Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Urban Refugee Economies: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Alison Brown, Peter Mackie, Kate Dickenson, Tegegne Gebre-​Egziabher

International Institute for Environment and Development



Over 60 per cent of the world’s refugees live in urban environments, but host governments often restrict their right to work, forcing urban refugees into precarious and often informal economy livelihoods. Through a case study of Addis Ababa, where refugees have no legal right to work, this research identifies the economic difficulties faced by urban refugees. Yet it finds that refugee economies are highly integrated into the city’s economy, making significant contributions. The research points to opportunities for humanitarian sector actors to enhance refugee economies today and in the future when Ethiopia implements its pledge to enhance access to employment for refugees.


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This working paper is accompanied by a 4-page briefing, available from: http://pubs.iied.org/17445IIED/?k=alison+brown

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