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Recommendations for engaging armed actors

The Urban Response Community of Practice discussed the issue of effective ‘entry points’ and engagement with armed actors following the launch of the recent ALNAP study, ‘Humanitarian Interventions in Situations of Urban Violence’:

- It is necessary to start any response in a situation of urban violence with the provision of visible and uncontroversial assistance to a community

- Increasing local involvement in assessing needs should be encouraged, and may lead to increased access and direct contact between armed actors and humanitarians

- Acceptance by armed actors depends on being able to offer something of interest. It is likely that all actors will have a selfish interest in both their community and infrastructure.

Region:
Country:
Organization: ALNAP
Sector: Community Outreach

      alnap_urban_violence_summary_3.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 6.25 MB

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Assessment findings to improve conditions for Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Based on a series of assessments conducted by ACTED in Beirut, and its target districts of Mount Lebanon (Baabda, Metn, Keserwane, and Jbeil) between September 2013 and March 2014, ACTED recommend the following be considered when designing programmes and interventions:

- Interventions aimed at improving access to financial resources and income generating opportunities should be the main focus when enabling vulnerable households in subsistence activities.

- The correlation between access to income and poor living conditions further illustrates the importance of targeting shelter and WASH assistance based on economic vulnerability. Improving access to adequate WASH facilities and weather-proofing for households living in sub-standard or over-crowded accommodation, including collective shelters, and unfinished/illegal accommodation, but also rented apartments that are not suitable, will have multiple benefits and contribute to reducing health and protection risks. Hygiene promotion and water filter provision can also contribute to reducing health hazards at a relatively low cost.

- Humanitarian assistance should be provided based on needs, targeting not only registered refugees, but also vulnerable Lebanese, and refugees that are either unregistered or living in another area to where they are registered. These households can be identified through the establishment of stronger tracking and referral mechanisms, building on the profiling work conducted by local stakeholders including both civil society actors and local authorities.

- Humanitarian interventions require strong and meaningful engagement with local authorities and community leaders. Through this engagement, and the implementation of community-level interventions aimed at addressing the impact of the population increase on basic service provision, humanitarian actors can help address some of the roots of social tension leading to protection concerns among refugees. 

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Country: Lebanon
Organization: ACTED
Sector: Shelter / Livelihoods / Health

      acted_behind_the_concrete_veil_2.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 3.50 MB

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Protection from Lack of Information: New and Free-of-Charge Info Line Service

UNHCR inaugurated a state-of-the-art Call Centre for refugees in Jordan. The Centre uses the latest technology to facilitate answers and follow up for refugees at a rate of up to 1,000 quieries daily. UNHCR has switched to a toll-free number which will make it easier for vulnerable families to seek help and accurate information about services. The Info Line is an integral part of UNHCR's outreach to combat scams and fraud and other protection concerns stemming from lack of information. 

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Country: Jordan
Organization: UN agency
Sector: Community Outreach / Other

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Amani: Raising Awareness about Sexual Gender Based Violence in Refugee Communities

Amani, a new awareness-raising campaign

Under the auspices of the child protection (CP) and Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Sub-Working Groups, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, Save the Children International, and the International Rescue Committee launched the inter-agency CP and SGBV awareness-raising Amani campaign. In Arabic, Amani means "safety" or "to feel safe." The overall campaign message, "our sense of safety is everyone's responsibility," is reflected in a poster which will be distributed throughout the refugee operation. The campaign is an important component of the Inter-Agency Strengthening SGBV and Child Protection Services and Systems Project, which also includes the Inter-agency Emergency Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on CP and SGBV, and the development of CP and SGBV case management training tools and training programs. 

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Country: Jordan
Organizations: Save the Children / International Rescue Committee / UN agency / NGO/International Organization
Sector: SGBV / Security / Health / Education / Child Protection

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Refugee Girls Create Information Videos to Prevent Sexual Harassment

Syrian refugee girls have created animation videos on harrassment and early marriage with the support of IRC and UNFPA. The videos were presented at the 2nd Women's Film Week in Amman on March 15, 2014. The animation videos are now used as a prevention tool in camps and outside. 

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Country: Jordan
Organization: International Rescue Committee
Sector: SGBV / Security

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Syrian Refugees in Jordan: Unconditional Cash Transfers Recommended as Best Aid Practice

The International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent says the best option for aid for Syrian refugees in Jordan is an unconditional cash transfer because all the necessary preconditions for successful cash transfer programming are met:

  • Refugees gave a clear preference for cash over in-kind support;
  • A number of cash payment mechanisms are available in Jordan, and security, corruption and gender issues do not present any major risks; 
  • Cash transfers are already being implemented by other agencies, and are seen as acceptable in Jordan; and
  • Most refugees are living in an urban context and have full access to markets to meet their needs.

