When the New York Declaration was adopted in September 2016 by 193 Members States of the United Nations, it was the first time such a broad commitment was made to better assist and protect refugees and to help them find solutions.
However, translating those commitments into practice will take time. Supported by Plan Tanzania and Plan Uganda, I have been engaging with a broad range of stakeholders to look at what steps need to be taken to put the so-called “Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework” (CRRF) into practice, with policy changes, from country to global level.
FINDING LONG AND SHORT-TERM SOLUTIONS
To consider the practicalities of putting the CRRF into practice in Tanzania and Uganda, I have focused on both the immediately necessary steps, as well as longer-term considerations. The overall goal of the framework is to ensure that refugees and the countries and communities that host them get the required support and services. It will be essential to ensure that the needs of refugees are met — especially those of women and girls, who form the majority of refugees.
Only by working together [with hosts, donors and NGOs] will refugees be better protected and the communities that host them better supported.
An essential element will be to translate the policy language of the CRRF into more comprehensible terms so that it can be put into practice. This 'translation' will also be an important element in bringing in the views of refugees and their host communities. They are, after all, the ones who know best what their needs are and how to address them. Thus, we need to find ways to increase access for refugees into education and jobs so that they can better support themselves.
For too long, refugees have not had adequate access to primary, secondary, or tertiary education or vocational training. Ensuring that such services continue throughout their displacement contributes to finding solutions in the long-term and better equips them for their eventual return home.
BRIDGING DIVIDE BETWEEN REFUGEES AND HOST COUNTRIES
For organisations responding to refugees, it will be important to find ways to bring together short-term emergency responses and longer-term development processes that support the government. Too often these different approaches work in parallel: it is time to bridge this cultural divide and ensure greater complementarity. It is time to get development actors to step up and work in the areas hosting refugees more quickly so that emergency approaches can be supported by development projects.
Country Director for Plan International Uganda, home of the world's largest refugee camp, Rashid Javed, welcomes the framework:
“Even though the government of Uganda has one the most progressive refugee settlement policies and opens its land and borders to refugees, the CRRF is a welcome initiative that is intended to ensure coordination and improve effective response for refugees through a multi-stakeholder approach."
"For Plan International Uganda, this means transforming our emergency response into sustainable long-term development initiatives that respond to the needs of the refugees, of which 85% are women and children."
"South Sudanese refugees, in particular, will test all five mutually reinforcing pillars of the CRRF. From admission and rights and immediate response, to developing initiatives of resilience and self-reliance, to voluntary repatriation through durable solutions."
WORKING TOGETHER TO PROTECT AND SUPPORT REFUGEES
Putting the CRRF into practice will require concerted efforts by the countries that host refugees, the donors that contribute financially to the responses, and the organisations that respond to displacement. But those usual actors are not enough: we also need to bring on board other actors that can help to provide economic opportunities, such as from the private sector.
Only by working together will refugees be better protected and the communities that host them better supported.
Read an article by Manisha Thomas published in the Forced Migration Review on how states can best implement the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework*.
Read the recently published paper: Putting the CRRF into practice: General issues and specific considerations in Tanzania and Uganda (PDF 180 KB)
*Plan International is not responsible for content on external websites.