Why Refugees

Why
Refugees

Worldwide, 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced – the highest number ever recorded. Of those, approximately 25.4 million are refugees who have fled their home countries as a result of conflict and violent persecution. The average time a refugee remains a refugee is estimated at 20 years and counting.

Without long-term solutions, refugees remain in desperate situations for decades, living in overcrowded refugees camps and urban areas, unable to rebuild their lives in dignity and peace.

Most international aid is directed at non-displaced populations, e.g. helping the nationals of a country with education, health and poverty reduction.

Refugees are typically excluded from such development programs as they lack legal standing and permanent residency in their host countries. Many governments deny refugees access to public services and the right to work, leaving refugees excluded from the social and economic life of their host countries.

Pushed to the margins, not only have refugees have lost their homes, communities, livelihoods and often loved ones. They have lost the protection of a state and the rights and freedoms that derive from citizenship.

We focus on finding lasting solutions for refugees because we believe that it is to everyone’s benefit that refugees be given a chance use their talents and skills to contribute to their host countries and to the global economy.

icon-why-refugees-1
84 PERCENT

84% of refugees are hosted in developing countries

icon-why-refugees-2
50+ PERCENT

More than 50% of all refugees are children

icon-why-refugees-3
60+ PERCENT

More than 60% of all refugees reside in urban areas rather than camps

Whom We Help

RefugePoint focuses on refugee populations and individuals of all nationalities that are most at-risk, particularly those that are chronically underserved by the larger aid systems. While risk factors vary in different contexts, examples of populations typically facing the greatest risk include:

Children make up over 50% of the entire population of refugees, despite the fact that children account for only 31% of the world’s population. Many refugee children have lost their traditional support systems (extended family, neighbors, teachers), leaving them especially susceptible to abuse, violence, exploitation, and continued trauma. Their schooling is also frequently interrupted, often put on hold for years on end.

A commitment to child protection underpins all that we do at RefugePoint. We employ Child Protection Experts throughout Africa. For children who are unaccompanied – either separated from parents or orphaned – we conduct Best Interest Determinations (BIDs) to assess the minor’s situation and determine the best way forward.

For children living with their parents, we focus on supporting the family through food, rent, and medical assistance as the frontline of protection. We also support school enrollment and focus on education as an important intervention for combating poverty and providing children with opportunities to integrate in their new communities.

read irene’s story

Women and girls face increased risk of physical abuse, exploitation and assault. In addition, they tend to have fewer options than their male counterparts and are frequently compelled to rely on dangerous survival strategies or are forced into marriage and early motherhood. Furthermore, war and flight often separates families and leaves women as the head of the household with no adult male support.

Many of RefugePoint’s female clients have experienced sexual violence in their home countries, during their escape, after arrival in Nairobi, or all of the above. Many also find themselves in exploitative home and/or work environments, sometimes resorting to ‘survival sex’ to support their families.

Given these heightened risks, RefugePoint prioritizes women and girls in all of work. In Nairobi, for instance, our group-counseling program provides tailored support. For example, our staff conducts therapy groups for women who are raising children born as a result of rape. These groups provide much needed stability, helping to build coping mechanisms and social capital. Groups frequently continue to meet even after formal sessions end.

read julie’s story

Among the most at-risk refugees are those who do not enjoy the protection and care of their own communities and families, as is often the case for LGBTIQ refugees. Having escaped violence, discrimination and abuse in their home countries, they often face many of the same threats in their host countries. Many LGBTIQ refugees face challenges such as marginalization, sexual violence, domestic violence, stigmatization by health professionals when seeking medical care, forced marriage, forced separation from their children, harassment, and threats.

RefugePoint staff have been trained on creating a safe space for LGBTIQ individuals to seek assistance and to recognize the unique forms of persecution that these refugees experience. At-risk LGBTIQ individuals are prioritized for various services and solutions. In our urban work, we have prioritized outreach to these individuals and developed partnerships with a broad network of humanitarian agencies offering medical, legal and psychosocial services. Drawing on the expertise of its medical staff, RefugePoint has helped sensitize other medical professionals to issues affecting this community and has conducted outreach campaigns and trainings for community members themselves.

War and flight take a toll on refugees’ health. Many arrive with injuries or with chronic conditions that have not been addressed. For refugees facing serious or even life-threatening medical conditions, they often lack access to the treatments that they need. Such cases may be identified and prioritized for resettlement, in order to receive the care they need abroad. For refugees in Nairobi requiring primary care, RefugePoint runs an in-house medical clinic and covers the costs of prescription medicines. Referrals for secondary and tertiary care are made to partner clinics at favorable rates and may be subsidized by RefugePoint. We also partner with a crowd-sourced medical funding platform, which helps refugees cover the costs of treatments, procedures, and surgeries.

Through the tireless advocacy of our medical staff with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, we were able to enroll a set of clients in the national health insurance plan for the first time in March 2014. This opportunity later expanded to more of our clients and to include refugees in Nairobi broadly. UNHCR secured funding to cover the premiums and allow tens of thousands of refugees to enroll in the plan.

read zakuani & nyantabara’s story

Many refugees endured unspeakable violence in their home countries and sometimes continued violence during their flight to safety and even after arrival in their host country. While other refugees might have fled “generalized violence” around them (burning of villages, killing of friends and relatives), these refugees have been the direct targets of physical violence — whether perpetrated by government agents, military or paramilitary groups, or civilians. Having endured severe human rights abuses, many are unable or unwilling to return home even when conditions are peaceful, due to the resulting trauma.