The Cash transfers should be:

  • Unconditional—not tied to any expenditure, so allows refugees to prioritize their needs.
  • Recurring monthly for at least three months. This is because a one-off transfer will not have a material impact on the most vulnerable households. 
  • Calculated using the household expenditure data collected, at the level of average rent plus an additional amount for other priority needs.
  • Delivered where Jordan Red Crescent has branches and has registered and conducted relief distributions for Syrians; locations also selected in coordination with other agencies who are implementing, or planning, cash assistance.
  • Targeted to the most vulnerable households, according to the indicators identified in the report, including giving priority to refugees not registered with UNHCR.

An unconditional cash transfer for non-food household needs is recommended as the optimal intervention, as it:

  • Will allow beneficiaries to priorities their household expenditure needs, which are varied; 
  • Provides maximum dignity and choice;
  • Does not tie the assistance to any particular item (e.g. rent, NFIs);
  • Does not have large-scale logistical needs; and
  • Supports local markets and can be expected to have a multiplier effect on the local economy

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Country: Jordan
Organization: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Sector: Material Needs / Durable Solutions

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Consequences of Illegality for Syrian Refugees in Lebanon and Response Recommendations

Between June and October 2013, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) conducted a qualitative assessment to identify and better understand the consequences for Syrian refugees in Lebanon who have limited legal status. Their report concludes that Syrian refugees with limited legal status face restrictions on their freedom of movement; legal challenges (including birth registrations and reporting acts of violence); and trouble accessing basic social services. 

NRC, informed by their assessment findings, makes the following recommendations to the government of Lebanon:

Refugees in Lebanon should not be considered as illegal or irregular migrants. More specifically:

• A clear procedure is needed so refugees who have entered through unofficial border crossings can regularize their stay through accessing the Lebanese authorities. Currently, these refugees can apply for a petition of mercy (Talab Istirham in Arabic) to legalize their stay, but the petition is not regulated by law and is subject to the discretion of the General Security office.

• The fee for regularization of stay for such refugees from Syria should be waived. Currently, if the petition of mercy is approved, each refugee has to pay a fine of LBP950,000 (around USD630 per person aged 15 years’ old and above).

• The fee for the renewal of stay for refugees from Syria should be waived. Currently, the fee is LBP300,000 or USD200 per person aged 15 years’ old and above.

• The UNHCR registration document should be regarded as valid documentation to  provide proof of legal stay and proof of identity in Lebanon for refugees from Syria.

• More flexibility in accepting alternative documentation from refugees who may not have a Syrian ID card or a Syrian passport, such as the UNHCR registration document or Lebanese municipality-issued documents.

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Countries: Syrian Arab Republic / Lebanon
Organizations: Norwegian Refugee Council / NGO/International Organization
Sector: Other

      nrc_report.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 534 KB

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Needs assessments: Lessons learned from assessing the humanitarian situation in Syria and countries hosting refugees

The Syria Needs Analysis Project (SNAP) reports on their lessons identified from assessments undertaken concerning the humanitarian situation in Syria and in Syrian refugee host-countries.

The SNAP notes a large number of actors are undertaking assessments in the region and their activities are not always coordinated. Information is often not shared in a timely manner or, when shared, is not comparable. In addition, only a handful of joint assessments have taken place. As a result, countrywide pictures of needs do not exist. Due to the nature of the crisis, Syrian communities are hesitant to share information, fearing potential political consequences.

Assessment fatigue is an issue both within Syria and in host-countries, especially where the organization undertaking the assessment has provided no visible assistance.

The document contains country specific recommendations, which should inform future and on-going assessments. The multiplicity of actors, the variety of security constraints and continuously evolving humanitarian situation present many challenges to assessment practices. However, the SNAP identifies three overarching recommendations that can be drawn from assessment experiences to date to enhance shared situational awareness while minimizing assessment fatigue.

Key recommendations

Assessment Working Groups in each country actively encourage and foster a culture of coordination, by:

  • Paying careful attention to the nuances of Syrian Arabic when formulating questionnaires, training enumerators and analyzing results. Agreeing key indicators/information that should be included in any assessment.
  • Devising a method to maximize the sharing of assessment plans, data and findings among participating organizations.
  • Encouraging and facilitating joint assessments wherever possible.
  • Establishing country-wide monitoring systems to both contribute to a shared understanding and reduce assessment fatigue

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Countries: Syrian Arab Republic / Lebanon / Jordan
Organization:
Sector: Shelter / Security / Material Needs / Livelihoods / Legal Aid / Health / Education / Durable Solutions / Community Outreach / Child Protection

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Education Without Borders: A report from Lebanon on Syria's out of school children

A report published by A World at School states that the vast majority of refugee children from Syria are currently not able to attend school. Unless the international community offers a significant financial commitment to the government of Lebanon and international NGOs supporting education, this situation is likely to deteriorate. The report points out some efforts that organizations and the government could use to assist children who are waiting to enroll in Lebanese schools.

