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Forcibly Displaced Persons and Financial Services: Why and How?

The number of people displaced because of conflict or violence is at record highs, over 70 million according to UNHCR, and the duration of their displacement now averages 10 to 15 years. This calls for longer term solutions at the nexus of the humanitarian and development world. The Syrian conflict has made the need for policy action even more pressing.

The Role of Financial Services in Humanitarian Crises

Financial services have a role to play in mitigating humanitarian crises. They can help forcibly displaced people build resilience by providing the resources to address health shocks, for example. Access to savings and credit can enable forcibly displaced persons (FDPs) to seize economic opportunities, allowing them to start new businesses provided they have the right to work. But more needs to be done to help people rebuild their economic lives. Financial regulators need to make it easier for FDPs to access formal financial services; governments need to include financial services in their crisis planning; financial service providers need to train up staff; and donors need to build financial services into longer term solutions for managing humanitarian crises.


While the nature and incidences of humanitarian crises vary significantly, they affect millions of people, particularly the most vulnerable. Based on a literature review, this paper shows how financial services can be an entry point to support FDPs.

This infographic illustrates how access to financial services can help people overcome adversity more quickly and sustainably.
A refugee filling an application at the UNHCR registration center in Tripoli, Lebanon. Photo by Mohamed Azakir, World Bank.
Blog Series

This blog series explores the role that financial services can play for displaced people. Topics include the demand for financial services among FDPs, disaster insurance, and cash transfers. The millions of refugees and people forcibly displaced

Lessons from the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Lebanon and Jordan

Since the start of the conflict in Syria in 2011, Lebanon and Jordan have shouldered the impact of a massive influx of Syrian refugees. Today, Syrian refugees account for over 25 percent of the population of Lebanon and 10 percent in Jordan, placing immense pressure on over-stretched resources. Most of the low-income refugees rely on informal financial services and, similarly to poor people in their host countries, one of the biggest financial challenges they face is coping with health shocks. CGAP has examined policy solutions to link humanitarian cash transfers to financial inclusion, and more broadly for increasing their resilience and helping them build sustainable livelihoods.


Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan receive more than one quarter of their humanitarian assistance in the form of cash and vouchers. Leveraging this aid delivery to connect refugees to the formal financial system requires the host country to have widespread digital financial ecosystem in place and coordination among governments, aid agencies, and financial service providers.

How do you increase financial inclusion when the most vulnerable and financially excluded part of your population becomes host to a massive, even more vulnerable, and even less financially included group of refugees? Building on a quantitative survey, this research shows that for financial services to work for refugees, they also need to work at scale in-country.

As more customers turn to formal financial services, remittances will have an even stronger developmental impact, especially in countries with large numbers of people displaced by humanitarian crises. This report examines the financial ecosystem and regulations in Jordan for international remittances, domestic payments and mobile money.

Financial lives of Lebanese and Syrian Refugees in Lebanon

This report puts particular emphasis on how households manage their income and expenses and how they cope with external shocks such as illness, accidents or loss of/damage to assets.


Feasibility Study for Piloting Graduation Programs in Lebanon

Graduation is a good way of sequencing humanitarian and development approaches.


Workshop on Financial Services to Mitigate Forced Displacement

Based on analytical work conducted mostly in Lebanon and Jordan, the World Bank Group and CGAP hosted a workshop to discuss insights, evidence, and potential programming surrounding financial services for crisis-affected populations.

Policy Resources

FDPs face barriers in accessing formal financial services often due to policy restrictions, ranging from lack of proper identification documents to too few access points to banking or mobile money. They also can face restrictions on their ability to enter local labor markets to make a living. Understanding the unique set of challenges they face is essential to overcoming obstacles that prevent broader economic and social participation.


We Build Bridges: Roadmap to the Sustainable and Responsible Financial Inclusion of Forcibly Displaced Persons

This publication builds on G20 recommendations and offers a roadmap with specific actions that governments, the private sector and development agencies can take to include the record numbers of FDPs in the formal financial system and provide pathways toward new livelihoods.


GPFI Workshop Report: Financial Inclusion of Forcibly Displaced Persons 

In this workshop consensus was reached as to ‘why’ financial inclusion is important in humanitarian contexts and for FDPs in particular.


GPFI Policy Report: Financial Inclusion of Forcibly Displaced Persons

This G20 roadmap recommends three areas for policy action – improved global coordination, better data and evidence collection, and embedding FDP-inclusive policies in government responses.

Additional Resources


FinDev Gateway Refugees Hub

This Topic Hub offers access to key resources contributed by organizations around the world who work on the topic of financial inclusion and microfinance services for refugees.


Cash Digitization: UN Collaboration, Coordination, and Harmonization Opportunities

This UN Better Than Cash Alliance’s Cash Digitization Study recommends strengthening cash assistance collaboration across UN agencies & partners, to improve coordination and harmonization.


The Arab World and Financial Inclusion During Crises

Many donors and investors focusing on financial inclusion in the Arab World are considering how to adjust or adapt their work given the level of crisis in the region. This blog series share insights from organizations working in this situation, who are documenting what they have learned.


UNHCR-World Bank Group Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement 

The Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement aims to enhance the ability of stakeholders to make timely and evidence-informed decisions that can improve the lives of affected people.