2nd Research Conference on Forced Displacement


Date: January 20-22, 2022

Location: Online


Livestreamed event: Day 3 of the 2nd Research Conference on Forced Displacement

Replay: Conference Day 2

Replay: Conference Day 1


The 2nd Research Conference on Forced Displacement is organized by the World Bank-UNHCR Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement (JDC) in partnership with the School of Economics at Universidad de Los Andes, and the World Bank’s Development Research Group. The conference will take place virtually from January 20-22, 2022.

Featuring an academic program of 24 carefully selected papers, the conference will cover topics such as: the impact of forced displacement, attitudes toward the forcibly displaced, and innovations in data collection. As keynote speakers, we are honored to introduce Edward Miguel and Ana María Ibáñez (see more below). They will reflect on major research questions in forced displacement and lessons learned from their own research.

The conference will have a particular – albeit not exclusive – focus on internally displaced persons. It will stimulate cross-country research and debate around internal displacement – and forced displacement more broadly. A dedicated panel discussion will examine the role that research plays in informing and shaping policy interventions on forced displacement. The conference aims to provide researchers and practitioners with a platform for discussing new evidence which can inform timely policy responses.

If you have any questions regarding practicalities or the contents of the program, do not hesitate to reach out to the conference organizers, using the email address fdresearchconference@jointdatacenter.org.


Conference Surveys

All participants are invited to fill out this anonymous questionnaire on research and policies on Forced Displacement.

You are invited to also complete this poll on research and forced displacement and a feedback survey on the entire Conference

All three surveys are online and will remain open for some time after the Conference.


Registration for all days of the conference is open. Register now.

Conference Program

(Time: EST/CET)


 Day 1: January 20, 2022


Opening remarks
(08:00 – 08:30/14:00-14:30)

Mari Elka Pangestu, World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships

George William Okoth-Obbo, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect

Paula Gaviria Betancur, Executive Director of Compaz Foundation and member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement

Moderated by Björn Gillsäter, Head of the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement


Session 1 : Cash transfer programs
(08:30 – 10:30/14:30-16:30)

Food Aid and Refugee Coping Strategies: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design, Mirko Vintar. (Find the presentation of the paper during the conference here.)

Children on the Move: Progressive Redistribution of Humanitarian Cash Transfers among Refugees, Berk Özler

The short-lived effects of unconditional cash transfers to refugees, Onur Altındag

Keeping refugee children in school and out of work: Evidence from the world’s largest humanitarian cash transfer program, Murat Kirdar

Chaired by Abul Azad, Senior Economist, Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement


Session 2 : IDPs
(10:45 – 12:45/16:45-18:45)

Prolonged Social Contact with Internally Displaced Migrants Does Not Reduce Prejudice Among Locals in Wartime Settings, Yang-Yang Zhou (Find the presentation from the conference here.)

Violence, Displacement, and Support for Internally Displaced Persons: Evidence from Syria, Alexandra Hartman

Forced Displacement and Human Capital: Evidence from Separated Siblings, Sandra Sequeira

Displacement, a step on women’s marriage? Natural disasters and cultural norms, Laura Muñoz Blanco

Chaired by Samuel Cheung, Chief, Internal Displacement Section, UNHCR


Panel discussion
From Research to Policy: Addressing Forced Displacement
(13:00 – 14:15/19:00-20:15)

Blaise Bienvenue Ali, Director General, Institute of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies of the Central African Republic

Ninette Kelley, author of “People Forced to Flee: History, Change and Challenge” and former UNHCR Representative, Lebanon

Carolina Sánchez-Páramo, Global Director of the Poverty and Equity Global Practice (GP), World Bank

Axel Bisschop, UNHCR Representative, Sudan

Moderated by Domenico Tabasso, Senior Economist, Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement (JDC)

Day 2: January 21, 2022

Session 3
: Impact of forced displacement
(08:00 – 09:30/14:00-15:30)

Refugees and Foreign Direct Investment: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from U.S. Resettlements, Anna-Maria Mayda

Exports “brother-boost”: the trade-creation and skill-upgrading effect of Venezuelan forced migration on Colombian manufacturing firms, Carlo Lombardo

Immigration and Violent Crime: Evidence from the Colombia-Venezuela border, Ana Maria Tribin

Chaired by Patrick Brock, Senior Data Scientist, Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement

Session 4: 
 Innovations in data collection
(09:45 – 11:15/15:45-17:15)

Drought-induced migration in Brazil: a quantitative analysis of internal displacement from the Northeast region due to water scarcity using survey microdata and gridded meteorological data, Guilherme M. Dutra & Marianne B. P. Brum (Find the presentation from the conference here.)

