Cover Image
close this bookRefugee Emergencies. A Community-Based Approach (UNHCR, 1996, 142 p.)
close this folderPart One. Emergency Response
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe Role of Community Services
View the documentNeeds and Resources Assessment
View the documentPlanning Action
View the documentCommunity Building


Key points

· Community services methods aim at involving refugees in assessment of their needs, planning activities and services and in the implementation and evaluation of programmes.

· The goals of community services are: to restore the refugees' humanity and dignity, to enable them to take decisions, to restore a sense of security, to create a sense of belonging and to rebuild a self-generating community.

· Community services are part of a larger whole, supporting and complementing other activities such as protection, health services and education.

· The focus of Community services is on providing services to individuals through the family and the community.

· Emergency response calls for a phased approach: 1) assessment, planning, developing guidelines on policies and procedures; 2) laying the foundation of the programme; 3) building up community services.

· Needs and resources change over time. Use a variety of sources for cross-checking and validating information.

· Consider how problems would have been resolved by refugees in the country of origin.

· Refugees most in need are often the least likely to make their needs known. Use outreach services to make sure they are not overlooked.

· Identify constraints that will limit action.

· The plan of action should be based on the findings of the needs and resources assessments and revised in accordance the evolution of situation.

· Establish a framework of policies and priorities and build consensus among groups involved (including refugees) on problems to be addressed, action to be taken and by whom, and on a timetable for specific activities.

· Many social welfare needs can best be met by resources that exist within the refugee community.

· The degree of security and stability achieved through providing protection and material assistance is enhanced by community services activities that provide for the emotional and psychological welfare of the refugees.

· Family reunification should be a priority.

· While participation and refugee involvement may sometimes retard the process of assistance, because of the intervening learning that takes place, in the long term it will ensure a self-help approach which is the goal of all assistance. Taking time to train refugees is well worth the effort and time required.