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Social Cohesion and Forced Displacement: A Synthesis of New Research

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Global displacement trends are shifting. UNHCR estimates that more than 100 million people around the world were forcibly displaced as of May 2022. Global crises – including climate change, COVID-19, conflict, and rising costs of living – have increased the risk of social tensions and have highlighted the importance of social cohesion.

Watch the global launch of Social Cohesion and Forced Displacement: A Synthesis of New Research. This report synthesizes findings from a joint series of 26 working papers on forced displacement and social cohesion. This analysis offers actionable insights for policymakers and development practitioners on mitigating the negative effects of displacement and effectively promoting social cohesion.

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[Louise Cord]

Good morning and good afternoon and good evening, wherever you may be joining us today. My name is Louise Cord. I'm the Global Director for Social Sustainability and Inclusion here at the World Bank, and I'm delighted to see so many people joining us today for the launch of this important new report, Social Cohesion and Forced Displacement, A Synthesis of New Research. I will be moderating today's discussion, along with my colleague, Çağlar Özden, who is the Co-director of the World Bank's 2023 World Development Report. Before we begin, I'd like to let you know that we do have simultaneous translation available in Spanish. If you want to avail yourself of this option, click the interpretation icon at the bottom of your screen please.

By mid-2021, we know that 84 million people worldwide were forcibly displaced, including 20 million refugees. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, our partner in this work, recently projected that this figure is now 100 million, surpassing 100 million for the first time. It's impossible not to think of the war in Ukraine when you hear of this jump in the UNHCR's count of those who are forcibly displaced. The war has had, as we all know, devastating impact on families and communities, not to mention ripple effects worldwide on food prices, energy prices, and energy security more broadly. This is on top of other displacement crises that we're facing today, such as those in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Myanmar, South Sudan, Syria, and Venezuela. Across the globe, we're seeing families being forced to flee for political, economic, and environmental crises.

Forced displacement can profoundly affect social cohesion between displaced persons, host communities, and communities of origin. Forced displacement may undermine or strengthen social cohesion through several mechanisms, including the trauma and mobilization effects of the displacement experience, who has able to accumulate and access to human capital and economic opportunities and the perception, real or not, of how the inflow affects the population's access to services, markets and job opportunities in their own day-to-day environment.

These impacts on social cohesion really matter because social cohesion or trust within communities, between communities and between communities and government, is a key factor in building socially sustainable development outcomes. Having trust, we know enables communities to better work together to tackle common challenges such as climate change and water shortages and drought or access to public goods such as better education services and schools and health centers for the community. This is critical to address global challenges that we're facing today as well as country development challenges. Despite the importance of social cohesion for development and the clear connection between social cohesion and forced displacement, there's relatively little evidence and we know how this works and that's why it's so important and we're so excited today to be introducing this new report which covers 26 countries, low, middle, and fragile states, and high-income countries to better understand how forced displacement has affected social cohesion around the world. Let me turn it over now to my colleague, Çağlar, to share more about the report's key findings. Thank you.

[Çağlar Özden]

Thank you, Louise. I am really grateful to Louise and Audrey for inviting me to co-host the launch of this fantastic report. Couple of things. I am, as we said, Co-director of the 2023 World Development Report titled Migrants, Refugees and Their Societies. The report covers economic migrants as well as forced displacement in the international context, and couple of messages are driven from the research that has been presented in this report. Let me just highlight two important points. Number one, forced displacement in the international context is not a short-term event. It takes a while. The average duration of refugee status is 13 years. Keep that in mind, 13 years. A large number of these displaced people live in camps in really difficult situations. Now, when you're staying in a different country for 13 years, the social impacts both on the host community and the refugee community are critical.

So the results and the lessons highlighted in the different studies financed as the background for this report highlight there are variety of experiences, but couple of the issues are common. Number one, we need to plan for the long term, or in the case of forced displacement. Again, please remember the number 13 years. The second one, the costs are enormous, whether it is the human cost, also the financial cost. The cost on the host community is tremendous. So, what needs to be done to reduce the costs are the following, and these are the lessons also coming out of this report. Number one, you need to let the refugees integrate with the host community. We're not talking about citizenship necessarily, but you need to give them the right to work, the freedom of movement, and most importantly, access to services like health and education and possibly integrate them national service systems.

Now, in the short run, this might create political opposition in the host community and most of these host communities, remember, are neighboring low- and middle-income countries with relatively limited resources, but in the medium and the long-term, these are the right answers. Now, social cohesion also implies integration, economic integration. Refugees are different than economic migrants. They did not necessarily choose the destination and the timing of their movement. The economic integration will be much harder and many of the refugees will be children and the elderly with limited labor market opportunities. All of these also imply there's a huge responsibility falling on the shoulders of the global community. I'm going to stop there, and we have a fascinating discussion with great guests, but before that, we have a video to share with you. Thank you.

