Local Faith Actors, Refugee Response, and Educational Initiatives

The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities published a report examining how faith actors and faith-based organizations are responding to the educational need of refugees. This article describes the report’s key points and recommendations and discusses the importance of recognizing the large and active role of faith actors in supporting refugee communities.


The commitments of member states in September 2016 to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants set off a whirlwind of global policy processes leading to the adoption of the two Global Compacts for Safe,Orderly and Regular Migration. The Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities (JLI) formed a learning hub on Refugees and Forced Migration in September 2016 to focus on research related to faith actors and refugee response, particularly the roles of local faith actors who are often at the forefront of response. One of our hub’s aims is to bring the growing amount of evidence on the role of faith actors in refugee response into refugee policy and practice conversations.

Focusing on the global compact in particular, we have recently launched a policy brief on “Faith Actors and the Implementation of The Global Compact on Refugees,” in English, Arabic, and French. In paragraph 41, the Global Compact on Refugees recognizes faith actors as part of a multi-stakeholder approach to refugee response, stating:

Faith-based actors could support the planning and delivery of arrangements to assist refugees and host communities, including in the areas of conflict prevention, reconciliation, and peacebuilding, as well as other relevant areas.

The reference to “other relevant areas” leaves a host of initiatives undertaken by faith actors as a sidenote, including educational support to refugees. The policy brief has therefore been designed to make up for this gap by providing evidence on faith actor response within the structure of the compact’s program of action, including education. In it, we include practical examples of initiatives, detail opportunities and challenges of faith actor engagement in refugee response, provide an extensive reading list for further reference, and offer recommendations for policy and practice. 

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