Articles & REports


The following is a list of some of the key academic articles, practitioner reports, and policy documents that we suggest for understanding refugee urban integration. These sources are also summarized in our Literature Review.

You may also be interested in a list of key books, journals, databases, research institutions related to refugee urban integration.

Ager, A. and Strang, A. (2004) Indicators of Integration: Final Report. Home Office Development and Practice Reports.

This report builds on the seminal work of Castles et al. to provide a framework for defining integration and offers ideas for how to measure it to assist in planning and evaluating programming for refugees.

Ager, A. and Strang, A. (2008). Understanding Integration: A Conceptual Framework. Journal of Refugee Studies.

Building on their earlier work for the U.K.’s Home Office, Ager and Strang propose a set of domains to clearly define integration.

Blocher, J. (2017). Cities of Welcome: Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees in Urban Areas. Paper presented at the UNU Panel Series on Academic Thinking on Migration, UNU Office, New York.

Following the United Nations General Assembly signing of the “New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants,” in September 2016, this panel report presents a series of policy recommendations on global migration including “inclusion of migrants and refugees in urban areas.”

Campbell, L. (2016). Stepping back: Understanding cities and their systems. ALNAP Working Paper.

This USAID report identifies a gap wherein “humanitarians are increasingly recognizing the systems and stakeholders which exist in urban areas, but there is no clear, common understanding of what ‘urban systems’ are, or what humanitarians really need to know.” In response, the report overviews the dynamics of urban areas relevant to refugee programming.

Castles, S. et al. (2002). Integration: Mapping the Field. University of Oxford Centre for Migration and Policy Research and Refugee Studies Centre.

This seminal work on integration aims to “provide sufficient grounds for a highly informed discussion of the main areas of integration,” finding in an extensive review of over 3,200 sources that “overall there is a serious lack of data and other factual knowledge about processes and factors of immigrant and refugee integration.” Based on this knowledge gap, it proposes a policy-relevant research agenda on refugee integration for the future.

Crisp, J. (2004). The local integration and local settlement of refugees: a conceptual and historical analysis. UNHCR Working Paper.

In this paper, the former Head of Policy Development and Evaluation at UNHCR outlines the limitations of voluntary repatriation as a durable solution, clearly defines local integration, and argues for a “revitalized approach to local integration, local settlement and the promotion of self-reliance.”

Crisp, J. (2012). Displacement in urban areas: new challenges, new partnerships. Disasters.

This seminal article by the former Head of Policy Development and Evaluation at UNHCR articulates the need for refugee response to refocus on urban areas, not camps. It calls for humanitarian actors to begin to “develop urgently closer working relationships with mayors and municipal authorities, service providers, urban police forces, and, most importantly, the representatives of both displaced and resident communities.”

Deardorff-Miller, S. (2018). Assessing the Impacts of Hosting Refugees. World Refugee Council Research Paper.

“This paper reviews the existing research examining the impacts of refugee hosting through economic, social, political, environmental and security perspectives, identifying areas of consensus and debate and gaps in knowledge, policy and practice.” In terms of methods, it contributes “improved measurement tools for assessing the impacts of hosting refugees.”

Dryden-Peterson, S. (2015). The Educational Experiences of Refugee Children in Countries of First Asylum. Migration Policy Institute.

This report contributes two unique sets of observations on refugee integration: 1) looking at barriers to integration of refugee children including their educational setting, but also cultural and linguistic challenges, and 2) looking at integration as a continuum of experiences that not only includes post-resettlement, but also life in countries of first asylum and displacement.

Eurocities. (2016). Refugee reception and integration in cities. European Commission.

Drawing from data on a wide range of cities in Europe hosting refugees, this report presents findings on:

  • “how cities are adapting their services to ensure newcomers can be fully integrated into the local community, with equal access to the labour market, education and housing

  • how cities communicate with citizens on this issue

  • how cities collaborate - or do not collaborate - with the regional and national level

  • what kind of support cities receive or need, and what coordination exists

  • the practical challenges cities face and solutions they identify

  • the impact of the situation on the city budget”

Forced Migration Review. (2010). Adapting to Urban Displacement. FMR 34.

This issue of FMR is dedicated to “urbanisation – the movement of people into cities and towns – continues to increase, and growing numbers of displaced people, whether refugees or IDPs, now reside in urban areas rather than camps. Relatively little is known about their precise numbers, demographics, basic needs or protection problems.”

Forced Migration Review. (2017). Resettlement. FMR 54.

This issue of FMR is dedicated to “ the modalities and challenges of resettlement in order to shed light on debates such as how – and how well – resettlement is managed, whether it is a good use of the funds and energy it uses, and whether it is a good solution for refugees.”

Goodall, C. (2011). Sanctuary and solidarity: urban community responses to refugees and asylum seekers on three continents. UNHCR Research Paper.

This article argues “government policy documents and research reports on refugee integration focus heavily on such issues as work, housing and language skills,” while not focusing sufficiently on attitudes, culture, and social domains of integration.

Huddleston, T., and Niessen, J. (2011). Migration Integration Policy (Vol. III). MIPEX EU.

“The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) is a reference guide and fully interactive tool to assess, compare and improve integration policy. It measures integration policies in 31 countries in Europe and North America. Using 148 policy indicators the MIPEX creates a rich, multidimensional picture of migrants’ opportunities to participate in society by assessing governments’ commitment to integration.”

Jacobsen, K. and Fratzke, S. (2016). Building Livelihood Opportunities for Refugee Populations: Lessons from Past Practice. Migration Policy Institute.

