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Handbook for


UNHCR Handbook for Emergencies

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Case postale 2500
CH-1211 Genve 2 Dpt Third Edition
Comments on the Handbook for Emergencies and requests for additional
Copies should be addressed to:

The Emergency Preparedness and Response Section

UNHCR Headquarters
Case Postale 2500
CH 1211 Genve 2 Dpt
Tlphone: + 41 22 739 83 01
Fax: + 41 22 739 73 01
Email: hqemops@unhcr.org
Handbook for

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Geneva

Third Edition February, 2007


This document is issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees for general distribution. All rights are reserved. Reproduction is
authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided UNHCR is acknowledged.

Using the Handbook

Chapters may be located quickly by using the key on the contents page. Particular subjects may be located
by using the index. The handbook is structured as follows:

Section One
summarizes UNHCRs mandate of international protecdtion and the aim and principles of emergency

Section Two
deals with emergency management;

Section Three
covers the vital sectors and problem areas in refugee emergencies, including health, food, sanitation
and water, as well as key field activities underpinning the operations such as logistics, community
services and registration. The chapters in this section start with a summary so that readers, who
might not need the full level of detail in each of these chapters, can understand the basic principles of
the subject quickly;

Section Four
gives guidance on the support to field operations, primarily administration and staffing;

The Appendices
include a Toolbox which gathers, in one location, the standards, indicators and useful references
used throughout the handbook;

Key companion references for this handbook include:

Catalogue of Emergency Response Resources which sets out what resources can be immediately
deployed to UNHCR emergency operations;
Checklist for the Emergency Administrator which includes many of the essential UNHCR forms, policy
documents and guidelines referred to in this handbook;
UNHCR Manual, and in particular its Chapter 4 dealing with Operations Management

Handbook for
Table of Contents

Section Chapter Number
I Using the handbook III
II Table of contents V
III Introduction VI
IV UNHCR mission statement X
I. UNHCR principles 1 Aim and principles of response 2
2 Protection 14
II. Emergency management
3 Emergency Management 56
4 Contingency Planning 66
5 Initial Participatory Assessment: immediate
response 76
6 Operations Planning 92
7 Coordination and site level organization 100
8 Implementing arrangements 114
9 External relations 138
III. Operations 10 Population estimation and registration 154
11 Community Based Approach and
Community Services 180
12 Site selection, planning and shelter 204
13 Commodity distribution 226
14 Water 236
15 Sanitation 260
16 Food and nutrition 284
17 Health 336
18 SGBV 376
19 HIV / AIDS 390
20 Education 412
21 Supplies and transport 422
22 Voluntary repatriation 450
IV. Support to operations
23 Administration staffing and finance 466
24 Communications 492
25 Coping with stress 210
26 Staff safety 520
27 Working with the military 532
V. Appendices 1 Toolbox 544
2 Memorandum of understanding with WFP 554
3 Glossary 568
4 Index 570


Answering peoples urgent need for protection and humanitarian assistance anywhere in the
world has been an essential part of UNHCRs work for the past three decades. Refugees and oth-
ers fleeing conflict need help as quickly as possible, requiring a strong institutional commitment to
emergency preparedness and response. The international community and public opinion expect
aid workers to be on the scene and take action and to do so swiftly.

Since 1998, when the second edition of UNHCRs Emergency Handbook appeared, the Office
has been involved in large-scale humanitarian operations in the Great Lakes region of Africa,
Timor-Leste, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan, to name just a few. We have been called on
also in many smaller crises where our capacity for timely deployment of staff and aid has saved
lives, answered sudden operational shifts and ensured that refugees at risk have received legal
and physical protection. This year alone, UNHCR dispatched over 200 emergency staff to 27
countries on four continents.

Developing the mechanisms to reinforce a quick, agile and flexible emergency response capacity
is one of our operational priorities for the coming years. We have established an Early Warning
system, linking key preparedness measures at country, regional and headquarters levels. Events
in Lebanon demonstrated the importance of a robust logistics capacity and, as a result, we have
revamped our supply and management service and integrated it in the Division of Operational
Services where it will be closely associated with our emergency service. We have increased the
number of staff available at any time for immediate deployment. With the collaboration of other
humanitarian actors, our target is to be able to respond to unexpected refugee crises involving
up to 500,000 people.

In addition to traditional emergency skills, evolving situations increasingly demand specific pro-
tection and coordination experience. UNHCR is asked to help identify genuine asylum-seekers
among the growing groups of new arrivals mixed in with migrants, putting a premium on our abil-
ity to deploy qualified staff for protection screening and refugee status determination. As part of
the collective response by the United Nations and the humanitarian community to situations of
internal displacement, UNHCR has assumed leading responsibility for the protection, emergency
shelter and camp coordination and management clusters, necessitating coordination and emer-
gency management expertise.

As a reference tool which serves also to reinforce a common understanding among the many key
actors in emergency situations, the third edition of UNHCRs Emergency Handbook reflects these
latest developments.

This version includes a number of important revisions based on valuable inputs from the non-
governmental organizations and other partners who are an integral part of our standby capacity.
Updates include an emphasis on security awareness as an integral part of daily life and work
in operations, along with important information on UNHCR and the military; a new chapter on
combating HIV/AIDS in refugee situations; and how to prevent and respond to sexual and gen-
der-based violence in emergencies. The revised Handbook underscores the need to understand,
from the very outset of an emergency, the protection risks facing different members of a commu-
nity and describes how to conduct participatory assessments with women, girls, boys and men to
ensure adequate assistance and protection for all.

I am pleased to introduce the updated version of the Emergency Handbook and hope that you will
find it helpful in every phase of an emergency operation.

Antnio Guterres



DPKO Department of Peace-keeping Operations

FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
IASC United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee
ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross
IFRCS International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
ILO International Labour Organization
MCDU Military and Civil Defence Unit of OCHA
OAU Organization of African Unity
OCHA Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNICEF United Nations Childrens Fund
UNDSS United Nations Department of Safety and Security
WFP World Food Programme
WHO World Health Organization

Other Abbreviations

DO Designated Official
ABOD Administrative Budget and Obligation Document
DSA Daily Subsistence Allowance
ERC Emergency Relief Coordinator
GIS Geographical Information Systems
IDP Internally Displaced Persons
IOM/FOM Inter-Office Memorandum/Field Office Memorandum
NGO Non-governmental Organization
MT Metric tonne
SITREP Situation Report

UNHCR Mission Statement

UNHCR, The United Nations refugee organization, is mandated by the United
Nations to lead and coordinate international action for the world-wide protec-
tion of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems.

UNHCRs primary purpose is to safeguard the right and well-being of refugee.

UNHCR Strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum
and find safe refuge in another state, and to return home voluntarily. By as-
sisting refugees to return to their own country or to settle in another country,
UNHCR also seeks lasting solutions to their plight.

UNHCRs efforts are mandated by the organizations Statute and guided by

the 1951 United Nations Convention relating the Status of Refugees and its
1967 Protocol. International refugee law provides an essential framework of
principles for UNHCRs humanitarian activities.

UNHCRs Executive Committee and the UN General Assembly have also

authorized the organizations involvement with other groups. These include
people who are stateless or whose nationality is disputed and, in certain cir-
cumstances, internally displaced persons.

UNHCR seeks to reduce situations of forced displacement by encouraging

states and other institutions to create conditions which are conducive to the
protection of human rights and the peaceful resolution of disputes. In pursuit
of the same objective, UNHCR actively seeks to consolidate the reintegration
of returning refugees in their country of origin, thereby averting the recur-
rence of refugee-producing situations.

UNHCR offer protection and assistance to refugees and other in an impartial

manner, on the basis of their need and irrespective of their race, religion, po-
litical opinion or gender. In all of its activities, UNHCR pays particular atten-
tion to the needs of children and seeks to promote the equal right of women
and girls.

In its efforts to protect refugees and the promote solutions to their problems,
UNHCR works in partnership with governments, regional organizations,
international and non governmental organization. UNHCR is committed to the
principle of participation by consulting refugees on decisions that affect their

By virtue of its activities on behalf of refugees and displaces people, UN-

HCR also promotes the purposes and principles of Unites Nations Charter:
maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations
among nations, and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental
Aim and Principles of Response

Picture missing?!

Aim and Principles of Response
CONTENTS Paragraph Page

Definition and aim 1-5 4

Definition of a refugee emergency 2 4

Aim 5 4

Responsibilities 6-16 4
Governments and UNHCR 6 4
UN organizations 8 5
Non-Governmental Organizations 10 5
Other organizations 11 5
The refugees 14 6
Defining responsibilities 16 6

Principles of response 17-29 6

Introduction 17 6
A rights and community-based approach 19 6
Get the right people, to the right place, at the right time 20 7
A multi-functional team approach 21 7
Work with refugees through a community-based
approach and promote self-reliance 24 8
Be aware of social and economic roles and identify
groups at specific risk 28 8

Ensure the measures are appropriate 30-37 9

Age, gender and diversity mainstreaming (AGDM)
in emergencies 30 9
Identify protection risks and needs from an age,
gender and diversity perspective 32 9
Be flexible and respond to changing needs 34 10
Identify standards 35 10

Do not treat issues in isolation 38-47 10
Ensure environment is considered at an early stage 39 10
Work for durable solutions 43 11
Food and non-food items distribution 46 11
Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of response 47 12

Definition and aim 4. What is important is the ability to rec-
1. The majority of UNHCRs operations ognize, in time, the development of situa-
begin as a result of an emergency caused tions in which an extraordinary response
by a sudden influx of refugees1 and IDPs. will be required of UNHCR in order to
The organization and procedures of safeguard the life and well-being of refu-
UNHCR reflect this. Much of UNHCRs gees.
normal work is, in effect, built upon emer- 5. Much of the handbook is concerned
gency interventions and responses. There with guidelines on the protection and hu-
are, however, situations that are clearly manitarian assistance likely to be needed
exceptional. This handbook addresses the when large numbers of refugees cross
needs and requirements for a comprehen- frontiers to seek asylum; and also for in-
sive response to such situations. ternally displaced persons (IDPs) as a re-
sult of conflict or natural disasters i.e. an
Definition of a refugee emergency emergency caused by a sudden influx of
2. The definition of a refugee emergen- refugees or IDPs.
cy for the purposes of UNHCR and this
handbook might be: Aim
The aim of UNHCRs emergency re-
any situation in which the life or well-be-
ing of refugees will be threatened unless
sponse is to provide protection to all per-
immediate and appropriate action is tak- sons of concern to UNHCR and ensure
en, and which demands an extraordinary that the necessary assistance reaches them
response and exceptional measures. in time.
3. Sudeen refugee inluxes are, of course, Responsibilities
not the only situations which demand an
extraordinary response from UNHCR. Governments and UNHCR
Equally swift action will be required in 6. Host governments are responsible for
other types of emergency. For example, the security and safety of, assistance to,
an emergency can develop in an existing and law and order among refugees and in-
operation, such as when events suddenly ternally displaced persons (IDPs) on their
place in danger refugees who had previ- territory. Governments often rely on the
ously enjoyed asylum in safety (discussed international community to help share the
in chapter 2 on Protection). It can also burden, and UNHCR provides assistance
erupt during the final phase of an opera- at the request of governments or the UN
tion as in the case of a large-scale repatria- Secretary General.
tion (discussed in chapter 19 on Voluntary
Repatriation). In addition there are com- The statutory function of providing in-
plex emergencies, which are humanitarian ternational protection to refugees and
crises involving the competence of more seeking permanent solutions for their
problems is however, always UNHCRs
than one UN agency (see chapter 7 on Co- responsibility.
ordination for a full definition). The gen-
eral guidance provided in this handbook 7. The role of UNHCR in emergency
will be useful to these types of emergen- operations is primarily to protect refu-
cies as well. gees. UNHCR assists and complements
the work of the government by acting as
1For convenience, refugee is used in this a channel for assistance from the inter-
handbook to refer to all persons of concern to national community, and by coordinating
UNHCR. The different categories of persons of and monitoring implementation of the
concern, including refugees, are defined in chapter
2 on Protection.
assistance. Whatever the organizational

