Working together for refugees: immediate assistance, lasting effects

World Humanitarian Day: The United Nations and GIZ work together to support displaced people and ensure that short-term assistance leads to long-term effects.

Around 80 million people were living in displacement at the end of 2019. Persistent conflicts and also the consequences of climate change have led to more and more people having to flee their homes. In the Global Compact on Refugees, the UN member states have committed to protecting the rights of refugees and migrants and to supporting countries and regions that are particularly affected by movements of refugees and migrants.

The United Nations’ goal is for humanitarian aid and development cooperation to be more closely interconnected. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH are working together to develop joint measures for selected regions and projects aimed at improving the living conditions in affected areas. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ applies its expertise in these projects to more closely align emergency aid and structural improvements so that they can benefit from one another.

With a view to structural improvements, the partnership works to ensure that refugees who have no chance of returning to their home countries can gain a foothold in host communities. The focus is on economic and social integration and prospects for refugees to build up their own livelihoods. In Niger, for example, a total of 35,000 Malian refugees are being given land of their own as well as housing outside the refugee camps. Together with the local population, they will receive training in skilled trades. In Mexico, a project is helping refugees and host communities to integrate successfully. With this support, more than 500 refugees were able to relocate from refugee shelters to central Mexico, where the opportunities on the labour market are better.

In terms of emergency aid, UNHCR and GIZ are working together to provide renewable energy supplies to refugees and the local population. 90 per cent of the people in refugee shelters have no access to electricity, and if they do, it usually comes from environmentally harmful diesel generators. GIZ supports UNHCR in identifying solutions together with national governments and the private sector for providing sustainable energies to the refugee camps. Seven refugee camps in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia are now increasingly using solar energy and energy-efficient cooking stoves. But here too, the focus remains on long-term perspectives: The goal is to reduce the share of greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent.

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