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What We Believe

“Work is a start. It is a start to changing one’s life…Work gives a person the opportunity to educate their children, to feed them and to have a home.”

Food line

– Alberto, Colombian Refugee

For refugees, traumatized by what they have already endured, the ability to work legally can be a pivotal anchor, and a chance to rebuild.

Engaging in decent work can minimize the emotional and mental stresses and uncertainty associated with their predicament, and restore a sense of control and stability.

Too often, refugee “protection” is limited to protection from arrest and deportation. That is essential, but not enough for refugees to rebuild their lives. In one UN survey, only 37 percent of countries fully met international standards in protecting refugees’ right to work.

When refugees are told they cannot work legally, the hope of upward mobility is taken from them. Forcing refugees to rely on handouts for survival can lead to economic dependence, isolation, loss of confidence, and erosion of skills.

As a result, refugees end up in limbo.  They are warehoused, forced to subsist as under-class of persons dependent on social welfare, even though most are capable of supporting themselves.

In contrast, self-sufficient refugees provide economic and social contributions to their host communities and countries, fostering the potential to rejuvenate communities, expand markets, import new skills and build global networks. Positive interactions between refugees and host communities can dispel prejudice, enhance understanding and improve relations between refugees and local communities, thereby facilitating integration.

The right to work is fundamental.

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  1. Tugirimana Alfred
    Feb 21 2012

    I also believe that if a country like Tanzania allows all immigrants and unregistered refugees – normally called illegal immigrants – to have the right to work, the National income will increase. This is true if we agree that each individual’s labor production contributes to the country’s GDP. In contrast, if the right to work is denied, there is a risk that forcing refugees to consume more than they are allowed to produce disturbs the national economy. Finally, I remind you that refugees are not taken into account during the yearly budget plan, leading to a further discrepancy.


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