Government

The Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education issued a decree instructing all schools to enroll Syrian Students regardless of legal status and waived both school and book fees. This allowed 30,000 Syrian children to be accepted to public school in 2012.

Organizations

In the town of Bar Elias in the Bekaa, the Lebanese Youth Action Group (a local NGO supported by Save the Children) is providing classes to 500 refugees. The youngest children work with animators who use play to support learning activities. Older children are placed in accelerated learning classes in which they learn English and French to a level sufficient to facilitate entry into Lebanese public schools. The group has one head teacher, a core group of professional teachers, and multiple volunteers that lead the classes.

Recommendations

The report recommends that NGOs approach Lebanese community groups to see if they or the local government will provide vacant facilities for classrooms at a reduced rental rate. 

The government of Lebanon or local education organizations should hire Syrian teachers on a temporary basis to teach Syrian children in community-based education centers.

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Countries: Syrian Arab Republic / Lebanon
Organization:
Sector: Education / Child Protection

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Refutrees: Urban Gardening Pilot Project

Refutrees, a volunteer-run, non-profit organization, is part of the growing movement that seeks people-led, sustainable development for Palestinian refugees, helping end donor reliance through food sovereignty and green, social innovation. Refutrees has partnered with Lajee Centre in Bethlehem’s Aida Refugee Camp to build a community rooftop garden. This is a pilot project to inspire sustainable livelihoods and community health.

Refutrees identified a problem, in that development programs in the area tend to reinforce donor reliance, and fail to address systemic causes of poverty and deteriorating health across Palestinian refugee communities.  In response, the organization has developed a long-term vision for collaborative community rooftop garden projects. 

Rooftop gardens in refugee communities provide access to fresh, organic produce, create safe educational spaces, and develop capacity for sustainable livelihoods via urban agriculture models. Furthermore, it is an investment into the continually deteriorating environment of the camps given poor infrastructure, lack of permits for repairs, and vulnerability to systematic violence. The gardens are creating capacities for women, youth and children to engage with green and organic food production methods and have the potential to generate incomes for communities through the development of sustainable and green concepts.

For more information, see: http://refutrees.org/roof-top-garden/ and watch an informational video here: http://www.cityfarmer.info/2013/08/07/refutrees-sustainable-development-for-palestinian-refugees/

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Country:
Organization:
Sector: Material Needs / Livelihoods / Health

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The Creation of a National Urban Policy: Responding to Poverty, Food Security, and Gender in Urban Settings

Uganda will release its first National Urban Policy (NUP) in late 2013. The NUP, as an explicitly pro-poor policy, has the potential to fill in gaps in existing national policy which currently fails to adequately identify and respond to urban poverty, particularly in the intersecting areas of gender and food security.  

Existing food security policy relates only to the rural agricultural sector. Urban food agriculture is vulnerable to theft; it may be grown on lands with uncertain use rights (which may also be toxic); urban food prices are high and access to regular income is necessary to secure it. Further, nutritional well-being relies on an array of inputs, such as clean water, access to medical services and a diverse diet, all of which are difficult with insecure incomes and residency in informal housing settlements.

Beyond these functional responses, the CIGO policy brief highlights the intersection of gender and urban food security. Women experience food insecurity in ways that highlight their marginalization and vulnerability: limited power in their households and communities translates into lower nutritional levels for girls and women. Female-headed households in urban centres in Uganda have lower incomes than male-headed ones, in contrast to rural regions where women heads of households are more likely to have urban remittances to draw on, as well as land to cultivate. Women are also key providers of food, household income and other resources linked to nutrition, playing an essential and often dominant role in the provision of the “three pillars” of food security: food availability, food access and availability of the non-food resources critical for nutritional security. Policies targeted to enhance these roles — and that address the social, cultural and economic constraints women face — are needed to respond to the high numbers of malnourished and food-insecure individuals.

Region: Africa
Country: Uganda
Organization: Government
Sector: Material Needs / Livelihoods / Durable Solutions / Community Outreach / Other

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Mapping in Violent Urban Settings

ALNAP, in their lessons paper entitled “Humanitarian Interventions in Situations of Urban Violence,” suggest that production and use of different types of maps (multi-scale, multi-factor and historical) should become a routine part of humanitarian operations in urban settings.

