Examples of how individual UN entities have helped to progress refugee inclusion

International Organizations

Examples of how individual UN entities have helped to progress refugee inclusion

21 November 2023

The following examples demonstrate actions that different UN entities have taken to promote the inclusion of refugees, under the 2019 UN common pledge.

UNICEF and UNHCR’s global partnership to leave no refugee child behind

Delivering on one of the pledges made at the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019, at the beginning of 2020, UNHCR and UNICEF developed an ambitious Blueprint for Joint Action to meet the challenge of refugee inclusion and leaving no child behind.

The Blueprint aimed to promote equal rights and opportunities for girls and boys in all their diversity and accelerate progress to achieve increased access to education, clean water and sanitation, and child protection services for 10 million refugee and host community children and their family members by the end of 2022.

At the beginning of 2023, the partnership was scaled up through a new global Strategic Collaboration Framework between the two agencies, which aims to bring about transformational change for refugee children and their families across all countries where both organizations are present. Focusing on leaving no one behind, the Framework includes a suite of ambitious goals in child protection, education, social protection, water and sanitation, data, and ending childhood statelessness.

UNFPA: including refugees in censuses

In the Bangula camp for forcibly displaced people in Malawi, Monica sorts vegetables with her mother and children (30/03/2023)

Ensuring that refugees are counted is a cornerstone of inclusion. Once they are visible in datasets, they can be planned for and budgeted for. UNFPA is helping to make this happen – most recently in Kenya (2019) and Tanzania (2022) - by helping countries conduct their censuses according to the UN Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses (PNRs). These principles assert that asylum seekers and refugees should be counted as part of the usual resident population. The PNRs are supported by specific recommendation in the 2018 International Recommendations on Refugee Statistics – another key tool which UNFPA supports countries to use. The recommendations advise that ‘reason for migration’ be included in census questionnaires in order to identify probable refugees. UNFPA’s efforts are helping to ensure that people in refugee camps, reception centers, temporary structures and collective accommodation are included in all census enumerations, and that statistics on refugees are available for national planning and budgeting.

UNFPA: Refugee inclusion in statistics on sexual and reproductive health

Including refugees in statistics on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is essential for understanding their unique needs and ensuring that they have access to appropriate and equitable healthcare services. To ensure refugee inclusion in the next Demographic & Health Survey in Jordan, UNFPA and UNHCR are collecting data on refugees’ access to and utilization of SRH services. The agencies have worked closely with refugee communities and healthcare providers to develop culturally sensitive and gender-responsive survey questions and sampling methods that are inclusive of refugees.

By including refugees in statistics on SRH, policymakers and healthcare providers can better understand the unique challenges and barriers that refugees face in accessing services - and develop targeted interventions and programs to accelerate inclusion.

ILO: working on multiple fronts to increase refugees’ access to decent work

Building the evidence base

In eight major refugee hosting countries, with the support of PROSPECTS, a partnership funded by the Netherlands for improving prospects for forcibly displaced persons and host communities, the ILO has undertaken a review of national policies, legislation and regulatory frameworks and practices.

The review focuses on access to labour markets, education and training, rights at work and naturalization pathways and is a significant contribution to the evidence base for policy makers and programme design.

The agency has also conducted market systems and business development assessments in several countries, including Nepal, Egypt and Sudan, to explore livelihood and employment opportunities for refugees and host communities.

In order to build the capacity of policy makers and other partners, the ILO also runs a course on access to decent work for refugees and other forcibly displaced persons in collaboration with UNHCR.


To improve refugees’ chances of achieving self-reliance, the ILO has provided technical and vocational education and training, entrepreneurship support, work-based learning, skills development and recognition, and skills profiling – focusing on youth and women – with projects being implemented in regions like the Middle East, East Africa, the Sahel and Southeast Asia

In Morocco and Mauritania the ILO supports national employment agencies to extend and strengthen services to migrant and refugee workers. Working with UNHCR, ILO has fostered inclusive access to decent work in the digital gig economy for young people in forced displacement contexts; and working with UNICEF, ILO has established Job Search Clubs in Jordan, Egypt and Kenya; and skills training in Iraq.

In Uganda, Angelique Ahindo, a Congolese refugee and a mother of 6 is trained on tailoring to support her family and improve livelihood

In Tükiye, the agency has supported municipalities and trade associations for artisans by issuing refugee work permits and establishing information centers catering to both refugees and nationals who work in micro, small and medium enterprises. Through these information centres refugees can access opportunities for skills development and on-the-job training. Capacity development workshops on fair recruitment for local governments have also been offered by the ILO in South America.

In Adana, Türkiye, Semra Baştürk, a Work Based Learning programme beneficiary challenges gender roles by working in the heavy industry together with men.

