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Results BriefsJuly 27, 2023

Tackling forced displacement as a development challenge

Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan

Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

The vast majority of the 108.4 million people displaced globally are hosted in developing countries for five or more years. Since 2016, the World Bank Group (WBG) has been increasing its support to those displaced and their host communities through new research, data collection, support for policy reform, and projects on health, education, water and sanitation, roads, environmental management, access to economic opportunities, and inclusion in social safety net programs.


At the end of 2022, 108.4 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide. Most of them live in developing countries and  two-thirds of refugees were estimated to have been displaced for more than five years.  Humanitarian organizations are not set up to provide relief in the long term. Hosting countries face significant challenges in meeting their own development goals while accommodating people displaced for a long time --often in areas where local communities themselves lack basic services and resources.  


The WBG supports member countries in addressing the needs and aspirations of those forcibly displaced and also of their host communities. Its medium-term development perspective complements the emergency relief activities of humanitarian organizations and focuses on tackling longer-term, social and economic challenges --especially jobs and education-- and on closing gender gaps by empowering women and girls. The Bank works with partners to produce better data and analytics that inform results-driven strategies; to develop innovative financing mechanisms that address the variety of forced displacement situations; and to implement effective operations on the ground. The Bank also developed the Refugee Policy Review Framework (RPRF) to provide a methodology for systematically reviewing the refugee policy and institutional environments in countries eligible for WBG support. This approach aligns with Sustainable Development Goal 1, Sustainable Development Goal 10 (Target 10.7) and the Global Compact on Refugees.


  • Horn of Africa: The Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) is a $630 million regional operation in the Horn of Africa covering Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia. The project seeks to mitigate the social, economic and environmental impacts of protracted refugee presence while also maximizing the opportunities offers. As of May 2023, 5.5 million people, of whom 53 percent are women, have benefited from improved access to basic services such as education, health, water and sanitation. Livelihood activities have supported over 285,000 people with business grants and training on entrepreneurship, with 150,000 beneficiaries reporting an increase in income. 1,751 infrastructure subprojects targeting water, health and education facilities, and roads and markets have been completed, and another 595 are currently under construction.  Nearly 400,000 people have been provided access to renewable energy. An additional US$3.4 million in funding was provided for the project in Kenya in December 2022 to cover cost increases for schools, health facilities, and water systems subprojects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The WBG-managed Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) was set up in 2016 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis, to provide development support on concessional terms to middle-income countries impacted by refugee crises across the world. Between 2016 and December 2022, almost 1.8 million people received essential health or nutrition services under GCFF-supported operations; over 2 million refugees received the right to work in their hosting country; and over 1.2 million people benefited from improved access to infrastructure or municipal services. GCFF-supported operations have also supported 23 policy measures that codify or expand rights or protections for refugees and host communities. 
  • The $750m IBRD Second Colombia Fiscal Sustainability, Competitiveness, and Migration Development Policy Financing (DPF), with $31.5m grant financing from the GCFF, supported the government to implement policies to regularize and integrate Venezuelan migrants into Colombia. A 2018 World Bank research report, Migration from Venezuela to Colombia: Impacts and Response Strategy in the Medium and Long Term, informed the government’s policy actions to improve the migrants’ access to basic services and jobs. In 2019, 281,596 Venezuelan migrants, with women making up nearly 50 percent, obtained Special Permanent Stay Permits (Permiso Especial de Permanencia, or PEP). The permits helped regularize the migrants’ legal status, ensuring that they had access to education, healthcare, clean water and sanitation, housing and childcare services. They also enabled 76,744 job-seeking migrants to get services from the National Employment Agency.
  • In Bangladesh, the IDA Additional Financing for the Health Sector Support Project has helped provide, since 2018, immunizations for over 87,000 displaced Rohingya children, has provided access to women-friendly services on sexual and reproductive health and rights and on gender-based violence for over 408,000 displaced Rohingya women and girls, and has increased from 4 to 98 the number of  facilities providing an appropriate mix of family planning methods. Separately, the Reaching out of School Children II Project supported 234,000 displaced Rohingya children, trained 3,000 teachers in Cox’s Bazaar and supported over 1,300 learning centers in the refugee camps.
  • In Chad, an IDA grant has provided, through the Refugees and Host Communities Project,  cash transfers reaching over 70,000 beneficiary households, including 21,000 refugees, between 2018 and 2022. The project is also supporting the capacity building of the National Commission for Refugees (CNARR) to execute its tasks in the refugee camps, benefitting over 200,000 refugees. Separately, the World Bank-UNHCR Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement in Copenhagen, Denmark, supported the Government of Chad to conduct a series of surveys on Chadian and refugee households. Insights from the analytical work helped the government design and pass an inclusive Asylum Law in December 2020, guaranteeing refugees freedom of mobility and equal access to health, education, and justice.
  • In Ethiopia, the Economic Opportunities Project provided the impetus and financing for the adoption of the Refugees Proclamation, a new law granting more rights to refugees, which was passed in 2019. The Directives established since the passage of the Proclamation have enabled over 2,000 refugees to access residence permits for the first time, including under the Urban Productive Safety Net Project, where refugees and host communities have been engaged in public works and livelihoods activities. The support has helped improve incomes and social cohesion of refugees and host communities in targeted households.
  • From 2015-2018, with a trust fund grant of $10 million, the Lebanon Municipal Services Emergency Project assisted selected municipalities most affected by the influx of Syrian refugees to provide reliable and quality municipal services and social initiatives.  The project helped to provide and distribute 12,423m3 of municipal water per day to 124,572 people, it collected 79 tons per day of solid waste for 42,584 beneficiaries, and enhanced mobility for 62,481 beneficiaries in 14 municipalities by connecting and rehabilitating existing roads to improve access to markets, schools, clinics, playgrounds, and community facilities.
“I went to a meeting in San Nicolas and they collected my info in a spreadsheet, and after a month I got a notification that said I got the benefit. I invested it in my business to buy some merchandise so I could reopen my business, because it was closed. This type of support is very important because it helps people who are aware to know how money should be used for a small venture.” 
Juan, Venezuelan migrant in Colombia.

