What we do

The Finnish Refugee Council’s international operations support refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in finding a new beginning for their lives.

By means of education, we boost the self-esteem and agency of refugees and improve their ability to determine the direction of their life themselves. Our operations highlight the needs of women, young people and particularly vulnerable refugees, such as those with disabilities. Our international operations consist of four main themes: basic education for adults, youth work, livelihoods, and civil society.

FRC thematic priorities in a nutshell:

Basic education for adults: basic education offers life-long skills for refugees.

Youth work: young people have the ability to shape the future.

Livelihoods: financial and entrepreneurial skills provide a good foundation for making a living.

Civil society: a functional civil society will improve social inclusion and equality.

Basic education for adults

Many refugees have not had access to education due to prolonged conflicts and displacements. For this reason, they must learn basic skills, such as literacy and numeracy, as adults before being able to make a decent living. The Finnish Refugee Council organises literacy and language education that also includes lessons concerning personal hygiene, health and family planning, among others.

According to numerous studies, the benefits of education extend widely to surrounding community and society. Educated mothers and their children are healthier. Educated adults are more likely to find employment, and get married later. Education helps break the cross-generational cycle of poverty and promotes tolerance and inclusion.

It is vital that the benefits of education become tangible quickly in the challenging conditions. Adult education provides tools that have a rapid and positive impact on the economic standing and agency of families. Vocational and entrepreneurship training make it possible to shape the future from grassroots up. Economic recovery through business and employment is also crucial for the purposes of maintaining peace and preventing general frustration. Unemployment is the most typical reason behind joining armed forces or criminal groups.

Conflicts often arise due to lack of democracy or ineffective governance. For this reason, developing individuals and communities alike is important for the recovery and safety of citizens and the prevention of future conflicts. Discussing the root causes of conflicts and finding ways to eliminate them is an integral part of the education organised by the Finnish Refugee Council and supports the development of democracy and prevention of social exclusion.

 

Youth work

Half of the world’s refugees are children and adolescents. War and displacement have denied them the opportunity to acquire the skills required for building an independent life. The availability of education for young refugees is particularly limited in camps and settlements, despite the fact that engaging in meaningful activities and learning new skills is especially important for the youth.

The lack of prospects is a major cause of migration. If people are given the opportunity for a decent life in their home country, they do not need to seek the basic prerequisites for life elsewhere.

Young people can be a significant resource for the society if they are offered positive prospects. The Finnish Refugee Council provides adolescents and young adults with vocational training in order for them to become self-reliant and able to participate in the reconstruction of their societies.

Some youth emigrate alone after becoming separated from their families or having had lost their families in violent conflicts. Some flee the forced recruitment practiced by militant groups. These young people are in dire need for support in order to acquire new skills and to process their experiences.

Improved and inclusive livelihood prospects are essential for stabilising societies after conflicts. For this reason, the Finnish Refugee Council invests in providing vocational training that would otherwise not be available for disadvantaged and disabled youth.

Young refugees are given the opportunity to learn and practice life and leadership skills in peer groups. The youth discuss what can be done for the common good in groups. Often young people dream about life outside of camps. However, many end up spending years or even decades in camp conditions. Making the time spent waiting for change productive is the only sensible thing to do. In organised peer groups, young refugees receive important support in growing into adulthood and, ideally, also learn livelihood skills which allow them to become financially independent.

 

Livelihoods

The Finnish Refugee Council aims to provide refugees with skills for making a living. Education and developing livelihood-related skills are crucial for reducing poverty. Being taught financial skills have encouraged more refugees to take up entrepreneurship.

Credit associations for refugees allow accumulating the capital required for starting or expanding a small business. The Finnish Refugee Council provides these associations with administrative training and support to make them more efficient.

In Uganda, the majority of refugees live in settlements specifically designed for them, but an increasing number of them choose to remain in cities. The settlements are large and based on the self-reliant livelihoods of refugees. All families are granted a small plot of land for cultivation purposes. Only newcomers and vulnerable people receive food aid. Others rely primarily on cultivation.

 

Civil society

Social networks and customs of cooperation have often broken down during displacement and due to prolonged conflicts. In addition to the actual themes of the sessions, another vital aspect of the training provided by the Finnish Refugee Council is to highlight the importance of cooperation and communal decision making. The aim is to prevent violent conflicts, increase equality and non-discrimination, and to stabilise societies affected by conflict.

The training sessions increase the rate of literacy and numeracy among the most disadvantaged, support peaceful development in communities, and improve the efficiency of organisations formed by refugees.

The associations and organisations formed by refugees are in a key position in the projects led by the Finnish Refugee Council. Providing these associations and organisations with training allows them to more effectively represent their members during displacement, and improves the refugees’ ability to participate in the development of their communities and societies upon possible return to their country of origin.