Research Areas

Our research complements the organisation’s core data collection and monitoring function, drawing on the evidence that the data presents and providing conceptual clarity and framing of key problematics of internal displacement. In-depth qualitative and quantitative research is conducted in partnership with leading academic institutions, experts and international organisations across these research priorities for 2017-2020:


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Economic impacts of displacement

While the humanitarian needs of displaced people are of overriding concern to the international community, a long-term reversal of current trends will require addressing the underlying drivers of displacement, which are social, economic, political and environmental in nature.

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Urban displacement

Although images of camps with row upon row of tents on open land form many people's idea of life for the displaced, this is not fully representative of reality as many internally displaced people (IDPs) live in urban areas. Despite claims that from half to the majority of IDPs live in cities, the scale of global urban internal displacement caused by violence, conflict, disasters or development has not yet been fully quantified or understood.

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Displacement in a changing climate

Displacement under deteriorating conditions associated with drought and other gradual environmental processes such as land and forest degradation, desertification, sea-level rise, erosion, salinization and glacial retreat is often associated with the gradual loss of viable livelihoods, habitable land and security. Climate change is a critical driver exacerbating them all.

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Internal to cross-border displacement

It is often assumed that refugees and other displaced people who leave or flee their countries of origin were at some point internally displaced, but the relationship between internal and cross-border displacement is poorly understood. Evidence points to high numbers of refugees who were internally displaced before fleeing abroad, and suggests that the push and pull factors for internal displacement from areas affected by conflict are similar to those reported by refugees.

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Crime and displacement in Central America

With increased attention on criminal and gang violence and associated factors, such as poverty and weak governance, has come a growing awareness of the many ways in which it forces people to abandon their homes in search of safety. Because of the relatively invisible nature of the phenomenon, along with the reticence for some governments to recognise it, most of the existing evidence on internal displacement in the Northern Triangle of Central America remains anecdotal, and data on IDPs – in terms of figures, locations, vulnerabilities and needs – are not collected through a harmonized approach to allow for comparison at regional level. There is as such a growing urgency to understand the drivers, triggers, impacts and patterns of internal displacement so as to provide the evidence base for operational and policy responses.

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