In violent settings, geographic and administrative units as well as socio-economic and ethnic elements (such as density, type of population, socio-economic level) should be identified and qualified. Their inter-relations often help to clarify flows of people, labour, money and goods, but also political domination and socio-economic exploitation (Grünewald et al., 2011).

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices can be used to locate sites of interest. Digitized maps can also be useful to visualize violence dynamics and trends. Open-source technology is available and could be more widely used by humanitarian agencies for mapping, targeting and coordinating relief. Information from dispersed individuals can be compiled and geo- coordinated to build an electronic map. The results can be published online, and the materials continually updated.

For example, the KASS project used GPS devices and digitised maps to record accurate locations for five categories of shelters and their attached latrines as well as for community and family wells, drainage ditches, and stretches of graveled road (Kallweit et al., 2007).

The Ushahidi project was initially created for citizen tracking of the 2007 election violence in Kenya, and was later used in Haiti. The Ushahidi Haiti Project was a volunteer-driven effort
to produce a crowd-sourced, open map to support effective aid delivery following the 2010 earthquake (Smith et al., 2011). A similar project maps sexual harassment in Cairo (Harassmap, at http://harassmap.org).

For more information and resources, see http://www.alnap.org/resource/9810.

Region:
Country:
Organization: NGO/International Organization
Sector: Security / Material Needs / Documentation / Community Outreach

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A Checklist for Assessments in Violent Settings

Interventions in situations of urban violence require in-depth understanding of the context. To design an intervention strategy that responds to needs in urban environments affected by violence, a careful analysis of the specific problems that affect the population, their vulnerabilities and resilience capacities, and existing public and social services is necessary.  

After a thorough review of literature produced by humanitarian organizations working in violent urban settings, ALNAP created the following checklist, to guide organizations in their efforts to assess population needs:

Checklist for assessments in violent urban settings

Issues to be assessed will vary by sector, but some common elements need consideration:

• Areas and populations most affected by violence

• Identification of facilities and service providers (public, NGOs or private)

• Analysis of access (by different population groups) to such facilities

• Needs assessment (including health, food security, water, shelter and protection)

• Identification of groups at risk (including considerations around gender dimension, people living with disabilities, minorities and people who do not want to be identified)

• Stakeholder analysis

• Legal analysis (specific to protection issues)

The assessment methodology should include the following:

• External data sources

• Focus group discussions

• Key informant interviews

• Direct observation

• Data triangulation 

---------------------

Before conducting an assessment, it is important to be aware of constraints and how to mitigate them. The Aleppo assessment (Assessment Working Group for Northern Syria, 2013b) outlined some of the limitations they encountered in such an exercise: time, accessibility and security, compounded by limited geographic coverage, unclear population figures, little primary information collection and limited coverage. In addition, some populations in need reportedly preferred not to be registered for fear of how the lists might be used in the future. 

For more information and resources, see http://www.alnap.org/resource/9810.

Region:
Country:
Organization: NGO/International Organization
Sector:

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Outreach in Iran's urban and protracted refugee context

Iran has the second largest refugee population in the world. About eight hundred thousand Afghan refugees and one million migrant or semi-permanent workers live in the country. Given this huge number, the challenges of outreach in an urban context, and the protracted nature of the situation, UNHCR and its partners have come up with several initiatives to profile, reach, assist and protect the most vulnerable refugees.

In the past four years a triangular initiative has been developed, tested and employed in the UNHCR Field Unit Tehran using a phone-in-system, a dynamic database and referral network of partners. This initiative was then employed by other offices in the country and was further developed and adapted to fulfill the needs of refugees in different areas by other UNHCR offices in the country. 

Refugees in need of urgent assistance, refugees living hundreds of miles away from UNHCR offices, women, children, elderly refugees, and those refugees with physical disabilities or chronic illness face distinct difficulties in communicating with and physically accessing UNHCR. 

UNHCR Iran's phone-in-system (hotlines), reception database and referral network of partners have facilitated access for these people.  Via the hotlines, refugees receive and share information and a record is created in the reception database. The refugee then gets assistance directly from UNHCR or from its network of partners.

Tens of thousands of records have been created, which are used for planning and targeting the most vulnerable groups. Referrals are registered and reported, resettlement case identification is facilitated, and communication with refugees is enhanced.

Please refer to the attached file for more information on UNHCR triangular initiative and its partner's text-messaging and website initiatives.