[Video Narrator]

Global displacement trends are shifting. Displacement caused by political, economic and environmental crises has dramatically increased. Over 100 million people around the world were forcibly displaced as of May, 2022. This has had a profound impact on social cohesion among displaced people and host communities. The World Bank, together with UNHCR and the UK government, has worked with researchers worldwide to gather robust evidence on this issue, generating valuable insights on social cohesion in the context of displacement. The research reveals that although displacement can worsen inequalities and creates tensions, this is not inevitable.

Refugee arrivals, for example, have the potential to generate positive effects for host communities, like improved services and economic growth. Inclusive policies and investments are needed to mitigate the negative effects of displacement. Key factors in promoting social cohesion are providing refugees with rights and freedoms, investing in infrastructure and services, and pairing investments with participatory approaches to ensure they effectively address needs. Development investments that target both displaced persons and host communities will improve the lives of all involved while fostering positive interactions. Find out more about what policymakers can do to promote social cohesion and how the World Bank is already leveraging these lessons.

[Louise Cord]

Thank you. As the video makes clear, the challenges are significant, but there are some solutions that can facilitate positive outcomes. Let's turn now to our panelists to learn a little bit more about what are these solutions. We have a fascinating panel, as Çağlar mentioned. First, let me introduce Ousmane Dione, who's Country Director for the World Bank for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. Welcome Ousmane. We also have with us Angela Spilsbury, who is Development Director in Jordan for the UK government's Foreign Commonwealth and Development office. I'm really glad to have you, Angela, thank you. Betsy Lippman, who's joining us from Geneva, is the Deputy Director for the Division of Resilience and Solutions at the UNHCR. Welcome to you as well. And finally joining from Washington I believe is Cindy Huang, who's Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, CGD as we call it.

Ousmane, let me start with you. Ethiopia has faced some significant challenges over the last couple of years, notably the armed conflict in Tigray, which have been combined with significant climate challenges, particularly around drought and successive years of poor rainfall. This has led to tensions, as you know well, over natural resources as well as tensions, particularly between agro pastoralists and pastoral communities, creating challenges around food insecurity and social tensions across communities. Within this context, can you tell us a little bit why social cohesion is an important dimension of development for you in the Ethiopian context and why it matters? Thank you.

[Ousmane Dione]

Thank you very much Louise, and very good afternoon to all panelists and thank you for inviting me to this extremely important discussion this afternoon. Indeed, Louise, you are absolutely right. Ethiopia has faced a turbulent last several years. But I would like to start first by noting that Ethiopia has nevertheless made important progress on several human development dimension over the past decade, resulting from sustained economic growth, one of the fastest in the continent, and poverty reduction, investment in human capital and reformed improve the effectiveness of public institutions. This development have led to the improvement of the lives of millions of Ethiopians across the country. I would like also to add that Ethiopia has one of the most progressive policies when it comes to refugees in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, Louise, as you mentioned, conflict has also increased sharply over the past five years with a tipping point over the last two years because of a difficult democratic transition in 2018, with a lack of consensus between politicians. Conflict has multiplied throughout the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, with an epicenter being the northern part of the country.

This happens within a rapidly changing environment where interaction and longstanding tensions end up really blowing up. The reason for this, as you alluded, are complex. We know that there are structural factors which we really witness, such as resources competition, deep-seated inequalities, impact of climate variability and climate change, rural urban migration, the demographics, the population growth of Ethiopia, border dispute are among those major challenges which Ethiopia has faced over the last two years. The structural issues were aggravated also by old and new grievances, interaction between national and federal level politics and community level cohesion politics, perception and real chronic neglect in many part of the country, frustration of the use, and most importantly, a hardening of ethno-linguistic identities based on competing narrative. All those factors have been [inaudible] which contributed to the crisis which Ethiopia have been facing. This has really led to also a conflict, which unfortunately have triggered massive internal displacement and related humanitarian crisis starting in 2016 and peaking really around 2018 where Ethiopia had the highest number of conflict-related IDPs worldwide, with almost 2.9 million people being new displacement.

Also the mass majority, the mass majority of this displaced by conflict, all the causes of this displacement are climate, and so we see the interplay between climate and conflict, which were key on the dynamic of internal displacement in Ethiopia. The country also has issues related to gender inequalities, which created barrier to adaptation in regard to climate change for women, especially for female-headed no household. Women and girls and boys, all those most vulnerable people to some point also because of the combination between conflicts, climate have been also victim to some kind of violence, which all of this have resulted into much suffering now for millions of people.

But I should also stress the fact that despite this very bleak scenario and situation, there is hope. This hope is grounded first on the peace agreement which was signed on the 2nd of November 2022, between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the DPL of the Tigray People Liberation Front in the northern part of the country, resulting in a number of positive actions which are currently being taken, such as the cessation of hostilities, which allows the restoration of humanitarian, the restoration of basic services in Tigray, and all of the progressivity is really making the dynamic of conflict to start really abating and giving a chance for peace, and providing really hope for Ethiopia and how they can foster sustained social cohesion, resilience and inclusion in this critical moment of the history of the country.