RefugePoint staff identify and prioritize such refugees for services and solutions. We either provide or connect them with available counseling and medical support. Some are referred for resettlement.

read abal’s story

The majority of the world’s refugees – more than 60% – now live in urban environments rather than refugee camps. With most assistance still provided in the camps, the most at-risk urban refugees often have limited or no social safety nets. Scattered among the host population but not enjoying the same rights as the host population, urban refugees face severe limitations – without the right to work, own property, move about freely, and access basic services (education, healthcare, banking, etc.).

Urban refugees often face intense or even violent discrimination. Many are forced into hiding, afraid of being seen because it brings an increased risk of harassment. Urban refugees often survive on handouts, exploitative domestic labor, or sometimes dangerous income generating activities. Through our Urban Refugee Protection Program in Nairobi, RefugePoint works with at-risk urban refugees who are identified from among the estimated 60,000 refugees living in Nairobi.

read david & family’s story

Children

Children make up over 50% of the entire population of refugees, despite the fact that children account for only 31% of the world’s population. Many refugee children have lost their traditional support systems (extended family, neighbors, teachers), leaving them especially susceptible to abuse, violence, exploitation, and continued trauma. Their schooling is also frequently interrupted, often put on hold for years on end.

A commitment to child protection underpins all that we do at RefugePoint. We employ Child Protection Experts throughout Africa. For children who are unaccompanied – either separated from parents or orphaned – we conduct Best Interest Determinations (BIDs) to assess the minor’s situation and determine the best way forward.

For children living with their parents, we focus on supporting the family through food, rent, and medical assistance as the frontline of protection. We also support school enrollment and focus on education as an important intervention for combating poverty and providing children with opportunities to integrate in their new communities.

read irene’s story

Women

Women and girls face increased risk of physical abuse, exploitation and assault. In addition, they tend to have fewer options than their male counterparts and are frequently compelled to rely on dangerous survival strategies or are forced into marriage and early motherhood. Furthermore, war and flight often separates families and leaves women as the head of the household with no adult male support.

Many of RefugePoint’s female clients have experienced sexual violence in their home countries, during their escape, after arrival in Nairobi, or all of the above. Many also find themselves in exploitative home and/or work environments, sometimes resorting to ‘survival sex’ to support their families.

Given these heightened risks, RefugePoint prioritizes women and girls in all of work. In Nairobi, for instance, our group-counseling program provides tailored support. For example, our staff conducts therapy groups for women who are raising children born as a result of rape. These groups provide much needed stability, helping to build coping mechanisms and social capital. Groups frequently continue to meet even after formal sessions end.

read julie’s story

LGBTIQ

Among the most at-risk refugees are those who do not enjoy the protection and care of their own communities and families, as is often the case for LGBTIQ refugees. Having escaped violence, discrimination and abuse in their home countries, they often face many of the same threats in their host countries. Many LGBTIQ refugees face challenges such as marginalization, sexual violence, domestic violence, stigmatization by health professionals when seeking medical care, forced marriage, forced separation from their children, harassment, and threats.

RefugePoint staff have been trained on creating a safe space for LGBTIQ individuals to seek assistance and to recognize the unique forms of persecution that these refugees experience. At-risk LGBTIQ individuals are prioritized for various services and solutions. In our urban work, we have prioritized outreach to these individuals and developed partnerships with a broad network of humanitarian agencies offering medical, legal and psychosocial services. Drawing on the expertise of its medical staff, RefugePoint has helped sensitize other medical professionals to issues affecting this community and has conducted outreach campaigns and trainings for community members themselves.

Medical Needs

War and flight take a toll on refugees’ health. Many arrive with injuries or with chronic conditions that have not been addressed. For refugees facing serious or even life-threatening medical conditions, they often lack access to the treatments that they need. Such cases may be identified and prioritized for resettlement, in order to receive the care they need abroad. For refugees in Nairobi requiring primary care, RefugePoint runs an in-house medical clinic and covers the costs of prescription medicines. Referrals for secondary and tertiary care are made to partner clinics at favorable rates and may be subsidized by RefugePoint. We also partner with a crowd-sourced medical funding platform, which helps refugees cover the costs of treatments, procedures, and surgeries.

Through the tireless advocacy of our medical staff with the Kenyan Ministry of Health, we were able to enroll a set of clients in the national health insurance plan for the first time in March 2014. This opportunity later expanded to more of our clients and to include refugees in Nairobi broadly. UNHCR secured funding to cover the premiums and allow tens of thousands of refugees to enroll in the plan.

read zakuani & nyantabara’s story

Survivors of Violence

Many refugees endured unspeakable violence in their home countries and sometimes continued violence during their flight to safety and even after arrival in their host country. While other refugees might have fled “generalized violence” around them (burning of villages, killing of friends and relatives), these refugees have been the direct targets of physical violence — whether perpetrated by government agents, military or paramilitary groups, or civilians. Having endured severe human rights abuses, many are unable or unwilling to return home even when conditions are peaceful, due to the resulting trauma.

RefugePoint staff identify and prioritize such refugees for services and solutions. We either provide or connect them with available counseling and medical support. Some are referred for resettlement.

read abal’s story

Urban Refugees

The majority of the world’s refugees – more than 60% – now live in urban environments rather than refugee camps. With most assistance still provided in the camps, the most at-risk urban refugees often have limited or no social safety nets. Scattered among the host population but not enjoying the same rights as the host population, urban refugees face severe limitations – without the right to work, own property, move about freely, and access basic services (education, healthcare, banking, etc.).

Urban refugees often face intense or even violent discrimination. Many are forced into hiding, afraid of being seen because it brings an increased risk of harassment. Urban refugees often survive on handouts, exploitative domestic labor, or sometimes dangerous income generating activities. Through our Urban Refugee Protection Program in Nairobi, RefugePoint works with at-risk urban refugees who are identified from among the estimated 60,000 refugees living in Nairobi.

read david & family’s story