In recent years, UNHCR has gradually shifted its focus from individual assistance in the area of community services to building on the knowledge, skills and capacities of refugees and their communities. This approach is based on the understanding that by placing refugees at the centre of operational decision-making, and building protection strategies in partnership with them, they will be better protected, their capacities to identify, develop and sustain solutions will be strengthened, and the resources available will be used more effectively.
In a rights- and community-based approach, people of concern not only have the right to participate in making decisions that affect their lives, but they also have the right to information and transparency from UNHCR and partner staff.
In Malaysia, Community Development activities are at the core of UNHCR's work in assisting refugees. It strengthens refugee initiatives and participation to ensure ownership of refugee assistance programmes. It also increases self-reliance and most significantly, it reinforces the dignity and self-esteem of refugees.
Areas of work include developing leadership of refugee women and men, youth activities, adult learning, livelihoods and skills-building.