Aim and Principles of Response
manner in which UNHCR provides emer- Responsibility for coordinating the re-
gency assistance in response to a govern- sponse of the UN system to a refugee
ment request, UNHCR is responsible for emergency normally rests with UNHCR.
ensuring that the protection and immediate Complex emergencies involving IDPs
material needs of the refugees are met ef- are dealt within the UN collaborative re-
fectively and appropriately. This requires sponse described under Chapter 7 Co-
a good understanding of the community ordination and site level organisation.
and analyzing the situation of the diverse 9. The UN body charged with strength-
groups from an age and gender perspec- ening the coordination of humanitarian
tive together with planning protection and assistance of the UN to complex emergen-

assistance responses with the community. cies is the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), through
UN organizations coordination, policy development and ad-
8. The material needs of refugees are vocacy.
likely to be covered by sectors for which
other organizations in the UN system Non-Governmental Organizations
have special competence. In particular the 10. A large number of non-governmental
World Food Program (WFP), with which organizations (NGOs) provide assistance
UNHCR has established a close partner- to refugees in emergencies. These organi-
ship, and who provides the major part of zations often act as UNHCRs operational
the emergency food needs of refugees. In partners. The division of responsibilities is
recognition of each organizations com- determined by the implementing arrange-
parative advantages and skills, and with ments agreed between them, the govern-
the aim of giving consistency and predict- ment and UNHCR regardless of whether
ability to the relationships between them, funding is from UNHCR or elsewhere.
UNHCR has concluded Memoranda of This is discussed in more detail in chap-
Understanding (MOUs) with a number of ters 7 and 8 on coordination and imple-
UN organizations. These MOUs also cover menting arrangements
issues related to emergency preparedness
and response, such as joint contingency Other organizations
planning, joint assessments and develop- 11. A number of other organizations also
ment of standards and guidelines, as well act as operational partners in the provision
as programme implementation. Notable of assistance to refugees in emergencies.
among these are the MOUs with World In particular, the International Committee
Food Programme (WFP), the United Na- of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International
tions Development Programme (UNDP) Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
and the United Nations Childrens Fund Societies (IFRCS) with the National Red
(UNICEF). UNHCR has also signed Cross and Red Crescent Societies, have
MOUs with the United Nations Population long provided such assistance. The ICRC
Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Devel- mandate requires a high degree of opera-
opment Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and tional neutrality and independence, which
the World Health Organization (WHO) sometimes limits their participation in co-
(see Appendix 3 for additional MOUs). ordination mechanisms and the exchange
of information between them and other

12. Other operational partners could in- 15.Refugees and displaced persons also
clude inter-governmental organizations, have, of course, responsibilities towards
for example the International Organiza- the country where they have sought ref-
tion for Migration (IOM). The objective uge. These are set out in Article 2 of the
of IOM is to ensure the orderly migration 1951 Convention: Every refugee has
of persons who are in need of international duties to the country in which he finds
migration assistance. IOM works subject himself, which require in particular that
to the agreement of both (or all) the states he conform to its laws and regulations as
concerned with the migration. IOM has well as to measures taken for the mainte-
worked closely with UNHCR, notably by nance of public order. The civilian nature
assisting with voluntary repatriation. of refugee status must be respected.
13. In order to enhance strategic part- Defining responsibilities
nerships and complement UNHCRs
emergency preparedness and response 16.All those involved both inside and
capacity, EPRS concluded agreements outside the UN system, should have clear-
with Governmental and Non-Governmen- ly defined responsibilities within a single
tal partners since 1992. MOUs covering overall operation. This can be achieved
emergency staffing, support to emergency through the establishment of an appropri-
teams and operational capability mecha- ate coordinating structure at various lev-
nisms were signed with the Danish and els to ensure that duplication of effort and
Norwegian Refugee Councils, Swedish gaps are avoided. Incertain situations, the
Rescue Services Agency, AUSTCARE, coordinating role of UNHCR may need
EMERCOM, Norwegian Civil Defence, to be more direct and operational, both in
Red R Australia, Swiss Development co- planning and executing the emergency re-
operation, Save the Children, Center for sponse, and in providing expertise in spe-
Diseases Control and Oxfam. Evaluations cific sectors.
of these MOU are done following utiliza- Principles of response
tion in emergencies to determine how they
improve UNHCRs capacities to deliver. Introduction
17.Whatever the framework of responsi-
The refugees
bility for a particular refugee emergency,
14. Beyond the right to international certain principles of response are likely
protection under the Statute of UNHCR to be valid. Many of these are common
and under the 1951 Refugee Convention themes in the chapters that follow.
and 1967 Protocol, all refugees, as indeed
all persons, have human rights. These are 18. By definition, the needs of a refugee
enshrined in the Charter of the United Na- emergency must be given priority over
tions and in the Universal Declaration of other work of UNHCR. This is essen-
Human Rights: the fundamental right to tial if the aim of ensuring protection and
life, liberty and security of person; pro- timely assistance to refugees is to be met.
tection of the law; freedom of thought, Leadership and flexibility are required of
conscience and religion; and the right to UNHCR in an emergency.
own property. Refugees have the right to
A rights and community-based
freedom of movement. However, it is rec-
ognized that, particularly in cases of mass
influx, security considerations and the 19. The following summarises how a
rights of the local population may dictate rights and community based approach
restrictions. should permeate all UNHCR emergency

Aim and Principles of Response
i. All of UNHCRs programmes, poli- being, violated are protected. Internation-
cies, and operations should further the al legal standards should guide our work
realization of the equal rights of women, in this respect.
men, girls, and boys of concern, of diverse
vii. It is crucial that UNHCR work
backgrounds, as set out in international le-
closely with individual community mem-
gal instruments.
bers and different groups within the com-
ii. International legal standards should munity in order to prevent and eliminate
form the framework for UNHCRs pro- traditional, cultural or religious practices
tection strategies and programme as- that violate the rights of women and girls.
sessments, analyses, planning, design

(including setting goals, objectives and Get the right people to the right place at
strategies), implementation, monitor- the right time
ing and evaluation. Protection objectives 20. The single most important factor in de-
should be at the forefront of programme termining whether or not sufficient emer-
planning (see chapter 2 on Protection for gency assistance reaches the refugees in
more details). time, and in an appropriate manner, will
iii. Our work should help to develop probably be the people involved in organ-
the capacity of States, as duty-bearers, to izing and implementing the operation.
meet their obligations, and the capacity of Sufficient UNHCR and implementing
women, men, girls, and boys of concern, partner staff of the right calibre, expe-
as rights-holders, to claim their rights. rience and gender balance must be de-
ployed in the right places and equipped
iv. We must work in partnership with with the authority, funds, material and
persons of concern of all ages and diverse logistical support needed. They must
backgrounds in order to understand the be committed to a multi-functional team
communitys priorities, capacities and re- approach in all aspects of their work.
sources, and to build on them in order to
ensure that all members of the community A multi-functional team approach
are protected. 21. Multi-functional teams are responsi-
v. Women, men, girls, and boys should ble for undertaking participatory assess-
be engaged as partners in protection and ment in UNHCRs emergency operations.
programming activities. Our work should A multi-functional team is, at a minimum,
reinforce the dignity and self-esteem of composed of protection, programme, and
the members of the community. It should community-service staff. Ideally, it should
help to empower the community as a include female and male staff, both na-
whole, and individuals within the com- tional and international and of different
munity, particularly women and girls, to levels.
access and enjoy their rights. 22. A successful multi-functional team ap-
vi. Practices within a community, in- proach requires the involvement and com-
cluding traditional, cultural or religious mitment of the emergency team leader
practices that violate the rights of women who should ensure the engagement of all
and girls, should not be tolerated or over- members of the team. Offices should en-
looked. UNHCR has a responsibility to sure that multi-functional teams include
work towards the prevention and elimi- the wider circle of actors on the ground,
nation of such practices at the individual such as partners, government counter-
and community levels, and to take action parts, NGOs, other UN agencies, and do-
to ensure that individual women and girls nors, as appropriate.
whose rights have been, or are at risk of

23. No amount of expertise and experi- It is important to ensure refugee par-
ence can substitute for organizing ability, ticipation; women, men, adolescents,
flexibility, a readiness to improvise, abil- boys and girls at all stages of planning,
ity to get on with others, ability to work implementation and monitoring.
under pressure no matter how difficult the
conditions. An aptitude to promote a rights 26. Refugees are often most able to help
and community-based approach, capacity themselves, and thus be least reliant on
to recognize age and gender considera- outside assistance, if they are not grouped
tions, tact, sensitivity to other cultures and together in highly organized camps, but
particularly to the plight of refugees, a rather reside in small, less formal groups.
readiness to listen, and, not least, a sense 27. The interests of refugees with specif-
of humour, are essential. ic needs, such as persons with disabilities
are better cared for and such efforts are
Work with refugees through a commu- more sustainable if community support
nity-based approach and promote self- and involvement is harnessed right from
reliance the start. In addition, refugee involvement
24. In order to ensure that the assistance helps ensure that the emergency response
provided to refugees is appropriate, the addresses social, human and emotional
refugees must be involved from the outset needs, and goes beyond the provision of
in the measures taken to meet their pro- material relief.
tection and assistance needs. In addition,
all components of the operation must be Be aware of social and economic roles
planned in such a way as to promote their and identify groups at specific risk.
self-reliance. Obvious as this principle is, It is crucial to plan and manage an
the pressures of an emergency often make emergency response effectively by
it easier to organize an operation from the undertaking participatory assessment
outside for, rather than with, those whom with groups of affected population to
it is to benefit. identify and analyse the changing social
and economic (gender) roles of women,
25. If the emergency operation involves men, boys and girls. This will enable
the refugees in this way from the start, its emergency interventions to meet as-
effectiveness will be greatly enhanced. sistance standards and promote gender
Furthermore, such an approach will allow equality1.
the refugees to maintain their sense of dig- 28. It is essential to understand socio-
nity and purpose, encourage self-reliance economic factors, including gender rela-
and help avoid dependency. In emergen- tions, when planning and implementing
cies, refugees are often regarded as help- the emergency response to avoid uninten-
less and passive recipients of external as- tionally depriving some refugees of the
sistance. In the long term this approach by benefits of assistance and inadvertently
humanitarian workers sets a pattern of de- exposing them to protection risks. This
pendency. Refugees must be encouraged is often true for women, children, older
to help themselves by using their own persons and the disabled. UNHCR pays
skills and resources from the beginning of particular attention to the needs of these
an emergency. Community services staff groups, especially in emergencies. It is
are essential actors in supporting the mo- important that groups with specific needs
bilization of the community and facilitate are identified at the outset and that meet-
a participatory process. ings are held with them to determine

The UNHCR Tool For Participatory Assessment
in Operations, 2005

Aim and Principles of Response
needs and responses. Thus, in the plan- integral to the design, implementation,
ning and implementation of an emergency monitoring, and evaluation of UNHCRs
response, groups with specific needs must emergency protection strategies and pro-
be monitored systematically to ensure that grammes. Through dialogue with women,
they are not further disadvantaged and tar- men, girls, and boys of diverse back-
geted measures should be taken to meet grounds and ages, facilitated by multi-
their particular needs. In an emergency, functional teams, a proper analysis of the
health staff should spend time with wom- protection problems they face as well as
en, girls, boys and men to identify patterns their proposed solutions can be under-
of SGBV and establishing prevention and taken.

response mechanisms (see chapter on Pre-
31. The findings from participatory
vention and Response to SGBV in Emer-
assessments and all other information
should be analysed from an age, gender
29. Even in an emergency, refugees are and diversity perspective. This analysis
likely to have some form of representa- provides the basis for emergency plan-
tion, through a community or group or- ning and responses designed to ensure the
ganization. effective protection of all members of the
community. There needs to be a continu-
It is important to find out exactly what ous exchange of information with the dif-
kind of leadership structure exists and
ferent members of the community to en-
what measures are taken to ensure
the views and voices of women and
sure that responses are regularly evaluated
children are represented in the forum. and adapted according to feedback from
Specific measures must be instituted the people of concern.
to ensure equal participation of women
and men in decision-making processes. Identify protection risks and needs from
an age, gender and diversity perspective
It is also through an effective use of their
32. An appropriate response in the pro-
active participation and equal representa-
vision of protection and material assist-
tion (women, men, girls and boys of dif-
ance requires participatory assessment of
ferent backgrounds) that refugees rights
the protection risks facing refugees and
can be better promoted. However, be
their needs. This should take into account
aware that leaders may sometimes not be
not only their specific protection needs,
representational, or may have an agenda
material state, the resources available as
or objectives which could have adverse
well as their capacities, but also their cul-
consequences on other refugees, hence,
ture, age, gender and background includ-
the importance of meeting with different
ing those of the nationals in whose coun-
members of the community and working
try they are granted asylum. The provision
with the leadership to promote effective
of protection and of essential goods and
communication with the whole commu-
services must be provided to refugees in
ways which actually meet their needs.
Ensure the measures are appropriate 33. In collaboration with other agencies,
Age, gender, and diversity mainstream-
promote and ensure collection of sex and
ing (AGDM) in emergencies age disaggregated data and information
on groups with specific needs, such as
30. UNHCRs AGDM strategy aims to persons with disabilities, unaccompanied
ensure that the meaningful participation and separated children.
of all persons of concern to the office is

