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20 organizations working to support refugees’ rights

Humans’ movement around the globe is not a new phenomenon. However, with the emergence of borders between countries and imposing more restrictions, this phenomenon has gained more international attention. Nowadays, our universe witnesses about 68.5 million forcibly displaced people. This article lists 20 international organizations working with refugees and highlights their efforts to serve refugees worldwide. Check the available work opportunities at each organization by pressing on its name.

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the leading international organization working in the field of refugees nowadays. UNHCR started its work in 1950 to respond to displacement in Europe as a result of the Second World War. UNHCR started initially as a temporary office to solve the refugees crisis back then in three years; however its mandate was regularly extended due to the persistent need for its work. In 2003, the UN General Assembly removed time limitation on UNHCR mandate and extended it until the refugee problem is solved. Nowadays, it is estimated that there are around 25.4 million refugees in the world. UNHCR works in 128 countries to provide protection and assistance to refugees.

Established in 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is the UN agency concerned with the Palestinian refugees in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and West Bank. UNRWA focuses its work on the human development of Palestinian refugees, their empowerment and providing them with humanitarian services.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the UN Migration Agency with focus on regulating global migration in general. Serving this major goal, IOM defined serving refugees within its strategic focus plan. IOM runs projects to support refugees’ integration in countries of asylum, voluntary repatriation to the country of origin or resettlement to third country.

United Nations Children’s Fund is the UN Agency serving mothers and children in developing countries. Children constitute one of the most vulnerable groups during the time of conflict and displacement. In 2015, the number of child refugees was estimated by 10 million. For this reason, UNICEF extends its services to refugees that include: education opportunities for child refugees, enhancing maternity services for pregnant women in camps, and providing vaccines for child refugees.

Save the Children was founded in 1919 to combat hunger in Europe during the First World War. It later extended its activities to respond to the Great Depression in America. Today, Save the Children helps children around the globe in 120 countries. Its services include protecting child refugees in countries such as: Syria, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan, Egypt, and Myanmar.

Established in 1961, the World Food Programme, is the UN Agency that provides food support. It constantly partner with UNHCR to provide food for refugees and displaced people.  It also provides water and sanitation services in refugees camps.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is mandated to promote compliance with the Geneva Conventions and principles of International Law. Its work focuses also on protecting victims of conflict such as displaced persons and refugees.

In 1951, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) started as another initiative to solve displacement crisis caused by the Second World War. ICMC focuses on serving refugees through various programs; such as: establishing protection centers for Syrian refugees in Jordan, livelihoods support for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, starting refugees’ resettlement support centers in Turkey and Middle East and facilitates the integration of refugees in the European Union. Do not forget to check ICMC – UNHCR Deployment Scheme here

Founded at the time of the Second World War, the International Rescue Committee works to alleviate the sufferings of humanitarian crises. They have special programs serving refugees worldwide. With its headquarters in New York, the IRC works in over forty countries to help victims recover humanitarian problems. They focus on five main aspects, health, safety, education, economic wellbeing and empowerment.

Relying mainly on funding by the Danish people, the Danish government and grants from the European Union, the Danish Refugee Council has been contributing to solving refugees’ problems since 1956. It is now working in more than thirty countries focusing on ten main sectors. These sectors are: providing shelter and non-food Items, food security, protection, income generation, coordination & operational services in refugees and IDPs camps, community infrastructure & services, humanitarian mine action, armed violence reduction, water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH), and education. DRC has its emergency roster which deploys experts to UN agencies. Check this page for more information about DRC roster.

Norwegian Refugee Council is another international organization that works with refugees and has its own emergency roster. NRC roster prepares the organization to respond to emergencies very quickly. Moreover, NRC roster is divided to other sub-rosters depending on the needed expertise.  With around 14,000 humanitarian workers employed by NRC, the organization has the capacity to respond to emergencies in over thirty countries.  Check NRC roster and its sub rosters at this page.

CARE International has a priority of reducing poverty and social injustice in the world. For this reason, they particularly emphasize on empowering women as a vulnerable group. CARE runs programs through which they advocate for women’s right and support sexual and reproductive health for female refugees. CARE works in Dadaab camp in Kenya serving Somali refugees by providing health care and support to women in the camp.

“The power of people against poverty”; OXFAM is another international organization that sets poverty reduction as its major goal. OXFAM has its own emergency intervention programs. For example, they have so far served 240,000 people while responding to Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh.

Despite its young age, Asylum Access is one of the organizations that proved that serving refugees is possible if will exists. Started only in 2005, Asylum Access is successfully advocating on behalf of refugees to have legal identity, legal status in asylum countries and enjoy basic rights. Their headquarters is in America and they have offices in Tanzania, Malaysia, Mexico and other countries. They have also implemented their projects in many countries such as South Africa where they trained refugees to provide basic legal advice and advocacy within their own communities.

Also founded in 2005, Refuge Point is another example of international organization that is successfully achieving its goals within short time. The young organization is effectively working in Africa and extended its services to Iraq and Malaysia. Refuge Point focuses on most vulnerable refugees including: Refugees in imminent physical danger, elderly refugees, Orphans, separated or neglected children, and survivors of torture.

Focusing its work mainly on advocacy, Refugees International works independently to secure basic rights for refugees. Refugees International conducts annual field visits to determine refugees’ needs and pursuant to the outcomes of such field visits they decide on their advocacy plans. Refugees International advocated against cutting U.S. budgeted funding for humanitarian assistance and response programs. It also advocated for refugees’ rights to legal employment, safe working conditions, and fair wages in Turkey.   

Asylum seekers and refugees, in most of the cases, lack the financial capacities to fund the needed legal services during their asylum process. To fill this gap and protect refugees and asylum seekers from exploitation, the International Refugee Assistance Project deploys network of lawyers and even law students to provide legal aid services to refugees and asylum seekers. IRAP works in many countries including the U.S., Jordan, and Lebanon.

Founded in 1979, Mercy Corps was called “Save the Refugees Funds” back then. Mercy Corps functions today in over forty countries helping people recover from crises and conflicts. For example, Mercy Corps intervened recently to help people who fled from Mosul, Iraq by providing emergency cash assistance to families, distributing supplies in camps, and establishing safe space centers for youth.

Catholic Relief Services is a faith-based organization that works to assist the poor and vulnerable people worldwide. It started in 1943 to respond to refugees’ problems in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. CRS is currently working with refugees and it considers emergency programming and recovery as one of its programming areas. They are working in over hundred countries and they are committed to serve all people with no regard to their race, religion or nationality.

Médecins Sans Frontières is an international organization that is concerned with providing healthcare services to people who are affected by natural and manmade disaster. Since it started in 1971, MSF constitutes a network of devoted doctors who work to serve a noble cause. MSF provides support to refugees in many countries. For example, they worked on combating Cholera outbreak in Yemen. MSF does not only focus on fighting epidemics and diseases, but they also provide mental health support to victims of trauma and violence survivors.

This list shows the tremendous efforts exerted internationally to ensure that refugees enjoy their lives with dignity and respect. This list includes only some of the major international organizations working in this field. However, the number of organizations working with refugees is beyond our expectations. If you are interested in working with refugees, make sure to regularly check the available vacancies on ReliefWeb and always follow Human Rights Careers for guidance on your career path.

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