UNHCR’s livelihood strategy seeks to increase the focus of the institution on dignity, empowerment and self-reliance. Engagement in livelihoods can enable refugees to play an active role in their own transition. Active engagement can also slow or prevent the loss of assets (financial, social and human) without which refugees would require more services from UNHCR and others. Pursuing a livelihood is not an option for every refugee and even some of those who can do so may continue to require the critical assistance provided by UNHCR in the form of health, education, and emergency support and cash assistance. This safety net will facilitate their success in gaining greater self-reliance. For the very poor and vulnerable, health crises and economic shocks can destabilize a small livelihood activity, depleting capital from fledgling enterprises. UNHCR’s unique advantage as a Graduation implementer is that the protection of refugees is provided as part of its core mandate, enabling refugees to build livelihoods from a strong base of support. UNHCR is testing the Graduation approach in two protracted urban operations in 2013, with the first project in Cairo, Egypt, and the second in San José, Costa Rica.
Photo Credit: UNHCR
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