About us

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The global refugee crisis

Nowadays, more than 68 million people had to flee their home countries due to armed conflict or fear of persecution.
Refugees live on average nearly 17 years inside a camp and less than 1% of them have access to tertiary education.

About UniRef

UniRef (University for Refugees), is a Swiss non-governmental organization and recognized charity that delivers free tertiary education and professional vocational training to refugees. The goal of UniRef is to make young refugees autonomous so that they can find employment in their country of origin or host country.

Access to education for young victims of armed conflicts today is a development priority for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, UniRef’s partner. Refugees in UNHCR or Red Crescent camps have access to primary and secondary education. After this instruction, however, they are very few opportunities for refugees to continue their higher education within the camps.

Swiss International Humanitarian Organization, therefore, created the UniRef mission to enable young refugees to have access to university and vocational training diplomas. The offered fields of study focus on three key sectors: health, computer science, and agriculture. Upon graduating, refugees will have recognized qualifications that will assist them to shape their own future and contribute to the economic and cultural development of their region.

According to Emad, who fled from Syria few years ago, a University diploma is the most valued asset to shape his own future.

Our missions

Our approach

Academic Programme


• University Education:  diploma recognised by the Ministry of Higher education.

• Vocational Training:  diploma recognised by the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Health.

• A hybrid teaching method: Classroom courses and an IT platform with online courses.
• Internships spaces in order to complete vocational training.

Education and job creation

• The UniRef staff: UniRef only employs teachers and professors with local academic credentials. The administrative staff is also recruited locally.
• Refugees: At the end of their academic training, as assistant nurses, IT technicians and agronomy technicians, they will have a significant role in the development of their host country and country of origin.



Testimony of Patience: a beneficiary of the UniRef mission in Burundi

“I am 25 years old, a native of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. As a child, I lost my mother and my brothers in the armed conflict and I grew up in very precarious conditions. In 2007, I fled to Burundi where I immediately obtained refugee status. In the Musasa camp, I continued my studies and passed the state examination. Today, I teach Congolese refugees from the camp. Refugees and local populations have welcomed the initiative, and I would like to say a big thank you to UniRef.”


Testimony of His Excellency Ambassador Dieudonné Ndabarushimana: former refugee who became Ambassador of Burundi in France.

In his testimony, His Excellency Mr. Ndabarushimana testifies that his education was severely disrupted when he fled to Tanzania in 1993 to escape the civil war in Burundi:  “I was just as good as all the others in my class, but I had to flee to Tanzania while I was still in high school. At some point, I lost all hope to continue my studies. Some of my classmates had then become doctors or officials.”