Region: Asia and the Pacific
Country: Iran, Islamic Republic of
Organization: UN agency
Sector: Profiling / Material Needs / Livelihoods / Health / Education / Community Outreach / Other

      out_2dreach_5f1.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 503 KB

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Heshima Kenya

Among the most vulnerable of the refugees in Nairobi are unaccompanied and separated refugee girls and young women. With very limited access to formal assistance in Nairobi for shelter, education, and medical care, they often suffer extreme poverty along with the physical and emotional scars from war, including abuse and exploitation. Heshima Kenya recognizes that in order to fully meet the challenges affecting the welfare of vulnerable young women and girls in Nairobi, a holistic model of protection and support must replace larger and more traditional models of aid. Heshima Kenya's core programming exists to meet the intensive security, social, medical and mental health needs experienced by unaccompanied girls and young women. Heshima Kenya is also educating existing organizations about this population and building a referral network that improves access to services and compliments existing resources rather than duplicating them.

One aspect of Heshima Kenya’s programming that highlights the holistic nature of services is the Safe House Program.   The Safe House, registered with the Government of Kenya, is a transitional shelter that provides protection and recovery to unaccompanied and separated refugee girls under 18 years old and their children.  This program supports those who have experienced, and are at continued risk of, homelessness, gender-based violence, and other protection issues. Each resident receives intensive case management support, including counseling, medical and legal support, family tracing, and classes about HIV prevention, conflict prevention, child care, and other life-skills. All residents attend daily classes at the Girls’ Empowerment Project program site. Heshima Kenya is developing positive exit strategies for girls and young women who reside at the Safe House long-term.  The ultimate goal is to link residents to alternative care arrangements within the community. The Maisha Collective, another Heshima Kenya program, serves as one exit strategy for residents, providing them with savings and income to establish independence. 

Region: Africa
Country: Kenya
Organization: NGO/International Organization
Sector: Shelter / SGBV / Security / Mental Health/Psychosocial / Livelihoods / Legal Aid / Health / Education / Durable Solutions / Child Protection

      heshimakenya_annual_report.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 2.68 MB

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Urban Profiling of Refugee Situations in Delhi

Following the conclusion of the profiling study in Delhi, India, JIPS is now releasing the report “Urban Profiling of Refugee Situations in Delhi”.

JIPS, UNHCR, and the Feinstein International Centre (Tufts University) worked closely together between January and June 2013 to complete the profiling process. The study explored the differences in livelihood security between refugees from Myanmar, Afghanistan and Somalia and their local Indian neighbours, in order to identify impeding and contributing factors to better livelihoods. The ultimate goal is to improve self-reliance of urban refugees in Delhi through more evidence based programming and advocacy.

Download the report Urban Profiling of Refugee Situations in Delhi: http://www.jips.org/system/cms/attachments/605/original_Urban_Profiling_of_Refugees_Situations_in_Delhi.pdf

The profiling in Delhi and the resulting report are part of a bigger effort to improve approaches to urban profiling and develop better methodologies to address data collection in the urban context. A report on urban profiling in Quito, Ecuador, is expected to be finalised in December 2013.

Region: Asia and the Pacific
Country: India
Organization: UN agency
Sector: Livelihoods

      urban_profiling_of_refugees_situations_in_delhi.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 6.64 MB

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Emergency Hotlines

In refugee emergencies, humanitarian organizations usually experience a sharp increase in the number of telephone calls. If they continue managing calls like before, this will invariably overwhelm the staff and frustrate the callers. A few simple and inexpensive measures suffice to create a call center. This includes purchasing and using an automatic call distributor, setting up interactive voice responses (keep it simple and straightforward), activating a voice mailbox, and effectively training individuals to act as helpline operators. With an efficient helpline in place, organizations can reduce the number of people coming to their premises and save themselves and the refugees time and money. For more information and details, see the attached brochure.

Region: Middle East and North Africa
Country: Syrian Arab Republic
Organizations: UN agency / NGO/International Organization
Sector: Other

      helplines2_1.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 149 KB

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Engagement of City County Officials to enhance refugees' entrprises.

Access to livelihood opportunities and self sustainance for refugees living in urban centres is close to a mirage given the myriad  challenges refugees have to contend with. One of the challenges is lack of information on the required processes and available opportunities to access the opportunities.

