Most refugees live in cities, beyond the reach of traditional aid. In response, refugees build grassroots organizations to support their communities, providing critical services. We work directly with these leaders to help their organizations become self-sustaining. Our pilot in Malaysia proved our approach works and it has been recognized as a major social innovation by Ashoka. Our model, replicated today in Uganda and Kenya, has the potential to impact 3 million refugees in the next 10 years.
The refugee crisis is global, but most of it is invisible. Over 60% of the global refugee population resides in cities, underserved by an international system that has relied on camps to access those in need. The result: over 12 million urban refugees struggle to survive, facing precarious living conditions, discrimination, and a lack of access to basic services like healthcare, education, and livelihoods. As the refugee crisis continues to grow, so does the need for sustainable solutions.
Created and run by refugees themselves, community-based organizations are often the only source of vital support for refugees in cities-but they are informally structured, poorly resourced, and face many challenges. Our team works directly with these groups to enhance their capacity to serve their communities and achieve long-term sustainability. During our pilot project in Malaysia, we collaborated with three refugee-led organizations. One year later, they are all thriving. Our approach works.
As we continue this work, our team documents our process and lessons, so that other organizations can use these tools in their work with refugee communities. With each collaboration, we are building a global network of successful projects that can realize our belief that refugees and host communities can live harmoniously. The refugee crisis grows larger every day, but solutions are possible, and we work with refugees every day to realize them.
Learn more about Urban Refugees on our website
Meet refugee leaders in Kampala
Exchanges with International Civil Society Centre