Economies: rights and access to work

FMR 58

When people are forced to leave their homes, they usually also leave behind their means of economic activity. In their new location, they may not be able, or permitted, to work. This has wide-ranging implications. This issue includes 22 articles on the main feature theme of Economies: rights and access to work. It also includes two ‘mini-features’, one on Refugee-led social protection and one on Humans and animals in refugee camps.

Roger Zetter and Héloïse Ruaudel

For refugees, the right to work and access to labour markets are key for becoming self-reliant, building their lives and securing dignity, and allowing them to contribute to their host communities. Host countries need to assess the potential for opening their labour markets to refugees, and enhancing access to decent work.

Marwa Belghazi

Organisations supporting recently resettled refugees to find employment should focus on providing them with the tools to navigate the employment market in a sustainable way that leads to their personal development.

Ximena V Del Carpio, Sirma Demir Seker and Ahmet Levent Yener

The granting to Syrian refugees in Turkey of the right to access formal work was a first step towards their economic integration but a number of challenges remain. With support from the international community, the Turkish government is taking action to overcome some of these. 

Martin Ledstrup and Marie Larsen

The launch of Red Cross Denmark’s Fast Track programme, which focuses on early refugee employment, offers an opportunity to explore the relationship between local employment of refugees and the sustainability of rural life.

Shahla Namak, Fatin Sahhar, Sarah Kureshi, Fadya El Rayess and Ranit Mishori

Refugee doctors face a number of barriers to practising medicine, despite the significant contributions that they can make.

Naohiko Omata

Multi-sited fieldwork in Uganda allows for an exploration of the complex patterns of engagement between refugees’ economic activities and local economies, in urban, emergency and protracted settings.

Özge Bilgili and Craig Loschmann

In Rwanda, Congolese refugees have the same freedom of movement and right to work as Rwandans but the experiences and economic activities of these two populations are very different.

Zachary Whyte, Birgitte Romme Larsen and Mona Schaldemose

Our research with rural grocery store managers in Denmark suggests that the integration of asylum centres into the local social and economic life in rural areas is a key factor in successful refugee reception.

Christopher M Hays

Those seeking to support economic development for internally displaced people in Colombia need to understand how and why many IDPs collaborate with armed groups and criminal organisations.

Ahmad Al Ajlan

Some displaced people and their host communities have benefited economically from the consequences of conflict in Syria’s Raqqa province. Others need support – and the type of support needed will change as circumstances change.

Elizabeth Ekren

The majority of Germany’s refugees and asylum seekers rely on government welfare and face serious obstacles to self-reliance. Integration policies must eliminate these obstacles to promote mutual long-term benefits for refugees and their new communities.

Miguel Peromingo and Willem Pieterson

References are often made to forced migrants’ digital literacy, including their use of smartphones to organise journeys and communicate once at their destinations. Other digital skills, however, including those relating to the workplace, are of greater relevance to supporting their integration.

Lili Mottaghi

Investing in refugees’ well-being is a global public good, and the international community should work to reduce malnutrition and increase access to education for refugees in order to help build human capital and achieve better economic outcomes for all.

Leah Nichles and Sayre Nyce

Showcasing refugees’ skills connects refugees to global work opportunities, and also shifts the narrative from one of refugees being burdens to host countries to one in which refugees are recognised as skilled workers for whom countries should be competing.

Katarina Mozetič

Qualification certificates play a central role in the labour market integration of highly educated refugees but validating them presents considerable challenges. Sweden and Norway have introduced some positive developments to address such difficulties.

Ziad Ayoubi and Regina Saavedra

The international community is increasingly emphasising the need to bridge the humanitarian­–development gap. But what does this mean on the ground in terms of refugees’ livelihoods and economic inclusion?

Tobias Schillings

A new study on the effects of humanitarian assistance in response to the Syria crisis finds significant positive impacts for regional economic growth and job creation.

Maha Kattaa and Meredith Byrne

Work permits have been at the centre of the policy debate on the hosting of Syrian refugees in Jordan. This approach needs also to involve ensuring decent working conditions for all.

Abigail Hunt, Emma Samman, Dina Mansour-Ille and Henrieke Max

Research with Syrian women refugees in Jordan suggests that, despite significant challenges, the gig economy has some potential to help refugees participate in host communities and to bolster their economic participation.

Alison Hemberger, Sasha Muench and Chelsea Purvis

Market-based approaches in northern Uganda demonstrate the benefits of supporting local markets instead of distributing in-kind aid.

Richard Mallett, Jessica Hagen-Zanker, Clare Cummings and Nassim Majidi

Improving access to work, as well as livelihoods programming itself, is required if the lives and livelihoods of Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia are to improve.

Nora Bardelli

The refugee assistance regime that prevails today seems to insist that the best, or only, solution to protracted refugee situations is firmly rooted in improving access to employment. This approach, however, inevitably favours some and excludes others, while also ignoring the deeper political and social issues at stake.

Additional Articles

The help and assistance that refugees offer each other is central to the lives of many displaced people. Recognising this allows support for displaced people to be reconceived in more sustaining and empowering ways.

Evan Easton-Calabria and Kate Pincock

Refugees in Kenya face multiple barriers to accessing their rights. The work of paralegals who are themselves refugees and who support and facilitate refugees’ access to justice offers a vital service that many NGOs, whose scope and budgets are limited, insufficiently provide.

Musenga Tshimankinda Christian

Established by a resettled Somali refugee and now under the leadership of his children, Kobciye resource centre works to empower Somali refugees in Eastleigh, Nairobi.

Afrah Hassan

Many of the approximately 50,000 Syrian refugees living in Berlin continue to depend largely on State assistance; some refugees have also created and found additional support in active, vibrant community initiatives.

Jennifer Wood, Evan Easton-Calabria and Yahya Alaous

Refugee-led education initiatives in West Java, Indonesia, show how refugee communities can work with supporters to overcome service gaps faced in host countries, demonstrating a community-led approach to refugee assistance that is empowering and sustainable. 

Thomas Brown

The work of community-based organisations led by and in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) refugees in Nairobi, Kenya, provides important insights into how humanitarian agencies can form effective partnerships that help to ensure access to services for all.

Hester K V Moore

More research is needed, across disciplines, to better understand the important and varied roles that animals play in the lives of people in refugee camps.

Benjamin Thomas White

In South Sudan, tensions arose when refugees arrived with their livestock, disrupting the existing relationships between the local population and nomadic peoples. Understanding the relations between all three groups of people and their livestock was key to finding solutions.

Charles Hoots

Refugee camps offer good opportunities for cooperation between humanitarian and animal welfare organisations for the benefit of displaced people and their working animals.

Patrick J Pollock

Animals play an important role in many people’s lives in displacement. Camp planners and managers need to take animals’ needs into greater account in order for displaced people to continue to benefit from this interaction.

Lara Alshawawreh

There needs to be better understanding not only of the importance of animals in the lives of displaced people but also of the potential risks incurred by human–animal interactions and how best to mitigate these risks.

Sara Owczarczak-Garstecka

Health challenges in the Sahrawi refugee camps in the Algerian desert are faced by both human and animal populations, and therefore responses must function for the benefit of both.

Giorgia Angeloni and Jennifer Carr

The migratory journeys of birds can reflect the same complexity of issues that trigger and affect human displacement.

Derek Robertson


Opinions in FMR do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors, the Refugee Studies Centre or the University of Oxford.
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