Project Category: Refugees and Displacement

From 2015 to 2016, Greece witnessed an influx of almost 1 million forcibly displaced people making their way to Northern and Western Europe. When neighboring nations closed their borders, Greece transformed from transit site to a hosting country. In 2022, researchers at IPL conducted a survey of asylum seekers and refugees to learn about the range of opportunities, obstacles, and relevant issues displaced people living in Greece experience.
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For Syrians fleeing conflict and eking out a new life abroad, Facebook offers access to vital information on safe travel routes, asylum, and jobs. But how much of what they encounter is from trusted sources? IPL researchers mapped the online information environment for Syrian refugees, demonstrating the critical role humanitarian organizations play in providing timely, accurate information in crisis situations.
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In the Middle East, countries that host large numbers of Syrian refugees now are taking active steps to encourage their return. Meanwhile, NGOs have started to consider steps to aid refugees in going home. Do refugees want to go back to Syria? And if so, when and how? IPL researchers surveyed Syrians in Lebanon to find out. The results can help inform the humanitarian and policy response to future refugee crises.
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Whether you do academic research or nonprofit work, you've probably experienced the challenges that come with conducting surveys. It's difficult to keep in touch with study participants or clients over time, and surveys can be expensive and time-consuming. IPL found a solution in WhatsApp, which allows respondents to fill out a survey through automated messages on their mobile phones.
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Most of the world's refugees live in developing countries. Those countries are largely overlooked in the research on dynamics between refugees and the communities hosting them. IPL conducted a survey in Jordan, one of the top destinations for Syrian refugees. It found that most Jordanians have strong humanitarian concern for the refugees, even though they believe the refugee crisis has strained their economy and social services.
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When refugees are resettled in the United States, they're assigned to live in a specific location. But many refugees move to a different state within their first several years in the country. What are they looking for? According to a new dataset on nearly 450,000 refugees, they mostly seek two things that will help them rebuild their lives: better job markets and others from their home country.
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Many countries require asylum seekers to wait for months or years before entering the local labor market. How does this period of forced unemployment affect their ability to integrate later on? A natural experiment in Germany reveals that asylum seekers who face longer wait times are less likely to be employed, even after a decade in the country.
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Countries receiving refugees could pave the way for integration by sending them to the place where it would be easiest for them to find employment. Using historical data from the United States and Switzerland, IPL designed an algorithm that matches refugees to their optimal city or town. It’s a policy innovation that could be easily implemented anywhere in the world and at virtually no cost.
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Asylum seekers often are left in limbo while their applications are processed, and the prolonged uncertainty and discouragement take a toll. According to IPL analysis of records from Switzerland, the years spent waiting make them less likely to find a job when they’re finally approved. Countries receiving refugees should take note: reducing wait times could boost their employment rates and benefit the local economy.
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