Protecting Urban Refugee Children

Protecting Urban Refugee Children

Innovation Challenge Background and Overview

Do you live or work in a city? Are you frustrated by services and programmes that don’t reflect urban refugee children’s needs and realities?  Do you have ideas for how to better engage urban refugee children, young people and their families? Do you have suggestions for how to link refugee children and families with existing local services? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, now is your chance to share your ideas as part of the “Protect Urban Refugee Children Innovation Challenge”. We want to hear ideas from UNHCR staff, partners and refugees who have urban experience.

Risk & Resilience in the City 

As of 2017, more than half of the world’s 16.5 million refugees live in urban areas. Many of these urban refugees are children who will spend their entire childhood in the city.

Living in cities can potentially offer refugee children and their families opportunities and benefits that are unavailable in camps or rural areas, including greater possibilities for income generation or employment, better access to a fuller range of education and health services, and more chances for integration in a diverse urban setting. But, many urban refugee families struggle financially. They share the difficulties of the urban poor and also face an array of difficulties related to their forced displacement and legal status. This makes it especially hard for them to make a living and to access the services and opportunities that cities offer. This combination undermines the protective capacity of families and communities and compounds protection risks for children.

In spite of these challenging circumstances, refugee children and their families show surprising resilience.  Better collaboration with communities and local urban actors and services can help refugee children and families to survive and even thrive in cities. Operational experience indicates that:

      • Encouraging children to develop their own protection capacity is key. Education and informal learning opportunities enable children to develop the skills knowledge and networks they need to navigate the city.  Adults often underestimate the protection importance of friendships and peer support, but sports and recreational activities assist refugee children to come together with other children, both refugees, and nationals, to support and protect each other.
      • Cash assistance and livelihoods combined with positive parenting and other psychosocial support can help parents to cope with their own stress and to provide and care for their children.
      • Activating community-based protection is important. Outreach volunteers who provide skilled psychosocial support and referrals can help families to support each other and also link them with local services.
      • Collaborating with local organizations and key line ministries and building their capacity can expand the network of services that refugees can access.
      • Providing essential services that complement what is available in the city helps to ensure minimum protection standards.

To learn more: Download the Five Key Investments to Protect Urban Refugee Children here.

A Call for New Innovative Ideas in Urban Refugee Children Protection

  • Do you have a completely new idea about how to improve protection for urban refugee children?
  • Do you have a promising practice that you would like to share with other operations?
  • Have you heard about a promising practice in other operations that you would like to try in your operation?
  • Do you have just a thought about how to improve protection for urban refugee children?

We are looking for ideas that are creative but realistic. We need ideas that are implementable but are not business as usual. Please share your ideas for urban programming that would enhance protection for children!  UNHCR is also looking to support a range of small, medium and higher cost projects with technical support and possible funding.

  • No cost projects
  • Low cost projects: $0 – $5,000
  • Medium cost projects: $5,001 – $15,000
  • Higher cost projects: $15,001 – $50,000

The Challenge team and UNHCR experts will review the ideas select the winning ideas. We are keen on supporting ideas that are refugee-led and inclusive. The criteria for selection are:

⇒ Innovative: “Innovative” ideas can be entirely new ideas or simply a promising practice from one region or sector that could be adapted to another context. We are looking for ideas that are sustainable, creative, and community-driven.

⇒ Appropriate: Successful ideas should be relevant and adapted to the specific risks and capacities of urban children and families in your context.

⇒ Principled & participatory: Ideas are in line with international child protection standards as well as involve children, families, and communities in a meaningful way.

⇒ Cost effective: There is no minimum budget for suggested ideas and some may bear no cost. We are looking for ideas to change how we are working from the smallest tweak to a whole new initiative.

⇒ Feasible: Can be implemented by December 2017 in collaboration with a UNHCR Office.

Share your ideas to get feedback, technical support, and possible funding! Ideas shared through the Innovation Challenge Platform may be commented upon by colleagues, will be reviewed by a multi-sector panel of experts, and will be considered for funding.

                                    © UNHCR /Scott Nelson