UNV refugee volunteer Marie N'DOU (standing), Associate Project Development Officer in IOM offices in Ghana

Volunteer opportunities for refugees by refugees, in West and Central Africa

This year, UNV has jump started initiatives to give refugees, particularly youth, the opportunity to volunteer for their communities. In partnership with UNHCR and IOM, UNV provides learning and career opportunities to refugees, through this new UN Refugee Volunteer modality.

Since the beginning of 2019, 286 UN Volunteers, including 154 nationals and 132 internationals support the protection of refugees and migration management with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). UN Volunteers positively impact the living conditions of the refugees, in Chad and 13 countries in West and Central Africa. 

This year, in addition, UNV is providing young refugees in West and Central Africa with education and career opportunities to strengthen their capacities and make a positive contribution to their community.  

There is unique number of 20 Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI) Refugee Volunteers in this group who are deployed in Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and Niger to participate in development initiatives with various UN Agencies (IOM, UNCDF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNU-INRA and UN Women). They work in several fields, including project development, Inclusive finance, Communications and public relations, governance and women’s political participation, and human resources.

In Niger, 10 UN Volunteers work in 24/7 shifts to provide interpretation services to migrant populations who mostly come from the Horn of Africa. They provide guidance and information in their language to people who have just arrived in transit centres in Niger. The DAFI initiative serves as a foundation to promote self-reliance, develop qualified human resources and to build the capacity and leadership among the refugee community.

Marie N’DOU migrated from her homeland Côte d’Ivoire to Ghana and became part of the big community of young migrants in search of safety and better opportunities. With her experience and a master’s degree in the French language, she engaged in many volunteering activities for local communities with international organizations such as Oxfam and UNFPA.

Now, Marie benefits from a scholarship from the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI), that enables refugee students to access higher education in their country of asylum and contribute to the process of reintegration in the home country upon repatriation.

Marie is part of this pilot project and works with IOM in Ghana. Since she started her assignment in July 2018 as Associate Project Development Officer at the Technical Cooperation Department, she is actively engaged in projects to fight organized crime, including human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

I was excited about working as a volunteer with IOM. This experience is helping me to improve my communication skills and understand how various department coordinate and work together. I have also learned to work with people from different countries and cultures. - states M'Dou

In her view, this assignment is an opportunity to thrive in a supportive, highly inclusive environment that encourages young migrants to pursue their education, develop skills and are able to play an active role in their host countries.

Today, Marie is no longer serving as a volunteer as she has been offered a contract by IOM Ghana.


Being a migrant myself and working with the UN Migration Agency completely changed my perception about migrants and migration - states M'Dou