How a Refugee-Centric Approach Could Provide Better Solutions for Displaced Communities

Global concerns related to the humanitarian, economic, and social aspects of the Middle East focus on about 5.6 million Syrian and 4.5 million Palestinian refugees who have been displaced to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Turkey. There are concerns about the continuous mobility of displaced people due to the unrelenting instability of their conditions. These situations raise the question of whether the current approach of providing food and shelter is the best solution for working with refugees who have spent more than 70 years as a diaspora, especially while others could end up in the same situation.

As practitioners thinking outside the box and seeking flexible strategies that serve needs arising from crises, we recommend using a refugee-centered approach. This means focusing on the rights of refugees to access humanitarian aid and basic services, livelihood, and freedom of movement; and entails studying the physical, humanitarian and psychosocial needs of individuals and families.

This requires all service providers, especially UN agencies, to put more effort and pressure on host countries to adopt these strategies and take part in identifying the most vulnerable refugee groups, and designing practical mechanisms to improve their well-being.  It also requires shifts in prioritization that should be continuously updated based on changing needs. This is necessary to ensure that poor and vulnerable individuals retain access to their basic services, while avoiding the misuse of resources.

Limitations of Current Interventions

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) provides essential services to Palestine refugees based on its General Assembly mandate, which is renewed every three years. It is currently experiencing the worst financial deficit in its 70-year history, and is seeking to overcome a financial gap of nearly USD 89 million before the end of the year. Unfortunately, this situation will remain the same for the coming years due to the type of interventions and policies applied by both UNRWA and the host communities.

To read the rest of the article, go to The Fletcher Forum.

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