Significantly, some 10.2 million of these people are in protracted refugee situations. In other words, they have been in limbo for at least 5 years, with an average length of stay in exile of nearly 20 years. Rather than transitioning from emergency relief to long-term reintegration, displaced populations too often get trapped within the system.
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, we hope to generate new ideas which can turn current humanitarian challenges into sustainable opportunities.
The research findings are organised around five popular myths:
- 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.
In each case, we show that our data challenges or fundamentally nuances each of those ideas. We show 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.