Violence and Internal Displacement: Insights from Nationwide Mobile Phone Data, Xiao Hui Tai

Automated Chat Application Surveys Using WhatsApp, Jessica Sadye Wolff & Beza Tesfaye

Chaired by Christelle Cazabat, Research Manager, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC)


Session 5 : Returnees
(11:30 – 13:00/17:30-19:00)

The Dynamics of Refugee Return: Syrian Refugees and Their Migration Intentions, Daniel Masterson

Migration and post-conflict reconstruction: The effect of returning refugees on export performance in the former Yugoslavia, Dany Bahar

Refugee Return and Social Cohesion, Isabel Ruiz (Find the presentation from the conference here.)

Chaired by Nessa Kenny, Program Manager, Peace & Recovery Program, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA)


(A Side Conversation with Edward Miguel will take place at 12:45 -13:15/18:45 -19:15)


(13:15 – 14:15/19:15-20:15)
Tracking Refugee Life Outcomes:
An Initial View from the Syrian Refugee Life Study (S-RLS)

Edward Miguel, Oxfam Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics and Faculty Director of the Center for Effective Global Action at the University of California, Berkeley

Moderated by Quy-Toan Do, Senior Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank


(A Side Conversation with Edward Miguel will take place at 14:15 – 14:45 /20:15 – 20:45)

Day 3: January 22, 2022

Session 6
: Migrant policies and outcomes
(08:00 – 09:30/14:00-15:30)

Life Out of the Shadows: Impacts of Amnesties in Migrant’s Life, Sandra V. Rozo

Housing Subsidies as a Poverty-Reduction Strategy Evidence from Jordan’s Syrian Refugees during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Sarah Stillman & Emma Smith

Reparations as Development? Evidence from Victims of the Colombian Armed Conflict, Arlen Guarin

Chaired by Jeffery Tanner, Senior Economist, Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement


Session 7 : Attitudes
(09:45 – 11:45/15:45-17:45)

Exposure to Transit Migration, Public Attitudes and Entrepreneurship, Sergei Guriev

First Time Around: Local Conditions and Multi-dimensional Integration of Refugees, Cevat Giray Aksoy

Can a Sense of Shared War Experience Increase Refugee Acceptance? Ji Yeon Hong

Can Aid Change Attitudes toward Refugees? Experimental Evidence from Microentrepreneurs in Urban Uganda, Olivia Woldemikael & Thomas Ginn

Chaired by Johannes Matzat, University of Goettingen


(A Side Conversation with Ana María Ibáñez will take place at 11:00 – 12:00/17:00- 18:00)


(12:00 – 13:00/18:00-19:00)
Promoting Recovery and Resilience for Forced Migrants: Lessons from Colombia

Ana María Ibáñez, Principal Economics Advisor at the IDB and a Professor at the School of Economics in Universidad de los Andes

Moderated by Andrés Moya, Associate Professor at the School of Economics, Universidad de Los Andes


Closing Conversation and Looking Forward
(13:00 – 13:30/19:00 – 19:30)

Dr. Saja Al Zoubi, Development Economist, Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), University of Oxford

Andrés Moya, PhD, Associate Professor at the School of Economics, Universidad de Los Andes

Björn Gillsäter, Head of the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement


Opening Speakers

Abul Azad

Mari Elka Pangestu

Mari Pangestu is the World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships. In this role, which she assumed on March 1, 2020, Ms. Pangestu provides leadership and oversees the research and data group of the World Bank (DEC), the work program of the World Bank’s Global Practice Groups, and the External and Corporate Relations function. Ms. Pangestu joined the Bank with exceptional policy and management expertise, having served as Indonesia’s Minister of Trade from 2004 to 2011 and as Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy from 2011 to 2014. She has had vast experience of over 30 years in academia, second track processes, international organizations and government working in areas related to international trade, investment and development in multilateral, regional and national settings.

