About Us

“If we don’t do it, who will?”   

– This quote from a partner in the field highlights the amazing strength of the leaders in the projects we support  

REI’s approach to refugee support starts with the knowledge that refugees are their best advocates, know best what their communities need and can do. They have the knowledge and skills to rebuild their own lives. All they need is a little hand-up.  

Through our proven experience over the last 45 years, we recognise that for a lasting impact it is essential that the strength comes from within the communities. 

Stable communities will be better placed to resist future incursions. 

REI funds projects that provide opportunities for displaced communities to rebuild and regain independence.  

We prioritize partnerships over intervention and direct implementation. This approach enables communities to utilize local talents and skills, and available resources in the most effective way leading to sustainable outcomes.  

We work towards a world where refugees around the globe are given the tools and means to develop their own future and give back to their communities.  

We listen to the voices of refugees, IDPs (internally displaced people), returnees as well as the local communities in the host country to understand what they can do and what they want to do. We observe the results of our funding to ensure continued sustainability. 

Statistics show that most refugees and IDPs want to stay near home, to stay with their culture. These communities are largely forgotten. These are the communities REI targets. 

We select projects that empower through four pillars: education, job creation, legal and human rights, and environment and community building. 

The maximum amount awarded to an individual project per year is US$25,000. Since 1979, REI has funded more than 820 projects to over 20 countries worth cumulatively over US$11.5 million. This funding has reached approximately 1,000,000 people, setting the grounds for refugees to continue rebuilding and promoting their independence. 

Click on the image on left to open the Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025

“It is not the refugee outflows that cause terrorism, it is terrorism, tyranny and war that create refugees.” 

Antonio Guterres, current UN Secretary General; previously United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2005–2015
Definition of a refugee

A refugee is a person who “Owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.” This definition also applies to people who have been displaced within their own country (IDPs).

Globally the number of forcibly displaced people is estimated at 110 million, but is likely to be higher. This is more than the population of many countries and close to the size of Japan. 

Refugees are people just like you and me. They come from all walks of life. They are doctors, IT experts, teachers, artists, farmers, business people, academics, students, children and many others. They want what we want: sustenance, shelter, medical care, education for their children and themselves, and most of all, a normal life with dignity and a clearer future. REI exists to provide opportunities for refugees to reach these aims, which most of us often take for granted.

Our Values

REI operates according to a strict code of accountability and transparency, so that you can see for yourself exactly where, when and how your donation is making a difference. We assess all funding applications against strict criteria. Recipients of funds must provide references, audited accounts and written reports. REI undertakes field visits to assess a situation at first hand.

Our approach to selecting projects emphasizes community and sustainability. Community involvement is essential to ensure that projects effectively address the specific needs of each community in a way that is sustainable and far-reaching. Correspondingly, the emphasis on sustainability ensures that beneficiary communities do not become reliant on funding, but develop self-sufficient means of rebuilding the strength within the community.

Investing in the Future

Through empowering individuals to become self-sufficient, we are building stronger communities.


Beneficiaries from the projects go on to use the skills and knowledge they have gained.

Rebuilding – by refugees, for refugees; Recover, Rediscover, Rebuild

Getting through the trauma of displacement takes time, but refugees must begin the process of rebuilding their lives as quickly as possible to stay alive. As they recover, they can rediscover their skills and talents as well as learn new ones so that they can support themselves and their families. Refugees have the resilience and strength to start their own projects within their communities to support one another but have limited resources. What they need is a hand-up.  

Bottom-up empowerment is at the core of REI’s funding support – the projects run by the local community are better integrated because they understand the local context. REI’s work is to advocate for these local projects and fundraise to provide support.  

REI is registered NPO no. 0104-05-015803