ILO: Financial inclusion and technical & vocational training

To facilitate financial inclusion of refugees, ILO’s Social Finance Programme has provided technical assistance and tools to support governments in building countrywide financial inclusion and financial education strategies with national partners.

Through the PROSPECTS partnership, ILO  has conducted studies to assess opportunities to expand financial services to forcibly displaced people, and has run micro-finance workshops in Sudan and Iraq. The agency followed this up by rolling out “Making Finance Work for Refugees,” an initiative involving staff from the Central Bank, commercial banks, microfinance institutions and Islamic banks. In Ethiopia, the ILO has conducted an enterprise, cooperative and financial services assessment while in the DRC, the ILO ran a village-based banking initiative.

In Jigiga, Ethiopia, refugee and host community members undertake training on bricklaying at the Technical and vocational education and training Center

ILO: promoting socio-economic inclusion of refugees

For the ILO, including refugees in national frameworks and public services is essential for development-oriented solutions. Building social cohesion by supporting both displaced and host populations alike is also central to the ILO’s approach. The agency also focuses on the role employers’ and workers’ organisations can play in socio-economic integration.

In 2021 the ILO published a Guide for policymakers and practitioners and a related intervention model for extending social protection to refugees and asylum seekers. Policy dialogues with host countries are underway in number of countries like Egypt where the ILO and UNHCR are piloting inclusion of refugees in the universal health insurance system. In Turkïye, financial incentives for businesses to partially cover social security premiums for Syrians under Temporary Protection and Turkish citizens have supported the transition to formal employment. ILO has also supported the launch of a multi-donor fund for extending social security for vulnerable workers in Jordan, including Syrian refugees.

UNESCO’s Qualifications Passport opens up tertiary education opportunities for refugees

Through its Qualifications Passport (UQP) initiative, UNESCO is working on system strengthening in higher education, in close collaboration with national higher education, qualifications and recognition authorities. The agency provides technical support to policy design on the inclusion of the crisis-affected displaced populations in respective tertiary and higher education systems, leveraging higher education as an effective tool for crisis response.

A pilot phase of the initiative was completed in Zambia and Iraq, which resulted in 61 UQPs issued, and the initiative has moved towards full implementation in 2023, using a systems approach.

In the period February – April 2023, more than 25 UQP holders in Zambia received admission letters from universities in the country and abroad, confirming the global portability of the Passport. Additionally, blockchain technology will be applied to digitalise the UQP in order to improve productivity, portability, sustainability, authenticity, and data privacy for vulnerable populations.

UNESCO is working with government on the scale-up of the project in  Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Iraq, and Qatar, in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Norway, the Council of Europe, UNHCR and the Education Above All Foundation.

UNDP promotes development approaches for Syrian refugees in the Middle East and North Africa region

UNDP, in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, has been supporting countries hosting large numbers of refugees from Syria, including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Türkiye, in a sub-region now facing multi-layered socio-economic challenges. UNDP’s Sub-Regional Response Facility for the Syria Crisis published a Position Paper on Adaptive Solutions in 2022 which outlines a development approach to solutions for forced displacement, and highlights the role that development actors like UNDP must play to support national systems and actors in creating conditions for inclusion, self-reliance and resilience.

In addition to co-leading Regional Refugee Response and Resilience Plan (3RP), UNDP’s Facility for the Syria Crisis has undertaken several pilot initiatives aiming to advance adaptive solutions together with UNDP Country Offices, including: a) a public-private partnership in Jordan to address the digital divide and supporting inclusive livelihoods opportunities for all (Digi-Maharat); b) a Feasibility Study for a Türkiye Compact to stimulate economic growth and employment for all through trade preferences;  and c) exploring the replicability of the Lebanon Tensions Monitoring System, which, in collaboration with UNHCR, aims to enhance government and peace actors understanding of social tensions to inform a more conflict-sensitive approach in their programming

WHO promotes inclusion of refugees and migrants in universal health coverage

In Cox's Bazar refugee camp, Bangladesh, WHO's tuberculosis team worked towards containing tuberculosis while ensuring tuberculosis prevention and care during the COVID-10 pandemic (2020). | WHO/Tatiana Almeida

As part of its commitment to promoting universal health coverage WHO is supporting countries to apply inclusive approaches to health and well-being for refugees. Under its Global Action Plan for promoting the health of refugees and migrants WHO focuses on implementing essential public health functions, improving social determinants of health, and promoting inclusive health systems that respond to refugees' health needs. WHO also helps build the capacity of health workers through its Global Competency Standards for Health Workers and the Refugee and Migrant Health Toolkit for the implementation of refugee-related activities. The agency aims to mainstream refugee health needs in all of its programs, including in its work in emergencies such as the inclusion of refugees in the COVAX program for COVID-19 vaccines.