More about Mari Elka Pangestu

Abul Azad

Paula Gaviria Betancur

Paula Gaviria Betancur is the executive director of Compaz Foundation. She is a lawyer and journalism specialist, with postgraduate degrees in public opinion and political marketing. Gaviria is a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement. She is the former Presidential Advisor for Human Rights in Colombia and former director of The Victims Unit. Gaviria was actively involved in the drafting of the victims’ chapter on the Final Peace Agreement signed between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP, where she advocated the inclusion of the victims’ voices in the dialogue process.

More about Paula Gaviria Betancur

Abul Azad

George William Okoth-Obbo

George Okoth-Obbo is the in-coming Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a position to which he was appointed upon completing in December 2021 an assignment as Assistant Secretary General, Secretary and Head of the Secretariat of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement. He was appointed to the latter position in December 2019 when he was at that stage serving as UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations. His UNHCR career started in 1984 as an Associate Protection Officer in Botswana before becoming Protection Officer in the UNHCR Operation in Swaziland (1987) and later in Lesotho also as Protection Officer (1987-1989). He was then reassigned to UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva in 1989 as Senior External Relations Officer before becoming Senior Legal Adviser in the Organization’s Regional Bureau for Africa. In 1995, he was reassigned to Ethiopia as Assistant Representative for Protection. In 1998, he moved to the UNHCR Regional Directorate for Southern Africa in Pretoria first as its Senior Policy Officer (1998 – 2000) and then as Deputy Director (2000-2001). He then served as UNHCR Representative in Zambia (2001) and after that as Representative for Kenya from 2001 to 2006. In the latter year, he took up the position of Director of the Division of International Protection Services at UNHCR Headquarters which he held until being appointed as the Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa with effect from July 2009. He served in this position until he was appointed as Assistant High Commissioner for Operations in February 2015.

Mr. Okoth-Obbo is a national of Uganda. He graduated with a Batchelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in his country, holds a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in the same country and earned a Master of Laws from the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Before joining UNHCR, he was a Lecturer in law, respectively, at the said Law Development Centre and the Faculty of Law at Makerere University. Mr. Okoth-Obbo is married to Esther Okoth-Obbo. They have two children.

More about George William Okoth-Obbo

Welcome Note 

Björn Gillsäter

Björn Gillsäter is the Head of the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Prior to this, he was the World Bank Group’s Special Representative to the United Nations in New York.  Björn joined the Bank in 2001 as Senior Advisor to the Nordic-Baltic Executive Director. He has more than two decades of experience, working on multilateral affairs, both as a government official with the Swedish Ministry of Finance, and with several international organizations. Some of the other positions he has held include serving as: Alternate Executive Director at the African Development Bank; Chief for Multilateral System Analysis with UNICEF; and Head of the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) at the OECD.

More about Björn Gillsäter 

Keynote Speakers

Abul Azad

Ana María Ibáñez

Ana María Ibáñez is a Principal Economics Advisor at the IDB and a Professor at the School of Economics in Universidad de los Andes. She is the former Dean of the School of Economics at Universidad de los Andes and former the Director of the Economic Development Research Center (CEDE) and holds a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland at College Park. Professor Ibáñez’ research studies the economic consequences of internal conflict, in particular the costs of war and conflict upon the civil population. Her research has been published on Economic Development and Cultural Change, Journal of Development Studies, Journal of Economic Geography, Journal of Peace Research, International Regional Science Review, World Development, The Economics of Peace and Security Journal, and Economia. She has published chapters in nine books and a book on the economic consequences of forced displacement in Colombia. In 2010 Professor Ibáñez’ received the Juan Luis Londoño award, a medal given biannually to the Colombian economist younger than 40 years who has contributed to improve the social conditions of Colombians. She was a Visiting Professor at the MacMillan Center (Yale University) in 2016, and at the Program of Latin American Studies (Princeton University) in 2018.

More about Ana María Ibáñez

Abul Azad

Edward Miguel 

Edward Miguel is the Oxfam Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics and Faculty Director of the Center for Effective Global Action at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 2000. He earned S.B. degrees in both Economics and Mathematics from MIT, received a Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow, and has been a visiting professor at Princeton University and Stanford University. Ted’s main research focus is African economic development.

