By Tim Morris and Sonia Ben Ali
Four years after the launch of its new urban policy UNHCR has published an overview of progress on its implementation. The study was overseen by an Urban Refugee Steering Group created by UNHCR in 2012. It draws on results of a questionnaire sent to 24 country offices working with urban refugees.
While the report is clearly a welcome addition to what remains a relatively limited literature – and elements of it are extremely frank about the magnitude of the tasks required to realize the bold aspirations of the urban policy – it has major shortcomings.
Limitations of self-reporting
Perhaps the greatest is that it is solely based in information from UNHCR. The report recognises that “the inherent biases of staff self-reporting on their work should be kept in mind”, yet does not explain what these are likely to be, nor explain why testimony from urban refugees and asylum seekers themselves, from the refugee self-help groups found in so many cities, from organisations advocating for them or from UNHCR’s own implementing partners were not included. It reports that all 24 offices use participatory assessments with refugees yet there are no details, nor explanation of the lack of refugee voice in the overview. Continue reading “UNHCR reviews its urban policy: an air of complacency?” »