Refugees and Displacement

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There are 26 million refugees globally and the average refugee will be displaced for 10 years. All of these refugees deserve the right to work, move, and thrive in their host countries. Yet 56 percent of refugees live in countries that significantly restrict their rights, curbing their ability to provide for themselves and contribute to their host country.   

CGD’s work on refugees and displacement issues therefore focuses on pursing research and outreach which expand the opportunities available to forcibly displaced people and their host communities. This research provides recommendations for policymakers in host countries and donors as to how to better support development outcomes for displaced people. 

In particular, we are involved in two, multi-year, projects. 


With Refugees International, we are looking at the impact of expanding labor market access and economic inclusion for refugees and forced migrants around the world. Funded by the IKEA Foundation and Western Union Foundation, and supported by a high-level Advisory Group, it aims to generate evidence on these impacts and develop policy recommendations for global and national actors. 


With the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and other partners, we are looking at what works to support urban refugee populations in Kampala, Uganda, and Nairobi, Kenya. This five-year long initiative, funded by the IKEA Foundation, seeks to provide job and business support to 20,000 refugees and hosts. We are also conducting one of the largest randomized controlled trials (RCT) focused on refugee livelihoods to see what makes the biggest difference.