Bank Group Contribution

For low-income host countries, the International Development Association (IDA) provides financing through the Window for Host communities and Refugees (WHR). In the IDA18 (July 2017-June 2020) and IDA19 (July 2020-June 2023) replenishments, the WBG programmed resources of more than $3.1 billion to this end.

The Global Concessional Financing Facility (GCFF) supports middle-income countries hosting refugees. Launched in 2016, the GCFF has provided more than $775 million in grants to unlock $6.2 billion in concessional finance for Jordan, Lebanon, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Moldova, and Ecuador. The GCFF is a partnership between the United Nations, Islamic Development Bank, the World Bank and others. Donors include Canada, Denmark, the European Union (EU), Germany, Japan, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is leading efforts to engage the private sector in supporting refugees and hosts. IFC works with the World Bank, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other partners to identify private sector solutions and opportunities for refugees and their host communities.


UNHCR has become a solid strategic and operational partner to the WBG. They complement each other in implementing projects, coordinating policy dialogue with governments, and producing joint assessments, data analysis, and evidence-building research. Specifically, the World Bank and UNHCR partner in the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement to ensure effective, reliable, publicly available data to inform decision-making for both the development and humanitarian communities. And both, along with the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, have joined forces to finance research around forced displacement through the Building the Evidence on Forced Displacement program.

The World Bank is also part of the Partnership for Improving Prospects for Host Communities and Forcibly Displaced Persons (PROSPECTS), which supports the socioeconomic integration of forcibly displaced people in Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Sudan, and Uganda. PROSPECTS is financed by The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also includes IFC, ILO, UNHCR, and UNICEF.

At the country level, the WBG coordinates with development and humanitarian partners, including extensive cooperation with UN agencies such as IOM, UNRWA, UNICEF, FAO, WFP, and UN Women.

Looking Ahead

In the IDA20 replenishment, the World Bank is making $2.4 billion available to support refugees and host communities from July 2022 to June 2025.  The funds will assist in promoting medium to long-term development opportunities for refugees and their hosts, with emphasis on government policy commitment, resilient and inclusive recovery, social cohesion, and gender equality. The Government of Japan has recently contributed   $83.36 million to the GCFF to support efforts to address the needs of refugees and host communities in middle-income countries. And in December 2022, IFC established a Joint Initiative with UNHCR to boost private sector engagement for refugees and their host communities.