Strengthening Refugee Protection in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
There is a massive gap between the quality of life and recognized rights for refugees in high-income countries and those in the rest of the world. And with 85 percent of the world’s more than 25 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 offer 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.
This policy brief examines how development actors can support the strengthening of protection systems as low- and middle-income countries move toward a more comprehensive approach to ensure refugees’ legal status, socioeconomic rights, and access to basic services. Building sufficient capacity to protect refugees requires much more than the creation of legal frameworks or procedures for determining refugees’ status, the authors note. Investments in regulations, staff, and infrastructure are also needed.
While they have not been traditionally involved with building the capacity of asylum systems, development actors are well positioned to share their expertise in planning and coordination, public-service delivery, and the promotion of good governance. This expertise could prove an important tool for helping to close the gap in protection system capacity.
II. Hard Reality: The State of Refugee Protection
A. Access to Legal Status
B. Social and Economic Rights
C. Access to Core Social Services
III. Building Better Protection Systems: What Role Can Development Assistance Play?
A. Informing Planning and Implementation of Interventions
B. Strengthening Ownership and Political Buy-In
C. Building up Complementary Governance Structures and Service Delivery Systems
D. Supporting Data Collection, Monitoring, and Evaluation Capacity
IV. Conclusions and Recommendations