UNDP's Scaling Fences report highlights some of the many reasons why people leave their country. Photo: Lena Mucha


At the recent Global Refugee Forum in Geneva countries and organizations came with their pledges and commitments to find a way to respond to one of the most complex challenges of our times--the large-scale movement of people. Former refugees represented a diversity of stories and highlighted their unique experiences based on their gender, age, or disability status. They spoke of helping other refugees to find their paths towards safety, security and a new beginning. Local communities expressed their solidarity and willingness to work with refugees. Mayors talked about how they are taking all possible measures to host new neighbours and give equal opportunities to refugees and host communities. Law firms, bar associations, and corporations made joint pledges comitting pro bono hours to provide legal support to refugees and stateless people.

UNDP’s Scaling Fences report highlights some of the many reasons why people leave their country. It is often to escape conflict, violence, natural disasters or persecution.

To end forced displacement and prevent it from occurring in the first place, the underlying factors must be addressed. At the same time, support is also needed to reinforce local justice and security institutions so that they are able to respond to the large demands placed on local authorities and host communities during refugee crises. Collaboration across the humanitarian, development and peacebuilding sectors is needed to comprehensively prevent, resolve and respond to displacement.

Over the last two years, UNDP has supported refugees and host communities through our partnership with UNHCR on the rule of law and local governance.

In the Gambella Region in Ethiopia, together with UNHCR, UNDP is working with local partners to support legal aid services in five districts as well as working to support local community peace committees to handle disputes, supporting mobile justice services and working with the police and refugee watch groups to strengthen community-oriented policing. This is complemented by efforts to identify local economic opportunities for refugees and hosts. Supporting efforts to strengthen social cohesion, uphold the rule of law, enhance security and livelihoods forms a cohesive package of  services for refugees and host communities.

In Pakistan, UNDP and UNCHR are working together to mainstream refugee concerns as part of the Strengthening Rule of Law Programme in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. This includes supporting refugees in becoming paralegals, enabling participation in community-oriented policing forums, and developing training modules and university courses on refugee rights for the police and law students. The programme also supports refugee access to the legal aid desks and model police stations, in particular women’s desks. This includes addressing sexual and gender-based violence, including more gender responsive policing.

In order to encourage the participation of young Roma women and men in inclusive local governance systems in Serbia, UNDP, UNV and UNHCR are working together on a Local Initiatives for Improved Social Inclusion of Roma in Serbia. This includes training of Roma youth and placing them within local institutions to contribute to and advocate for the political, social and economic inclusion of Roma and other vulnerable populations in Serbia. This initiative has been transformative at both an individual and systemic level by building up of networks of Roma youth that can collectively advocate for more inclusive policies.

Building on the successes and lessons learned through the partnership in these countries, UNDP and UNHCR announced a commitment to increase our efforts and support at least 20 countries through the UNDP-UNHCR Rule of Law and Local Governance Partnership Framework by the next Global Refugee Forum which will take place in 2023.

It is clear that displacement requires new approaches to the global refugee crisis. Development and refugee response cannot be realized without meaningful participation of all stakeholders, and that requires broader partnership. UNDP is committed to serving as a convener by bringing diverse partners together to support refugees and host communities and we look forward to working with partners to take this initiative forward.  

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