Livelihoods and Rebuilding Lives 

UNHCR promotes economic inclusion of refugees worldwide and in Canada.

Photo: © UNHCR/Helene Caux

Every refugee deserves a bright future. This is why UNHCR helps create opportunities for them while finding long lasting solutions for refugees. With the support of our donors, UNHCR empowers refugees to build economic, cultural and social ties with host communities.

Empowering Women

Refugee women – whether they are single mothers, pregnant, unaccompanied, disabled or older – face specific challenges in economic settings. UNHCR works with our partners to ensure that marginalized women have equal access to humanitarian assistance and our programs are built with women’s needs in mind. With the support of our donors, UNHCR also helps victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) recover. UNHCR invests in young women by providing programs that increase their access to education while building leadership and other skills.

1 in 4 refugee women head a household

Helping Refugees in New Communities

Refugees bring knowledge, experience and skills to their new communities. UNHCR recognizes the potential of refugees and what they contribute to local economics where they settle. This is why UNHCR works with refugee communities to revive their livelihoods and skills. UNHCR’s staff, specialists and partners also provide seed money, career counselling and other assistance to refugee entrepreneurs.

For example, meet Mohammed. After living in Lebanon for 8 years as a refugee, Mohammed is the first refugee to come to Canada as a skilled worker under the Economic Mobility Pathways Project.

86% of the world’s refugees are hosted in developing countries

Long-Term Solutions for Refugees

When refugees cannot return home, UNHCR helps them rebuild their lives in another country. UNHCR also helps refugees integrate into countries where they have found refuge or resettle in countries like Canada. Resettlement is a 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.

3.4 million displaced people returned to their areas or countries of origin at the end of 2020

Private Sector Engagement  

The private sector plays an important role by providing opportunities for refugees, from employment to business opportunities. The private sector also helps provide goods and services, which are closely linked to refugee livelihoods. Companies also benefit from working with refugees, who provide a great source of knowledge, skills and expertise. For example, Danby Appliances and Paramount Fine Foods in Canada are both companies who work closely with refugees. Private-sector engagement with refugees means shared value of all stakeholders.

UNHCR Canada engages directly with companies and other actors to design and implement innovative concepts and programs that contribute to refugees’ livelihoods. We also partner with private companies to increase the hiring of 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

Education is a basic human right, and something that helps restore hope, stability, dignity and safety for refugees. However, education can be seen as a luxury for displaced families who are also struggling for food and shelter. With our donors’ 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 42% of refugees are under the age of 18 

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