The Importance of Meaningful Refugee Participation and Leadership in RefugePoint’s GRF Pledges

Bahati Ernestine, RefugePoint’s Labor Mobility Consultant (center-right) and former refugee, speaking at the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme in Geneva.

Bahati Ernestine, RefugePoint’s Labor Mobility Consultant (center-right) and former refugee, speaking at the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme in Geneva.

By Martin Anderson, Director of International Programs / Geneva Representative

RefugePoint has made 4 pledges in the context of the 2023 Global Refugee Forum (GRF). They are:


In all of them, RefugePoint has made partnering with refugee leaders and refugee-led organizations (RLO) a central feature of our pledge.

For instance, one of the primary aims of our self-reliance pledge is “to promote and accelerate the instrumental role of local actors in realizing progress towards self-reliance outcomes for refugees, other forcibly displaced and stateless people, and host communities.”

In the same pledge, we commit to “the strategic and meaningful engagement of local actors, including local authorities, civil society organizations, private sector entities, and the target populations themselves.” This is meant to include, and even emphasize, the importance of working with RLOs.


Staff from Oak Solutions, a refugee-led organization based in Nairobi, Kenya, engaged in finance training at RefugePoint’s Kenya office. Oak Solutions was one of several RLOs that received a grant from RefugePoint.


Similarly, each of our pledges on third country solutions includes – in addition to an estimate of the direct support we are able to provide to our own clients – a commitment to partner with a number of civil society organizations around the world, including RLOs. In these pledges, we state that “with each partner we will provide technical assistance and capacity support (including through site visits, deployments, and, where possible, grants), and other forms of assistance” to enable these organizations to help refugees access resettlement and other pathways to safety.

Our vision is that RLOs are well-placed, perhaps even best-placed, to identify refugees who may be eligible for or in need of third country solutions and provide them the information, support, and referrals to access these pathways.

In addition, RefugePoint was one of the first organizations to sign on to the Global Refugee-Led Network’s (GRN) Refugee Participation pledge, in the context of the first GRF in 2019. This year, we have actively participated in efforts led by the GRN to encourage additional organizations to join the pledge, and we were pleased to be able to report back to the GRN on all the work we have done to date to encourage refugee participation in our own programming. This has included: the creation of a refugee Accountability and Oversight Committee at our flagship office in Nairobi, Kenya; funding multiple RLOs in Kenya to support their programming; hiring one of the first successful candidates in our labor mobility program to act as one of our representatives to the Global Task Force on Refugee Labor Mobility; actively recruiting individuals with lived experience of displacement to join our board; and including refugees and former refugees on our delegation to the GRF.

Lastly, Simar Singh, our Chief Program Officer, will be speaking on a panel at the GRF on How Refugee-Led Entities are Advancing Global Solutions. In several other speaking opportunities at the GRF, RefugePoint will emphasize how critical it is that refugees lead efforts to find solutions to displacement.

RefugePoint is proud to have incorporated refugee leadership into so much of our programming to date, and we’re eager to do more as we act on the pledges we have made at this year’s GRF.  

Refugee participation is not an end in itself, but is a means – arguably the most impactful tool available – to advance all of our other goals, including refugee self-reliance in host countries and refugee access to third country solutions like resettlement, family reunification, and labor mobility.