How UNHCR will make a difference
UNHCR is changing the way the world thinks about forced displacement and statelessness, and has been working for several years to deepen the involvement of development actors, organizations with the means to support governments to strengthen these fragile economies. By working with them, UNHCR can ensure they include forcibly displaced and stateless people in their research, , censuses and funding programmes, and that host governments have the support they need to include these populations – in schools, health care, housing, legal/administrative systems and the economy as a whole.
UNHCR has a multi-year vision for its engagement with development actors: that by 2026, increasing numbers of refugee, IDP, returnee and stateless people are able to enjoy their rights and are socially and economically empowered, with the means to be self-reliant and to contribute to sustainable development. This vision stems from the Global Compact on Refugees and is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s “Recommendation on the humanitarian-development-peace nexus”.
UNHCR will work with national governments, international financial institutions (IFIs), multilateral and regional development banks, bilateral development actors, NGOs and the private sector to achieve this vision. It has four objectives to achieve by 2026:
- Increased numbers of States are demonstrating their commitment to protection and inclusion;
- Increased proportions of forcibly displaced, stateless populations and host communities have equitable access to public services;
- Increased proportions of forcibly displaced, stateless populations and host communities have access to economic activities and employment opportunities;
- Increased proportions of refugees and IDPs can return voluntarily to areas where they are able to live self-sufficiently.
In pursuit of these objectives, UNHCR will bring development partners together, as foreseen by the GCR, for:
- Joint impactful advocacy, working closely with development partners to encourage law and policy changes that support protection, solutions and inclusion in national services and socioeconomic opportunities;
- Leveraging the technical and financial capacity of IFIs and development actors in countries heavily affected by forced displacement, statelessness or return;
- Programming, prioritizing area-based programmes with arrangements in place for a transition from humanitarian response to national assistance supported by development actors;
- Joint evidence generation, partnering with governments and development actors to better understand the costs and benefits of inclusion;
- Deeper partnerships with UN agencies, ensuring that their country programmes and budgets include displaced and stateless populations, leveraging their executive boards’ global commitments for burden sharing.
For example, in sub-Saharan countries targeted for funding by the World Bank IDA Window for Host Communities and Refugees, UNHCR will work with development actors and host governments on policy objectives outlined in the Refugee Policy Review Frameworks, advocating for the removal of barriers that restrict the rights of refugees and of their hosts, and leveraging financial and technical support for the development and solutions efforts led by the host country and the country of origin.
Other plans include a joint programme, with the Government of the Netherlands, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank, UNICEF and ILO, on education, employment, protection and critical infrastructure in Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Jordan, Lebanon, Uganda and Sudan. UNHCR will also work with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships on creating conducive conditions for voluntary return in Burundi and South Sudan, among other countries, as well as on economic inclusion and education. Together with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), UNHCR will focus on fostering inclusion in social protection, education and other national systems, as well as on climate action and energy programmes, in common priority countries. UNHCR will work with the IFC on strengthening private sector investments in hosting areas, as well as promoting micro, small and medium enterprises, including refugee-owned businesses.
UNHCR will also seek to maximize the synergies between its programming and that of development actors. Joint advocacy will be based on evidence from research and data generation on the advantages of socioeconomic, legal and administrative inclusion. This will also be the basis of targeted support offered to host governments who want to give forcibly displaced people access to social, legal, administrative and financial services and economic opportunities on the same terms as nationals. UNHCR will also work closely with UN development partners to ensure that forced displacement is integrated into the work of UN development agencies and their country programmes at least in main host and return countries.
The cost of inaction
While engagement with development actors does not require additional resources per se, development actors have supported UNHCR to build adequate human resources and technical expertise. Development Officers and Economists positions have been created, working in close collaboration with protection staff across UNHCR’s Regional Bureaux and relevant country offices. Without this dedicated team, it would be impossible for UNHCR to: i) build the capacity of relevant UNHCR staff to regularly engage with development actors at policy and programme levels; ii) build protection expertise of development actors engaging in forced displacement-affected settings; and iii) generate the comparable socioeconomic data that inform development responses in host and return areas.