To identify the refugees in your context, there are different ways to go about it. The below information about desk research, internal client research and field outreach can help you get started to identify the most important refugee communities and understand what their situation is in your country.
Investigate the history of refugee flows into your area, the causes for their migration, and the laws and policies impacting them locally, nationally and regionally. While there may be one principal group of refugees in your region, seek out statistics and information on other refugee flows to expand your knowledge of all refugee groups living in your context.
Suggested research sites:
- UNHCR country websites for your country of operation;
- US State Department Human Rights reports;
- Human Rights Watch & Amnesty International Reports;
- Local and national news reports;
- Population surveys on foreign born.
You can use Google alerts to be automatically alerted about migration and asylum developments in your country of operation or the broader region. Some useful alert queries:
- “Refugee* AND your country”
- “Asylum seeker* AND your country”
- “UNHCR (or adjudicating agency) AND your country”
Internal Client Research
Your organization may already be an expert about the population it aims to serve in its CLE programming. Internally collected data, client surveys, and information from staff may provide significant insight.
Assess Available Data
Organizational information already available including biographic data, income, skills and education levels provides insights into the organization’s clients that will be useful for shaping CLE programming. Other refugee serving organizations or groups may also have this information and may be willing to share data or analysis of data.
Client satisfaction surveys may already ask about refugee needs and conditions not met through current programming. The organization may decide to also add specific questions to the surveys that feed into CLE programming. See Legal Services M&E tools for more guidance.
Ask employees about their experiences and understanding
Staff working directly with refugee groups at or outside your organization may have the best information about refugee communities and their dynamics. Interview staff members for information and inquire into potential contacts in the refugee community
Community outreach helps you to understand the community dynamics and its composition, particularly beyond those already served. As such, community outreach activities can determine how to expand services to more people or more appropriate services to those already served.
Field outreach helps understand how refugee communities are organized and what representation looks like in the community through some of the following steps:
- Identify where refugee communities have diverse demographics, social divides, religious or linguistic diversity, and other plural characteristics. See mapping strategies under Policy Advocacy;
- Identify community associations or individuals who may be affiliated with community-based organizations (CBOs);
- Talk to refugee schools, religious leaders, and community interpreters;
- Contact other organizations, government agencies, churches, etc. who have established relationships with refugee communities.
Information sharing during outreach
The information shared during outreach goes two ways. During outreach inquiries, be prepared to share information about the organization. Outreach activities may attempt to raise awareness and provide information about legal services or legal counseling and referrals to the target population in the community. It is important that you are honest about your goals and services when speaking to the community to establish a relationship of trust.
During outreach, keen sensitivities to the expectations set and the needs and history of the targets will help your initial contacts develop into lasting relationships:
Be honest with the communities contacted about the goals of the outreach and its limitations
Develop resources that you can distribute to the communities, and use to communicate with community leaders i.e. flyers, protocols, etc.
- Set realistic expectations: do not offer something that you cannot deliver and follow up on your promises and commitment
- Provide correct and accurate information about legal services provided by your organization to the target population
- Create clear agreements for confidentiality when necessary. Explain the purpose of the information gathered and how it will be disseminated.
- Offer to share the published materials and results of the outreach.