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Aligning humanitarian cash assistance with national social safety nets in refugee settings

2019 — By United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

UNHCR’s research on Aligning Humanitarian Cash Assistance with National Social Safety Nets in Refugee Settings – Key Considerations and Learning provides guidance on how operations have or could progressively align humanitarian cash assistance for refugees to national social safety nets and the criteria used to take decisions at each step of this process.

The increased use of cash assistance as part of both humanitarian and development assistance is opening up new opportunities for linking temporary, even if increasingly long-term, humanitarian assistance with national social support services. It is a critical element of the inclusion agenda of refugees and others of concern in line with the Global Compact on Refugees and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The document is based on information collected in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Greece and Mexico as well as ongoing discussions on the topic. It also builds on the UNHCR Cameroon – Transitional Safety Net for Central African Refugees pilot and the UNHCR Mapping of Social Safety Nets for Refugees – Opportunities and Challenges.

The document reviews some of the pre-conditions for alignment of cash assistance as well as the considerations for alignment in different types of situations. These include contexts where the government has no or limited capacity; the government has some capacity and/or is supported by a development actor for the development of and funding for social assistance; and, lastly, where the government has the capacity and provides social assistance to its nationals but might be reluctant to incorporate refugees in the same system.