Ethiopia still fundamentally committed into poverty reduction and shared prosperity, but it is hard to achieve that goal without a focus on how to improve trust across communities and between the state and community. There is some kind of a social reason within the social equation. There is a dimension of the social contract which need to be set by Ethiopia, be it between different ethno-linguistic groups or between pastorals and farmers, between men and women, given the gender equality and the higher rate of gender-based violence, and especially between displaced and host communities, given the extent of internal but also external cross borders, displacement, Ethiopia being at the center of the Horn of Africa and sharing borders with every single country.

This is really one way for which we believe Ethiopia need in order to moving. Importantly, restoring the trust and building a sense of shared purpose between government actors at federal level, at local level, and which communities they will serve will be extremely important on how to really enhance that social contract, how to currently rebuild the social fabrics of the country, but at the same time also, how to move forward toward social cohesion. At the Bank, we do believe that social cohesion is indispensable if Ethiopia want to continue to embrace the path of economic growth and a peaceful development trajectory. In reality, there cannot be economic growth. The nexus peace development cannot be sustained without a strong social cohesion going forward. This is the reason why the Bank has currently put almost a billion US dollars on investment, whether it is related to the development response to displacement impact, which is almost 180 million US dollars, whether it is related to the response, recovery and resilience for conflict affected communities, the 300 million dollars project, whether it is related to the new flood management another 300 million, or whether it is related to the social safety net, all of that is contributing in bringing some responses on how currently to enhance and how to build much more social cohesion across Ethiopia.

And this is being done by really making sure that there is access to basic services, provision to climate resilience infrastructure for the most vulnerable communities, but also with a focus on community-driven approaches that place communities at the center of decision-making over their own lives. This is one of the reasons why we believe that the finding of the research being launched today, which provide concrete recommendation on how to address social cohesion in enforced displacement contexts will be crucial in guiding the World Bank and all the development partners in how we can better enhance social cohesion through this and all the World Bank finance projects. It's also important on this to continue to strengthen institutions, to continue to think about policies through social inclusion, rebuilding the social fabrics and making sure that there is a dynamic of common purpose for a better future would also be an engine of growth. Also, those will require very strong leadership, which the World Bank believes strongly and will be supporting in Ethiopia. Let me stop here, Louise. Thank you.

[Çağlar Özden]

Thank you, thank you Ousmane, for highlighting the challenges Ethiopia faces, in regards to refugees, along with its own development challenges and what the Bank is doing in this regard. Working on migration and refugees, it feels over the last 10 years we've been moving from one crisis to another, whether if it is climate-related disasters, to COVID, to now the war in Ukraine, which seems to be impacting the whole world economy from agricultural markets to energy markets. We are going to now move from Africa to the Middle East, specifically to Jordan. Jordan and Lebanon took the brunt of the impact of the Syrian crisis and the refugee outflows. Again, these are examples of countries with their own challenges and now they have to cope with the challenges of millions of refugees.

Our next guess is Angela. Angela, we want you to talk about the social cohesion in the case of Jordan, but specifically talk about somewhat controversial issue that comes up all the time, giving labor market access rights to the refugees. This is one of the report's conclusions and comes out in many other venues, but it is controversial. Can you talk about it and how it impacted social cohesion, to get the pluses and the minuses? Thank you.

[Angela Spilsbury]

Thank you very much and thank you for allowing me to come and be on this panel, and good morning and good afternoon to everybody who is dialing in. I mean, Jordan is quite an extraordinary example of how a country has created a safe space for refugees from many different countries. Jordan currently has three million refugees within its borders. That's 30% of its population. Of that, about 1.2 million are Syrian refugees, many of whom came over in a very short timeframe. So, there was a massive surge of people entering the country. Of that 1.2 million, about 670 thousand are currently registered with UNHCR as refugees. Now, the majority of those people live in the community, about 80% live in the community and as you said earlier, they have been here mostly since 2012 and probably will be here unfortunately for some time to come before it's safe for them to return.

Jordan's taken an incredibly pragmatic approach to supporting and helping those refugees. I ask many of my Jordanian colleagues since I've been here, "Why is it that Jordan is so hospitable? Why is it that there's so little resentment ever discussed or shown towards the refugee population and particularly with the Syrians?" I think there's very much a cultural trait of Jordan to be so hospitable and it's something that they really pride themselves on. But there's also an awful lot of familial, cultural and religious ties with the Syrian population and also with the Palestinian population that are also a very large refugee population here. All of this came to a head in 2016 when the Jordan Compact, which is probably quite well known amongst many people who've dialed in, was formulated to really encourage that integration, to encourage social cohesion and also to help raise money and support for Jordan to enable them to do that.

As a result of that, we have refugees, or the Syrian refugees particularly, have got complete access to public education up until the end of secondary school level. Currently we have 180 thousand refugee children in the public education sector. They're allowed access to primary healthcare and a basic package of healthcare that non-insured Jordanians would get as well. They're also now being included within the social protection schemes. That was something that happened during COVID, so actually COVID, whilst it was a crisis for everyone, was also an advantage in some ways. Then last year, as you said, Syrian refugees in particular have been given some access to some of the sectors in the economies to enable them to work freely. This has been really quite revolutionary. To date, we've had about 180 thousand free work permits issued to Syrian refugees. Currently, we know about 40 thousand of those are currently being used, but unfortunately only about 5% of those are being used by women.

