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What is the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative?

The Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative is a joint effort by a coalition of organizations, government agencies, foundations, research institutes and other partners to promote opportunities for refugees to become self-reliant and achieve a better quality of life. Learn more about our partners.

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Why is this Important?

Most refugees tell us that they want to “stand on their own feet” -- to take care of their own needs and those of their family. This is key to regaining stability and a sense of agency in their lives, despite the fact that they might be in impermanent situations in host countries.

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What is the Goal?

The Initiative aims to collectively reach five million refugees with self-reliance programming in five years and, in the process, to identify the most effective models and measurements to aid global expansion of self-reliance opportunities. Learn more.

Why is this Needed?

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We are witnessing the highest levels of human displacement ever recorded. Most refugees remain in indefinite limbo with scarce opportunities to repatriate, resettle to a new country, or legally integrate into their current host countries. Typically, refugees must wait years or decades before they have opportunities to regain agency over their finances and futures.

While most refugees require humanitarian aid for some period of time (and some might require it indefinitely), many are ready to transition off of aid much sooner than current opportunities allow. Humanitarian aid budgets are spread impossibly thin and the prevailing response to refugee crises is a band-aid approach. An annual average of $25 billion is spent on short-term emergency aid. These realities necessitate changing the traditional humanitarian assistance model.

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How Did the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative Get Started?

In 2016, RefugePoint and the Women’s Refugee Commission first convened the Refugee Self-Reliance Community of Practice (CoP) -- a global working group dedicated to sharing knowledge and exploring promising practices around self-reliance programming and measurement. The CoP is made up of a diverse set of leading stakeholders from the practitioner, governmental, UN, philanthropic, academic and private sectors. Prior to the launch of the CoP, there was no global coordinating forum for sharing learning related to refugee self-reliance.

In 2018, RefugePoint, the Women’s Refugee Commission and members of the CoP launched the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative with the goal of expanding opportunities for refugees worldwide to become self-reliant and achieve a better quality of life.

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want to learn more?

Check out our Resources page.