Be flexible and respond to changing Do not treat issues in isolation
needs 38. In all stages of an emergency, the
34. What is appropriate will vary with problems and needs of refugees must be
time. In the early stages of a major emer- seen comprehensively, and sector-specific
gency, special measures that rely heavily tasks should be set within a multi-secto-
on outside assistance may be necessary. ral framework, since action in one area
However, as a general principle, the re- is likely to affect others. For example the
sponse should draw on refugee capacities, real solution to a health problem might
local resources, materials and methods, be found in improving the water supply.
to the extent possible and should, for ex- Ensure the correct balance in resource al-
ample, avoid regimented refugee camps. location between the different sectors.
Solutions that can be readily implemented
with existing resources and simple tech- A multi-functional team approach, that
nologies should be sought. promotes a community-based response
and meets the standards of assistance
are important criteria of an emergency
Identify standards
35. It is an important responsibility of
UNHCR to determine with the govern- Ensure environment is considered at an
ment and operational partners the stand- early stage
ards of assistance that are appropriate.
This requires expertise in a number of The emergency phase is the critical mo-
ment at which environmental degrada-
disciplines. The guidelines in Section III
tion may be confined or limited.
of this handbook suggest general consid-
erations, to be modified in light of the cir- 39. There are a number of strong argu-
cumstances of each emergency. Appendix ments for making environmental interven-
1 (Toolbox) also contains standards. Each tions as soon as possible during the emer-
sector would then need to decide and be gency phase of a response, such as:
accountable for the correct level of overall
Unnecessary damage to the environ-

assistance from all sources.
ment is most effectively prevented or
36. As a general principle, the stand- mitigated during this phase.
ards of assistance must reflect the specific
Activities undertaken at an earlier stage
needs of the refugees based on their age,
of an operation are far more cost-effec-
sex, physical and psychological condition,
tive than those taken later.
situation and experiences. At the same
time account must be taken of the stand- The potential for promoting environ-

ards planned for and actually enjoyed by mental awareness among the refugee
the local population. population is greater if activities begin
at an early stage.
37. If the standards have been correctly
determined, they cannot later be lowered Minimization of refugee-related envi-

without harm to the refugees. The refu- ronmental impacts will reduce the bur-
gees must, for example, receive a mini- den placed on the local population and
mum basic food ration. Outside contribu- may have the added benefit of decreas-
tions required to reach the standards will, ing friction between the local popula-
however, naturally be reduced as the refu- tion and refugees.
gees become more self-reliant. 40. Similarly, issues which are cross-
cutting in nature should not be neglected.

Aim and Principles of Response
This is often the case with issues concern- ages the self-reliance of the refugees and
ing age and gender groups, and the envi- reduces prolonged dependency on outside
ronment. relief, without preventing the promotion
of a long-term solution as soon as possi-
41. Strengthening institutional capabil-
ity to deal with environmental matters
in the field is essential. The provision of 45. As a general principle, the best so-
clear guidance to UNHCR and imple- lution is voluntary repatriation. Where
menting partner field staff on how envi- this is not possible, assimilation within
ronmental matters should be treated within the country of asylum (local settlement)
UNHCRs operational framework is par- is in most circumstances preferable to as-

ticularly important (see chapter 4 on Con- similation within another country (reset-
tingency Planning). tlement). This is particularly true for large
groups and in cases where resettlement
42. Although our aim is to minimize
would take place in a cultural environment
environmental impacts caused by refu-
alien to the refugees. There may, however,
gees, it is relevant to note that, in certain
be situations in which resettlement is the
locations, the presence of environmental
only way to ensure protection.
hazards may also occasionally pose a risk
to the health of refugees. This may arise Food and non-food items distribution
from features such as the presence of en-
demic diseases, high levels of air or water 46. The distribution of food and non food
pollution, and toxic or radioactive chemi- items cannot be predetermined by hand-
cals in the soil. books and rules, these can only provide
guidance. Once emergency team mem-
Work for durable solutions bers arrive on the ground, they will find
many unforeseen situations and a wide
Always Remember the Longer Term
variety of needs. The important rule is to
remember to pay close attention to the dif-
43. A general principle in considering ferent requirements people may have and
the appropriateness of measures is that, to respond in a reasonable manner to situ-
from the start, resources must be divided ations, such as the needs of older persons
between immediate needs and actions in a cold climate if you only give them one
aimed at longer-term improvements and blanket and remember they will be differ-
the prevention of problems. For example, ent to those of young people. Think about
resources must be devoted to general pub- the implications of forcing people to share
lic health measures as well as to the treat- blankets and plastic sheeting, will you be
ment of individual diseases, which will mixing young male and female adoles-
include many that could be prevented by cents, will you be forcing different fami-
better water and sanitation. Emergency as- lies from different ethnic groups to mix,
sistance is to be allocated to the maximum will you be putting single women at risk,
extent possible to activities which will be and will people be able to eat the food you
of lasting benefit, thus keeping any relief are requesting, did you check with them
phase as short as possible. if it was appropriate. Be flexible and ex-
44. From the beginning of an emergen- plain the situation to people. Get them to
cy, and even during preparations for an help you prioritise if there is not enough to
emergency, planning must take into ac- go round. Try and be as generous as possi-
count the post emergency phase as well ble when allocating assistance rather than
as the envisaged durable solutions. This protecting it. Keep an open mind and try
requires that the response both encour- to understand peoples urgent needs, think

age, gender and diversity and make sure cators, to detect deterioration or change.
you keep double checking if the assistance Also, a continuous review of the aims of
reached the right people. UNHCRs assistance, both in terms of
bringing the emergency to an early end
Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and for the promotion of a durable solu-
of response tion, is necessary.
47. Whatever the nature of the emer- 48. Such monitoring must also ensure
gency, the action required of UNHCR is that the funds provided voluntarily to
likely to vary with time and as circum- UNHCR by governments and others are
stances change. being used to the best advantage. This
It is essential that the effectiveness of is inherent in the principle of appropri-
the response be kept constantly under ate response. It should be borne in mind
review through continued participatory that whatever funds may be available in
assessment and action adjusted as the early stages of an acute humanitarian
necessary and in time. emergency, the passage of time will pro-
duce financial constraints. Thus it is im-
This will require sound monitoring, re- portant that actual and potential donors
porting and evaluation systems, including see that the action proposed is indeed es-
sex and age disaggregated data and indi- sential, and that its impact is effective.

1 Aim and Principles of Response

Paragraph Page

Introduction 1-16 17

UNHCRs mandate 1 17
International protection 2 17
Persons of concern to UNHCR 5 17
The legal basis 7 18

UNHCR in emergencies 14 19

Securing access to safety 17-47 21

Admission and non-refoulement 18 21
Registration and documentation 28 23
Refugee status determination 34 24
Exclusion from international refugee protection 37 24
Complementary and temporary protection 39 25
Combatants at the border 42 25

Specific protection issues 48-139 26

Understanding the concerns of uprooted people 49 27
Analysing, monitoring, reporting and intervening 54 27
Protection through assistance 58 28
Children 61 29
Protection of women and girls 63 29
Physical safety of refugees 71 32
Location of refugees 74 32
Camp security 77 32
Judicial systems and detention 80 33
Physical safety in areas of conflict 83 34
Operations in areas controlled by non-state entities 86 34
Forced recruitment 89 35
Combatants in camps 93 36
Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) 97 36
Humanitarian evacuation and safe havens 100 37
Unaccompanied and separated children 104 38
Child soldiers 106 38
Single parent households 109 39
Older persons 110 39
Persons with physical and mental disabilities 111 39
Victims of violence, torture and trauma 112 40
Partnership in emergencies 113 40
Working with host governments (including the military) 113 40
Working with other humanitarian agencies 121 41
Public relations and working with the media 123 41
Specific issues in relation to the internally displaced 126 42
Emergencies as a result of changes in government policy 135 43 cont.
CONTENTS cont. Paragraph Page

Durable solutions 140-156 44

Voluntary repatriation 141 44
Local integration 145 45
Resettlement 146 45
Emergency resettlement 148 45
Urgent cases 151 46
Emergency resettlement procedures 152 46

Key references

Annex 1: International instruments and legal texts concerning
refugees and others of concern to UNHCR 50
Refugees and others of concern to UNHCR 50
International human rights 51
International humanitarian law and the law of neutrality 52
International criminal law 52
Miscellaneous 52
Annex 2: Physical security of refugees and others of concern 53
Checklist for addressing the physical protection and
security of refugees 53
Activities to maintain security in camps 54

Introduction Persons of concern to UNHCR

The first step in any emergency is to es-

UNHCRs mandate
tablish whether individuals or groups
UNHCRs primary responsibilities are: are of concern to UNHCR and therefore
entitled to international protection.
to ensure that all persons of concern
to the office receive international pro- 5. In an emergency, UNHCR and its
tection; and partners can expect to encounter the fol-

to seek permanent (durable) solutions lowing persons of concern to UNHCR:
for their situation.
Asylum-seekers: When civilians seek
1. Ensuring that UNHCR meets these safety in countries other than their own,

responsibilities is not the sole responsibil- they are said to be seeking asylum and
ity of the protection officer in an emer- are known as asylum-seekers. This is
gency but a collective responsibility of all the first step towards being formally
UNHCR staff. recognized as refugees. Very often,
people do not formally register as asy-
International protection lum-seekers. However, they may still
be in need of international protection.
International protection includes a range
of concrete activities that ensure that all Refugees: According to UNHCRs
women, men, girls and boys of concern mandate, a refugee is any person who
to UNHCR have equal access to and en- is outside his or her country of origin or
joyment of their rights in accordance
habitual residence and who is unwilling
with international law. The ultimate goal
of these activities is to help them in per-
or unable to return there owing to:
manently rebuilding their lives within a i. a well-founded fear of persecution for
reasonable amount of time. reasons of race, religion, nationality,
2. The need for international protection membership of a particular social group
arises when States are unable or unwilling or political opinion (this is similar to the
to protect their nationals. In such circum- definition provided in the 1951 Conven-
stances, these people need the protection tion); or
and support of other governments and ii. serious and indiscriminate threats to
humanitarian agencies such as UNHCR. life, physical integrity or freedom re-
International protection is a temporary sulting from generalised violence or
substitute for the protection normally pro- events seriously disturbing public or-
vided by States to their nationals. der.
3. States are responsible for protecting The internally displaced: The inter-
people who seek safety in their territory. nally displaced are those who have been
UNHCR works closely with these States forced to flee their homes as a result of
and other authorities to ensure that such armed conflict, situations of generalised
persons are able to exercise their basic violence, violations of human rights, or
human rights and live securely and with natural or human-made disasters. Un-
dignity. UNHCR is not a substitute for like refugees who have crossed an inter-
State responsibility. national border, the internally displaced
4. Understanding who is entitled to in- remain uprooted within their own coun-
ternational protection, the legal basis for try. As citizens within their own coun-
securing this protection, the purpose and try, they are entitled to enjoy, in full
means to provide international protection equality, the same rights and freedoms
is essential. This chapter addresses these under international and domestic law as
issues. do other persons in their country. They
shall not be discriminated against in the 6. On occasion UNHCR has, for hu-
enjoyment of any rights and freedoms manitarian reasons and on the basis of its
on the ground that they are internally mandate (including upon the specific re-
displaced. Sometimes, unfortunately, quest of the General Assembly or Security
refugees who return to their countries Council), become involved with individu-
remain internally displaced until they als other than the categories mentioned
are able to return to their areas of origin above such as local populations at risk
within the country. UNHCR is com- who may not have fled their homes.
mitted to engaging with the internally
displaced affected by armed conflict, The legal basis
generalised violence or violations of
For protection activities
human rights. Only exceptionally and
on a good offices basis, does UNHCR 7. Humanitarian workers must be familiar
assist persons who are internally dis- with legal principles that form the basis
placed for other reasons such as natural for all protection activities that UNHCR
disasters. and its partners undertake in an emergen-
cy. These principles can be found in:
Returnees: Returnees are refugees and
the internally displaced who return to i. International refugee law: Including
their country/area of origin or habitual the 1951 Convention Relating to the
residence (and chapter 22 on voluntary Status of Refugees and its 1967 Proto-
repatriation). UNHCR has a legitimate col; The 1969 Convention Governing
interest in the consequences of return, the Specific Aspects of Refugee Prob-
not least to ensure that further displace- lems in Africa of the Organization of
ment does not take place. African Unity (OAU) (for operations
in Africa only) the 1984 Cartagena
Stateless persons: A stateless person Declaration on Refugees, and the
is one who is not considered to be a 1994 San Jose Declaration (for opera-
national by any state under its laws. A tions in Latin America only).
stateless person can also be a refugee
when, for example, s/he is forced to ii. International human rights law: In-
leave her/his country of habitual resi- cluding the International Covenant on
dence because of persecution. Howev- Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
er, not all stateless persons are refugees, of 16 December 1966; the Interna-
and not all refugees are stateless. The tional Covenant on Civil and Political
UN General Assembly has mandated Rights of 16 December 1966 and its
UNHCR to work to prevent stateless- two optional protocols; the Conven-
ness and to act on behalf of stateless tion against Torture and Other Cruel,
persons. UNHCR assists stateless per- Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
sons in resolving their legal problems, Punishment of 10 December 1984 and
obtaining documentation, and eventu- its optional protocol; the Convention
ally restarting their lives as citizens of a on the Rights of the Child of 20 No-
country. UNHCR also provides techni- vember 1989 and its two optional pro-
cal and legal advice to governments on tocols; the International Convention
nationality issues, including assistance on the Elimination of All Forms of
in drafting and implementing national- Racial Discrimination of 21 Decem-
ity legislation designed to prevent and ber 1965; and the Convention on the
resolve situations of statelessness. The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimi-
main international instruments dealing nation against Women of 18 Decem-
with statelessness are listed in Annex ber 1979 and its optional protocol.
iii. International humanitarian law and 10. Understanding the relevant national
the law of neutrality: Including the laws of the country in which persons of
four Geneva Conventions of 12 Au- concern are residing in is also essential
gust 1949 and the two protocols of 8 in ensuring their protection. On occa-
June 1977. The law of neutrality es- sion, the standards established by national
pecially the 1907 Hague Convention legislation may be far below those estab-
Respecting the Rights and Duties of lished by international law. In such cases,
Neutral Powers and Persons in Case UNHCR must promote and uphold princi-

