About the project

Refugeework.net is the online portal of the research project 'Digital Livelihoods', which studies online work, digital economies, and digital skills training among refugees living in cities.

The project is based at the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in the United Kingdom.

Are you interested to collaborate or participate in the research?

The project seeks to understand the reality of refugee work at a time of digital transformations from a variety of angles: from the lives and work of refugees themselves, but also from the perspective of online work platforms, digital initiatives, and training programmes. We are always looking for collaborators and partners that help us to work towards a future of fair and decent refugee work in digital economies.

Research Lead

Andreas Hackl

Dr Andreas Hackl

Lecturer in the Anthropology of Development,

University of Edinburgh

I am a social anthropologist working on refugees and the future of digital work, while researching the current role of digital economies in international development. My previous research included work on inequality and migration, labour mobility, urban inclusion, and minority citizenship. As an anthropologist and journalist, I have mostly worked in the Middle East and Europe.


Watfa Najdi

Watfa Najdi is a project coordinator at the Refugee Program at Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut. She holds an MS in Urban Planning and Policy from the American University of Beirut. Her graduate thesis investigated the impact of Syrian-owned businesses on the city of Beirut. She also holds an MA and BA in Architectural Engineering from the Lebanese University. Her interests and research are primarily orientated around urban and refugee studies; this includes urbanization of refuge, refugee housing, urban informalities, the right to the city, social and economic integration of refugees including informal adaptive mechanisms, and urban political economy.


Dr Philip Rushworth

Research assistant, Social Anthropology,

University of Edinburgh

In my PhD I explored dignity in the everyday lives of Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Germany, with a focus on access to and experiences of welfare, education and work. I am particularly interested in anthropological approaches to masculinity and citizenship, and this was the centre of my doctoral research. My other interests include the gig economy and the future of work.

Project Affiliates

Jyotsna Khara

Former Researcher on the project

Joy did her Master’s Degree in International Development from the University of Edinburgh, and was affiliated with the project behind refugeework.net. Her research focussed on digital refugee livelihoods in the Middle East. This has brought her to the ILO in Amman where she will be assisting the Migrant Branch on their new project with the World Economic Forum’s Global Council on the Humanitarian System. With the ILO’s standards of ‘decent work’ in mind, she was working with organizations to measure the scope and impact of their digital interventions for refugees. 

lorraine charles

Lorraine Charles

Researcher and consultant

Lorraine Charles is a Research Associate at the Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge and co-founder of Na’amal, which aims to provide education for remote work for refugees and then link them to the private sector. She is also currently a research consultant for an Abu Dhabi government entity. She has worked as a consultant with NGOs and INGOs, as well as in academia and the private sector. She has been working on issues surrounding the Syrian crisis since 2011, conducting research, building strategic partnerships and implementing projects. Her research interests are refugee education and employment, with a particular interest in remote work.

Affiliated projects and initiatives

Natakallam logo


Social enterprise

NaTakallam offers language learning programs delivered by refugees, for all levels of Arabic, French, Persian and Spanish, as well as professional translation services to individuals and organizations worldwide.

Natakallam pioneers the concept of leveraging the Internet economy and refugees’ language skills to provide language services to users worldwide, who, through their engagement, help support displaced persons’ livelihoods. Natakallam also offers translation and interpretation services, academic Programs to universities and schools, and remote guest speakers through Refugee Voices.


Technology Startup

TaQadam is a technology startup that aims to democratise geo-analytics and computer vision by applying mobile work in machine learning data labelling. Taqadam works with an inclusive model hiring vulnerable youth and refugees to perform tagging, mapping, and image annotation.