At the beginning of this year, UNHCR and UNICEF agreed on an ambitious two-year ‘Blueprint for Joint Action - A Fair Deal for Refugee Children’. This initiative represents UNHCR and UNICEF’s first bold steps together towards realizing their joint Global Refugee Forum pledge to stand by refugees and work with governments to ensure their inclusion in national systems and plans.
Guided by the vision of a future where all children – refugees and those living in host communities – have access to quality, nationally-led services, the Blueprint is also a commitment to redouble UNHCR and UNICEF’s collaboration to accelerate progress towards this future. The initiative recognises that the organizations have complementary strengths and can jointly leverage development capacities to make a strategic shift from humanitarian approaches designed for the short term, towards sustainable solutions.
With the Blueprint for Joint Action, UNICEF and UNHCR are working together to build national capacity to deliver quality services for refugee children and the communities that host them, achieving increased access to education, clean water and sanitation, and child protection services for 10 million refugee and host community children and their family members between now and December 2022. Starting with this intensive effort in 11 focus countries which host 20% of the world’s refugee children, they will then take this to scale globally across all countries where they work.
This new commitment builds on the strength of existing collaboration between UNICEF and UNHCR. This partnership previously led to innovations such as the development of a sustainable water supply system through a public-private partnership and the support of Germany, benefitting both refugee and host communities in Gambella, Ethiopia.
Through the Blueprint, the organizations will use approaches like these to increase access to clean water and safe sanitation services for refugee and host community populations by two-thirds, reaching nearly 2 million people with clean water and nearly 1.8 million people with sanitation services. They will also restore access to education to a level that exceeds pre-COVID rates by 17 per cent, and reach an additional 100,000 refugee and host community children with community-based child protection and mental health and psychosocial support services. Working with national and local authorities, they will also close the gap in birth registration by registering 36,000 newborn refugees – an increase of 88 per cent – to address the low birth registration rates in some Blueprint countries.
Most importantly, together with refugee hosting governments, they will move the needle on inclusion and pave the way for refugee and host community children to realize their full potential, so that they can, in turn, build the prosperous and peaceful future they hope for.