More than 2,500 UN Volunteers, half of them women, have supported the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in delivering on its mandate in 95 countries over the past six years. The two agencies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding reaffirming this long-standing partnership.
“UN Volunteers ensure the broader engagement of citizens, also in times of crisis,” stated UNV Executive Coordinator Richard Dictus. “This Memorandum of Understanding reaffirms the long-term partnership between UNV and UNHCR, and paves the way for increased deployment of UN Volunteers as first responders in humanitarian and crisis response, and as integral implementers in long term peace and development interventions.”
Upon signing the memorandum, High Commissioner Filippo Grandi affirmed, “UN Volunteers play a key role as part of UNHCR’s workforce, often on the frontlines delivering life-sustaining protection and support to displaced and stateless people around the world. Their presence enriches the diversity of our organisation and in turn, UN Volunteers gain real-time experience in humanitarian operations. By signing this Memorandum today, we continue the synergy and collaborative relationship between UNHCR and UNV and commit to developing it further in the coming years to safeguard the rights and well-being of people who have been forced to flee.”
Specialized UN Volunteers contribute to the UNHCR goals of refugee protection and humanitarian assistance. UN Volunteers work on refugee status determination, registration, repatriation, resettlement, protection and family reunification. Through their focus on inclusiveness, UN Volunteers contribute to gender equality and youth inclusion in interventions to offer stability and an improved quality of life for refugees and people displaced by conflict.
Volunteerism not only addresses the systematic void that a humanitarian crisis such as the Syrian conflict has had in the global context, but also offers an inclusive means of responding to the challenges faced by the displaced.
UN Volunteers have been an integral part of the UNHCR’s response to the Syrian refugee crisis in countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. However, UN Volunteers are also being deployed in Europe, for example in Greece and Belgium, swiftly expanding the scope of operations to non-traditional UN programme countries in partnership with UNHCR based on emerging needs.
In Greece, 10 UN Volunteers serving with UNHCR are providing interpretation services for Arabic-English and Kurdish-English. Another three UN Volunteers in Greece, and two in Belgium are providing protection and community services to help improve the policies and services that affect the lives of refugees who made their way to Europe in search of safety.
UNV and UNHCR share a commitment to providing international protection to refugees and displaced persons through volunteerism. In their future collaboration, UNV and UNHCR will be examining the potential for joint programming in new areas and new regions, and UNV already has fast track procedures in place to facilitate deployment.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. We work with partners to integrate qualified, highly motivated and well supported UN Volunteers into development programming and promote the value and global recognition of volunteerism.
Since 1950, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has been providing vital assistance to refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced and stateless people. In multiple crises on multiple continents, we work to ensure that everybody has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, having fled violence, persecution, war or disaster at home. We help to save lives and build better futures for millions forced from home, many of whom have nobody left to turn to.