of War on Land is also useful in coun- ples of international law.
tries neighbouring armed conflict.
For UNHCRs involvement
iv. International criminal law: Includ-

ing the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress 11. UNHCRs protection responsibilities
and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Es- have been established by the General As-
pecially Women and Children, and the sembly (through the Statute of the Office
Protocol against the Smuggling of Mi- of the United Nations High Commissioner
grants by Land, Sea and Air, both of for Refugees complemented by General
which supplement the United Nations Assembly and ECOSOC resolutions).
Convention Against Transnational Or- The Statute has universal applicability.
ganized Crime of 15 November 2000. 12. In addition, UNHCRs protection func-
8. Annex 1 lists these and other relevant tion is facilitated by the 1951 Convention
international instruments and their main that obliges States which are parties to the
purpose(s). The UN Security Council and Convention to cooperate with UNHCR in
General Assembly Resolutions and non- the exercise of its functions and facilitate
binding legal texts such as the Guiding UNHCRs responsibility of monitoring
Principles on Internal Displacement are the application of the Conventions provi-
also essential in the protection of refugees sions (Article 35). The 1969 OAU Con-
and other uprooted people. vention contains a similar clause.

9. Even when an emergency occurs in a 13. UNHCR is also guided (and bound
country not party to the relevant interna- by) international law and ExCom Conclu-
tional and regional instruments, some of sions mentioned above as well as UNHCRs
the principles embodied in the 1951 Con- own policies and guidelines.
vention are considered customary inter-
UNHCR in emergencies
national law and hence are binding on all
states. Foremost amongst them is the prin- 14. The legal basis on which UNHCR in-
ciple of non-refoulement. The prohibi- tervenes to secure the protection of refu-
tion of torture as well as violence against gees is contained in the instruments men-
women, that are both enumerated in hu- tioned in paragraphs 7-13. However, it
man rights instruments, are also norms of is the practical course of action adopted
customary international law. In addition, in emergencies that really determines the
the moral strength and standard setting quality of protection offered to persons of
value of the conclusions on international concern to the agency.
protection of UNHCRs Executive Com-
Protection in emergencies frequently
mittee (ExCom) is not limited to states depends less on the fine print of a law
which are members of the Executive and more on swift, appropriate action by
Committee (see chapter 9 for more details UNHCR staff in the field.
on EXCOM members).

15. In order for UNHCR to effectively necessary. During this time, UNHCR
discharge its mandate in an emergency, should work closely with refugees and
it is often essential, among other things others of concern using participatory
that: assessment to identify protection risks;
find and implement solutions together
i. A multi-functional team comprised
with them and evaluate the results of
of staff - both women and men - with
these solutions jointly.
protection, community services, pro-
gramme, logistics, security and other vii. UNHCR and its partners apply a
expertise are rapidly deployed to ad- rights- and community-based ap-
dress the emergency. proach in their work.
ii. UNHCR constantly updates itself with
the rapidly developing and chang-
16. During an emergency, some immedi-
ing situation it is confronted with.
ate protection goals that need to be met
This includes the humanitarian, po-
together with States and other partners
litical, economic, social, security and
often include:
other aspects of the situation.
Ensuring that asylum-seekers, refugees
iii. UNHCR establishes and maintains
and the internally displaced are able to
strong working relations with its
access safety (access to safe territory;
partners, in particular local and na-
ensuring that borders are open to asy-
tional authorities, the local military
lum-seekers and refugees);
and international peacekeepers, other
UN agencies, NGOs, other members Ensuring that they are not refouled
of civil society and the persons of con- (forcibly sent back to a place where
cern to UNHCR themselves that are their life, liberty and security would
present during the emergency. It may be at risk).
be necessary, due to lack of resources Registering and documenting persons
or expertise, to divide responsibilities (on an individual basis as soon as pos-
among UNHCR and its partners. sible) and determining whether they
are of concern to the agency and enti-
iv. Partners understand UNHCRs tled to international protection.
concern and involvement in prac-
tical terms. Local officials may not Ensuring that the human rights --
know of UNHCRs mandate, or of the including the right to life, liberty, pro-
humanitarian aid which UNHCR may tection against arbitrary detention and
already be giving elsewhere in the physical violence such as rape and
country. The approach should stress other forms of SGBV -- of persons of
that the work of the High Commis- concern are respected and upheld.
sioner is of an entirely non-political In ensuring that some of these rights --
character and is strictly humanitarian. such as the right to food, potable water,
v. UNHCR has free and unhindered adequate shelter, education and health
access to all persons of concern ir- -- are accorded, provide humanitarian
respective of their location (including assistance if necessary. It is important
border points, detention centres and to ensure that everyone has equal access
camps). to these amenities and that persons with
specific needs, such as single-parents,
vi. UNHCR maintains a continuing separated children, the disabled and
presence in the affected areas - in- older persons are not excluded from
cluding border, camps, settlements receiving such support. This means
and other locations - for as long as
that humanitarian assistance must be Admission and non-refoulement
planned from a protection perspective. 18. In an emergency involving asylum-
Ensuring that the civilian and humani- seekers and refugees, often the first and
tarian character of asylum is main- most urgent priority is to ensure that their
tained (ensure combatants are not al- right to seek asylum is respected and to
lowed in camps, that they do not recruit ensure they are not forcibly returned (re-
people especially children -- to fight fouled). There are a number of physical
barriers that prevent refugees from ac-

with them).
cessing safety land mines, borders mon-
Identifying and addressing the specific itored by the military and closed borders
protection needs of individual women, are some of them. There may also be le-

men, girls and boys, older persons, per- gal barriers such as visa restrictions that
sons with disabilities and others. prevent refugees from accessing safety.
Working with countries to identify and 19. In an emergency involving internally
provide durable solutions for refugees displaced persons, it would be necessary
and others of concern to the agency. to ensure that they have access to safety
These issues are discussed in the follow- and are not at risk of being forcibly sent
ing pages in more detail. back to a part of their country where their
life or liberty would be threatened.
Action taken at the outset of an emer-
gency may have significant long-term Admission
consequences in ensuring that refugees
20. Asylum-seekers must be admitted to
and others of concern benefit from qual-
ity protection.
the State in which they seek refuge with-
out discrimination on the basis of race,
religion, nationality, political opinion or
Securing access to safety physical incapacity. This is in accordance
with the Universal Declaration of Human
Often in emergencies, international pro- Rights that states that Everyone has the
tection requires that UNHCR and other
right to seek and to enjoy in other coun-
humanitarian agencies first ensure that:
tries asylum from persecution. Further,
i. asylum-seekers, refugees and the in- the UN General Assembly, on adopting the
ternally displaced are admitted to safe UNHCR Statute, called on governments
to cooperate with the High Commissioner
ii. that they are able to enjoy asylum/ in the performance of his/her functions by,
safety from violence and persecution; among other things, admitting refugees
iii. that they are not forcibly returned (re- to their territories.
fouled) to territory where their life or
21. Similarly, the Guiding Principles on
liberty would be threatened; and
Internal Displacement states that internal-
iv. that they are treated in accordance ly displaced persons have the right to seek
with human rights standards. safety in another part of the country, the
17. Establishing and maintaining a pres- right to leave their country and the right to
ence in the area where these uprooted seek asylum in another country.
people are and taking prompt action are 22. Refugees often do not have proper
often essential in ensuring that persons of identification or travel documents because
concern to UNHCR are protected in emer- they leave their homes at short notice or
gencies. because they are escaping from the very
authorities that issue these documents in
their country. Therefore, they may not
fulfil the immigration requirements of the fundamental and universally accepted
country of asylum. Article 31 of the 1951 character, the principle of non-refoule-
Convention obliges States not to penalize ment has been recognized as a principle of
refugees on account of their illegal entry customary international law.
or presence so long as they make their
presence known as soon as possible. The principle of non-refoulement is bind-
ing on all States irrespective of whether
Non-refoulement or not they are party to the 1951 Conven-
tion or other international or regional in-
23. Of cardinal importance is the princi- strument.
ple of non-refoulement which includes:
26. In any emergency, UNHCR must
not denying access to their territory to take all measures to ensure that refugees
asylum-seekers who have arrived at and the internally displaced have access
their border (access to asylum); to safety and that they are not refouled.
not intercepting asylum-seekers or ref- Some ways to ensure this include:
ugees outside the territory of any coun- i. Developing good working relation-
try (e.g. the high seas) with a view to ships with the local authorities, army
prevent them from seeking safety; personnel and border officials. In some
not expelling or returning asylum-seek- situations, it may also be necessary to
ers or refugees in any manner whatso- develop their operational capacity as
ever to the frontiers of territories where they may not even have some basic
his/her life or freedom would be threat- tools to do their work (such as writ-
ened on account of his race, religion, ing paper, pens and flashlights). En-
nationality, membership of a particular sure that adequate arrangements are in
social group or political opinion (Arti- place to receive single women and un-
cle 33 of the 1951 Convention). accompanied and separated children.
ii. Creating awareness among these au-
In the case of the internally displaced,
the Guiding Principles on Internal Dis- thorities. While it may not be possi-
placement prohibits their forcible return ble to provide formal training during
to or relocation to any place where their an emergency, UNHCR may promote
life, safety, liberty and/or health would be principles of access to safety and non-
at risk. This is supported by internation- refoulement through daily contacts
al human rights law and international hu- with them. Give concrete examples to
manitarian law.
the authorities of what can happen to
24. The 1951 Convention provides for a refugee who is returned: it can mean
very limited exceptions to the principle of that s/he is detained for long periods,
non-refoulement of refugees, namely, for tortured and raped or even killed.
whom there are reasonable grounds for iii. Maintaining a permanent presence
being regarded as a danger to the security at the border. If it is not possible for
of the country where they are, or for those UNHCR and its partners to be present
who, having been convicted by a final at all border crossing points on a per-
judgement of a particularly serious crime, manent basis, each crossing point
constitute a danger to the community of should be visited frequently. This
that country. also helps in maintaining direct con-
25. The principle of non-refoulement is tact with the refugees, and helps in un-
recognized by a number of international derstanding what is happening in the
and regional instruments. Because of its country of origin as well as the prob-
lems on both sides of the border.
iv. Awareness may also need to be raised 30. Similarly, while it would be difficult
in the local population and civil soci- to provide individual identity documents
ety the media may provide a forum during the first phases of an emergency, it
and public opinion can be an impor- is important to work towards a system by
tant influence. which this is possible in order to protect
them more effectively (see chapter 10 for
27. Any issue relating to the admission
more details on documentation).
or treatment of refugees at the border, (or

the internally displaced who are prevented 31. Over time, governments should, with
from accessing safety) should be brought the support of UNHCR and its partners,
immediately to the attention of the com- ensure that the births, deaths and mar-
petent authorities in the host country and riages of people of concern to UNHCR

