The Implementation of UNHCR’s Policy on Refugee Protection and Solutions in Urban Areas - Global Survey – 2012
Since the publication of its 2009 policy on urban refugees, UNHCR policy on refugee protection and solutions in urban areas, the topic of urban refugees has become increasingly prominent amongst humanitarian actors. It is widely acknowledged that refugees are more often ﬂeeing to cities instead of camps. According to current estimates, as many as almost seven million refugees and asylum seekers are living in cities, potentially more than half of the world’s refugees. In 2012, UNHCR created an Urban Refugee Steering Group to coordinate the agency’s strategy for meeting the evolving needs of this burgeoning demographic group.
The body of literature on urban refugees is also growing. Beginning in 2010, UNHCR published a series of evaluations of urban refugee operations in various countries. UNHCR’s Asia Bureau recently completed a regional analysis of urban refugees in nine of the countries they cover.
However, a global analysis of UNHCR’s urban refugee operations was missing. The Urban Refugee Steering Group commissioned this review of its largest urban refugee operations in 2012. This study is based on a detailed survey that was sent to the agency’s 24 programs with urban refugee programs that numbered more than 5,000 according to UNHCR’s 2011 statistics. The survey sought to gauge the rate of implementation for each of the 24 UNHCR operations against the twelve protection strategies set forth in the policy. By doing this we hoped to provide a baseline for future implementation measurements, and, to identify good practices and speciﬁc challenges concerning urban refugees.
The way the policy is written is conducive to measuring implementation. The policy’s twelve protection strategies are readily translated into objectives and are so well described that it was easy to formulate indicators for compliance for each protection objective. For an overview, the twelve objectives can be grouped into three categories: Documentation and Status Determination; Community Relations; and Safe and Sustainable Existences for Urban Refugees.