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Development Actors Can Play Key Role in Strengthening Refugee Protection Systems as Focus Broadens Beyond Status Recognition to Core Rights and Access to Services
Press Release
Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Development Actors Can Play Key Role in Strengthening Refugee Protection Systems as Focus Broadens Beyond Status Recognition to Core Rights and Access to Services

WASHINGTON — There is a massive gap between the recognized rights and quality of life for refugees in high-income countries and those residing elsewhere. And with 85 percent of the world’s 25.4 million refugees living in low- or middle- income countries that often lack the resources and capacity to support them, this protection gap is difficult to bridge for three key reasons. Firstly, international resettlement and humanitarian aid does not come close to balancing the scales. Second, governments are often reluctant to afford refugees the full rights and benefits outlined under international law. And finally, even where countries are willing to provide more comprehensive protection, they often lack the capacity to do so.

A new Migration Policy Institute policy brief, Strengthening Refugee Protection in Low- and Middle-Income Countries, examines how development actors can support the strengthening of protection systems as these countries move toward a more comprehensive approach to ensure refugees’ legal status, socioeconomic rights and access to basic services such as health care and education.

Building sufficient capacity to protect refugees requires much more than the creation of legal frameworks or procedures for determining refugees’ status—a reality recognized by the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework, for example. The framework and the recently agreed Global Compact on Refugees have set out ambitious goals to improve refugees’ access to legal status, core rights such as employment and freedom of movement, and critical social services such as education.

And here, development actors have the background to help with the investments in regulations, staff and infrastructure necessary to achieve these broader goals, the policy brief finds.

“Although development actors have not traditionally been part of refugee protection efforts, their expertise on related issues could be leveraged to strengthen protection systems,” write authors Susan Fratzke and Camille Le Coz. “Many of the capacity gaps that hinder the effective implementation of protection-relevant policies, such as a lack of civil documentation systems or school capacity, are also development priorities.”

The brief is the seventh in a series, “Towards the Global Compact for Migration: A Development Perspective,” that results from a partnership between MPI and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The series was created to provide evidence and policy ideas to inform negotiation and implementation of the global compact.

Read the policy brief here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/refugee-protection-low-middle-income-countries.

Catch up with the rest of the series here: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/international-program/global-compact-migration.

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The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at local, national and international levels.