any other country involved for urgent re- are also registered and documented by the
medial action. government. This assists, among other
things, in ensuring that people can exer-
Registration and documentation cise their rights in accordance with the
28. Registration and the provision of in- relevant laws, that they do not face prob-
dividual identity documents are important lems when finding a permanent solution
protection tools that assists in ensuring, (resettlement, for instance) and that situ-
among other things, that the situation of ations of statelessness are avoided in the
persons of concern is properly monitored, future.
that their human rights are protected, that 32. Women and children who are not reg-
they have access to assistance, that family istered or provided with documents may
reunification is facilitated and that a du- be denied access to fundamental human
rable solution is found for them. Proper rights. Refugee women, particularly those
allocation of resources and programme who were separated from their husbands,
planning is also dependent on proper may not be able to access food or essential
registration, especially in the long-run. services, seek support for their children,
While registration and documentation is or claim or inherit property on return.
normally a State responsibility, UNHCR Women and children may be more prone
supports States in this area and even un- to sexual exploitation, early and forced
dertakes registration on behalf of govern- marriage, slavery, trafficking, permanent
ments at times. separation from families, and unauthor-
29. Normally, upon accessing safety, ized and illicit adoption.
asylum-seekers, refugees and the inter- 33. Efforts must be taken to ensure that
nally displaced should be registered in- the registration and documentation proc-
dividually as soon as possible. However, ess does not directly or indirectly dis-
in emergencies when they arrive in large criminate against women and girls, and
numbers, it is often impractical to register that all women and girls, regardless of age
them individually or in detail at the outset. and background, are able to fully partici-
Therefore, it may be necessary to begin by pate. Parents or caregivers may not want
conducting population estimates and un- to register girls for a number of reasons.
dertaking brief forms of registration until They may also not want to declare sepa-
the situation is safe and stable enough to rated children living with them and who
register them individually (see chapter 10 are working as unpaid servants. When
for more details on registration). None- registration is undertaken by the State,
theless, persons with specific needs must especially with the internally displaced,
be identified by the community and staff UNHCR must ensure that these minimum
to ensure adequate protection from the standards are met. In some locations sex-
ual exploitation has been linked to the reg- Exclusion from international refugee
istration process. protection
37. Certain persons do not fall under
Refugee status determination UNHCRs competence and are excluded
34. States recognize refugees on their ter- from international refugee protection.
ritory based on the definition provided in These include:
the 1951 Convention. UNHCR recogniz-
i. Persons who are not entitled to the
es refugees in accordance with its man-
benefits of international refugee
date (see section Persons of concern of
protection because they are receiving
this chapter for the mandate definition of a
protection or assistance from a UN
refugee). This normally happens in coun-
agency other than UNHCR. In todays
tries that have not established a procedure
context, this applies to certain groups
to determine refugee status or in countries
of Palestinian refugees who are inside
where the asylum procedures are not func-
the area of operations of the United
tioning properly. Refugees recognized by
Nations Relief and Works Agency for
States as well as by UNHCR are of con-
Palestinian Refugees in the Near East
cern to UNHCR. A person does not be-
come a refugee because s/he is recognized
as such by a State or by UNHCR, but is ii. Persons who are not in need of in-
recognized because s/he is a refugee. ternational refugee protection be-
Recognition of his/her refugee status does cause they have taken up regular or
not therefore make him/her a refugee, but permanent residence in a country that
declares him to be one. has given them a status whereby they
effectively enjoy the same rights and
35. Refugees may be recognized by have the same obligations as nationals
States (based on the 1951 Convention) of that country.
or by UNHCR (in accordance with its
mandate) either on an individual or on a iii. Persons who are considered unde-
group basis. If large numbers of people serving of international refugee pro-
have fled persecution or conflict, they tection on account of them having
are often recognized as a group on a
committed certain serious crimes or
prima facie basis.
heinous acts. This applies to persons
This means that based on the objec- who are responsible for war crimes
tive conditions in the country of origin, (i.e. serious violations of the laws
UNHCR and/or States can consider every or customs of war), crimes against
member of the group as a refugee in the humanity (i.e. inhumane acts when
absence of evidence to the contrary. This committed as part of a widespread or
is a practical measure to allow refugees to systematic attack directed against the
receive international protection without civilian population) or crimes against
the formality of undergoing individual peace (i.e. planning, preparation, ini-
refugee status determination. tiation, or waging of a war that is in
violation of international treaties).
36. In the case of mass influx, the aim is Similarly, those who have commit-
to secure treatment in accordance with ted serious non-political crimes (e.g.
universally recognized humanitarian
murder, rape) prior to entering the
principles not necessarily directly linked
to the legal status of those in need. The
country of asylum or acted against the
speed and quality of intervention to se- purposes and principles of the United
cure protection is the first priority. Nations cannot benefit from refugee

38. Exclusion assessments should be car- ples of non-refoulement, the best inter-
ried out by persons qualified and trained ests of the child and family unity.
to do so. Any recommendation to exclude
an asylum-seeker in an emergency should Temporary protection
be reviewed and endorsed by a Regional 41. Temporary protection is a specific
Legal Adviser at Headquarters. People provisional protection response to situa-
can be recognized as refugees on a pri- tions of mass influx, providing immediate
ma facie basis as a group, but can only emergency protection from refoulement,

be excluded from refugee protection and postponing formal refugee status de-
on an individual basis. Once excluded, termination until it is practically feasible.
they would not be of concern to UNHCR. Often this response is provided in situa-

However, human rights NGOs and the tions where there are good prospects of
High Commissioner for Human Rights voluntary repatriation in the near future.
would advocate for the State to respect UNHCR does not encourage States to
their human rights, including the right not resort to this measure when it is feasible
to be refouled to a territory where their life to recognize them on a prima facie basis.
or liberty would be at risk. The rights of persons granted temporary
protection are similar to those of recog-
Complementary and temporary nized refugees. In any case, these shall
protection include:
Complementary protection
i. admission to the country of refuge;
39. Some countries adopt a narrow defi-
nition of the term refugee which does ii. respect for human rights, with treat-
not encompass those persons who are ment in accordance with internation-
fleeing from armed conflict or general- ally recognized humanitarian stand-
ised violence. Instead, they often estab- ards; and
lish complementary forms of protection
iii. protection against refoulement.
as a pragmatic response for individuals
in need of international protection but do Combatants at the border
not meet the refugee definition under the
42. When people flee areas affected by
1951 Convention or the 1967 Protocol.
armed conflict or political unrest marked
These countries are bound by relevant in-
by serious human-rights offences, it may
ternational treaty obligations prohibiting
happen that combatants arrive in the coun-
refoulement, such as those deriving from
try of asylum (or the safe areas or camps in
Article3 of the Convention against Tor-
the case of the internally displaced) along
ture or Article7 of the International Cov-
with the civilian population. A combat-
enant on Civil and Political Rights as well
ant is a member of regular or irregular
as in regional human rights instruments.
forces, who has or is taking an active part,
40. Although persons granted comple- directly or indirectly, in an armed conflict.
mentary protection do not have access to The presumption of refugee status, includ-
the full range of benefits given to refu- ing recognition on a prima facie basis, (or
gees, UNHCR encourages States to pro- recognition as an internally displaced per-
vide for the highest degree of stability and son of concern to UNHCR) does not ap-
certainty to them (almost the same rights ply to combatants, as this would threaten
as refugees). Those with complementary the civilian and humanitarian character of
protection should enjoy, without discrimi- camps, settlements and asylum.
nation, the human rights and fundamental
43. International Humanitarian Law
freedoms laid down in relevant interna-
would govern the treatment of combat-
tional instruments, including the princi-
ants arriving in a country that is party a risk of being refouled prior or during
to the conflict and ICRC would be best their internment period. In such situa-
placed to monitor and advise in such situ- tions, UNHCR should advocate for States
ations. The law of neutrality, in particular not to refoule them and if necessary, on an
the 1907 Hague Convention Respecting urgent basis, determine whether they have
the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers genuinely given up their combatant status
and Persons in Case of War on Land and and whether they are refugees or not. Hu-
Executive Committee Conclusion 94 (of man rights NGOs and the Office of the
2002) relating to the Civilian and Human- High Commissioner for Human Rights,
itarian Character of Asylum would gov- if present, would also normally advocate
ern the treatment of combatants arriving at against their refoulement.
in country neutral to the conflict.
Child soldiers, on the other hand, need
44. In a neutral country, combatants to be disarmed and assisted in reinte-
should be, as far as possible, identified grating within the civilian refugee com-
at the border. They should be disarmed, munity as far as possible
separated and held in an internment facil-
ity. ICRC is mandated to visit and monitor 47. The State is responsible for dealing
these internment facilities. An influx may with combatants who arrive at their bor-
also contain armed elements who are not der or who enter their territory. UNHCR
combatants, but civilians carrying weap- should only support the government by
ons for reasons of self-defence or hunting providing advice, by helping the authori-
purposes. While such persons must be dis- ties in establishing systems by which com-
armed, they would not need to be sepa- batants can be identified, disarmed, sepa-
rated or interned. rated and interned. UNHCR does not have
45. Combatants should not be considered the mandate or the expertise to actively
as asylum-seekers (or persons of con- identify, disarm or intern any combatant.
cern) until it has been established, within
a reasonable time frame often after a pe-
riod of internment -- that they have genu- Specific protection issues
inely and permanently renounced military 48. UNHCR, governments and other part-
activities (in practice, this has ranged ners should ensure that persons that have
from between three months up to a year access to safe territory (the country of asy-
or more). They may thereafter be admit- lum in the case of refugees; other safe ar-
ted into asylum procedures. The asylum eas in the case of the internally displaced)
applications of former combatants should continue to remain protected and that their
be examined through individual refugee human rights are respected. They should
status determination procedures, which be able to live in an environment that pro-
should provide for a thorough examina- motes safety, dignity, and self-sufficiency
tion of the possible application of the ex- when they are uprooted. Below are some
clusion clauses. They can then be allowed specific issues that often arise during
to integrate with a civilian population as emergencies.
long as they are not at risk of facing pro-
tection problems from the community.
There may be situations where internment
may not be necessary or feasible.
46. Persons who claim to have given up
their combatant status and who have re-
quested for asylum may sometimes be at
Refugee protection encompasses meas-
UNHCR is quickly informed of any new
ures to ensure that people of concern influx or protection problem. This infor-
enjoy, on an equal basis, legal security mation should be systemized and used
(that they are not discriminated against; for defining protection strategies and the
that they have a legal status and docu- emergency assistance response. Such open
mentation) physical security (that they lines of communication, including those
are protected against physical harm) and with local authorities are important in par-
material security (that they have equal
ticular for border regions which are remote

access to basic goods and services).
from the capital, and where UNHCR may
Understanding the concerns of uprooted
not yet have a local presence.
people 52. Sources of information in addition to

