Digital disruption and displacement

Proposals due 15 October 2023     |     Articles due 7 January 2024     |     Publication date April/May 2024

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Taking fingerprints as part of a UNHCR organised registration process for refugees living in Senegal, March 2022.
Credit: UNHCR

About the issue

This issue of FMR aims to explore the double-sided nature of digital technologies and their implications for displaced people across the globe.

The rapid development and pervasive diffusion of digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, biometric identification, machine learning and predictive analytics among others, have far-reaching impacts, both positive and negative.

Immigration and asylum authorities are using digital technologies to assist in border control, determination of asylum claims, and decisions about visa applications, often in ways that are problematic for human rights, due process, and the rule of law. Humanitarian agencies are leveraging such technologies to manage distribution of aid, increasing efficiency but also potentially entrenching biases. Refugees and other forcibly displaced people are using digital technologies to access livelihoods, connect with family, organise for political action and share information and resources across borders.

The use of these technologies raises new ethical questions related to forced migration and responses to it. Research shows that technological innovations are not deployed evenly nor neutrally across societies; rather, their design tends to intensify and accelerate pre-existing inequalities and hierarchies along class, gender, racial, legal, and territorial lines. At the same time, digital technology may bring benefits for displaced people – whether on the move or settled (temporarily or permanently) in a new home. Many displaced people use digital technologies to navigate their lives, migration and settlement journeys, which can lead to new forms of economic activity, political engagement, solidarity and connection.


Call for article proposals

FMR seeks proposals for policy- and practice-oriented articles on the above themes, from authors of any professional background and from anywhere in the world. Proposals and articles may be written in Arabic, English, French or Spanish. To submit a proposal, please use our article proposals form.

We are especially interested in receiving proposals from people with lived experience of forced migration or displacement. FMR offers an optional mentoring programme for prospective authors from forcibly displaced and host communities who are new to writing for publications like FMR and would like such support.

FMR welcome submissions that focus specifically on the context and reasons that inform digital technology use, the advantages and disadvantages, and lessons learned.

Articles should seek to answer any of the following broad questions or related topics:

  • How have digital technologies disrupted or transformed the landscape of forced migration?
  • How are new technologies reinforcing or maintaining older trends, patterns and policies within the forced migration space?
  • How have different actors – states, international organisations, NGOs, private companies, displaced people – made use of, responded to, or adapted to the changes and potential changes created by digital technology? What are the associated risks and benefits?
  • How do digital technologies enable or impede displaced people seeking to access protection and assistance? What new protection challenges do digital technologies create and how can they best be addressed? How are digital technologies creating new opportunities for refugees and displaced people to reclaim their rights?
  • What are the opportunities and obstacles presented by digital technology in relation to livelihoods for refugees? How are refugees – as individuals, families, communities or companies – making use of digital technologies to expand or enhance their livelihood options?
  • How are digital technologies impacting forced migration in different regions in different ways? How is this affecting relationships between the Global North and the Global South? Or between countries in the same region?
  • How is the pressure for border controls impacting the diffusion, implementation and development of new technologies in relation to forced migration in the Global South?
  • How have digital technologies changed policy and practice within data collection and analysis (e.g. in research or monitoring and evaluation purposes)?
  • How does connectivity, or the absence thereof, impact the application of digital technologies in a forced migration setting?
  • To what extent are displaced persons involved in the design or use of digital technologies? What are the bottom-up approaches to the innovation and/or use of digital technologies?


Please note: We ask all authors to consider the relevance of their responses to individuals and groups who are marginalised due to particular characteristics such as race, gender, age and disability among others.


How to submit

To submit a proposal, please complete our article proposals form.

Proposals should be no more than 300 words and should provide a brief summary of the article’s main points or arguments. Read our writing for FMR section for further guidance.

Proposals and articles may be submitted in Arabic, English, French or Spanish. If you would like to be considered for writing support through our mentoring programme, you can indicate this when submitting your proposal.


Project team

FMR is published by the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford and produced by the Forced Migration Review Editors and wider team. Dr. Marie Godin and Dr. Derya Ozkul, RSC researchers with a particular focus on the role of digital technologies in the forced migration space, are acting as key advisors on this special issue.



Financial support for this issue is provided in part by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Labour Organization, among others. (Additional supporters are always warmly welcomed and may be announced as the issue develops.)

Our Inclusion Programme – including mentorship, translation, and other support for diverse voices – also relies on the support of our donors. If you’d like to help, you can make a gift or email to discuss options.