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Parallel session 4.2: The role of social protection in supporting forcibly displaced populations in times of crisis

This session was hosted by UNICEF and UNHCR.

Alia Al-Khatar Williams, Deputy Director of the Division for Resilience and Solutions, UNHCR, moderated the discussion between the following panelists:

  • Alexandru Iacub, Secretary General, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection (MLSP), Moldova
  • Feleke Jember, Chief Executive Officer, Social Protection Program, Ministry of Women and Social Affairs (MoWSA), Ethiopia
  • Dr Elke Löbel, Deputy Director General and Commissioner for Refugee Policy, BMZ
  • Simon Marot Touloung, Global Refugee Youth Network, UNICEF

Social protection is not consistently available to migrants, refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in most low- and middle-income countries, nor indeed in many high-income countries. The willingness and capacity of governments to promote inclusive social protection, and the relationships between host communities and migrants largely determine access to social protection for these groups. Migrants and refugees have increasingly been the focus of polarised discussion, leaving less space for a balanced and evidence-based assessment of the real challenges and opportunities they and their host communities face. However, some countries have achieved substantial progress in reforming their social protection systems in order to improve access, including a small but growing number of low- and middle-income countries.

Key questions discussed included the following:

  • How governments and international partners have achieved the inclusion of forcibly displaced populations in national social protection systems and programmes;
  • What technical adjustments were introduced to social protection programmes to make them more inclusive, e.g. in terms of enrolment, design, implementation, and monitoring;
  • What are the different financing options and modalities used to support the extension of social protection coverage to different forcibly displaced population groups; and
  • How adaptive social protection mechanisms can be built into government systems and programmes, and how can these be activated to address different types of shocks.

This session examined what has been learned from operationalising social protection in two specific forced displacement contexts: Ethiopia and Moldova. It also covered the importance of engaging refugees in social protection priority setting and programme design to ensure that, even where social protection systems are robust, refugees and Internally Displaced People do not face barriers to accessing benefits. Another message was the fundamental need for investments in economic inclusion and labour market opportunities which can support displaced people to become positive contributors to social and economic systems.

© GIZ/Steffen Kugler
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