49. To be able to provide the right protec- refugees and others of concern include:
tion response in an emergency there is a i. Local or central government authori-
need to understand the people who we are ties (including military officials)
working for and what their concerns are. ii. Community and religious leaders
Involving women, men, girls and boys
iii. Host community
of all ages and different ethnic and reli-
gious groups of concern to UNHCR from iv. National and international NGOs
the start will ensure better understanding v. ICRC
of their problems and also build trust be- vi. Other UN and international organiza-
tween UNHCR and the people of concern. tions
(read more on Community-Based Ap- vii. National (particularly local language)
proach in chapter 11) and international news media
50. By undertaking an initial participa- 53. If possible the central authorities
tory assessment (see chapter 5 for more should participate in fact-finding mis-
information on Initial Participatory As- sions, as this reduces the risk of misunder-
sessment), UNHCR and its partners can, standing between UNHCR and the central
in systematic and rigorous way, collect authorities and between the central and lo-
information with the active participation cal authorities.
of the community and thereby gain a bet-
Analysing, monitoring, reporting and
ter understanding of issues concerning
their protection and well-being. This is a
crucial step in understanding, developing UNHCRs Statute and Article 35 of the
and implementing any protection strat- 1951 Convention provides UNHCR with
egy including on issues such as access the authority to monitor and assist
to asylum, camp planning, distribution of States in their fulfilling obligation to pro-
tect refugees and others of concern to
assistance, provision of services including the agency.
education and health, physical security
including SGBV and even durable solu- 54. UNHCR and its partners must moni-
tions. Participatory assessment should be tor any emergency situation at all times
an activity jointly undertaken by multi- often by being physically present at bor-
functional teams comprised of staff from ders, camps and other affected areas - not
UNHCR and other UN agencies, NGOs least to ensure that the rights of asylum-
and the government. seekers, refugees, the internally displaced
are respected.
51. Sources of information must be de-
veloped and direct communication with 55. Immediate, clear and regular reports
refugees through participatory approach- of developments, action taken and intend-
es established in the field to ensure that ed to be taken are important, whether from
the Field Officer to the Head of Office or structure such as schools for refugees,
from the latter to Headquarters. Guid- providing furniture and stationary to
ance must be requested as necessary and authorities etc). When providing ma-
Headquarters level interventions recom- terial support during an emergency,
mended as appropriate. See chapter 8 on not only does UNHCR require the ap-
implementing arrangements, for a stand- propriate funding, but should provide
ard situation report. this support only if it is essential and if
no other responsible agency is able to
Unless information gathered locally is do so (for instance, UN development
done systematically, and unless it is
agencies) and ensure that States do not
shared appropriately, its usefulness is
become dependent on this support in
the medium and long-term.
56. Intervention with governments, part-
iii. Providing services (food, clothing,
ners and other stakeholders can take many
shelter material, education and health
forms and depends on the specific situa-
services, for example) to persons of
tion at hand. Prerequisites for interven-
concern that States would normally be
tion with government authorities, partners
obliged to provide.
or other stakeholders are accurate and
regular situational analysis, reporting to 57. Situational analysis can be undertaken
the appropriate channels and if necessary, using a variety of tools, not least using the
seeking advice from UNHCR colleagues results of a participatory assessment proc-
in the country, region or headquarters. ess (see chapter 5 on initial participatory
Among other options, UNHCR can inter- assessment) as well as using the Protec-
vene by: tion Gaps Framework of Analysis Tool de-
veloped by UNHCR that can be adapted
i. Advocating for and promoting prin-
to an emergency situation.
ciples of international protection and
UNHCRs mandate through meetings, Protection through assistance
trainings and correspondence, not
least to ensure that States apply these 58. Ensuring protection and providing hu-
principles in protecting persons of manitarian assistance are not two separate
concern to UNHCR. Individual cases issues. Rather, humanitarian assistance is
may also be raised as part of UNHCRs an integral part of protection and should
advocacy role. UNHCR may advocate be planned to ensure that the rights of ref-
for refugees and others of concern in ugees and others of concern are respected
a public forum. However, before do- (right to life, right to adequate living con-
ing so, staff should be aware of any ditions, protection of specific categories
potential negative consequences (see of people such as older persons, unaccom-
chapter 9 on working with the media panied and separated children, single par-
for further information). ents, survivors of SGBV etc.) and as part
of a single emergency operation.
ii. Building the short, medium and long-
term capacity of States and partners 59. Women, men, girls and boys of con-
to offer protection. This may include cern must be consulted and involved in
enhancing the knowledge, skills and planning humanitarian interventions as
attitudes of governments through dia- soon and as frequently as possible from
logue and training, assisting them in the very beginning of the emergency.
developing their legislation, providing Their roles in the community should also
them with material support (includ- be understood. Often, especially at the
ing, if necessary, building basic infra- beginning of an emergency, older persons,
persons with disabilities, unaccompanied
and separated children, and some single Children
parents are less able to access food, shelter
Child: a person below the age of 18 years,
material, health care and other humanitar- unless, under the law applicable to the
ian assistance with ease. Specific efforts child, majority is attained earlier (cited
must be made to identify the obstacles as from The Convention on the Rights of
early as possible and ensure that the groups the Child, article 1).
have equal access and are being supported
by the community. Furthermore, sexual 61. Girls and boys often constitute 50%

exploitation by aid workers and other or more of the population in an emergen-
refugees has, sometimes, been linked to cy operation. It is essential to work with
the provision of humanitarian assistance. them separately and with their parents/
guardians to understand and address their

Women, girls and boys of concern espe-
cially have been exploited by aid workers specific needs at all times. Children, ado-
or other refugees who are in a position to lescent girls and boys in particular should
provide them with essential items such as be consulted at all times, even when plan-
food, shelter, education and medical care ning the camp structure such as schools,
or by persons in positions of authority, latrines and other facilities, and when im-
such as border guards. In accordance with plementing, monitoring and evaluating
the UNHCR Code of Conduct, UNHCR programmes that affect them.
and its partners should ensure that mecha- 62. UNHCRs publication Refugee Chil-
nisms are in place from the very outset to dren: Guidelines on Protection and Care
prevent exploitation from occurring dur- (see key references) is essential reading
ing and after emergencies. (Please refer for those designing a protection interven-
to the IASC gender mainstreaming hand- tion in emergencies. Particular attention
book for further guidance and the SG bul- must be placed on the risks faced by ado-
letin on on Special measures for protec- lescent girls, such as lack of access to edu-
tion from sexual exploitation and sexual cation, forced labour, early marriage and
abuse 9 October 2003). prostitution.
60. In most emergencies in develop-
Protection of women and girls 1
ing countries, it is necessary to indicate
that the granting of asylum and meeting 63. Women do have specific needs which,
of immediate needs will not be a signifi- if not met, can put them at risk, such as
cant financial burden on local authorities. exposure to exploitation and sexual abuse,
UNHCR staff must receive early guid- sexual discrimination and restricted ac-
ance on the extent to which commitments cess to humanitarian assistance. Not in-
on humanitarian assistance may be given cluding refugee women in planning, deci-
by UNHCR and its partners, in order to sion-making, implementing or evaluating
communicate this information with local projects that affect them may put them at
authorities (see chapter 6 on Operations). further risk. In addition, the effectiveness
If the influx consists of additional asy- of the assistance programme may be re-
lum-seekers clearly belonging to a group duced because the problems and needs of
already assisted by UNHCR, a firm assur- all the beneficiaries have not been prop-
ance of humanitarian assistance, within erly identified.
the means available, is usually given.

Please also see UNHCR handbook on the Protec-
tion of Women and Girls, 2006.
64. However, when seeking womens par- and power relations; changes in gender
ticipation in decision-making, measures roles; continuing harmful practices; the
which challenge the status quo may be breakdown of family, community struc-
threatening to traditional leaders. Special tures, and values;
efforts may be needed to overcome resist-
legal systems that do not adequately
ance to change (see chapter 11 for more
uphold their rights, including justice
information on womens participation and
systems that do not fully address harm-
empowerment in emergencies)
ful traditional practices or domestic vio-
65. Identifying women and girls at risk lence or that restrict their rights to mar-
in any given situation requires identifying riage and divorce and to property and
the risk factors that threaten their rights. inheritance; traditional justice systems
These factors can be present in the wider that do not respect international norms;
protection environment and/or result from national registration systems that do
the individuals particular circumstances. not provide refugee or asylum-seeking
women with individual documentation;
Among the risk factors in the wider pro-
asylum systems that are not sensitive to
tection environment that can arise as a
the needs and claims of female asylum-
result of, and after, women and girls flee
their homes are:
protection systems that do not up-
security problems threatening or ex-
hold their rights, because refugee
posing them to SGBV or other forms
and asylum-seeking women and girls
of violence, particularly when such
are not individually registered; disag-
dangers arise from inadequate housing,
gregated data on displaced women and
the need to collect fuel and water and to
girls are not available; systems to iden-
tend to crops/animals, or, in urban set-
tify, monitor, and support women and
tings as a result of isolation, problems
girls at risk are inadequate and slow to
with housing/landlords, or because
respond; there are insufficient numbers
displaced children are living on the
of female and international staff or fe-
male law enforcement officers present;
problems accessing and enjoying as- a lack of awareness about womens and
sistance and services, resulting from girls rights; reporting systems are not
inadequate food and/or material as- clear; relations between staff and dis-
sistance; inadequate access to health placed communities need strengthen-
care, especially given their sexual and ing; monitoring of unaccompanied and
reproductive roles and disproportionate separated girls and other women with
vulnerability to HIV/AIDS; lack of ac- specific needs is weak.
cess to, or unsafe or poor educational
66. These more general factors may be
opportunities; child labour; abuse by
combined with individual risk factors.
those in positions of authority control-
They can be grouped as relating to:
ling access to assistance and services;
lack of livelihood or income-generating their status or situation in society, in-
opportunities; cluding as women who are alone, are
single heads-of-household including
the position of women and girls in
grandmothers, in mixed and/or polyga-
society, which results in discrimina-
mous marriages, or are without docu-
tion against them; marginalization;
mentation; as widows without family
camp management, community, and
support; as girls, including adolescents,
leadership structures that do not suf-
who are unaccompanied or separated,
ficiently include them; unequal gender
headsof-household or out of school; as
women and girls who challenge social 69. Strategies to prevent protection risks
norms, are stateless, are without access from arising in the wider environment
to assistance or in detention; include actions to identify, assess, and
monitor the wider protection environ-
their exposure, or risk of exposure,
ment, establish and strengthen secure en-
to SGBV or other forms of violence,
vironments, and empower displaced and
including rape, torture, other serious
returnee women and girls.
physical harm, domestic violence, ab-

duction, trafficking, female genital mu- 70. Responses to individual women and
tilation, early or forced marriage, forced girls at risk can be grouped under three
contraception, abortion or sterilization, themes, which are listed non-exhaustively
maltreatment by foster families or rela- below.

tives, forced recruitment by armed fac-
Identification and immediate response
tions, whether as (child) combatants or
sex and labour slaves;
working in partnership with states and
additional health care or other sup-
partners to establish mechanisms, based
port, because they are physically or
on the wider protection environment
mentally disabled, traumatized, preg-
and individual risk factors outlined
nant or teenage mothers, affected by
above, to identify individual women
HIV/AIDS or suffering from medical
and girls at risk, determine and imple-
conditions particular to their sex or
ment appropriate immediate responses
and subsequent solutions;
67. In certain cases, the presence of one
providing women and girls at risk with
factor alone may be sufficient to require
information, counselling, and medical
an urgent protection intervention. In oth-
and psychosocial care;
ers, the presence of a combination of indi-
vidual and wider-environment factors will providing women and girls facing do-
result in heightened protection risks for mestic violence and abuse or attack
displaced and returnee women and girls. by other members of the community
In still other cases, if women and girls with access to safe houses, especially
have been subjected to SGBV in the place if there are no mechanisms to remove
of origin or during flight, they may be at perpetrators; offering them emergency
heightened risk in the area of displace- voluntary relocation to another town or
ment. Finally, threat levels may change camp, or emergency resettlement;
and may thereby expose women and girls determining the best interests of girls at
to heightened (or reduced) risk, for exam- risk and providing alternative accom-
ple during the crisis or emergency phase modation, physical protection, and in-
or if the situation becomes protracted. terim foster care, as required;
68. Responding more effectively to these initiating family tracing and ensuring
protection problems requires a holistic ap- family reunification for separated and
proach that combines preventive strate- unaccompanied girls so that they can
gies and individual responses. It involves rejoin their families wherever possible
collaboration among, and the involvement and in their best interests.
of, all relevant actors, and should include
working with men and boys to understand ensuring that refugee status determina-
and promote respect for the rights of dis- tion procedures, whether carried out by
placed and returnee women and girls. States or, if necessary, by UNHCR pro-
vide female asylum-seekers with access
to gender-sensitive procedures, and that
decisions recognize gender-related 75. Camps for refugees and the internally
forms of persecution in the context of displaced are often established for secu-
the refugee definition as constituting rity reasons and to ensure that humanitar-
grounds for refugee status. ian agencies can easily monitor the situa-
tion and deliver humanitarian assistance.
Physical safety of refugees However, camps may not always offer
71. Ensuring the physical security of ref- better protection to refugees and the in-
ugees is an essential part of all emergency ternally displaced they can often be det-
operations. Uprooted people must be al- rimental for their security. Sometimes, it
lowed to live in an environment that en- may be more effective and safe if they are
sures their human right to life, liberty and allowed to live with local communities in
security. Under refugee and human rights villages and semi-urban areas that share
law, a host state is obliged to ensure the cultural and other ties with them. This
physical protection of those who reside would also promote self-reliance within
within its borders, including refugees and the uprooted community. However such
others of concern to UNHCR. measures require the willingness and con-
sent of the host government and the host
72. Once they have gained access to safe
communities themselves.
territory (a country of asylum for instance),
ensuring the physical security of refugees 76. In either situation, the environment
and others of concern entails securing where the refugees or the internally dis-
their areas of residence and taking steps to placed live should ensure that they are
prevent their safety from being compro- able to exercise their human rights to the
mised. It also requires that the living en- greatest possible extent. As the internally
vironment of refugees should be peaceful, displaced are citizens in their own coun-
humanitarian and civilian, free of violence try, they should not be forcibly restricted
and criminal activity, and conducive to the to camps and they should have the free-
realization of human dignity. dom to move in and out of camps if such
camps are established for their benefit.
73. Threats to the physical security of
refugees may stem from a variety of Camp security
causes, including organized armed crimi-
77. The closed environment of camps is
nals, errant military and police, non-state
particularly conducive to exploitative and
armed actors, anxious local populations
manipulative activities by people who
and other refugees themselves. Women,
seek to gain from the vulnerable nature of
men, girls and boys often have different
the residents especially during an emer-
security concerns, including in relation to
gency. The specific nature of threats to
SGBV, that need to be identified and ad-
the security of refugees and the internally
dressed accordingly.
displaced in camps may take a number
Location of refugees of forms such as theft, assault, domestic
violence, forced marriage, cattle rustling,
74. Asylum-seekers and refugees should
vandalism and civil disputes; child abuse,
be located at a reasonable distance from
rape and other sexual forms of sexual and
the frontier of their country of origin to
gender-based violence, robbery (armed
ensure their safety and well-being. The
and otherwise); arson, fraud, forgery, ag-
internally displaced should be located in
gravated assault, murder, forced prosti-
safe areas and a safe distance away from
tution, kidnapping, human trafficking,
conflict areas.
smuggling of people and arms, forcible
recruitment into armed forces, extortion,

enslavement, torture, war crimes, and Ladder of options
withholding humanitarian assistance.
Soft approach: involves preventative
78. All efforts must be made by the host measures, where international organiza-
country to maintain law and order within tions provide support to the host state to
the camp including the prevention of sex- maintain security within refugee-popu-
ual and gender-based violence, curtail the lated areas.
flow of arms into refugee camps, prevent Medium approach: involves the use of

the forcible recruitment of refugees into international civilian or police monitors
armed groups as well as disarming armed who provide technical expertise and
elements and identifying, separating and support for local authorities, through
training, mentoring and monitoring.
interning combatants. Often, however,