Most refugees in the urban have limited knowledge, as it is for a majority residing in Nairobi, on the processes to acquiring a business licence. To enhance their knowledge on this and thereby enhance their livelihood opportunities, UNHCR BON livelihood team embarked on a process of reaching out to the Nairobi City County Business Licensing and Inspectorate Directorate. UNHCR and partners, from late 2012 todate has been collaborating with the Directorate through meetings and sensitisation sessions that have involved participation of refugees. A total of 100 grassroot business licensing and inspectorate officers in five different locations in Nairobi were sensitised on refugee protection. On the other hand the officers enlightened refugee representatives on the legal and required procedures  to acquiring a single business permit (SBP). The interactive session provided a platform for the participants to interact freely and exchange contacts while deliberating on the challenges refugees face in their pursuit for self reliance through entreprise undertaking. Evidently it emerged that refugees had very limited information as regards SBP hence resulting to claims of harassment by 'city business inspectors'  witnessed at the business premises. Refugees appreciated the information gained and commited not to evade the officers, when they come to their premises, but ensure that they acquire the required legal documents.

As way forward, the Directorate offered to fund development of information brochures/ booklet on the procedures of acquiring an SBP to be distributed to both refugees and Kenyans. Directorate also committed that their offices would accompany UNHCR and partners during community meetings and entrepreneurship trainings to sensitise refugees on the requirements and procedures.

This is a long time partnership between UNHCR and the Directorate at the City County to enhance refugees' knowledge on available livelihood opportunities and processes to the opportunities.

The practice of engaging relevant public officials is an essential and valuable endeavour that should be promoted in livelihood programmes as may be appropriate.

Region: Africa
Country: Kenya
Organization: UN agency
Sector: Livelihoods

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State Committees for Refugees in Brazil

State Committees for Refugees are tasked with defending and promoting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees that live in their state, and finding solutions to the challenges they face regarding local integration. They aim to create links and agreements with governmental and non-governmental organisations within the state in order to ensure that refugees are included in local welfare mechanisms and have the same access to public services as ordinary Brazilians do. This includes working to ensure that local public service providers are well-informed about the rights and duties of refugees and asylum seekers. State Committees also monitor the state’s reception conditions for refugees and asylum seekers. The committees operate using thematic working groups, in areas such as healthcare, education, employment and refugees with specific needs and vulnerabilities.

The state committees are made up of State Government Secretaries that are relevant to the local integration of the refugees in the country, such and Justice, Labour, Health, among others; they each nominate a representative and at least one deputy. Civil society institutions that have a longstanding tradition working with refugees and asylum seekers are also members of the Committee, as well as UNHCR Brazil. Some companies from the private sector are invited to attend ad-hoc meetings.

As a result of discussions among government, civil society actors, UNHCR and refugees themselves, some State Committees have developed specific State Plans of Refugee Policy to further promote the rights of refugees, based on a comprehensive list of themes, for which specific policy recommendations, guidelines and objectives are detailed. UNHCR Brazil currently aims to create a National Plan for Local Integration which will be based on these State Plans.

With the help of UNHCR Brazil, State Committees in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, areas of the country with high numbers of refugees, have been fully active since 2011, and since then Committees have also been created in several other states such as Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul. Though it doesn’t have the right to vote on decisions, UNHCR Brazil plays an active role in supporting and providing technical advice to State Committees, aiming to gradually reduce its direct support as the committees become more self-sufficient over time.

Region: Americas
Country: Brazil
Organizations: Government / UN agency / NGO/International Organization
Sector: Registration / Livelihoods / Health / Education / Documentation / Community Integration

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Key recommendations to address protection gaps of LGBTI urban refugees in Mexico

In Latin America, Mexico’s laws are among the most protective of SGN16 people, particularly in Mexico City. This progressive trend in legislation is unfortunately not supported by adequate enforcement and does not necessarily translate to better conditions for SGN refugees. Protection gaps undermine the ability of SGN refugees to access rights and services to which they are entitled and impact their survival in Mexican society.

To better understand these challenges and develop effective solutions, ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration conducted a series of interviews with SGN refugees, NGO staff, and other stakeholders. In the interviews, SGN refugees reported mixed experiences with the Mexican authorities.

Many refugees described their interactions with state agents positively, but also recounted discrimination that they often simply normalized. Some recounted extortion or attempted extortion by the police, which they perceived as a fact of life. One NGO interviewee suggested that despite the positive legal environment, “[Mexicans] are accustomed to the idea that lesbians and gays have no rights.” SGN refugees can be severely harmed by police inaction, particularly in detention. Refugees reported being beaten by other detainees with no reaction from guards.

