Entering the local landscape of refugee rights advocates, actors, and decision makers is a difficult step to navigate – but also essential to the success of your initiatives. As the first stages of setting up an organization are often busy and uncertain, allies and advisors are invaluable. Your allies and advisors can come in various forms, which may include the government, UNHCR, and other NGOs (including both humanitarian and human rights organizations).
Your allies are useful in providing insight on the political context, the operational realities, and the dynamics of the refugee population of your country. They can also be your potential partners. For example, they can be your source of initial clients, or be a part of your organization’s client referral network.
Establishing yourself as a refugee rights organization within the local landscape can be challenging. As a new organization with a rights-based approach, seeking to empower refugees and break cycles of dependency may lead to resistance in some sectors. Governments might be reluctant to collaborate if your advocacy work is targeted against them. NGOs and/or UNHCR might perceive a refugee rights organization as a duplication of services, or as competition for funding.
To establish effective relationships with your allies and partners, this section will first guide you to conduct an ecosystem analysis. This will allow you to break down the relevant actors and the dynamics involved — assisting you to strategize which stakeholders to approach. This section also highlights some relevant considerations for effective relationship building with refugee response actors, with a particular focus on the government, UNHCR, NGOs and Other Partners.