difficulties with permits, language and cultural barriers, and views of prejudice toward them.

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Flights Above the Fray: The experiences and uncertain future of UNHCR’s family visit program for Sahrawi refugees
family visit program

Between 2004 and 2014, UNHCR’s Confidence Building Measures (CBM) program helped more than 20,000 refugees in the Tindouf desert camps of Algeria to visit their families. This report gives a human perspective of the experiences of Sahrawi refugees and their families.

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A frozen conflict and a humanitarian program that works: UNHCR’s confidence building measures in Western Sahara
confidence building measures program
By Karen Jacobsen | November 2017

This report describes a relatively unknown humanitarian program that has addressed one of the saddest aspects of displacement – the separation of families. Between 2004 and 2014, UNHCR’s Confidence Building…

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The Financial Journey of Refugees
financial journey of refugees
By Kim Wilson, Roxani Krystalli | October 2017

This report investigates what money and financial transactions can reveal about the journeys and experiences of forced migration.

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Cities of Refuge
cities of refuge
By World Bank, Karen Jacobsen | October 2017

This policy note focuses on urban forced displacement from the perspective of receiving towns and cities.

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Tripoli, Lebanon: A Case Report of Refugees in Towns

This case study explores how the Syrian influx has affected Tripoli, including how relationships between Lebanese and Syrians have deteriorated as competition over jobs intensifies, security concerns increase, and decrepit public infrastructure has been further strained.

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Evidence Brief: The Impact of Protection Interventions on Unaccompanied and Separated Children in Humanitarian Crises
separated children in humanitarian crises

This is an evidence brief, accompanying the full systematic review on the impact of protection interventions on unaccompanied and separated children in humanitarian settings.

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The Impact of Protection Interventions on Unaccompanied and Separated Children in Humanitarian Crises
protection interventions

Programming for unaccompanied and separated children cases is often prioritized in the context of humanitarian interventions. But what is the impact of protection interventions on UASC in humanitarian crises in low and middle income countries?

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Building Livelihood Opportunities for Refugee Populations: Lessons from Past Practice
livelihood opportunities
By Karen Jacobsen, Susan Fratzke | September 2016

This report outlines the types of livelihood efforts that aid agencies have undertaken in countries of first asylum and explores the challenges they face in realizing the full promise of these approaches. The authors offer recommendations to improve effectiveness.

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Forced Displacement, Go Figure! Shaking the Box of Profiling IDP Situations
profiling internally displaced persons

This book is a joint effort from JIPS and the Feinstein International Center that calls for an update to the existing international guidance for profiling.

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What are the practices to identify and prioritize vulnerable populations affected by urban humanitarian emergencies? A systematic review protocol
identify and prioritize populations

This protocol details the methodology for an evidence synthesis on urban humanitarian action. The evidence synthesis asks, “What are the practices to identify and prioritize populations affected by urban humanitarian…

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The impact of protection interventions on unaccompanied and separated children in humanitarian crises: An evidence synthesis protocol
child protection in humanitarian crises

This protocol details the methodology for an evidence synthesis on child protection in humanitarian crises. The evidence synthesis asks: “What is the impact of protection interventions on unaccompanied and separated…

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The effectiveness and efficiency of interventions supporting shelter self-recovery following humanitarian crises: An evidence synthesis protocol
shelter self-recovery processes

This protocol details the methodology for an evidence synthesis on shelter in humanitarian crises. The evidence synthesis asks: “What is the evidence on the effectiveness and efficiency of interventions that…

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Cash Transfer Programming for Syrian Refugees Lessons Learned on Vulnerability, Targeting, and Protection from the Danish Refugee Council's E-Voucher Intervention in Southern Turkey
cash transfer
By Paula Armstrong, Karen Jacobsen | February 2016

This report provides lessons for the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), other humanitarian organizations, and funders striving to optimize cash transfer programs (CTP) in humanitarian contexts. Through an examination of the…