This article argues that “it has become more important than ever to find ways to better integrate refugees into countries of first asylum, particularly by ensuring they have access to livelihoods and economic opportunities,” and offers “recommendations to improve effectiveness” of economic integration programming and policy.

Journal of Refugee Studies. (2006). Special Issue: Urban Refugees. JRS 19:3.

This issue recognizes the fact that “as urbanization rates increase globally, so do the number and proportion of refugees and IDPs,” and focuses on the “myriad of protection and livelihood problems not generally encountered in camps [by refugees]… How they confront these challenges, and the ways in which aid agencies and host governments support or obstruct their efforts.”

Journal of Refugee Studies. (2010). Special Issue: Critical Reflections on Refugee Integration: Lessons from International Perspectives. JRS 23:4.

Building on the foundational work by Ager and Strang (2004, 2008), this issue “aims to contribute to understandings of refugee integration in three key areas. First, we consider it essential to look towards the wider legal and policy context within which individuals integrate… Second, given the rapid and continual changes in citizenship legislation internationally, there is a need to understand more fully the linkages between citizenship and refugee integration… Third, this special issue explores the multiple scales at which refugees experience the process of integration or exclusion…Focusing analysis upon the importance of community level integration.”

Low, A. (2006). Local integration: a durable solution for refugees? Forced Migration Review.

Drawing on data from Mexico, Uganda, and Zambia, this article argues that integration may “enable refugees to live amongst or alongside the host population, without discrimination or exploitation and as contributors to local development.”

Meaux, A. and Osofisan, W. (2016). A review of context analysis tools for urban humanitarian response. International Rescue Committee.

“This desk review aims to provide an audit and analysis of existing context analysis tools along the themes of governance and power analysis; vulnerability, social and conflict analysis; and urban systems analysis.”

Rosenburg, J. and Myers, A. (2016). Mean Streets: Identifying and Responding to Urban Refugees' Risks of Gender-Based Violence. Women’s Refugee Commission.

This report contributes “an analysis of the unique protection challenges and opportunities afforded by urban settings, including the risks specific to different groups.” It concludes by offering recommendations for actors working with refugee populations in urban areas.

Saliba, S. and Wolff, J. (2018). Urban Refuge How Cities Are Building Inclusive Communities. International Rescue Committee.

“This report serves as a call to action for private sector and international humanitarian actors to build on the initiative that city governments are showing in building inclusive communities for displaced populations.”

Sanyal, R. (2012). Refugees and the City: An Urban Discussion. Geography Compass.

This article contributes to our understanding of refugees in urban spaces and “draws parallels between the urban poor and refugees to offer a perspective on the close and complex relationship cities, refugee spaces and their residents have with each other.”

Sassen, S. (2014). The Global City: Introducing a Concept. Routledge.

This chapter from Sassen’s landmark book The Global City, introduces the ideas behind the modern globally-networked city where economic processes, capital, and people are transnationally networked linking them far outside their immediate urban physical space. This forms a foundation for thinking about the new global city environment to which refugees and other migrants are integrating that requires “new transnational political economy and trans-local household strategies.”

Schibel, Y. et al. (2002). Refugee Integration: Can research synthesis inform policy? U.K. Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate.

This report, prepared for the U.K. Home Office, overviews the literature on refugee integration, and asks the critical question: to what extent can research improve policymaking with regards to refugee integration, and in what ways is research being unscientifically summarized and distributed to policymakers? It argues reviews of policy and programming effectiveness can be helpful to policymakers, but should only include methodologically sound studies, and these reviews should be conducted in groups of “specialists in refugee research, and policy makers” to manage new biases during analysis.

Scottish Refugee Council. (2009). Integration Literature Review.

This literature review offers an excellent summary of the research on refugee integration as of 2009. It was prepared by the Scottish Refugee Council, so findings tend to focus on Western contexts to inform programming in the U.K.

Taran, P. et al. (2016). Cities Welcoming Refugees and Migrants. UNESCO.

This report  notes that “nearly half of the total population of international migrants (244 million worldwide in 2015) resides in ten highly urbanized, high-income countries, of which five are in Europe.” It overviews the legal framework at the national and municipal levels to make cities more open to migrant integration, the current context of migration in cities, and current approaches for welcoming migrants. It also sets an agenda for future work.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. (2013). The Integration of Resettled Refugees.

“This guide provides an overview of the essential elements a State must put in place in order to establish a resettlement programme, and the fundamentals that should be developed over the longerterm to ensure that their resettlement programme is sustainable.”

United Nations General Assembly. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 19 September 2016 [I.e. “the New York Declaration”]. United Nations.

The primary text of the “New York Declaration” of 2016 which recognized the similar issues faced by refugees and other migrant groups despite their different legal categories, that “refugees worldwide are in urban settings and only a minority are in camps,” and called for efforts to develop “policies relating to integration and inclusion” of migrants in order to promote “the well-being of migrants and their integration into societies.”

Waters, M. and Gerstein Pineau, M (Eds). (2015). The Integration of Immigrants into American Society. The National Academies Press.

In this thorough, book-length report, integration and wellbeing of immigrants in the United States is defined and measured in the domains of education, livelihoods, language, health, family structure, crime, legal status, and civic participation. It argues that “current immigrants and their descendants are integrating into U.S. society…[are] embracing an American identity and citizenship, protecting our country through service in our military, fostering technological innovation, harvesting its crops, and enriching everything from the nation's cuisine to its universities, music, and art.”