Joint Evaluation of the Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Refugees during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The evaluation examined the effectiveness of international cooperation, and the combined response of host states, United Nations (UN) system agencies and non-governmental and civil society organisations, including refugee-led organisations (RLOs), in ensuring the protection of the rights of refugees during the global pandemic.
The Joint Evaluation of the Protection of the Fundamental Rights of Refugees during the COVID-19 Pandemic was commissioned under the auspices of the COVID-19 Global Evaluation Coalition. Evaluation Units of UNHCR, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Governments of Colombia and Uganda, and the humanitarian system network ALNAP formed the management group for the evaluation.
The evaluation put in scope the right to seek and enjoy asylum; the right to health; protection against sexual and gender-based violence (GBV); child protection and family reunification; and addressing the protection rights of persons with specific needs.
Key findings of the evaluation are:
- Many positives can be taken from the overall response: effective coordination among international actors and governments; responsiveness and adaptation by refugees themselves and protection actors; generosity and flexibility on the part of donors in the first phases of the response.
- Overall, however, the collective interventions did not fully ensure the protection of rights of refugees in a comprehensive and consistent manner across countries and across the range of rights. For example boarder closures and lockdowns impacted the right to asylum and delayed and in some cases, suspended family reunification. Then again the evaluation indicates that the COVID-19 response created a positive, and potentially lasting, momentum around inclusion of refugees in national health plans.
- The inclusion of refugees and migrants under one of the three pillars of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan was indicative of the recognition that refugees were initially seen as one distinct group among vulnerable migrants.
- Collaboration continued at the country level. Local actors, including refugee-led organisations, refugees themselves and municipalities, were increasingly involved in the response. There is consensus that refugees and RLOs played a key part in the response
- However, partnerships and decision-making remained largely top-down and additional funding for local actors was not forthcoming, even as their responsibilities increased in the context of lockdowns.
- The response failed to anticipate the extent of the protection needs of children, women and girls and the specific needs of some refugees, such as the elderly and people with disabilities.
Refugee Rights & Protection During COVID-19: What Have We Learned? (PDF, 4 pages, 1.1 MB)