Livelihoods and Rebuilding Lives 

UNHCR works to promote livelihoods and economic inclusion for refugees.

Photo: © UNHCR/Helene Caux

UNHCR believes every refugee deserves a bright and safe future. That’s why UNHCR invests in creating opportunities and finding long term solutions for refugees. With your support, we strive to empower refugees to build strong social, economic and cultural ties with their host communities, and to strengthen their capacity to claim their rights.

Empowering Women to Secure Economic Independence

Unaccompanied women, single mothers and pregnant, disabled or older women all face particular challenges and threats in crisis settings. Together with our partners, we work to ensure marginalized women have ample and equal access to humanitarian assistance. Our programs are planned and carried out with women’s special needs in mind. They are included in decision-making processes and empowered with new skills. 

With your support, we’re helping displaced survivors of sexual and gender-based violence heal, recover and gain confidence. UNHCR is also investing in young womenby providing special programs to increase their enrollment in secondary education, and to build leadership, life and vocational skills for economic independence. UNHCR also assists widowed women in returning to their communities to rebuild their homes. 

1 in 4 refugee women head a household

Helping Refugees Earn a Living in New Communities

Refugees may flee their homes with few belongings, but these farmers, nurses, teachers and business owners always carry three valuable things with them: knowledge, skills and experience. We recognize the enormous potential of refugees to contribute to local economies, wherever they settle and their desire to become self-reliant. That’s why we work with refugees to help revive their livelihoods and develop new marketable skills. 

UNHCR’s humanitarian workers, livelihood specialists and local partners also provide career counselling, seed money and other forms of assistance for entrepreneurs, as well as other income-generating projects.

“Work is the only thing that gives substance to life.” 

– Albert Einstein, a refugee 

Long-Term Solutions to Help Refugees Resettle

Since 1950, UNHCR has been strongly advocating for safe and lasting solutions for refugees. Most refugees long to return home, and we work with governments and partners to help them go home when it’s safe to do so. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible. When refugees can’t go home, we help them rebuild their lives in another country. 

We also help refugees integrate into countries where they have found refuge, or resettle in countries, like Canada.  

Resettlement is a precious and often life-saving opportunity for refugees. Unfortunately, the need for resettlement far exceeds available spaces. In 2019, Canada led the world in refugee resettlement, welcoming over 30,000 refugees.  

Voluntary repatriation remains a durable solution of choice for the largest number of refugees and requires appropriate measures to ensure that any choice is voluntary, free from coercion, and based on objective information with conditions allowing for a safe and dignified return.

5.6 million displaced people returned to their areas or countries of origin at the end of 2019. 

Private Sector Engagement  

The private sector plays a pivotal role in providing opportunities for refugees. From employment and business opportunities, to providing critical goods and services, refugees’ livelihoods are very closely linked to private enterprise.   

Companies can benefit from working with refugees who provide a source of skills, knowledge and expertise, as well as markets for products and services. Private-sector engagement with refugees creates shared value for all stakeholders – from the refugees and companies concerned, to the host communities, local economy and wider society in which refugees live. 

We engage directly with companies and other actors to jointly design and implement innovative concepts and programs that contribute to refugees’ livelihoods. For example:  

  • Working with financial institutions to develop financial products that suit refugees’ needs
  • Establishing links with global supply chains for products made by refugees
  • Linking with private companies to increase hiring of refugees

We are involved in a number of leading platforms to gather evidence, conduct research and promote the business case and best practice for private sector engagement with refugees. 

Learn more about UNHCR Canada’s partnersand corporations

Private Sector Engagement  

The private sector plays a pivotal role in providing opportunities for refugees. From employment and business opportunities, to providing critical goods and services, refugees’ livelihoods are very closely linked to private enterprise.   

Companies can benefit from working with refugees who provide a source of skills, knowledge and expertise, as well as markets for products and services. Private-sector engagement with refugees creates shared value for all stakeholders – from the refugees and companies concerned, to the host communities, local economy and wider society in which refugees live. 

We engage directly with companies and other actors to jointly design and implement innovative concepts and programs that contribute to refugees’ livelihoods. This includes working with financial institutions to develop financial products that suit refugees’ needs and establishing links with global supply chains for products made by refugees. We also partner with private companies to increase hiring of refugees.

We are involved in a number of leading platforms to gather evidence, conduct research and promote the business case and best practice for private sector engagement with refugees.

Learn more about UNHCR Canada’s partnersand corporations

Refugee Education, Giving Everyone a Chance to Learn

Education is one of the most grounding and normalizing things for a child who has just experienced the trauma of fleeing his or her home amidst war and violence. Education is often seen as a luxury for young refugees or internally displaced people whose families are also struggling to find food, assistance and shelter. But education is a basic right, one that we believe is vital to restore hope, dignity, stability, safety, and in the long-term, self-sufficiency. With your support, UNHCR Canada can invest in creating opportunities and finding lasting solutions for the people we assist. We are committed to improving access to learning programs for young refugees of all ages, as well as offering support for teacher training and raising funds for school supplies and repairs. 

UNHCR Canada supports distance-learning programs, which ensure degrees obtained in host countries are recognized when refugees return home. And we even have a special fund that offers higher education scholarships for refugees in their host countries. 

Over 40% of refugees are under the age of 18 

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