This week, we’re featuring a guest blog post from IRAP’s Intake Coordinator Betsy Fisher. Betsy attended the annual UNHCR-NGO Consultations in Geneva last month, along with IRAP’s National Policy Director, Katie Reisner. Read on to learn about what they got up to in Geneva! (Also, see below for UNHCR’s Storify story covering the event, and featuring IRAP!)
This year, for the first time, IRAP attended the annual UNHCR-NGO Consultations in Geneva. The Consultations, held now for over 25 years, are where the UN brings together refugee NGOs from throughout the world to build relationships and exchange ideas. The theme of the week was “Solutions,” which in the UNHCR context means the specific legal options available to refugees to rebuild their lives in safety and dignity. Such solutions are core to IRAP’s work, helping the most vulnerable refugees find permanent safety through resettlement. IRAP’s Policy Director, Katie Reisner, and I served as IRAP’s flag-bearers at this year’s consultations, and spent the week discussing IRAP’s work with NGO and UNHCR counterparts as well as how to improve and expand our important partnerships.
I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion about how to refer vulnerable refugees to UNHCR for resettlement. The panel, moderated by RefugePoint, also featured staff from HIAS and Refugee Consortium Kenya. We each spoke about our own best practices and challenges in making referrals for resettlement and recommendations to UNHCR in facilitating these referrals.
Each of us recommended that UNHCR increase its communication with NGOs on practical considerations such as the manner in which they prefer to receive referrals, and increase communication with refugees about the status of their own cases, such as by informing them whether or not they are under consideration for resettlement. UNHCR’s Senior Resettlement Officer, Aurvasi Patel, wholeheartedly agreed that UNHCR values its NGO partners and welcomed our feedback.
Katie and I were thrilled to be able to share IRAP’s expertise in working effectively with NGO and UNHCR partners to ensure that the most vulnerable refugees are considered for resettlement. For IRAP’s clients and for the most vulnerable refugees worldwide, resettlement is their only possible solution.