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Evaluation of UNHCR’s repatriation programmes and activities 2015 – 2020

Identifying and implementing durable solutions for refugee populations is part of UNHCR’s mandate and has been one of UNHCR’s core functions. UNHCR’s efforts towards refugee returns are intended to enable millions of displaced people around the world to rebuild their lives in dignity and safety. Itad is gathering evidence on UNHCR’s engagement in repatriation efforts to guide and, where needed, enhance UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation policies and practices.


UNHCR works with states to facilitate numerous repatriation programmes that have enabled millions of refugees to return home. Traditional solutions for refugees, individuals and groups have included local integration, resettlement to a third country, and voluntary repatriation.


This evaluation was intended primarily as a formative learning exercise with the intention of gathering evidence to guide, and where needed, enhance UNHCR’s repatriation policies and practices, including those being developed as part of UNHCR’s responsibilities under the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Global Compact for Refugees (GCR).

Our evaluation examined UNHCR’s repatriation efforts from both a policy and strategic perspective and an operational perspective. The evaluation sought to provide practical guidance and insight into UNHCR operational processes in order to strengthen UNHCR repatriation practice, as well as provide insights into UNHCR’s strategic relevance and added value in repatriation activities.

Evaluation findings

Watch this video from UNHCR summarising our findings, conclusions and recommendations:

Our findings highlighted a complex pattern of challenges across voluntary repatriation programming and generated recommendations including:

  • Placing more emphasis on complex and diverse UNHCR operating environments.
  • Updating guidance to reflect contemporary norms and policy orientations
  • Enhancing the participation of prospective returnees in decisions relating to their return.
  • Supporting the development of broader and better integrated multi-partner platforms.
  • Structuring budgets to support reintegration intervention spanning mixed caseloads.

Read the final report here

Contact Elisa Sandri ( if you would like to discuss this project.

Image: Refugee camp in Cameroun. Credit: The Sanitation and Hygiene Fund (shared under CC BY 2.0 license)

Team members
Elisa Sandri Becka Kindler Pierre Townsend