Refugees in Towns

Visit the Refugees in Towns website.


The Refugees in Towns project (RIT) supports towns and urban neighborhoods in becoming immigrant- and refugee-friendly spaces that take full advantage of the benefits brought by refugees while finding ways to manage the inevitable challenges of immigrant integration.

We focus on achieving two outcomes:

  1. Increased understanding of refugee integration through refined theory. This includes making contributions to narratives of how urban communities—including refugees and hosts—may co-exist, adapt, and struggle with integration. RIT commissions locally-researched case studies in towns and urban neighborhoods of refugee destination and resettlement countries (e.g. the United States); transit countries (e.g. Greece), and countries of first asylum (e.g. Turkey).
  2. Support of community leaders, aid organizations, and local governments in shaping policy, practice, and social interventions. RIT engages policymakers and community leaders through town visits, workshops, conferences, and participatory research that identifies needs in their communities, encourages dialogue on integration, and shares good practices and lessons learned.

Routes & Regions

RIT gives a unique perspective that is both transnational—capturing all of the complex forces and trends behind migration—as well as local, sharing neighborhood-level perspectives on the impact of migration and individual experiences with integration.

Join the Project

Ideas for new case studies are welcome.

RIT is looking for local researchers including refugees, aid workers, academics, and community members to contribute commissioned case studies of their experiences. Researchers should have a personal history, social presence, and contextual knowledge of a town or urban neighborhood that hosts forced migrants. If you are interested in contributing a case or know someone who may be, visit our website for more information.

Nordic welfare state

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....

Abdullah Alsmaeel

• November 2018

This report explores lived reintegration experiences of Malawian returnees from Johannesburg, living in Mzuzu, Malawi. In this study, Mwaona Nyirongo explores the challenges and opportunities that the returnees face reintegrating...

Mwaona Nyirongo

• November 2020

Amidst rhetorical headlines about refugees and borders in the United States, this report takes a step back to take the long view of how immigrants in a suburb of Chicago...

Saidouri Zomaya

• October 2019
refugee populations

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

Allyson Hawkins, Ruby Assad, Denis Sullivan

• August 2019

In this case report, Victoria Ríos Infante and Cordelia Rizzo, who grew up in Monterrey, Mexico, explore how their neighborhoods have been transformed as a home to migrants from across Central America.

Victoria Ríos Infante, Cordelia Rizzo

• October 2020

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...

Katerina Voutsina

• October 2019
Middle Eastern refugees in Augusta

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

Anna Ackerman, Heba El-Hendi, Hania Mumtaz

• June 2018
Syrian refugees living in Austin

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

May Mzayek

• June 2018

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.


• February 2019
European migrant crisis in Belgrade

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

Teodora Jovanović, Marina Lazetic

• April 2018

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.

Alice Ncube

• February 2019
sub-Saharan African refugee integration

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.

Paul Miranda

• June 2018
integration of first-generation immigrants

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.

Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti

• April 2018
Refugees in Concord New Hampshire

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.

Brinkley Brown

• June 2018

Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti discusses the microaggressions that foreign restaurant servers face in their workplaces in South Africa and how they learn to cope with them. Most African migrants living in...

Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti

• November 2020
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.

Aisling O’Loghlen, Nondo Nobel Bwami

• April 2018
refugees in Delhi

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

Protiti Roy

• April 2018

When the American auto industry took a downturn in the 1990s and 2000s, it left numerous neighborhoods in and around Detroit impoverished and neglected. This case report looks at the...

Leila Asadi

• October 2019
integration of Latin American immigrants

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.

Sharon Granados Mahato

• June 2018

In this case report, Abdullah Alsmaeel writes about the difficulties refugee parents face in being involved in their children’s education, from interacting with teachers to openly hostile Danish policies towards...

Abdullah Alsmaeel

• November 2020
Germany's refugee housing policy

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

Jessica Sadye Wolff

• April 2018

This case report explores the voluntary return to Zimbabwe, the impact the returnees' have on the city of Harare, and their experiences of reintegration.

Natasha Venables

• March 2020

In this case report, Zahed Mukayed, a Syrian refugee living in Istanbul, and Ezgi Irgil, a Turkish PhD student living in Sweden, discuss their research with Syrian refugees in Ezgi’s...

Zahed Mukayed, Ezgi Irgi

• November 2020

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

Charles M. Simpson, Agyead Abo Zayed

• July 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...

Madeeha Ansari

• October 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.

Noor Ogli

• March 2019

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...

Wali Mohammad Kandiwal

• October 2018
Malawian migrants

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.

Mwaona Nyirongo

• August 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.

Yuliia Kabanets

• July 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.

Barnabas Ticha Muvhuti

• February 2019

This report examines experiences of somalis in Mombasa, Kenya. The case study also examines how Somali-Kenyans navigate their identities and access opportunities.

Aisha Adan, Ella Duncan

• March 2020

New Britain, Connecticut has a long history of immigration. This report focuses on the experiences of newly arrived Arabic-speaking immigrants and refugees from Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, and Morocco. The...

Maha Abdullah, Joy Al-Nemri, Emily Goldman, Ian James

• December 2019
Ukraine RIT Case Study Cover

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...

Maryna Kabanets

• December 2018

In this case report, Ankara resident Allan Cooper Dell explores the neighborhoods of Turkey’s capital city being transformed by Syrian refugees. He notes “It seems that the lives of the...

Allen Cooper Dell

• October 2020
refugee integration in Istanbul

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

Zeynep Balcioglu

• April 2018

This case report looks at migration to Costa Rica and explores the main opportunities for and obstacles to integration in terms of migratory status, access to public health, jobs, education, and recreation.

Michelle Vargas

• March 2020

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...

Taj Haround, Gina Walker

• October 2019

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.

Khaled Ismail, Claire Wilson, Nathan Cohen-Fournier

• March 2017

This report attempts to shed light on the integration process for the most recent wave of refugees in Thessaloniki.

Mohamad Kasra, Osman Mohammed Babiker, Rabih Saad, Ionna Terzi, Anjali Khatri

• March 2020

“Refugees in towns: experiences of integration” in Forced Migration Review (FMR 56, October 2017)

by Karen Jacobsen

In countries of first asylum, transit and destination it is increasingly towns and cities that are absorbing refugees. We must look at what is happening at a local level to better understand urban integration as a process shared by refugees and host communities alike.

Read the article here.

Find the full table of contents of this issue of FMR here.


“Cities and Towns” in Forced Migration Review (FMR 63, February 2020) 

Edited by Karen Jacobsen and Charles Simpson

Cities and towns are on the frontline of receiving and welcoming people who have been displaced. In this issue of FMR, policymakers, practitioners, researchers, representatives of cities and international city-focused alliances, and displaced people themselves debate the challenges facing both the urban authorities and their partners, and the people who come to live there.

Read the full issue here.

Webinar: Integration in developing cities – Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Delhi
May 2018

This webinar recording shares findings from three Refugees in Towns cases exploring local experiences with integration in developing cities: Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, and Delhi. The webinar features local...

Webinar: Integration on the Balkans route from Istanbul to Belgrade to Hamburg
May 2018

This webinar recording shares the findings from three Refugees in Towns cases exploring local experiences with integration in three cities along the Balkans migrant route: Istanbul as a source city,...