Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Alternate Livelihoods for Refugees

Today is World Refugee Day: There are now more displaced people on the planet than at any other time in human history. UN Security Council has failed to prevent war through negotiation, diplomacy, and sanctions. By the end of 2015, 65.3 million individuals had been driven from their homes as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations. Of these, 21.3 million were refugees, 40.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and 3.2 million asylum-seekers (UNHCR, 2015a).

The civil wars always have unfolded refugee crisis in every part of the world. The refugee choose to transit to safe locations and may become “stuck” in a country that was intended to be a pit stop on a longer journey. But why don’t refugees just stay in these countries such as India, Turkey or Greece? Human Rights as well as Living conditions of destination where migrants had most wanted to reach significantly affect their migration intention. The reasons for this are clear: poor living conditions, lack of employment opportunities and the desire to fulfill their initial plans. Even once they are migrated to destination, they apply as asylum-seekers, and keeps them waiting, sometimes for years, for refugee status.

This is the time for investing in skill development for livelihoods. . Getting newcomers quickly into the labour market is “the only way” to integrate them. The assistance must including livelihood support be given through cash grants, medical assistance, vocational trainings and Non Food Items (NFIs).

1. Language Barrier: The first task is overcoming language barriers through using services of social connections like diaspora. A key to pursuing sustainable livelihoods is social capital to overcome language barrier and adaptation to the new place. Innovative use of technologies for data gathering with social networks should be piloted to overview the required support for target population.

2. Grants and Micro Credit: Cash and in-kind safety-net transfers under humanitarian programs are an important coping resource for the displaced. There must be setup of micro credit services to provide loans to refugees. Otherwise the majority of the refugee falls into trap of lenders who are connected to organized crime. Initial grant must be a hybrid of vulnerability fund as well as start-up capital to invest in skills or business. Integration with mobile platforms and with mobile money expands the client base and makes the services easier to use. Credit activity can also be self-sustaining in financial terms, something that is particularly useful as donor funding is in decline. Aligning with on-line crowd-funding also expands the base of donors.

3. Skill Development: The third setup is to assess their education and skills systematically. There is necessity in the recognition of foreigners’ qualifications especially in face of Europe’s excessive demands for credentials. Once the assessment of entrepreneurial and employ ability of the candidate over, a careful planning to ensure that vocational training is imparted and marketing support is provided. In this way livelihoods are secured. This becomes more important as most displaced persons have background of farming and pastoral livelihood practises; The refugees who upgrade their current skills and learn on their own will find it easy, whereas the traditional learner who doesn't add to his skills will face challenges. Workforce skills acquires special significance viewed from the perspectives of both Lifelong Learning (LLL) and the Knowledge Economy (KE).

Challenges: Humanitarian agencies and host governments have predominately used the camp and settlement systems as opposed to supporting the settlement of refugees in urban areas. Social and economic conditions in refugee economies are distinct from those in more settled and integrated economies. This is particularly true where refugees live in camps designated by gender, ethnicity, or language, and are separated from mainstream urban activity.The whole proposition of livelihoods become infeasible in remote camp-based areas with depressed economic conditions such as East Sudan, requires market responsiveness and carefulness.

Unfortunately, the refugee crisis is not temporary. Most refugees do not expect to be displaced for long, but in reality displacement lasts about 17 years on average. As a result, there is a need to address longer-term development needs to complement short-term humanitarian assistance. Hence, there is need to learn on the Refugee Livelihoods. Reference: UNHCR evidence document and Guide to market-based livelihood interventions for refugees.

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