Forcibly displaced people often live in overcrowded camps in countries with struggling health systems, making this population highly vulnerable to COVID‐19. In the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh, where large numbers of Rohingya refugees have settled in recent years after fleeing Myanmar, researchers worked with IPA to administer a phone-based survey to households in both refugee camps and nearby host communities.

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Many countries have struggled to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis in a way that provides for refugees’ human needs and ensures cohesive integration into host communities. Though many policies and programs focus on immediate aid and short-term goals, individual refugee recovery and the stability of host communities is best observed on a longer time horizon.

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Globally, irregular migration and human trafficking have reached crisis proportions in fragile and conflict-affected states. In Nigeria, the combination of ongoing, low-intensity conflict, a large youth population, and limited economic opportunities has led to high levels of irregular migrants seeking to make the dangerous journey to Europe. There is little evidence on how individuals weigh the risks and benefits of migration, and how information campaigns influence decisions to migrate.

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More than 1 million Syrian children live in Turkey as of 2020, and many Turkish residents worry about increased peer violence and social segregation in schools that serve these students. Researchers partnered with the Ministry of Education in Turkey to conduct a randomized evaluation of Understanding Each Other, a program which aims to foster social cohesion through perspective-taking activities that encourage students to consider others’ perspectives.

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Fragile and conflict-affected states with weak government presence offer a fertile ground for armed and terrorist organizations to impose their own governing structures.  In these settings, it remains unclear whether economic or personal motivations are larger drivers of individual participation in violent groups.

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A Ugandan youth working on a bicycle
In developing countries with high unemployment, cash grants can provide poor people with the capital to invest in small enterprises. If people are not too constrained in their ability to earn and save, grants will simply offer a kick start to higher work and income levels, levels they would have some years later even without the grants. If it is difficult to save or accumulate assets, however, one-time investments could propel people out of poverty permanently. Which is it?
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Cox's Bazar intervention

Despite the scale and persistence of forced displacement, little data and evidence exists to inform long-term policy responses. The arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees in southern Bangladesh beginning in August 2017 poses a significant policy question: how to integrate refugees into the host economy while simultaneously maintaining or improving the wellbeing of nationals.

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Exposure to violence, conflict, and other traumatic life events can have harmful effects on the economic, human, and social capital of individuals and their communities. Entrepreneurship and business skills training curricula have been commonly adopted as an approach for promoting socio-economic inclusion in fragile settings.

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Exposure to violence in childhood and adolescence is associated with adverse health and socio-economic outcomes. School is one of the most common settings where children and adolescents may experience violence; and in some countries, school staff may be one of the most common perpetrators of violence against children. Levels of violence may be higher in humanitarian settings, where people are displaced and teachers and children may have recent histories of trauma.

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As conflict forcibly displaces millions of people, social ties and trust across groups can disintegrate and be difficult to rebuild after violence subsides. Positive and cooperative intergroup contact has the potential to reduce prejudice and improve relationships with outgroup members. Researchers evaluated the impact of mixed Christian-Muslim soccer teams on social cohesion and interactions between these groups in an ISIS-affected area of Iraq.

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Measuring Knowledge and Understanding of the Peace Process in Myanmar

A key step toward designing an inclusive peace process is understanding the knowledge, perceptions, and expectations of the people involved. With this in mind, the Joint Peace Fund, an initiative that supports the peace process in Myanmar with technical, financial, and advisory assistance, is working with IPA and Myanmar Survey Research to gather quantitative and qualitative data on public knowledge and understanding of Myanmar’s peace process.

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Evidence from multiple contexts suggests that the Graduation Approach, which provides holistic livelihood support for ultra-poor households, has lasting positive impacts on a range of outcomes. However, graduation programs are relatively expensive because of the intense level of support they offer. The costs pose a challenge for governments that want to implement the approach at scale.

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Urban armed groups, especially criminal gangs, are a growing threat to peace and economic growth in cities across the world, and often exert state-like powers such as enforcing contracts, policing, and taxing businesses.

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Evidence suggests that approaches based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can improve mental health and reduce crime and violence in post-conflict areas. However, delivering CBT programs is a challenge in settings that lack trained staff and therapeutic facilities. Researchers in Sierra Leone are exploring alternate delivery platforms to bring evidence-based mental health interventions to youth facing conflict and adversity in West Africa.

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Governments must pay their employees for states to function, but frequent delays and leakage of salary payments can undermine government effectiveness. In partnership with the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, researchers are conducting a randomized evaluation to study whether mobile salary payments (MSPs) improve learning by increasing teacher attendance and morale.

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