States need considerable support and tech- Hard approach: involves the direct use
nical assistance, not least by humanitarian of international military forces, whether
agencies, to successfully undertake these peace-keeping or peace-building, to
maintain security in refugee populated
areas. This last resort is exceptional in
nature, requires UN Security Council au-
The security aspect of camps should
thorization, and can compromise the hu-
be considered during the initial stages
manitarian nature of assistance work.
of site selection and physical planning;
the neutrality of camps should never be
taken for granted (see chapter 12 on site
selection and planning). Judicial systems and detention
80. Even during an emergency, UNHCR
79. In situations where a host state is un-
and its partners should work towards en-
able or unwilling to ensure the physical
suring that the national legal system --
security of refugees the international com-
including law enforcement and courts of
munity may be obliged to step in. The
law -- cater to the needs of refugees and
Ladder of Options concept provides a
other persons of concern. Complaints
matrix of refugee insecurity and proposes
by refugees should be registered by the
responses through the use of soft, medium
police, proper investigations should be
and hard approaches (or options) to refu-
conducted and principles of due proc-
gee security. Depending on the security
ess should be followed. It may be nec-
situation and the extent to which the gov-
essary to ensure that refugees and others
ernment is unwilling or unable to involve
of concern have physical access to these
itself in providing safe asylum.
mechanisms, so that they are aware of
how to use these systems and sensitize
the police and judiciary in responding to
cases brought by or brought against refu-
gees and the internally displaced. It may
even be necessary to provide some basic
support to the courts and police so that
they can function effectively and promote
gender balance. However, it is important
to ensure that in all cases, the victims of
these offences (such as survivors of rape)
are not forced to use these systems, but
rather provided with the information and
access to these systems so that they can
make an informed choice.

81. Refugees and others of concern often Physical safety in areas of conflict
resort to using traditional mechanisms of 83. International humanitarian law pro-
justice (traditional courts for instance) vides protection to civilians including
that are run by their community to ad- refugees in situations of armed conflict.
dress a range of issues from petty theft to In non-international conflicts (i.e. inter-
physical assault rape and murder. While nal armed conflict but not police opera-
sometimes these mechanisms may be ef- tion), all parties to the conflict are bound
fective (even more effective than national by common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva
legal systems), they often do not follow Conventions and the Second Additional
principles of due process often resulting Protocol to respect all persons not taking
in violations of human rights of refugees an active part in the hostilities, and in par-
and others of concern. Issues relating to ticular:
women and children (such as rape) are of-
ten not represented or addressed properly i. to treat them humanely and without
(the woman or girl can be forced to marry distinction as to race, religion, sex,
her rapist for instance). Furthermore, the birth, wealth or any other similar cri-
adjudicators may often only be men or not teria;
truly representational of the community. ii. to refrain from violence to life and
For this reason, among others, it is impor- person;
tant that traditional mechanisms do not iii. not to take hostages;
deal with serious offences (such as rape, iv. to respect personal dignity;
murder, physical assault) but refer such v. not to pass sentences or carry out ex-
cases to more formal systems of justice. ecutions without due process of law;
While it is important to work with the and
community and traditional mechanisms, vi. to collect and care for the wounded
it is also essential to agree on what issues and sick.
they can and cannot address through these 84. The International Committee of the
mechanisms to ensure individual human Red Cross (ICRC) is the agency charged
rights are respected. A person should not with supervising the implementation of
be prevented from accessing the formal international humanitarian law in situa-
national legal system either before, during tions of armed conflict. In most situations
or after the matter is heard by the tradi- of armed conflict or civil strife, the ICRC
tional court. offers its services to all parties to assist
82. Asylum-seekers, refugees and the in- victims and ensure the protection of civil-
ternally displaced are often detained for a ian populations including, where appli-
number of reasons. UNHCR should work cable, refugees and other displaced popu-
to ensure that they are not detained for en- lations as well as detained combatants.
tering the country illegally (pursuant to Ar- 85. UNHCR staff should seek the cooper-
ticle 31 of the 1951 Convention). UNHCR ation of the ICRC, wherever it is present,
should also sensitize the authorities not to and benefit from its expertise in dealing
prosecute or convict refugees if they vio- with state and non-state parties alike in
late rules that place unreasonable restric- situations of armed conflict.
tions on their freedom of movement, right
to work and other human rights. Further, Operations in areas controlled by non-
refugees or the internally displaced that state entities
are convicted and imprisoned for criminal 86. In situations of civil strife or internal
offences remain of concern to UNHCR armed conflict, particular difficulties may
and their conditions should be monitored arise from the fact that UNHCRs inter-
regularly. locutors are not States or regular armed
forces answerable to States, but insurgent cleaning. Women and girls may even be
groups and other non-state entities. UN- abducted and forced into sexual slavery
HCR may have no choice but to deal with by these armed groups.
these groups as they exercise de facto
90. Forcible recruitment can take place
control over a refugee population or the
anywhere and anytime especially in
internally displaced. Such non-state enti-
schools, marketplaces, youth and commu-
ties might be very organized to the point
nity centres and the homes of refugee fam-
of having established various ministries,

ilies. Children living near areas of armed
administrative departments and even
conflict, those not attending schools,
courts of law. In an emergency, UNH-
particularly adolescents; unaccompanied
CR should respect these systems to ensure
or separated children and children from

the protection of refugees, the internally
disadvantaged or marginalized parts of
displaced and the humanitarian workers
society are more susceptible to being for-
cibly recruited. While refugees and the
87. In other situations, non-state actors internally displaced are often coerced into
may be less organized, in which case it joining armed forces, sometimes, fami-
may be necessary for UNHCR to build lies and leaders have been known to will-
and maintain working relations with spe- ingly volunteer their children and other
cific individuals or groups who can ensure members of the community to join these
the protection of persons of concern to forces. Specific measures must be taken
UNHCR. to monitor them and ensure that they are
not forcibly recruited, including sensitiz-
88. In all situations, it is important to
ing women, men girls and boys of this
highlight the impartial, non-political and
risk, monitoring areas where recruitment
humanitarian role of UNHCR and to ex-
can take place, establishing community-
ercise public pressure in order to convince
based mechanisms in schools to prevent
these groups of the importance of adhering
recruitment from occurring and even en-
to international humanitarian and refugee
suring a police presence if necessary.
law. Similar to building the capacity of
States, it may be necessary to build the ca- 91. In confronting this issue, UNHCR
pacity of the non-state actors so that they staff must remember and remind the au-
respect international protection standards, thorities that:
in particular the rights of women and chil-
i. The civilian and humanitarian charac-
dren; training, awareness raising and other
ter of refugee camps and settlements
activities could help in this regard. Yet,
must be preserved and respected in all
when dealing with these groups, UNHCR
circumstances. Therefore recruitment
should not imply, through any of its ac-
of any age group for military and par-
tions or correspondence, a formal recog-
amilitary purposes is unacceptable.
nition of these non-state entities by the
United Nations. ii. Recruitment by force may amount to
cruel, inhuman or degrading treat-
Forced recruitment ment, which is prohibited in all cir-
89. Refugees and the internally displaced
that live in or near a conflict zone are of- iii. Recruitment and direct participation
ten at risk of forcible recruitment by one in hostilities of children less than 15
or more parties (State or non-state) to the years old is considered a war crime.
conflict. Men, boys and girls may be for- Children under 18 should not be in-
cibly recruited to take up arms or under- volved in hostilities.
take jobs such as portering, cooking and iv. Where refugees are forced or coerced
to return to their country of origin to
fight, this is tantamount to refoule- 95. Continuous efforts need to be made
ment, which is prohibited in all cir- by State authorities to monitor camps and
cumstances. settlements to determine if combatants are
92. Annex 2 provides some activities and residing in the camp. These efforts should
measures that can be taken by govern- not place other refugees or the internally
ments with the support of UNHCR and displaced at risk (i.e. by getting camp
other humanitarian agencies to ensure the residents, especially children, to identify
physical protection of camps. Particular others who may be combatants). Humani-
attention must be given to the possibility tarian workers should also not place them-
of young men, girls and boys especially selves at risk by actively identifying com-
those with little parental guidance or su- batants. Information received by UNHCR
pervision -- who are more susceptible to should be passed on to the relevant State
forcible recruitment during emergencies. authorities for appropriate action.
96. Similar to combatants identified at
Combatants in camps
the border, combatants who are residing
93. The presence of combatants in refugee in the host country need to be identified,
camps or settlements can lead to a general disarmed, separated, and interned with
breakdown in law and order, forced mili- separate arrangements for women and
tary recruitment, an increase in rape and men. Their treatment in the internment
other forms of physical and sexual abuse, facility and their status will be similar to
human trafficking, political manipulation, combatants identified at the border. Child
and the diversion of humanitarian assist- soldiers also need to be treated differently.
ance for non-humanitarian activities. It The primary responsibility for this lies
can also make refugees vulnerable to at- with the host country, while international
tacks from across the border. Host gov- agencies such as UNHCR may offer sup-
ernment may even adopt a more hostile port and advice.
position towards refugees as it may affect
the national security and even regional Sexual and gender-based violence
stability, as well as threaten inter-state re- (SGBV) 2
lations. As a result, refugees may be even
Sexual and gender-based violence
be subject to refoulement.
(SGBV) refers to a range of actions by
94. Combatants placed hors de combat which an individual is exploited because
(sick, wounded, shipwrecked and pris- of her/his sex or gender. This includes
oners of war) residing in a country that physical, emotional, psychological and
socio-economic abuse such as rape,
is party to the conflict are primarily pro- female genital mutilation, domestic vio-
tected by international humanitarian law, lence, forced marriage, exploitation,
and fall under the competence of the State threats, confiscation of money or iden-
and the ICRC. Combatants who are re- tity cards, and restrictions on freedom of
siding in a neutral country are protected movement and liberty.
by the law of neutrality in particular, the
97. SGBV often occurs in situations
1907 Hague Convention Respecting the
where people can abuse the power they
Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and
exercise over others, such as:
Persons in Case of War on Land. Execu-
tive Committee Conclusion 94 (of 2002) When people are caught in armed con-
relating to the Civilian and Humanitarian flict: rape and other forms of sexual
Character of Asylum provides guidance abuse are widely used as weapons of
in such situations and emphasizes the re- war to humiliate the enemy.
sponsibility of States in this matter. 2
Please see chapter 18 for more guidance on how
to deal with SGBV in an emergency.
When people flee persecution and armed iv. Physical security: Survivors may be
conflict: refugees and the internally dis- threatened with retaliation for report-
placed are at risk of sexual abuse or rape ing cases and therefore need a safe
during flight when they are smuggled place to stay. In some situations, re-
or trafficked. Because uprooted people settling them to another country is one
often do not have identity documents, way of protecting them.
money, or access to justice, those with 99. Whenever assisting survivors of
authority may take advantage of the SGBV, always respect the confidentiality

situation and exploit them. of the survivor. Furthermore, provide all
In the family and the community: rape, the relevant information to the individual
including within marriage (marital so that s/he can decide what s/he wishes