Whilst it's a very, very good policy and it has created economic opportunities for some refugees, there are still lots of practical issues that actually sometimes hamper their ability to take up employment. That allows them to be employed in sectors such as construction, agriculture and manufacturing. However, some of the practical problems, as I've said, are things like misinformation within the refugee population, fear of taxation, fear of having to pay social security payments, and also there's also practical issues like transport to the place of employment and unpredictability of that employment. What we do find is most refugees work in the informal sector, and this is also where a lot of women are working, especially from the household where they're doing their own catering businesses or they're doing tailoring or tutoring of children.

On a social cohesion point of view, whilst unemployment here has risen dramatically, so since 2015, unemployment... I think, 2015, unemployment was about 14%. It's now around 24% for the general population and 50% within the population of young people, and only 14% of women are actually employed. So we have seen a massive increase in unemployment, which isn't necessarily because of the influence of refugees, but it's more because of the economic downturn as a result of COVID. There is a lot of unhappiness in society about economic opportunities being restricted. However, that's not translating into resentment towards refugees. A recent survey done by UNHCR last year found that 92% of Jordanians actually agree with the approach of embracing refugees within their communities and feel sympathy towards the refugee populations but yet 78% do say that they feel that they have been economically impacted by the refugees in society, although a lot of that might be because Syria before was a real trading partner for Jordan, and a lot of the cross-border trade obviously stopped during the conflict.

What we are seeing is that to try to further embed the integration of refugees into the country, politically, the government sometimes finds that very difficult. They fear the political optics of that. It's a very sensitive conversation that has to be had. Also, I think there needs to be a lot better understanding of what the economic benefits of having refugees working in the community are and how that can support the country's economy as a whole. I think we do need to look at the practical implications of why women aren't benefiting from these work permits and how we can open up more sectors like the digital sector, for instance, to enable younger people to become employed. Just quickly on UK support, so we've provided 750 million pounds since 2012 to the Syrian refugee response in Jordan. We've provided three billion pounds to the Syrian situation in the region since beginning of the conflict.

That includes things like cash assistance to very vulnerable refugees, support to the education system, support to the social protection system, but also we've done a big social cohesion project, which we worked through civil society working with the young populations where there was a large influx of refugees, training them in conflict resolution, training them in community representation and participation in local governance mechanisms, training them in skills to enable employment, but also building and adding to infrastructure in those communities that was put under strain by the influx of a big community of refugees. I think that's also contributed in its own way to helping maintain social cohesion. Let me stop there and thank you for the opportunity to talk.

[Louise Cord]

Thank you so much, Angela. That's fascinating to see the role that culture, and traditional ties play in creating an open environment and a collaborative space to work between host communities and refugees, really fascinating, but also some of the challenges of the economic crisis that can put tensions on that relationship. Again also, thanks for recognizing the role that CSOs can play because that can be quite important as a channel of building social cohesion and trust. Let me turn now to Betsy who has extensive experience from a humanitarian perspective in dealing with forced displacement and refugee crises. Can you talk a little bit in that context, what has worked to promote social cohesion between displaced persons and their host communities? What were some of the interventions? What were some of the results and what are some of the lessons that we can apply to today's refugees and IDPs in Ukraine, coming out of the war in Ukraine? Thank you.

[Betsy Lippman]

Thanks Louise. I also would like to thank the Bank and FCGO for doing this research. It's really important. I can't underscore that right now, while thankfully Jordan may not be one of those countries, we are seeing a rise in xenophobia, and of course this has been amplified by the economic impact of COVID and the consequences of the Ukraine war. This piece of work is a really seminal piece of work for us now. Thank you. In situations of forced displacement, the ties which hold a community together are often severely weakened or broken and this is something that the report states clearly. What's important is open and regular interaction between individuals and groups, their shared values and interests and their means of avoiding marginalization. This needs to be supported to be regenerated during displacement. Tensions within and among displaced communities may also rise and can quickly escalate. We see that often.

In addition, the perception can be created among host communities that refugees are a strain on inadequate public services or natural resources. We've also seen them, people say that they bring disease and increased crime. It's really important to be able to address these perceptions. Maintaining the social fabric of displaced communities and promoting their peaceful coexistence with host communities can be challenging in both camp and non-camp settings. Refugees may find difficulty to access safe spaces where they can gather and where they can find out about assistance and get information. They may not have access to work, where they can use their skills and capacities to support themselves, but as colleagues have said, where they can also demonstrate the value add that they can bring to their societies and their communities. These challenges are particularly acute for marginalized groups and people with specific needs.

