With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic UNHCR’s Persons of Concern (PoCs) have been disproportionally impacted by the socio-economic consequences of the containment measures and have been among the first to lose their livelihoods. As income-generating opportunities disappear and savings dry up, PoCs in the East and Horn of Africa, and the Great Lakes Region (EHAGL) increasingly struggle to meet their basic needs and are resorting to negative coping mechanisms. Despite positive gains at the policy level – in particular in countries that apply the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and under the country level Global Refugee Forum (GRF) commitments – self-reliance remains out of reach for many POC, with many resorting to humanitarian aid. To compound matters, an internal UNHCR assessment in 2019, showed that over 68% of the refugees in the region live in countries with limited right to work. They also live predominantly in locations with few economic opportunities.
Responding to the High Commissioner’s request to step up livelihoods interventions this document outlines the strategic directions and recommends actions for the EHAGL Regional Bureau 2020-2025 to address the most pressing livelihoods and socio-economic challenges. UNHCR’s vision for refugees’ economic inclusion is that all refugees can overcome poverty and dependence through participation in host country economies, and that both refugees and host communities enjoy shared prosperity, expanded access to employment and entrepreneurship services and decent work opportunities, and improved social cohesion. To achieve this, we will focus on the following four outcome areas:
Data/Information Management: Market and evidence-based livelihoods programming for POCs is enabled in the region through the creation of a solid evidence base.
Advocacy: Legal and de facto economic inclusion of POCs is fostered through advocacy and burden-sharing with host governments.
Partnerships: POCs are included in self-reliance projects across the humanitariandevelopment nexus.
UNHCR Implementation: UNHCR’s Livelihoods (LH) country programs are aligned with global and regional LH directions and are designed and managed effectively.