The SGN refugees interviewed experienced abuse not only by criminal gangs, but also at the hands of other migrants. The most serious non-state actor abuses in Mexico were attacks along migratory routes by criminal gangs and other migrants. Many of the interviewees traveled alone or with other SGN migrants, thus heightening their vulnerability. Consistent with the interviewees’ reports, stakeholders identified transgender women as being particularly vulnerable. While many of the interviewed SGN refugees reported that their environment in Mexico was an improvement over their countries of origin, many still expressed feelings of isolation and a lack of community in Mexico. Discrimination in the job market against sexual minorities remains an obstacle for SGN refugees, and can serve either as a barrier to hiring or as a reason for dismissal. As a result, SGN refugees suffer from lack of employment opportunities, though most interviewed had obtained at least part-time legitimate work.

While these interviews reveal many problems faced by SGN refugees in Mexico, they also provide guidance on how protection of this vulnerable population can be improved. To this end, ORAM has developed a detailed set of recommendations aimed at improving the quality of services intended for SGN refugees and closing the existing protection gaps, as presented in Part II of this report.

Region: Americas
Country:
Organization: NGO/International Organization
Sector: Xenophobia/Discrimination / Community Integration / Other

      20130301_oram_ba_mexicoeng.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 740 KB

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Key recommendations to address protection gaps of LGBTI urban refugees in South Africa

South Africa is home to one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, as well as an exemplary refugee status determination law. However, this progressive legislation is undermined by a severely overburdened asylum system and widespread discrimination against outsiders and the SGN16 community. These challenges prevent SGN refugees from accessing rights and services to which they are entitled, impact their ability to integrate into South African society, and even make it difficult to survive.

To better understand these challenges and develop solutions, ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration, conducted a series of interviews with SGN refugees, NGO staff, and other stakeholders. These interviews confirmed reports of victimization and discrimination against SGN refugees and asylum seekers by both official and non-state actors. Many of the refugees who participated in our study reported experiences of arbitrary arrests, harassment, and discrimination from the authorities. A few interviewees reported needing to bribe security guards or other government officials in order to access the refugee status determination system. While xenophobia was cited as the primary motivation for the abuse, some interviewees felt compelled to hide their sexual orientation or gender identity from government officials due to perceived homophobia.

These SGN interviewees also reported abuse and marginalization at the hands of non-state actors. These participants suffered mistreatment primarily while waiting in queues outside the Refugee Reception Offices (RROs) or while living among communities comprised of refugees from their countries of origin. Discrimination within these refugee communities hinders SGN individuals’ abilities to form social and community bonds and results in isolation and exclusion.

Xenophobic violence and rampant discrimination against SGN refugees and asylum seekers also impacts their ability to find work and to meet their needs for basic subsistence. Unable to find jobs, some SGN refugees turn to sex work in order to survive.

SGN refugees, and particularly transgender individuals, also face obstacles in obtaining housing. While their experiences with shelters were mixed, some interviewees reported suffering xenophobic violence, prejudice, and crime. In some cases, SGN refugees face the possibility of eviction if their landlords, family, or flatmates become aware of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Interviewees also reported barriers to accessing basic health care, as well as discrimination in the provision of these services. Many face prejudice in public health facilities and abuse from healthcare providers due to their status as foreigners.

While these interviews revealed a number of problems faced by SGN refugees in South Africa, they also provided much needed guidance as to how protection of this vulnerable population can be improved. To this end, ORAM has developed a detailed set of recommendations aimed at improving the quality of services provided to SGN refugees and closing those protection gaps which currently exist.

Region: Africa
Country:
Organization: NGO/International Organization
Sector: Xenophobia/Discrimination / Profiling / Shelter / SGBV / Registration / Community Integration / Other

      20130226_oram_ba_southafrica.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 1.04 MB

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Key recommendations on narrowing protection gaps of LGBTI urban refugees

ORAM offers key recommendations relevant to narrowing the protection gaps plaguing urban sexually and gender nonconforming (SGN) refugees. Based on our research findings in the disparate protection environments of Uganda, South Africa and Mexico, as well as on ORAM’s extensive work with this population in other locations, we recommend that refugee-serving NGOs conduct trainings within their organizations to hone awareness, sensitization and expertise. We recommend that the same NGOs train other stakeholders including government agencies and community groups. This approach will help build knowledge in the field about SGN refugees, dispel stereotypes, and introduce best practices, procedures, and tools. In addition to conducting sensitization trainings, this guide suggests that that NGOs focus training on the implementation of procedures including codes of conduct prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, best practices in the field and tools such as SGN-sensitive interview guides. The combination of these efforts will help to create non-threatening, affirmatively accepting environments that signal safety and inclusion to SGN refugees.

We strongly recommend that refugee service providers develop partnerships and coalitions with local LGBTI organizations, faith-based community groups, diverse human rights groups, and other refugee-focused NGOs. These partnerships will open referral channels, build service capacity, and create a sense of community designed specifically to address the needs of SGN refugees.

