Joint Evaluation of the Protection of Rights of Refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic



Joint Evaluation of the Protection of Rights of Refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic


The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have challenged the protection of the fundamental rights of refugees in a way that is profound and with possible lasting impacts. Understanding how widespread this is, how effective international cooperation and the combined response of key actors has been, and what we can learn from the steps taken will be crucial to the implementation of current operations and the design of future strategies and plans. 




The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the pre-existing protection risks for refugees and host communities and challenged the protection of their fundamental rights. International refugee cooperation is focusing on sustaining the existing responses while tailoring it to address the additional impact of the pandemic on the overall protection environment. Refugee law continues to apply in challenging times, but the international refugee protection regime recognizes that countries may need to adapt their asylum systems to admit those in need of protection while protecting the health of their own populations. At the core of the regime is the safeguarding of basic human rights placed in particular jeopardy in refugee situations — the right to life, liberty and security of person, the right to be free from torture and other cruel or degrading treatment, the right not be discriminated against and the right of access to the basics necessary for survival (food, shelter, medical assistance), as well as for self-sufficiency (a livelihood) and education. COVID-19 has led to a heightened focus on a number of basic rights: freedom of movement, liberty and security of persons; concerns around discrimination and mistreatment, and the need to protect the most vulnerable. This evaluation puts in scope the right to seek and enjoy asylum; the right to health; protection against sexual and gender-based violence; child protection and family reunification; and addressing the protection rights of persons with specific needs. It also focuses on the importance of communities as the center of the response.



The joint evaluation will be carried under the auspices of the COVID-19 Global Evaluation Coalition. The purpose of the evaluation is to examine the effectiveness of international cooperation, and the combined response of host states, agencies and non-state actors, in ensuring the protection of the rights of refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic: to identify emerging good practice, innovation and adaptation to protection responses. Two years since the Global Refugee Forum, a high-level officials meeting (HLOM) is scheduled for December 2021 to review progress towards the objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees and chart the way forward. Progress data and information is being gathered throughout the year to inform this meeting. We are considering different ways to present the findings and discuss the recommendations from this evaluation as a part of this process.

The objectives of the evaluation are as follows:

  • To ascertain the coherence and coverage of refugee rights promotion and incorporation into international cooperation in the context of national COVID-19 responses;
  • To determine the effectiveness of the combined contribution of states, agencies and non-state actors efforts towards enabling refugees to realize their rights in the context of COVID-19.
  • To identify good practices and lessons that can be shared for preparedness and application in future emergencies, including a focus on innovation and scalable adaptive solutions


The evaluation is managed by the Evaluation Units of UNHCR, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Governments of Colombia and Uganda, and the humanitarian system network ALNAP.

UNHCR logo   Colombia logo Uganda logo ALNAP logo



Concept Note: The concept note provides a brief description of the joint evaluation that explores the extent the protection of refugees and their rights have been recognized and addressed in the international response to COVID-19.

Terms of Reference: This ToR document outlines a framework for the joint evaluation of the role of international cooperation in protecting the rights of refugees in the context of global COVID-19 responses.  


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