News; News & Events

Activists launch project for a global Basic Income for Refugees

The Brazilian non-profit organization ReCivitas, known in basic income circles for its ongoing pilot in the village of Quatinga Velho, has launched a new initiative: the pursuit of a basic income for refugees as the first step toward a global basic income (“Toward a ‘Worldwide’ Universal Basic Income – First Target: Refugees”).

In collaboration with members of the humanitarian network Algosphere Alliance, ReCivitas has added the project to the World Social Forum’s database of initiatives.

The initiative would provide a basic income to all refugees who are recognized by UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency‎ (21.3 million as of October 2016). According to its initiators, this goal is “quite realistic” given that the UNHCR has the financial and logistical capacity to provide the necessary funds and administrative services. Indeed, the UNHCR already distributes some cash-based assistance. While UNHCR also engages in many other types of assistance and interventions, the agency notes that cash aid often provides a “more dignified form of assistance, giving refugees the ability to immediately prioritise and choose what they need.” The project initiators suggest the development of a UN-managed sovereign wealth fund, similar to those existing in countries like Norway and Saudi Arabia, to generate funds for the basic income for refugees.

Initiators of the project believe that, by working towards a global initiative, the project would “encourage a coalition” between basic income supporters who are presently scattered across many countries.

According to its founder Marcus Brancaglione, the idea for the refugees’ basic income project grew out of a basic income workshop held at the 2016 World Social Forum.

Read more about the project at the World Social Forum site here.


Cited background article:

Elizabeth MacBride, “The surprisingly simple economic case for giving refugees cash, not stuff,” Quartz, August 7, 2016.

Reviewed by Asha Pond

Photo: Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Rameshwaram, CC BY-NC 2.0 Climatalk .in

About Kate McFarland

Kate McFarland has written 512 articles.

Former lead writer and editor of Basic Income News.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.


  • Gertrude Osborne

    So grateful for your wisdom and persistence. Donate to refugee causes but feel sad that the cause is so vast and my gifts so small. Life must be reshaped and normalized for people who are experiencing temporary displacement. Glad you are there. Count on me for support.

  • Thanks for the article Kate!
    Dear Gertrude Osborne you can help in many ways, not only donating but spreading the information is also very important, let more people know aboout BIG and refugee problems.
    You are very welcome 🙂
    Best regards from Brazil

  • A basic income for refugees sounds like a great idea! You have my support.

  • Donor countries never meet their pledges to the UN. It’s seriously underfunded. How can it pay a UBI to the 65M refugees worldwide?

  • Ziad Ayoubi

    If you do a bit of math, you will find that UBI for refugees will cost at least 30 billion USD/year (assuming 100 USD/person/month). How do you think this money will be secured?

  • Ziad Ayoubi

    I am fully supportive but if you do a bit of math, you will find that UBI for refugees will cost at least 30 billion USD/year (assuming 100 USD/person/month). How do you think this money will be secured?

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