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UNDP Global

Young Burundian returnees from the Mtabila refugee camp in Tanzania are delighted to take ownership of the house allocated to their families in the Integrated Rural Village of Buhomba, built with UNDP funding. © UNDP Burundi / Aaron Nsavyimana - 2018


This year, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) alerted us to a record high number of forced displacement of over 70 million, including 25 million refugees. Climate change, weak governance systems and extreme poverty and inequalities are worsening an already dire situation. In a world where nearly one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict, violence or persecution, more needs to be done to address the reasons why people are displaced.  

That is why the first Global Refugee Forum (GRF) being hosted in Geneva this week comes at an opportune time: a year after the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees. At the Forum, the international community will announce pledges and contributions that fast-track the achievements of the Compact. This includes easing pressures on host countries, building the self-reliance of refugees, supporting access to third-countries, and working towards refugees’ safe and dignified return.

At the Forum, UNDP is making commitments on sustainable development solutions for refugees and host communities designed to:

  • address the root causes of forced displacement,
  • ensure the inclusion of refugees in planning for the sustainable development goals,
  • support refugees and host communities to cope,
  • recover and sustain development gains and
  • create better conditions for the sustainable reintegration or integration of refugees.

UNDP will implement a development approach to displacement in over 40 refugee-hosting or potential refugee origin and return countries using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as our framework.

In line with the commitments at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 to reduce protracted displacement trends by half by 2030, UNDP, working with our partners, aims to do so in at least in 30 UNDP programme countries with refugee situations.

UNDP’s commitments at the Global Refugee Forum consist of a package of three integrated solutions in 40 countries, in particular:

  • First, we will ensure tailored development, prevention and peacebuilding approaches in addressing root causes of forced displacement in at least 20 countries. This entails more joined-up data and analysis, early-warning, regional and country programming supported by better financing that incentivizes much-needed collaboration across the board;
  • Second, UNDP will strengthen refugee solutions in 20 countries through the UNDP-UNHCR Rule of Law and Local Governance Partnership Framework. We will step up our efforts to strengthen capacities of local governments to prepare and respond to refugee inflows, support Rule of Law institutions, and improve access of refugees and host communities to justice, safety and security and human rights protection systems.
  • Third, UNDP will promote decent work to drive forward the self-reliance of refugees. As part of the UNDP digital transformation that is currently underway, we will work with refugees and host communities in over 20 countries to build tomorrow’s skills today. In particular, UNDP will coordinate innovative digital initiatives that foster the economic inclusion of refugees.

These commitments are a package and will be implemented in an integrated way. 

For example, together with the International Organization for Migration, UNHCR and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, UNDP supported conflict transformation and peace building activities, while preparing part of the 400,000 refugees for return to Burundi from Tanzania (YouTube video). This was complemented by capacity development of Tanzanian and Burundian border police. In the areas of return in Burundi, returnees were supported through access to justice, rule of law and security, jobs and livelihood development and social cohesion activities.

On digital livelihood, the work to connect private sector, refugees and host communities through an SDG impact investment that has already started in Turkey.

We strengthened our partnership with UNHCR through an agreed Global Joint-Action Plan to ensure that development and peace perspectives are integrated in refugee response plans. We will continue building on successes and ongoing collaboration with partners to respond to refugee situations in and around Syria, Bangladesh/Myanmar, Venezuela, South Sudan, Somalia, DRC, Afghanistan and Iraq. Our Global Report on Development Approaches to Migration and Displacement provides a summary of our work.

As we enter the crucial Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals (PDF), forced displacement must end. On the occasion of the Global Refugee Forum, we call on all our partners to take collective action to achieve this goal.