Through our humanitarian experience, we've developed many effective tools for addressing these challenges, including the extensive use of community centers and community outreach volunteers. Community outreach centers are safe and public places where women, men, boys and girls of diverse backgrounds can meet for social events, recreation, education and livelihoods programs, information exchange and other purposes. They're established with the objective of empowering refugees and host communities and providing them with a forum to promote their participation in decisions that affect all of their lives. They're also platforms for public health and employment programming. Experience shows how they can be designed to promote social cohesion. For example, in Lebanon, refugees and local people both serve on management committees of community centers, which help to ensure joint ownership and transparency and they're places where both refugees and hosts can learn new skills. In Nepal, we have early childhood development centers in the refugee camps that are used by refugees and locals alike, and they foster a feeling of equality.

In Bangladesh, we have child-friendly spaces where refugees and host communities can access, for example, mental and other health interventions. Community outreach volunteers similarly can be used in the response to share information, identify individuals at heightened protection risk and support community mobilization efforts. In Syria, we established an extensive outreach network, and this paid off a lot during COVID, where 2,800 IDP and host community outreach volunteers reached 900 thousand people with awareness raising and information dissemination on COVID-19 and other protection topics.

Together with UNICEF, UNHCR has used this very effective approach in the Ukraine crisis. Last year we created 36 blue dot hubs in seven host countries providing protection and support services to almost a quarter of a million Ukrainians. Blue dots at major crossing points along transit routes and in urban areas in neighboring countries provided critical services and information, complementing government efforts and identifying those most in need. Today, a digital platform provides refugees with access to updated, accurate and localized information on their mobile phones, including on rights and entitlements, key social services and providers and how to access them and how to stay safe.

While I've given some of these examples of effective humanitarian interventions, there are also important development challenges. Community centers and outreach is often very expensive and there are high cost for rents, utilities, and staffing. We do think about sustainability from the start. What we try to do, for example, in Egypt is where there are existing community centers run by local Egyptians that are, we make them eligible for one-time support to renovate their facilities, to provide furniture or incentive for inclusion without creating parallel systems. We know we need to do more of this. Let me conclude just by restating how welcome and important this work is towards our collective efforts to mitigate and address the consequences of forced displacement on both the displaced host communities and host countries. Thank you.

[Çağlar Özden]

Thank you, Betsy. Now we are moving to... We talked about different regions of the world. Now we're coming back to Washington. Cindy, it's great to see you again. My question to you is to take a global perspective, a bird's eye view on the issues, as I said, every experience is unique, every corridor is unique, every individual's experience is unique, it's at times dangerous to make generalizations. Can you just talk about the overall challenges and opportunities regarding especially what is advocated in the report and from both the host government's perspective, but also taking care of refugees and displacement is a global responsibility. I mean, countries signed agreements to that effect, right? I'll leave the floor to you. Thank you.

[Cindy Huang]

Great. Thank you so much Çağlar and Louise for hosting us today, and congratulations on this fantastic report. It is, as someone else mentioned, it's a seminal work and so important and I hope it's featured in the rollout of the World Development Report as well as you launch that and socialize it. It's a real honor to be here today. Yes, I will highlight some of the challenges, I think everyone here is familiar with them, and then talk about three big opportunities I see really seated and highlighted in the report. In terms of challenges, many of the speakers have talked about the growing needs in displacement, but even beyond when we think about climate change and the rise in extreme poverty and also high pressure on budgets, host government and donor budgets, and rising debt.

To your point, Çağlar, about the agreements that people signed onto, that's true and it's so important to uphold the convention. It's also true that displacement looks very different than it did in the post-World War II era, and it's a difficult political environment and it's hard to update frameworks comprehensively. The flip side of this, and as many of the papers reflect, is that there is a lot of local and regional progress and innovation for us to learn from and build on. As I mentioned, I'll highlight three opportunities that I think are important to support the adoption of these important recommendations. The first is to engage governments with the evidence, especially that evidence that increasing refugee inclusion can have positive economic impacts without leading to backlash in host communities. Çağlar, as you rightly said, that's in the longer term. In the near term, it is very important to address the needs of hosts who are negatively impacted, for example, through higher housing prices and strained health systems.

At the same time, the World Bank and others have done extensive research on the positive average effects in the longer term of increasing refugee labor market access and integration. Since I have the floor, I'll take the privilege of highlighting a paper written by Thomas Ginn, my colleague at CGD, and Cevat Aksoy, which adds to this economic literature through an analysis of an extensive dataset on attitudes. They do not find differences in host attitudes between places with more inclusive and restrictive labor market policies. Even though hosts' welfare and attitudes are often cited as a reason for limiting refugee inclusion, there aren't significant differences in attitudes in places with more inclusive policies. That being said, every case is different, and I think many of the nuances that were referenced by the other speakers are important.