More about Edward Miguel


Abul Azad

Carolina Sánchez-Páramo

Carolina Sánchez-Páramo is the Global Director of the Poverty and Equity Global Practice (GP) at the World Bank. She is a Spanish national, is currently the Global Director of the Poverty and Equity Global Practice (GP) at the World Bank. Prior to this assignment, she was the Poverty and Equity GP Practice Manager in the Europe and Central Asia region. Carolina has worked on operations, policy advice and analytical activities in Eastern Europe, Latin America and South Asia, and was part of the core team working on the WDR2012, “Gender Equality and Development”.

Her main areas of interest and expertise include labor economics, poverty and distributional analysis, gender equality and welfare impacts of public policy. She has led reports on poverty and equity, labor markets and economic growth in several countries, as well as social sector operations. She has published articles in refereed journals and edited books on the topics described above. Carolina has a PhD in Economics from Harvard University.

More about Carolina Sánchez-Páramo

Abul Azad

Ninette Kelley

Ninette Kelley is the author of “People Forced to Flee: History, Change and Challenge”, former UNHCR representative in Lebanon.

Ninette Kelley is a former senior officer in UNHCR. She recently completed a book for UNHCR to commemorate the 70th anniversaries of the creation of the Office (2020) and of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (2021).  People Forced to Flee: History, Change and Challenge will be published by Oxford University Press in February 2022. It reflects back and looks forward: drawing on the lessons of history to probe how we can improve responses to forced displacement.

Kelley has also held various policy and consultative roles with international humanitarian agencies focusing on development, immigration and refugee issues. In Canada she served eight years on the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).  She is the author of The Making of the Mosaic: The History of Canadian Immigration Policy, University of Toronto Press, 2nd edition, October 2010 (with Michael Trebilcock) and has published in the areas of human rights law, citizenship, refugee protection, gender related persecution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.  She is a lawyer by training.


Abul Azad

Blaise Bienvenue Ali

Blaise Bienvenue Ali is the Director General, Institute of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies of the Central African Republic.

Abul Azad

Domenico Tabasso 

Domenico Tabasso is a Senior Economist with the Center. Previously, he worked with the Policy Evaluation Unit of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Research Department, where he analyzed the effects of labor market policies in emerging and developing countries. He has also contributed to the work of the ILO within the IFC-ILO-UNHCR-UNICEF-WB and Government of Netherlands partnership on Inclusive Jobs and Education for Forcibly Displaced Persons. Domenico has held academic positions at the universities of Essex, Geneva, and Melbourne, publishing several policy reports and academic articles. He holds a B.Sc in Economics from Bocconi University, and an M.Sc and a Ph.D in Economics from the University of Essex.

More about Domenico Tabasso

Closing Conversation 

Abul Azad

Dr. Saja Al Zoubi

Dr. Saja Al Zoubi is a development economist who specializes in and teaches Gender and Forced Migration & Middle East Politics. She is a lecturer at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), University of Oxford, and visiting scholar at Glasgow University. Her research has focused on issues of gender and rural development, including women’s empowerment, and its role in the development. Since the war broke out in Syria, her concern has been researching ways to improve the livelihoods and food security of affected households (IDPs and refugees), especially women-headed households. Al Zoubi is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships from international and regional universities and foundations. She is the recipient of numerous awards, from the Syrian Scientific Agricultural Research center and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, UNESCO, the Arab League, the the Arab Women Organization, and the Open Society Foundation.

More about Dr Saja Al Zoubi

Abul Azad

Andrés Moya, PhD

Andrés Moya, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the School of Economics, Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. He has a PhD in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California, Davis and Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Economics from Universidad de Los Andes. He is a member of EGAP and a member of the scientific committee of the Colombian Longitudinal Survey of Universidad de Los Andes (ELCA). His research falls in the fields of Development and Behavioral Economics focusing on the economic, psychological, and behavioral consequences of violence and forced displacement in Colombia. In his research, Andrés has analyzed the effects of violence and psychological trauma on: (1) different dimensions of behavior, such as risk aversion, risk perceptions, and hope; (2) cognitive and socioemotional skills; (3) early childhood development; and (4) performance in job-training programs and in the labor market. A second area of his research agenda focuses on the relationship between poverty, inequality, and human capital accumulation. Currently, Andrés is leading the implementation and impact evaluation of Semillas de Apego, a group-based psychosocial intervention for primary caregivers, which aims to foster early childhood development among children exposed to violence in Colombia.

More about Andrés Moya

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