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Refugee-led organizations to receive UNHCR support for innovative projects


Refugee-led organizations to receive UNHCR support for innovative projects

24 February 2023
UNHCR's Refugee-led Innovation Fund champions the creativity of displaced and stateless people.

GENEVA – At an online event on Tuesday, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, will be celebrating 17 refugee-led organizations set to receive a combined US$700,000 in direct seed funding this year to implement innovative projects that will drive lasting positive change for displaced and host communities.

The awards will be made through UNHCR’s Refugee-led Innovation Fund, which was launched in 2022 to champion the creativity of displaced and stateless people, enabling them to identify the challenges facing their communities and to design innovative solutions.

With the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide passing 103 million, UNHCR is prioritizing meaningful partnerships and the inclusion of displaced and stateless people in the projects that affect their lives.

The fund received nearly 2,000 applications from 18 pilot countries in its first call for expressions of interest, showing the active role already played by refugee-led organizations in humanitarian and development interventions.

The fund’s steering committee – which includes people with lived experience of forced displacement – endorsed 17 of these projects following a thorough selection process. Those selected will receive holistic support through the fund, including mentoring, technical expertise and financial resources.

The winning projects include: 

  • Aquaponics to increase food security and support the livelihoods of women refugees in Malawi;
  • A project to equip stateless people in Italy with advocacy skills to improve understanding of statelessness;
  • A recycling programme turning waste into art and paving stones in Mali; and
  • A mentoring network to boost tertiary education enrolment of refugees in Uganda.

“This exciting fund grants forcibly displaced people the financial and technical support they need to creatively solve the complex challenges they face,” said Hovig Etyemezian, Head of UNHCR’s Innovation Service. “They are in the driving seat!”

All of the projects supported through the Refugee-led Innovation Fund will deliver social, economic, educational and environmental benefits to refugees and host communities by rebuilding resilience, strengthening the self-reliance of displaced populations, and furthering progress under the Global Compact on Refugees, a framework for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing and international cooperation.

The inaugural awardees of the Refugee-led Innovation Fund will be celebrated in an online event on Tuesday, 28 February, at 1500 CET. Register for the event here.  

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