The second opportunity I see in this report is to continue to design programs at the intersection of economic support and social cohesion that are evidence-based and evidence generating. Now, for example, the report cites cases were cash transfers or joint job training with hosts and refugees do improve social cohesion and also others where similar programs do not. Maybe it's obvious for someone at a research center to recommend more research, but it's true. A lot of the agenda is outlined very well in this report. We need more research on program design and cost effectiveness, and I would add a priority on bringing together host governments and researchers so that there's buy-in and a pathway to scale what is effective. It's important to test locally because of questions regarding the validity of results across different contexts, related to cultural distance between refugees and hosts and the initial economic and social conditions. That's something that Betsy just highlighted in her remarks, some of the cultural factors.

There is particular promise in continued focus on combining economic interventions with social cohesion ones. In this vein, CGD next week will publish a full working paper on an experimental study cited in the report. Hosts in Uganda were randomly selected to receive cash grants and a short message on how the program was part of the refugee response and implemented by a refugee-led organization. This was compared with people receiving only cash or only the message. And more than one year after the program, Ugandans who received both the grant and the message were significantly more likely to support refugees' right to work and freedom of movement. This is an area that I think it's helpful to focus on at a global level, how to add cost effective social cohesion interventions to core economic ones.

And the third opportunity and the most important one is to scale up support for these situations, including through the powerful World Bank tools of the Window for Host Communities and Refugees for low-income countries, and the global concessional financing facility for middle-income countries, and to develop models in partnership with host governments for sustainability. This maybe is stating the obvious, but we absolutely need to devote more resources to supporting the global public good of hosting refugees. I just want to take a moment to further highlight the World Bank's IDA Window for Host Communities and Refugees. In my mind, it has been a model for engaging host governments on key investments and policy improvements.

The Windows Policy Review framework, which is highlighted in the report, it includes focus on those areas that are so closely connected to social cohesion. First, to reduce host poverty levels, to focus on both host communities and refugees, refugees' basic rights, refugees' economic opportunities and self-reliance and access to public services through national systems. This policy framework, combined with increased investment, is so strategic and it's so important that bi-laterals and other actors continue to support this policy dialogue and crowd in additional funding. Finally, we do need to continue working with host governments to make these efforts sustainable if we want to encourage further adoption.

As has been highlighted through various remarks, this is through refugee self-reliance. When refugees work, they pay taxes, they hire people, they start businesses, and their inclusion in health, education and other systems and the inclusion of refugees in these systems, they do have returns, but they take a long time to reach fruition. It's not surprising that host governments may worry that donor support will decline over time. From the outset, we should work with governments on a sustainable approach and multi-year funding so that these returns can be fully realized. To summarize, thank you again for this really thoughtful, important and path-setting report. I would say that let's continue to work to increase the collective financial support for hosting governments and do so in ways that are evidence generating in terms of combining the power of social and social cohesion and economic investment. Back to you.

[Louise Cord]

Wow, thank you. That was very comprehensive and very clear and a real call for both what we like, evidence-based decision making and more financial support that's sustainable. I also just want to note how you combined inclusion, access to services, with cohesion, building trust. I would add to that because we talk so much about conflict and climate, building resilience in communities and building accountability, ways for both hosts and refugees to give feedback to engage in the policy arena around programs and policies that matter. Let me ask two questions actually. I'm going to ask and then I have some more for the panels. I'm going to start actually with Ousmane, but I'm going to give Çağlar a heads up. I'm taking the liberty as a co-host to ask you a question, Çağlar, next after Ousmane, which is how does this resonate with the rest of the work that you're doing on the WDR? How do these findings from this report support further deepen, expand or contradict, hope not, what you're concluding in the WDR?

But let me ask Ousmane a tough question. I mean, he's Country Director out there in Ethiopia. He's used to that. Ousmane, we heard a lot about the role of evidence and the role of communication and the role of sharing why this matters. You've been such a proponent of this. You mentioned your large portfolio focused on social cohesion. Can you share with us how you've done that, how you've engaged with the government to get their support for these loans which they've taken on, and how they view these concepts and how you sell these concepts and what they need to feel comfortable to carry them forward? I told you it wasn't... But you're still... Yes.

[Ousmane Dione]

Thank you. Thank you, Louise. Tough question indeed, but really at the heart of the advocacy for this agenda is first to be factual and that is evidence based. As I said, numbers don't lie. Once you have the numbers, once you see the context and the reality on the ground, how it evolves, then it provides an opportunity really to be able to build a strong advocacy. Strong advocacy can be also oriented about what are the benefits which can come from a social cohesion. Good social cohesion is good economics, but it is also good politics. At the end of the day, because of the interactions between refugees, host communities, between the prospect of economics, that drives somehow the ways for which politicians can be [inaudible] going forward. And in a country like Ethiopia, which host so many refugees, the second most in Southern Africa after Uganda, but where also forced displacement have been almost now part of the dynamic of the society.

Once you have the numbers, once you understand the context and when you see that the cost of inactions may further exacerbate your situations, leading to more political and economic crisis. I think convincing decision-makers based on evidence becomes easy. But what is also important in this process is really how to build alliances with all the development partners or with all the development agencies. Here I want to really to stress the excellent collaboration we do have with UNHCR, with FCDO and also with all the UN agencies such as for example, UNOPS and WFP and by building that [inaudible] large alliances, by having also the compact with respect to evidence-based concrete solutions which can be devised and supported with strong policies.

Then the link between how to reconstitute the social fabrics, how progressive to rebuild social cohesion has some very good resonance to politician, knowing that also in a country which have so many crises, such as Ethiopia, building a nation cannot be achieved without having a strong social cohesion. This is the way we had framed our different interventions and to make sure that at the end of the day, it yields into some shared purpose in living together and aspiring for some kind of common prosperity. Let me stop there, Louise.

[Louise Cord]

Thank you. That is actually great. That really shows the combination of the evidence, of the partnerships, of the framing this around building a sustainable state and a peaceful state and a prosperous state. Thank you. I think that's a socially sustainable one as well. Thank you very much. Çağlar, what does this mean to you, this report and how do you put it into the findings? How do you frame it within the findings coming out of the WDR?

[Çağlar Özden]

I mean, the role of the WDR. I mean, this is the first time, hopefully the last time I'm doing a WDR, so it's a huge learning curve for me, personally. Let me highlight the following. The one thing the WDR focuses on international migration. We have a spotlight on IDPs, but to focus on people who cross an international border without necessarily the rights of citizenship, which limits a lot of the outcomes that are feasible. Now to me, the unique contribution of this WDR to our perceptions is the following. If you look at the intellectual basis of international mobility, there are people like me who are coming from more the labor economics or international economics and see just simple international economic transaction. Then there are people who are coming more from the law tradition and looking at it from a protection issue.

I think our main contribution in the WDR, if you manage to do it, hopefully we are managing to do it, is to say you need to incorporate and integrate both perspectives because at the end of the day, you are not moving robots. When you bring somebody, regardless of the circumstances, there is both an economic impact and there's a social impact, and it is the interaction of the economic and the social impacts that create the opportunities as well as the challenges. Looking at every progress in humanity that has happened over our existence, it's due to mobility. That's number one I want to, in terms of opportunities, but also the challenges. Now, having said that, so an immediate implication of this perspective is social integration and economic integration. Not only they go hand in hand, but they reinforce each other. You cannot have social integration without economic integration and vice versa.

This is, I think, is perfectly aligned and supported by this report. This is what it's saying. I was going to save this last comment to the end, but this might be an opportune moment. Social cohesion, of all the topics covered with regards to international mobility, is probably the hardest one for two reasons. One, it doesn't lend itself easily to empirical investigation. It is much easier to look at the wage impact of immigration or what is the cost of providing healthcare to refugee children. We can't see the money going in and the outcomes. That's not the case with social cohesion. We are economists so it's very hard to do. On the other hand, everything impacts social cohesion. When we're talking about healthcare delivery, if I go back to it, it is a relatively well defined and isolated issue in relative terms. Social cohesion isn't like that. Labor markets impacted, education impacted, housing policy impacted.

The strength and the challenge and the contribution of this report, and which we highlight in the WDR, is that social cohesion is at the heart of it, but also possibly the biggest challenge we're going to face, especially in the context of forced mobility. I'm an economic migrant, most of the people in this room are economic migrants, but we moved to places where we knew we were demanded and needed, and then there was room for us both culturally and economically. The forced displaced people don't have that luxury in terms of time and location. It's a huge policy challenge. That also comes throughout the WDR. We are in perfect alignment here.

[Louise Cord]

So that's good to hear. We often say social cohesion, social sustainability is more about the how of development than the what. It's more about how you do all those policies you're mentioning and that our panelists have mentioned. But with the remaining time, I've taken up a lot of time by asking participants questions. I don't know, Çağlar, if you want to ask any of our guests a question in the final minutes?

[Çağlar Özden]

The one question I have, just looking at the empirical data, the last three big crisis that led to forced mobility, Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela, these are middle-income countries. Is this an anomaly or is this, to our experts who are much more in the trenches than I am, or is this the new pattern? Because when it's happening in a middle-income country, it has pluses and minuses. The people who are living have better resources, maybe, more human capital, more adaptability, but also, we are seeing, especially in the case of Ukraine, there's a much bigger global footprint of the crisis. Is this the new normal or these are isolated events? Anybody can take it. Maybe Betsy or Angela can get the ball rolling.

[Betsy Lippman]

I'm happy. [Crosstalk] Oh, sorry. No, go [crosstalk]. No, basically I was just going to say it's interesting. I guess I hadn't thought about it that way. I don't know if it's the new normal. There are certainly, as you said, when it's in a middle-income country, I mean, I think we've seen because those countries have more resources to deal with these issues. For example, in Colombia where the government has provided temporary protected status and recognize the value of including refugees and refugee-like persons in the labor market and in the other systems, I think that can be much harder. They've also been able to access the global concession financing facility, but I think it's an anomaly. But now I wonder saying that when we see the next one, Çağlar, if the next one's also in a middle-income country, I may come back to you and ask the economists to do a study on this. Thanks.