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“It’s Better to Sweat than to Die:” Rural-to-Urban Migration, Northern Karamoja, Uganda
rural-urban migration

Much of the literature on urbanization focuses on migration to large cities. In contrast, this report traces the process, challenges, and opportunities of rural-urban migration to towns and small cities…

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Guidance For Profiling Urban Displacement Situations: Challenges And Solutions
profiling exercises
By Karen Jacobsen, Ivan Cardona, JIPS | June 2014

Over the past two years, the Feinstein International Center has supported the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) to develop a Guidance for Profiling Urban Displacement Situations. The Guidance highlights the…

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Structural Violence and Social Suffering among Marginal Nepali Migrants

Over the past decade, Nepal has witnessed a rapid process of social transformation which has accelerated after the end of the “people’s war”. In this report, the third in our…

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Urban Profiling of Refugee Situations in Delhi Refugees from Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia and their Indian Neighbours: A Comparative Study
By JIPS, UNHCR, Feinstein Center | September 2013

India is host to refugees from all its neighboring countries, and in addition, in New Delhi, UNHCR assists over 24,000 urban refugees and asylum-seekers originating from Myanmar and non-neighboring countries…

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Ransom, Collaborators, Corruption Sinai Trafficking and Transnational Networks

Each month thousands of men, women, and children flee Eritrea as a result of grave violations of human rights committed by the Eritrean government. Traveling via Sudan and Egypt, 36,000…

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Refugee Livelihoods in Urban Areas: Case Study Israel

Refugees in urban areas face a specific set of livelihoods problems, and in recent years many aid agencies have begun to try to address these problems by supporting refugees through…

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Refugee Livelihoods in Urban Areas: Case Study Ecuador

Refugees in urban areas face a specific set of livelihoods problems, and in recent years many aid agencies have begun to try to address these problems by supporting refugees through…

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Refugee Livelihoods in Urban Areas: Case Study Egypt

Refugees in urban areas face a specific set of livelihoods problems, and in recent years many aid agencies have begun to try to address these problems by supporting refugees through…

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Refugee Livelihoods in Urban Areas: Identifying Program Opportunities Recommendations for programming and advocacy

Refugees in urban areas face a specific set of livelihoods problems, and in recent years many aid agencies have begun to try to address these problems by supporting refugees through…

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Developing a Profiling Methodology for Displaced People in Urban Areas: South Africa Case Study

This is one of three case studies that were conducted to test the methodology for profiling displaced persons in urban areas. The full report on the methodology is available here….

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Developing a Profiling Methodology for Displaced People in Urban Areas: Yemen Case Study

This is one of three case studies that were conducted to test the methodology for profiling displaced persons in urban areas. The full report on the methodology is available here….

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Developing a Profiling Methodology for Displaced People in Urban Areas: Thailand Case Study

This is one of three case studies that were conducted to test the methodology for profiling displaced persons in urban areas. The full report on the methodology is available here….

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Developing a Profiling Methodology for Displaced People in Urban Areas

In 2010-11 we partnered with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration to develop a profiling methodology for urban migrants and refugees. The purpose of the methodology…

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Examining Linkages between Disaster Risk Reduction and Livelihoods Literature Review

In the disaster context emphasis has been generally placed on the initial humanitarian and emergency response. However, recently there has been an increasing recognition of the importance and value of…

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African Migration to Israel Debt, Employment and Remittances

This report details the migration experience and livelihood choices of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers and migrants in Tel Aviv. The research is based on a scoping study conducted by…

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Aid and Violence Development Policies and Conflict in Nepal

The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) launched its “People’s War” in 1996. The Maoists’ rise to power was impressive by any standard. After a successful showing at the polls for…

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Livelihoods, Migration and Conflict Discussion of Findings from Two Studies in West and North Darfur, 2006 - 2007

This briefing paper discusses findings from a study conducted in Darfur from 2006-8 that explored the changing role of migration and remittances in the livelihoods of conflict-affected people. We conducted…

