Sustainable development

Migration, refugees and displacement

Migration is not a new phenomenon in the region. It goes back to the beginning of the 20th century and is linked to to various social and political upheavals.

But new technologies and cheaper transportation are bringing people closer together, making it easier to travel. At the same time, lack of jobs means that migration is likely here to stay. In addition, ongoing conflicts have led to further migration and displacement.

Turkey hosts the highest number of refugees in the world, including over 3  million registered Syrians, 90 percent of which live amongst host communities. As the gateway to Europe, the North Macedonia and Serbia hosted more than one million refugees and migrants in transit in 2015 and early 2016. In Ukraine, more than 1.4 million people remain displaced.

In Ukraine, 1.6 million people have been registered as internally displaced, and there are 1 million crossings per month at the contact line in Eastern Ukraine. Photo: UNDP Ukraine

Because UNDP believes that long-term development approaches are important in addressing migration and displacement, we work to:

  • Support national and local governments to mainstream migration into development plans, including localized SDGs;
  • Address the root causes/drivers of migration and displacement
  • Support city governments that are responsible for organizing the services and legal and socio-economic conditions of migrant populations.
  • UNDP works to address the root causes of both migration and displacement – fighting poverty, improving governance and social cohesion, reducing disaster risk, and preventing and mitigating conflicts.

What do we do?

  • We help host communities cope with the influx of refugees, as well as mitigate the effects of environmental degradation, another key driver of migration.
  • In Turkey, we helped establish an olive packaging and storage project that employs local Turkish and Syrian workers.
  • In host communities in Turkey, Serbia and the North Macedonia, we provided equipment and upgrades to municipal infrastructure to support public and communal services. 
  • Our Migration and Local Development project engages migrants and diaspora in strengthening local services, knowledge and skills transfer, and business and employment opportunities.

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