[Angela Spilsbury]

Çağlar, maybe I could come in with some experience from Jordan and sorry, my camera doesn't seem to be going on, so forgive me for not turning it on. I mean, this is antidotal, but it's really interesting from what I hear talking to people here. When the Syrian crisis occurred and a lot of Syrians came into Jordan, they did bring with them quite a lot of capital and resources. That was also the case when we had the influx of Iraqi refugees here as well. The majority of people were very highly skilled. They were professionals like teachers, lawyers, engineers, et cetera. At the beginning certainly, they had the money to be able to pay their own rents and to support themselves economically.

Interestingly, unfortunately, I feel the professionals were not allowed to practice their professions. Doctors, nurses, teachers were not able to do those jobs in Jordan. Possibly, and this again is just antidotal, possibly that's maybe why there's reluctance to take the opportunities that the free work permits are providing for them because they're in areas like construction and agriculture that are maybe seen as rather beneath these people's skills. I think what's interesting is that the longer that this crisis goes on and the longer that people are having to be as refugees in Jordan without being able to practice their professional work, that benefit maybe is declining. Where at the beginning maybe it promoted social cohesion because people came with their own money and they brought economic activity into the local community by consuming and paying rents, maybe as their income is now declining, maybe that will deteriorate or have a negative impact on social cohesion. I don't know. A really interesting question though for your research. Thanks.

[Betsy Lippman]

Maybe just to come on top of what Angela just said, where what we saw, the IMF just did a report on Columbia and it shows the same thing. Because the Venezuelans who came have higher level skills, the challenge there is there's a dichotomy between the jobs they're able to take and utilizing their skillsets. They're not really able to utilize their skillsets to the greatest extent because those job opportunities aren't there. I guess the question is how do you have better matches and are there enough of those more skilled jobs that they can take so they don't become de-skilled over time as well? I think it is a really interesting question for us to look at. Thanks.

[Çağlar Özden]

I don't know if Cindy has wanted to come in. Sorry, Cindy.

[Cindy Huang]

It's okay. Just to add to that you'll see at CGD, we had a big project on labor market access, and I think the question of certification that Betsy and Angela reflected on is an important one. Maybe just to close, Çağlar, in terms of what you said, of the mutually reinforcing economic and social integration and really getting in early to allow internal mobility within countries that are providing protection for people. Then also maybe to then connect it to what Ousmane was saying, that that can become a political win, but it requires this early action and a positive feedback loop. Thank you so much.

[Betsy Lippman]

Sorry, Çağlar, if I could just come back for one second. We've seen two studies. One is in Mexico and one is in Brazil. We did a study in Brazil where, again, both countries have mobility programs where refugees are moved to areas where there are actually jobs. Again, we're talking about middle-income countries. What we've seen is when refugees are able to do that, for example, in Brazil, the study we did shows that the amount of money that the government spends to integrate those people into services, et cetera, what they get back in taxes is now equal to what the government spends. That's already a good sign. So exactly what Cindy was saying, the ability to be able to move where there are labor opportunities is really important. Thanks.

[Çağlar Özden]

Okay, Louise, I think we need to start wrapping up, right?

[Louise Cord]

I think so. I think you're closing out the... I opened.

[Çağlar Özden]

Okay.

[Louise Cord]

You close out.

 

[Çağlar Özden]

All right.

[Louise Cord]

Thank you.

[Çağlar Özden]

I'll close up. Wanted to thank everybody who are present here, but also the people who are behind the scenes put this together. I'm going to put my consumer of knowledge hat and want to highlight two things. I think this report reflects the best of the World Bank because we are the conduits of knowledge also. That's one of our functions. There are dozens of papers, background papers, that have been financed by DFID for this project. The 60 pages you're holding in your hands is distillation of that. I highly recommend for you to actually go to the background academic papers who are done by some of the leading names in this field and see that the devil is in the details. The empirical analysis is, and the data and the interpretation are fantastic.

Audrey was telling me that there's going to be a special issue in the Journal of World Development. I am also especially grateful to Ousmane, Betsy, Cindy, and Angela for being here and sharing their wisdom. Every good report, in my view, doesn't answer questions, but it starts a new conversation. I am positive, definitely positive, that this will be the case with this report. Thank you and great to be here and see you next time.

[Louise Cord]

Thank you. Thank you Çağlar. I'd also just like to thank the authors, so Audrey Sachs, Susan Wong, Stephen Winkler for putting this together and our ECR team and production team for making this event possible. And you, Çağlar, for taking time out of your schedule to join us and to be such a great partner as we work on this topic together.

[Çağlar Özden]

It's absolutely my pleasure.

[Louise Cord]

Thank you all. Have a great rest of the day.

[Çağlar Özden]

Thank you.

[Louise Cord]

Thanks.

[Betsy Lippman]

Thank you. Bye-Bye

00:00 Welcome and opening remarks
03:38 Key takeaways from the report
07:30 Explainer video
09:29 Panel discussion
1:02:54 Closing remarks

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