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The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework: responsibility-sharing and self-reliance in East Africa

Working papers

Written by Nicholas Crawford, Sorcha O'Callaghan

Working papers

Three years in, is the ‘new way of working’ for refugees actually working? Unsurprisingly, the picture is mixed.

With global refugee numbers at almost 26 million, a record high, and refugee situations extending for decades, the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) offer an opportunity to change the model of refugee hosting in order to benefit refugees and their hosts.

This review of the application of the CRRF in four East African countries – Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – shows some positive progress, but high-income countries and donor governments are largely failing in their commitment to share responsibility for refugees.

Key findings

  • There is greater acceptance among hosting governments, donors and aid actors of more inclusive approaches to refugees; progress has been made in relation to some refugee rights and freedoms; and new donors, actors and initiatives in support of refugees have emerged.
  • By not tackling mobility or supporting self-reliance in urban environments, the new way of working for refugees risks perpetuating the current system of isolating refugees in remote, impoverished regions where continued dependency on humanitarian assistance is a likely outcome.
  • Predictable and long-term development funding must be stepped up dramatically to transform the economies of refugee-hosting districts.
  • Greater funding is also required to encourage hosting governments to integrate refugees into national systems – a major public sector reform process that requires more concerted strategic engagement and funding.
  • Self-reliance and refugee inclusion is likely to cost more, rather than less, in the short-term – the CRRF and Global Compact cannot be used as a means for donor withdrawal from humanitarian support. 

Read the research into progress of the CRRF in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda

Nicholas Crawford, Sorcha O’Callaghan