Just like anyone else, forcibly displaced and stateless people need accurate and timely information to take informed decisions. Yet, on some occasions, they find themselves in an information vacuum, cut off from the information they need to protect themselves and their families, unable to influence decisions that affect them, and unfamiliar with the processes for raising concerns or providing feedback about the services they receive. Equally, they may receive conflicting or fraudulent information, be repeatedly asked for their opinion with no feedback, or be left waiting for a response to a complaint they raised.
UNHCR wants to address these challenges and is working on developing an ambitious five-year plan to strengthen Accountability to Affected People (AAP). UNHCR will ensure that people can use their preferred channels of communication to get information that enables them to make informed choices to support their protection and seek a durable solution to their situation. UNHCR will also ensure that they can reach its staff – using a variety of channels – to ask questions, provide feedback and flag sensitive concerns. They must feel safe when doing so, and confident that they will receive timely feedback. UNHCR needs to demonstrate to the communities it works with that their opinions matter, and people need to see how their voices have influenced its work and that of its partners.
How UNHCR will make a difference
UNHCR’s goal of holding itself accountable to the people it works with and for can appear to be an abstract and aspirational concept. But strengthening the accountability of programming has a very real impact on communities. Consider the cases of two displaced people: Pablo, who is seeking asylum and depends on UNHCR for information about his rights and entitlements, and Joelle, who hopes to go to university:
The systematic roll-out of digital channels in 2024 will mean Pablo can:
- Use one of his preferred channels to access verified life-saving information 24/7;
- Share information with his family – including his grandma – in audio, video and text;
- Understand how to apply for asylum and know where to seek support with his application;
- Act as an information ambassador in his community to rebut misinformation and dispel rumours;
- Connect with someone from UNHCR – in a secure safe digital space – without having to travel long distances;
- Be directed to a secure channel for raising a complaint;
- Be confident to use the channel, know his data rights and request to delete his data if he wishes;
- Provide feedback and suggestions on how to improve the services he accesses.
The scaling up of a self-service digital gateway will mean Joelle can:
- Securely prove her identity through an authentication process and access her own data;
- Upload her education certificates to apply for an international scholarship;
- Update her profile with a new phone number to receive updated information and timely cash distributions;
- Book an appointment with UNHCR to discuss her case;
- Raise a concern about a service provided in the community where she lives.
UNHCR will be publishing its Focus Area Strategic Plan in 2024, which further articulates its commitment to globally accelerate its Accountability to Affected People
Age, Gender and Diversity
UNHCR has a longstanding commitment to apply an Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD) approach across all aspects of its programmes and activities to ensure that the protection, dignity, and well-being of all forcibly displaced and stateless people are respected, and that nobody is left behind.
AGD is a fundamental principle of humanitarian work that:
- supports the meaningful participation of people, in particular women, in decisions that affect their lives;
- draws on their experiences and abilities;
- addresses the unique needs and protection risks experienced by different groups;
- and contributes to more effective, equitable, and sustainable responses.
In 2024, UNHCR will invest in tools that support the development of programmes that are inclusive of AGD, and will strengthen the systematization of data resulting from its interactions with displaced communities to inform the implementation of its plans. The organization will increase its staff’s knowledge and awareness of the AGD policy and will harness the progress achieved in fostering local partnerships with organizations representing or led by diverse groups of displaced and stateless persons.
UNHCR will also increase its use of data that is disaggregated by sex, age, disability, and other diversity characteristics when designing and implementing programmes or measuring the results of its work. UNHCR will also invest in tailored and contextually adapted training in the inclusion of persons with disabilities, LGBTIQ+ persons, and other groups at risk of marginalization.