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Internal Displacement to Urban Areas: Colombia Case Case 3: Santa Marta, Colombia
By Karen Jacobsen, Kimberly Howe | September 2008

For more than 40 years, Colombians have been subject to chronic violence perpetrated by left-wing guerillas, paramilitaries, government forces, and drug cartels. In the past 20 years, an estimated four…

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Internal Displacement to Urban Areas: Côte d’Ivoire Case Case 2: Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire
By Karen Jacobsen | September 2008

After a series of political crises, Côte d’Ivoire’s armed conflict erupted in 2002, leading to the division of the country into government and rebel-controlled areas. Both sides committed grave human…

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Internal Displacement to Urban Areas: Sudan Case Case 1: Khartoum, Sudan
By Karen Jacobsen | September 2008

Sudan’s North-South civil war and the conflict in Darfur generated one of the largest internally displaced populations in the world. A large proportion of these IDPs is found in and…

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Out-migration, Return, and Resettlement in Karamoja, Uganda The case of Kobulin, Bokora County

As part of a larger project entitled “Livelihoods and Human Security in Karamoja,” this briefing paper presents findings on causal factors and broad patterns in out-migration among the Bokora population….

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Darfur: Livelihoods Under Siege

It is almost two years since the beginning of the rebel insurgency in Darfur, but the conflict continues, the ceasefire has been frequently violated, and the world’s worst humanitarian crisis…

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The Alchemy Project: Final Report, 2001-2004
By Karen Jacobsen | November 2004

The Alchemy Project began in 2001 as a pilot program to explore whether income generating interventions do support the livelihoods of forcibly displaced people. Our long-term goals were to work…

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Partnership on Youth, Migration, and Resilience

This partnership between Save the Children US and FIC aims to improve the evidence base on migration of young people to urban areas. 

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Refugees in Towns

This project collects and commissions case studies of urban settings (towns, cities or sub-areas of cities) in which refugees or internally displaced people have been living for more than two years.

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The Humanitarian Evidence Program

The Humanitarian Evidence Program produces a series of evidence syntheses to distill humanitarian evidence and communicate it to key stakeholders in order to enable better decision-making and improve humanitarian policy and practice.

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Karamoja Resilience Support Unit (KRSU)

KRSU is a four-year project of USAID/Uganda aimed at increasing resilience and economic development in the Karamoja Region of northeast Uganda.

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UNHCR’s Confidence Building Measures for Sahrawi Refugees

The project has three components, each designed to give a different perspective on Sahrawi refugees.

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The Financial Journey of Refugees

The Financial Journeys of Refugees is a study that investigates what money and financial transactions can reveal about the journeys and experiences of forced migration.

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The Agriculture Knowledge, Learning, Documentation and Policy Project (AKLDP)

The AKLDP is a five-year project of USAID Ethiopia which provides collaborative learning and coordination support across the Feed the Future portfolio, leading to improved agriculture, livestock and pastoral policy and programming.

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Profiling for Displacement Situations

Our research on and methodology for profiling will help aid agencies better understand the livelihood issues confronting displaced people and non-displaced locals in urban settings.

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Refugee Livelihoods in Urban Areas: Identifying Program Opportunities

For refugees in urban areas, there is little evidence about which humanitarian programs work, what livelihoods initiatives refugees undertake themselves, and where opportunities for programming interventions lie. Our research seeks to address this knowledge gap.

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Our academic courses at Tufts and other institutions are a key part of our research and our mission. Our faculty teach the following courses at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy:

  • Current Issues in Global Immigration Policy (DHP 238), Fall Term, taught by Karen Jacobsen
  • Forced Migration (DHP D239), Spring Term, taught by Karen Jacobsen

Go to Humanitarian Education Courses at Tufts on our Education page for more related courses.

African University Partnerships

We partner with forced migration programs at two African universities:

These partnerships include joint research programs, and provide exchanges of faculty, students and interns, as well as materials and other teaching support.