On 18th June 2019, Lindsay Coates, Managing Director of the BRAC Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative represented the Poverty Alleviation Coalition during a special side event of the UNHCR’s 75th meeting of the Standing Committee. The side-event, ‘Refugee Economic Inclusion and Self-Reliance: Good Practices and opportunities for the Global Refugee Forum’, took place alongside the UNHCR’s 75th meeting of the Standing Committee, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The side event highlighted how inclusive policies can improve the lives of refugees and their host communities, and realize the self-reliance objective of the Global Compact on Refugees. Specifically, the session examined best practice examples of inclusive policies, the application of poverty alleviation approaches such as the Graduation approach, and their applicability to refugees and host communities. The session also highlighted examples of how refugee entrepreneurs benefitting from refugee-sensitive labour market policies are able to become self-sufficient while giving back to their host communities, thereby easing the increasing pressures on countries of asylum. In addition to Lindsay, session speakers included Saadettin Akyıl, Director-General, International Labour Force, Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, Turkey, Numan Özcan, Director, ILO Office for Turkey. The session was moderated by Perveen Ali, Head of the Global Refugee Forum Coordination Team, UNHCR.

Rohingya refugees outside the world’s largest camp, Kutupalong

In addition to Lindsay, session speakers included Saadettin Akyıl, Director-General, International Labour Force, Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services, Turkey, Numan Özcan, Director, ILO Office for Turkey. The session was moderated by Perveen Ali, Head of the Global Refugee Forum Coordination Team, UNHCR.

The side-event marked the first public appearance of the Poverty Alleviation Coalition – a coalition including UNHCR and the World Bank’s Partnership for Economic Inclusion alongside 11 leading NGOs committed to reducing the number of refugees and people in host communities living in extreme poverty, globally, through the Graduation approach. The Poverty Alleviation Coalition has made a public commitment to alleviate poverty of 500,000 refugee and host community households, in 35 countries, within the next 5 years. This vision is guided by the Global Compact for Refugees (GCR) Objective 1: ease pressure on host countries, and Objective 2: promote refugee self-reliance.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Lindsay shared how Graduation is especially suitable for communities affected by displacement, who often require support across a range of different dimensions in order to be self-reliant: “Graduation reactivates individuals’ sense of agency and control over their lives – what they can do for themselves.”

Graduation interventions include meeting basic protection and consumption needs, and providing livelihoods support, access to financial services, psychosocial support and enabling social integration.

The effectiveness of Graduation for refugee and host communities is supported by evidence from UNHCR and Trickle Up who partnered to apply the approach in refugee settings in Ecuador and Egypt.

Globally, there are 71.4 million people worldwide who have been forcibly displaced. Among refugees, 85% are hosted in developing countries facing socioeconomic challenges and high levels of poverty.