UNHCR has an evaluation and policy analysis unit (EPAU) to examine and assess policies, programmes and projects. Livelihood has become an important topic in the last decade to encourage self-reliance and empowerment.
This topic has been receiving greater prominence. Traditionally, organisations have a rights-based approach to this question. Most assistance neglects the local context of development and the local population, which affect the living conditions of host communities and the relationship it has with refugees. To date there is no clear definition of refugee livelihoods, suggesting the complexity of this topic1.
Research has shown that many refugees cannot establish or maintain their livelihoods because they cannot exercise the rights to which they are entitled under international human rights, humanitarian law of refugee law. No matter good intention, a large number of states lack the resources to grant the full range of 1951 Refugee Convention rights to sudden influxes of refugee. However, authors like Durieux and McAdam argue that restrictions may be justifiable in initial stages and and, in spirit of the Convention, should improve over time. ? In the 1950’s UNHCR mostly focused on the provision of legal protection and the organization of settlements in Europe. ? In the 60s and 70s and given to new refugee movements in Africa in the 80s, the UNHCR responded with large-scale agricultural settlements on land made available by host governments. Humanitarian organisations focused more on emergency relief and the immediate needs of displaced persons like food, water, shelter and health care.
? The early 80s saw attempts for more durable solutions to these humanitarian emergencies. The International Conference of Assistance to Refugees in Africa (ICARA I and ICARA II) aimed at mobilizing additional resources to assist hosting countries. ICARA I failed to satisfy host states’ expectations. ICARA II stressed connecting humanitarian aid and development, a more long-term consideration than ICARA I.
The mid-80s and onwards, the UNHCR was not engaged in the topic of livelihoods and was preoccupied with large-scale repatriation programmes and new emergencies. Many refugees found themselves in Protracted refugee situations (PRS), resulting in a situation of dependency and marginalization.1 http://www.unhcr.org/4423fe5d2.pdf