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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2018 ECAR: Participatory review (evaluation) of the UNICEF response to the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe 2015-2017

Author: Simon Lawry-White, Jessica Alexander, Angus Urquhart

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 4’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 5’.


In 2015, over one million refugees and migrants, entered the European continent by sea, predominantly from Africa and the Middle East. By the end of 2017 over 1.8 million people had arrived in Europe including an estimated 432,000 children, representing 23 per cent of the total. In the face of the gravity and complexity of the situation, UNICEF launched a crisis response for affected children, building upon the ongoing work of UNICEF national committees (Natcoms) and the UNICEF EU office in Brussels. Two years into the response, and recognising that migration will be a continuing issue for Europe, UNICEF decided to take stock of its experience to learn how it might adapt its approach for future engagement on these issues.


This participatory review was undertaken by Vine Management Consulting between November 2017 and April 2018, with the following purposes: To inform the future engagement of Europe and Central Asia Regional Office (ECARO) on migration issues in Europe, as a whole and in differing country contexts; to inform the future role of Natcoms on these issues, and to contribute relevant experience to UNICEF’s global engagement on these issues. The review covered the two-year period from September 2015 to September 2017.


The methodology comprised: Document review of more than 150 documents were reviewed; 50 key informant interviews with stakeholders at HQ and regional level, and a further 100 interviews conducted during country visits, with UNICEF, Natcoms, Government, UN, INGOs and civil society organizations; two online surveys, one for partners and a second for UNICEF and Natcom staff, with 59 and 83 responses, respectively; an ‘Options’ workshop held in Geneva before the draft report was compiled to validate the review’s preliminary findings and to begin an internal debate on future options.

Findings and conclusions

  • Migration into Europe continues
  • The crisis exposed gaps in national capacities and systems in HICs in Europe
  • UNICEF mounted a minimal response in HICs during the emergency phase
  • UNICEF put children’s rights ‘on the map’ in HICs
  • UNICEF’s role was relevant and has added value
  • The One-UNICEF response model was partially successful
  • UNICEF has strengthened its policy and capacity on migration
  • Senior UNICEF and Natcom staff managed ambiguity
  • Equity gaps were not well monitored
  • There is a demand for some elements of the response to continue


Recommendation 1: Assure the short-term future of One-UNICEF responses that are closing
Recommendation 2: Complete the development of the One-UNICEF response model
Recommendation 3: Determine the future role of UNICEF in HICs Europe
Recommendation 4: Determine future UNICEF and Natcom response to crises HICs in Europe
Recommendation 5: Strengthen UNICEF cross-regional programming on migration
Recommendation 6: Strengthen UNICEF collaboration with UNHCR and IOM
Recommendation 7: Strengthen UNICEF advocacy on EU funding instruments for migration
Recommendation 8: Explain UNICEF’s role to HIC governments in Europe
Recommendation 9: Present key elements of the review findings to the Global Management Team

Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year: 2018

Office/Country: ECAR

Region: ECAR

Type: Evaluation

Theme: Education, Policy; Management; Systems development; Resources

Language: English

Sequence #: 2018/002

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