Finally, we urge NGO service providers to create comprehensive and holistic advocacy and service programs. Key elements of a multi-faceted approach can include community and governmental advocacy efforts, direct legal aid, SGN-friendly and specific health services, education and vocational trainings.

Please check out the full text here: http://oraminternational.org/en/publications

Region: Africa
Country: Uganda
Organizations: Lawyers for Human Rights / Private Sector / NGO/International Organization
Sector: Livelihoods / Legal Aid / Health / Education / Community Integration / Other

      oram_recommendeng_final_lr.pdf      Doc: Pdf      Size: 790 KB

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Programa Vencer - sport for development

In 2012 UNHCR Brazil established a partnership with the NGO Partners of the Americas in Rio de Janeiro, giving some refugees the opportunity to take part in their project ‘Programa Vencer’. Vencer, a sport-for-development project that has been operating in Latin America and the Caribbean since 2005 with great success, provides employability training to at-risk and economically disadvantaged young people over the course of 7-9 months, through the medium of sport, to empower them and to improve their access to the labour market. The final stage of the programme includes an internship with a local business. A number of refugee youth are currently participating in Vencer as part of a pilot project, in a mixed class with other Brazilians between the ages of 16 and 24. The partnership with Partners of the Americas also includes a commitment to address the topics of SGBV and HIV and to promote sexual and reproductive health and gender equality within the Vencer project.

More information about the Partners of the Americas programme here http://www.partners.net/partners/History1.asp#.UdXHwDu1Gz5

Region: Americas
Country: Brazil
Organizations: UN agency / NGO/International Organization
Sector: SGBV / Livelihoods / Durable Solutions

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The PARR Project - refugees’ access to the labour market

The PARR Project (in Portuguese Programa de Apoio para a Recolocação dos Refugiados) was created in 2011 to support refugees and asylum seekers in accessing the formal labour market, one of the main challenges to their successful integration in Brazil. The project operates in Sao Paulo (the state that is home to the largest number of refugees in Brazil), and aims to raise awareness about PoC in the country, seeking partnerships with private sector companies in order to facilitate their access to the labour market. The project supports refugees and asylum seekers in CV (Curriculam Vitae/ Professional Resume) tailoring, and their CVs are added to a virtual database where they can be accessed by employers.

The PARR project is the result of a partnership established between UNHCR and EMDOC, a legal consultancy company that specializes in immigration. PARR staff work with UNHCR and its implementing partner, Caritas Sao Paulo, to mobilise refugees, asylum seekers and private sector companies to sign up. All costs associated with the project are covered by EMDOC as part of its corporate social responsibility.

The project has a partnership with SESC, the Social Service of Commerce, which offers free Portuguese courses for refugees and asylum seekers for 3 months, helping to provide them with the essential language skills needed to secure a job and to integrate successfully in the country. Another important partner of the PARR project is the organisation Going Places, which offers cultural orientation in the last week of the Portuguese courses, as a final step in the process before a CV is made available on the database. PARR staff give guidance to PoC in the run up to job interviews and continue to provide support during at least the first month after an individual is hired, in order to help resolve any conflicts that may arise between the PoC and their manager, due to cultural differences for example, and to ensure that they are able to maintain the job in the long run.

As of June 2013, there are 187 CVs registered on the database and 37 businesses have signed up, with 15 people having successfully found employment through the project. It is an innovative and unique project which has had considerable success in Sao Paulo, with plans in the pipeline to expand it to other areas of Brazil.

Region: Americas
Country: Brazil
Organizations: Private Sector / UN agency / NGO/International Organization
Sector: Livelihoods / Durable Solutions / Community Integration

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Educational Integration

In the Bulgarian context, UNHCR has recognized that local integration is the only viable durable solution for most urban refugees. No resettlement has taken place from Bulgaria since 2004, and refugees from countries that continue to be afflicted by armed conflict and human rights are evidently not prepared to consider repatriation, unless, they feel forced to do so by the difficulty of their situation in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s National Program for the Integration of Refugees (NPIR) aims to benefit 100 people a year by providing them with language and vocational training, social orientation, housing and financial allowances, kindergarten fees, assistance for books and other school materials.

The NPIR initiative is commendable in many ways, especially as it has been developed in a middle-income country that is a relative newcomer to the issue of refugee protection and solutions. In many contexts outside the industrialized states of the European Union and North America, it could be held up as an example of good practice.

Region: Europe
Country: Bulgaria
Organizations: UN agency / NGO/International Organization
Sector: Community Integration / Education

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