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close this bookRefugee Emergencies. A Community-Based Approach (UNHCR, 1996, 142 p.)
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View the documentForeword
Open this folder and view contentsPart One. Emergency Response
Open this folder and view contentsPart Two. Refugees at Risk
Open this folder and view contentsPart Three. Voluntary Repatriation
Open this folder and view contentsPart Four. Organizing Services
Open this folder and view contentsAnnexes
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Despite the hopes at the start of this decade, massive displacements of populations as a result of conflict, civil strife and atrocities continue. Displacement has been the objective of gross violations of human rights as well as a consequence of actions with other primary aims.

Much attention has been focused on improving emergency response to the needs of refugees. Whether for large groups or for individual victims of persecution, it is recognised that this response must go beyond the provision of material relief. The response must also address their social, human and emotional needs, and help to heal psychological wounds.

Helping people to help themselves and to help others in need is at the heart of the community services approach advocated herein. This support must start at the earliest possible opportunity and continue in a structured and well-planned manner, reaching and giving priority to those who need it most.

These revised manuals seek to strengthen community services by providing practical guidance to those closest to the refugees. The manuals cover refugee emergencies, assistance to disabled refugees, urban refugees and working with unaccompanied minors. They reflect experiences and lessons learnt since the preparation of the original version.

Comments and suggestions for improvements are most welcome and should be addressed to Community Services (TS00), UNHCR Headquarters, C.P. 2500, CH-1211 Geneva 2 depot., Geneva.

With best wishes for your work.

Nicholas Morris, Director
Division of Programmes & Operational Support
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Basic Principles

Community Services activities are based on certain fundamental principles about human beings, they are:

1. The dignity and worth of individual human beings.

2. The capacity of persons to change no matter how desperate their situation.

3. Inherent desire of all human beings to belong to and contribute to a larger supportive community.

4. Every person has a right to live a full human life, and to improve his circumstances.

5. Persons are entitled to help when they are unable to help themselves.

6. Others have a duty to help those who are unable to help themselves.

7. The ultimate goal of Community Services is self-help.