What happens at the local level matters to the effective integration and inclusion of refugees in the community.
That cities are incubators of innovation and good practices in support of refugee protection has been shown by their pledges to implement the Global Compact on Refugees. Indeed, where refugees move to and how they are included in host communities depend on the vision, collaboration and commitment by mayors, municipalities and local groups. Local authorities often show generous solidarity with refugees and migrants by ‘wrapping’ around them and recognizing their rich and diverse contributions. Local communities can also be compassionate in response to persecution, loss and cultural alienation of those displaced by conflict and violence. This Handbook has been developed with the Migration Policy Group and aims to give practical guidance to local actors and to further inspire them to include refugees.
Our goal was to create a toolkit that builds on the practical experiences of municipal authorities and local actors in translating national policies into solutions such as appropriate housing, access to documentation and social and economic inclusion. These solutions work best when refugees are fully included in their design and development. Refugees bring a wealth of skills, and experience and a willingness to contribute to their new communities. We know that refugee participation in decision-making helps to build confidence in exercising basic rights and fostering a sense of belonging and trust in host communities. Participatory approaches lead to smarter policies and more impactful programmes. Yet managing the effective participation of diverse constituencies can be challenging, especially when meeting refugees' needs in project design. This tool is designed to help local authorities do exactly that.
The toolkit builds on decades of experience of UNHCR and our partners—and experimentation—with participatory approaches. But this toolkit is different. It speaks directly to the specific challenges of mayors, city administrators and local service providers in welcoming and including refugees and migrants. We have used accessible language and highlighted good practices to inspire innovation and creativity. We have also developed indicators to measure progress, assess impact, and to course correct when required.
This tool was created in collaboration with local authorities, service providers, civil society and refugee led organizations across Europe. It was field-tested in several countries and contexts and tweaked accordingly. We were encouraged by the enthusiasm and engagement with the tool, which we hope is useful to practitioners everywhere. We hope too that this will be a ‘living’ guide and encourage you to share good projects, experiences, and ideas for future iterations of the tool.
Gillian Triggs - UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection