Refugee economies: lessons from Addis Ababa

IIED Briefing
, 4 pages
PDF (313.21 KB)
Published: December 2017
IIED Briefing Papers

With most refugees now living in urban areas, governments, nongovernmental organisations and relief agencies must find new ways to help this vulnerable population secure stable livelihoods. ‘Refugee economies’ — the economy created by urban refugees through their work, entrepreneurship, consumption and support networks — can make significant contributions to host city economies. Drawing on our case study of Addis Ababa, where refugee-run businesses are tightly integrated into the city’s wider economy, we explore the obstacles that can limit refugees’ economic contribution and recommend policies to overcome them. As a first step, humanitarian agencies should encourage host governments to grant urban refugees the right to work so host cities can share the benefits of their innovation, creativity and international links.

Cite this publication

Brown, A., Mackie, P., Dickenson, K. and Gebre-Egziabher, T. (2017). Refugee economies: lessons from Addis Ababa. IIED, London.
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