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The new refugees and migration reports you need to read

Written by Helen Dempster

For those involved in refugees and migration research, the events in New York two weeks ago provided the perfect opportunity to influence the world’s leaders as they gathered for the United Nations High Level Summit on Refugees and Migrants.

Many research reports, policy briefs and graphics were produced, attempting to illuminate an otherwise dark debate with evidence and analysis. However, in a move altogether typical of a time characterised by the death of experts, many of these pieces flew under the political clamour.

For those of us following the #UN4RefugeesMigrants debate, it was evident that much good work was being produced: research that would still be relevant for policymakers and other researchers long after leaving New York. Here's a summary:

Journeys and motivations

  • The ESRC-funded Mediterranean Migration Research Programme (MEDMIG) interviewed 500 refugees and migrants, finding that the simple narrative of routes taken by refugees and economic migrants (which are presumed distinct) is actually far more complicated and diverse.
  • New ODI research – accompanied by infographics and an animation – shows that while EU policies will decrease the number of people ‘overtly’ arriving in Europe this year, almost 500,000 people will come through illegal routes.
  • REACH conducted over 1,000 interviews with migrants heading to Europe through the Western Balkans - painting an excellent picture of who these people are, why they have come to Europe, how they are travelling and the impact of policies on their route.

Europe's expensive and ineffective efforts to stop migration

Forced displacement, protracted displacement and humanitarian assistance



Infographic: global numbers of refugees and international migrants 2000-2015

Facts, figures and case studies

  • Oxfam used a number of case studies, photos and quotes to highlight the situation of refugees and IDPs across the world, and to create a good background document on the current crisis.
  • The United Nations published a series of good infographics on the data behind the narrative. Particularly interesting is the contributions of migrants to economic growth.
  • 'Nearly one in 100 people worldwide are now displaced from their homes' – one of ten good, concise, facts about refugees and migrants entering Europe and the United States from the Pew Research Center.



  • At the UN High Level Summit, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) became a related, and lead migration, agency of the UN. Based on more than 60 staff interviews, the Future United Nations Development System argues we shouldn’t be that optimistic about this move.
  • And, finally, the Center for Global Development (CGD) released a podcast with Michael Clemens and Cindy Huang discussing what ideas, elements and policy innovations world leaders should take into account when formulating and delivering on the global compact for refugees and migrants, the New York Declaration.

That's my round-up – if I missed your report, please let me know and I will include it in this list.

Updated 8 November 2016.