rape), forced early marriage, sexu- to do3.
al abuse, female genital mutilation
Humanitarian evacuation and safe
(FGM), sexual harassment, trafficking
of women, and forced prostitution are
some types of SGBV that can occur in a 100. In extreme situations, refugees and
family or in the community. others of concern to UNHCR may no
longer be able to find safety either in the
In the daily lives of asylum-seekers, country of asylum or, in the case of the in-
refugees, the internally displaced and ternally displaced, in the country of origin.
returnees: SGBV can occur in the For instance, the country of asylum may
workplace, at border check-points, in be involved in a conflict itself because of
detention centres and prisons, in edu- which it is no longer able to protect refu-
cational institutions, classrooms, health gees. Armed groups may resort to ethnic
centres, places where assistance and/or cleansing or genocide that target persons
documentation is provided, areas for of concern to UNHCR including the inter-
firewood or water collection outside a nally displaced.
camp, and at latrines located in poorly
designed camp settings. 101. In such situations, the possibility of
evacuating refugees and the internally dis-
98. Survivors of SGBV usually need one placed to another safer country (or coun-
or more of the following responses: tries) may be the only way to ensure their
i. Medical attention: A survivor of rape protection (as a measure of last resort).
needs to see a doctor within 72 hours Such moves are quite different from large-
to receive treatment, which may in- scale resettlement as a durable solution.
clude prevention of unwanted preg- Immediate approaches to potential coun-
nancy and HIV infection. tries of asylum must be made at local, em-
ii. Psycho-social support: A survivor bassy, and Headquarters levels. Receipt of
may be traumatized and will require resettlement offers may have an important
emotional and social support, which influence on the governments attitude to-
includes a non-blaming and support- wards the refugees. Operational partners
ive attitude from the immediate fam- must be identified. In addition to locally-
ily. based NGOs, the assistance of the ICRC
iii. Legal counselling: Most forms of (for example, with travel documents) and
SGBV are punishable crimes under the International Organization for Migra-
relevant national law. If a survivors tion (IOM) may be sought.
wishes, s/he should be supported in 3
Please refer to UNHCRs Sexual and Gender-
reporting the case to the police and based Violence against Refugees, Returnees, and
prosecuting the perpetrator(s). Internally Displaced Persons: Guidelines for
Prevention and Response.
102. UNHCR must advocate that these iii. information that will help to meet the
safe countries are able to ensure the pro- specific needs of the child, including
tection of these uprooted people (for in- tracing, and to make plans for the fu-
stance, they must have a legal identity, ture is recorded;
their physical protection, including protec- iv. family members should be traced as
tion against refoulement must be ensured soon as possible; and
and that they have access to proper living v. effective monitoring of all unaccom-
conditions. Chapter xx discusses the im- panied and separated children takes
portance of the family unity and evacua- place.
tion of children on their own. 105. During the time they remain separat-
103. In extreme and tense situations ed from their families, including the initial
where the lives of refugees and the inter- stages of an emergency, children must be
nally displaced were threatened, safe ha- able to live in a safe environment where
vens were established in the country for they are properly cared for and protected.
them. However, UNHCRs experience Children may need counselling to deal
with safe havens demonstrated that with the trauma that they have faced. It
refugees often could not be provided with is important that siblings remain together.
adequate protection and continued to be Specific attention is given to child-head-
exposed to high risks. It is therefore not ed households. UNHCR and its partners
recommended to formally establish safe should carefully and continuously monitor
havens. these care arrangements to ensure that the
best interests of the child are respected.
Groups with specific needs4 (See chapter 11 for more information on
Unaccompanied and separated children protecting unaccompanied and separated
Families are easily and often separated children in an emergency operation).
when fleeing war, violence and persecu-
Child soldiers
tion. Girls and boys who have been sepa-
rated from their parents are at risk of being Child soldier refers to any person under
abused and exploited and even their very 18 years old who is part of any kind of
survival may be threatened. They can also regular or irregular armed force or armed
group in any capacity, including but not
face serious challenges in accessing qual-
limited to cooks, porters, messengers,
ity care and assistance. This is why unac- and those accompanying such groups,
companied and separated children need to other than purely as family members. It
be given special attention. includes girls recruited for sexual pur-
poses and forced marriage. It does not,
104. At all times, UNHCR and its part-
therefore, only refer to a child who is car-
ners should ensure that: rying or has carried arms.5
i. unaccompanied and separated chil- Child recruitment encompasses compul-
dren are identified as early as possible sory, forced and voluntary recruitment
when they enter the country or even of children into any kind of regular or ir-
when they are in the camps; regular armed force or armed group.
ii. all children should be individually reg- Demobilisation means the formal and
istered and provided with individual controlled discharge of child soldiers
documentation as soon as possible; from the army or from an armed group.

Cape Town Principles and Best Practices on the
Recruitment of Children into the Armed Forces
Please see chapter 11 for more information on and on Demobilization and Social Reintegration of
groups/persons with specific needs. Child Soldiers in Africa, 1997.
106. Governments and humanitarian and may be at risk as they are exposed to
agencies should take all measures to en- exploitation and harassment, especially if
sure that forced recruitment, especially in they are young. Their children too could
emergencies located close to armed con- be at risk of abuse and exploitation as
flict, are prevented. these parents may not be able to supervise
the children constantly. (Grandparent-
107. During emergencies, child soldiers
headed households have particular prob-
or former child soldiers may also enter
lems as they often become dependent on

the country of asylum with refugees or
very young children for their survival).
reside in camps with the civilian popu-
lation. They may have escaped from or 110. Older persons: can constitute a sig-
been abandoned by the armed force or nificant proportion of the refugee popula-

group, or may have been sent back by the tion although they are often overlooked.
armed group. Upon their return, they may Older persons, who often have been im-
be ostracized by the community for hav- mersed in their own culture and practices
ing participated in armed activities. They for many years, may find it particularly
may also be at risk from the armed forces hard to adjust to a changing environment.
or groups themselves, who sometimes for- With displacement, older persons sources
cibly recruit them again. of power -- such as control of land, reso-
lution of disputes, systems of respect are
108. Unlike adult combatants, they should
likely to be fundamentally undermined
not be separated and interned. Rather,
leading to risk of exclusion from participa-
after they are disarmed, they should be
tion and decision-making. Also, physical
enrolled into programmes that will reha-
deterioration may limit their mobility and
bilitate and reintegrate them back into so-
hence their access to basic services. Par-
ciety. They may also need specific medi-
ticular attention should be given to older
cal care as well as psycho-social support
persons who are caregivers or are living
and counselling. Often, teenage girls may
alone. Assistance criteria must consider
return pregnant or with young children and
their specific requirements.
will require specific support and longer-
term solutions. Education and vocational 111. Persons with physical and mental
training, reunification with family mem- disabilities
bers, and the childrens own participation
Persons with disabilities might have prob-
in decisions that affect them would all
lems in accessing humanitarian assistance
contribute towards this effort. The com-
that is made available to refugees. Steps
munity must be sensitized and involved
must be taken to ensure this access, in-
in this process. These rehabilitation and
cluding that of children with disabilities,
reintegration programmes which should
to whatever schooling is available. In
be part of wider effort to support the war
some refugee situations, but more often
affected communities may be necessary
in returnee situations, additional dangers
at the very beginning of emergencies es-
of land-mines mean that an information
pecially when there are a number of child
campaign must be started immediately
soldiers who arrive at the border or who
to prevent further disability. Their physi-
are residing in camps.
cal protection is also a cause for concern
109. Single parent households: Emer- and they can be at risk of SGBV and re-
gencies may see a large number of single- quire careful monitoring (see chapter 11
parent households while most of them for more information on the protection of
are female-headed, there can also be male- disabled persons in emergencies).
headed households. These parents have
to manage the family needs on their own
112. Victims of violence, torture and security of operations (see chapter 27 on
trauma: Men and women of all ages flee- working with the military).
ing conflict areas often include victims
116. Any temporary or ad hoc agreements
of violence or torture including deten-
with the authorities should be formalized,
tion, severe beatings, rape and mutila-
such as agreements relating to UNHCR
tion of the body. Specific attention must
presence in the local areas. Reference
be given to ensure that their physical and
should be made to protection and durable
psychological needs are addressed during
solutions in any formal exchanges govern-
an emergency, possibly by the community
ing the provision of material assistance.
itself. They must have access to humani-
tarian assistance and counselling from an 117. As a general rule, a written demarche
early stage and in mass influx situations should be made as soon as possible to the
community-based response mechanisms, central authorities at the highest appropri-
which respect individual rights, should ate level. This level, and the form of the
be supported (see chapter 18 for more in- demarche, will be determined by the na-
formation on the protection of victims of ture of UNHCRs presence in the country.
violence in emergencies). A demarche by a newly arrived mission
would normally be addressed to the Min-
Partnership in emergencies ister of Foreign Affairs (or perhaps Interi-
Working with host governments or; the advice of UNDP and/or embassies
(including the military) should be sought). The communication
113. At both the local and central level, might:
UNHCR must ensure that it has access i. Refer to the information available to
at all times to those officials whose deci- UNHCR on the influx or problem
sions will affect the refugees situation. (qualifying it as necessary: the gov-
Establish who they are, contact them and ernment will often know more than
if possible request home telephone num- UNHCR).
bers and other means of communication
ii. State UNHCRs view that persons in-
so that if a protection problem arises it can
volved are or may (as applicable) be of
be brought to the right officials attention
concern to the High Commissioner.
at once. Refoulement and other protection
problems can often take place very rap- iii. Refer to the governments protection
idly. responsibilities; including in particu-
lar the obligation not to refoule any-
114. Local authorities should be kept in- one to persecution.
formed of demarches UNHCR has made iv. Request (confirm understanding, ex-
or intends to make in the capital these press gratitude for, etc.) assurances
should not only be the demarches of a po- that persons will be admitted if seek-
litical or formal nature, but also those cov- ing protection, be granted (at least
ering practical aspects of the programme. temporary) asylum (if appropriate:
115. Often, it may be necessary to ap- pending determination of status and
proach the most senior local official direct- longer-term arrangements).
ly responsible for the situation. In some v. Request that the authorities ensure
cases this may be the local military com- UNHCR access to persons of concern
mander for a region. The military (both (as provided in UNHCRs statue and
national and international forces) can the 1951 Convention).
be an important partner in, among other vi. Offer, where persons are found to be
things, providing information, delivering of concern to UNHCR, commitment
humanitarian assistance and ensuring the in principle to provide material assist-
ance (for example, every effort for- particular, similar to UNHCR, many UN
mula). and NGO agencies deploy protection of-
118. The text of representative level de- ficers. UNHCR should work closely with
marches should be communicated to these colleagues rather than duplicate
Headquarters at once both for information work that may do more harm than good,
and in order that they may be shared with especially from the perspective of persons
the permanent mission and/or referred to of concern to UNHCR.
in any subsequent Headquarters level de-

122. Some UN agencies that are often
marches. Likewise, the texts of the latter present in emergencies include the Unit-
should of course be shared at once with ed Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF),
the field. the World Food Programme (WFP), the

119. Representatives should immediately United Nations Office of the High Com-
recommend action at the Headquarters missioner for Human Rights (OHCHR),
level if they are in doubt that their inter- and the Office of the Co-ordinator for
ventions alone will secure protection. Humanitarian Affairs (OHCA). The In-
ternational Committee of the Red Cross
120. New oral and written demarches (ICRC), the International Federation of
must be made if there are any grounds the Red Cross (IFRC) as well as national
for concern that protection is still not ad- and international NGOs such as the Inter-
equately assured (refoulement, abduction, national Rescue Committee (IRC), Dan-
arbitrary detention, mistreatment, abuse of ish Refugee Council (DRC), Norwegian
women and children etc.). Complemen- Refugee Council (NRC), Save the Chil-
tary action at the local level should both dren (STC), Mdecins Sans Frontires
closely monitor developments affecting (MSF), Oxfam and national red cross so-
protection, and concentrate as far as pos- cieties also have established a significant
sible on assisting the authorities to meet capacity to work in emergency situations
the practical problems of the influx. ( see Appedix 1 on the MoUs established
Working with other humanitarian
with some of these agencies). Internation-
al Human Rights NGOs such as Human
Rights Watch, Amnesty International and
121. Implementing and operational part- Refugees International are also important
ners have specific expertise that is essen- partners in advocating for better standards
tial in ensuring the protection of refugees of protection in operations (see paragraph
and others of concern to UNHCR. Often 124 on partnership in emergencies relating
other humanitarian agencies (UN and to internal displacement). National NGOs
NGOs) who have worked in the affected often have excellent information about the
area for some time are more aware of the local conditions and good relationships
local situation, have good working rela- with the local authorities as well as com-
tions with the government and other au- munities and local womens associations
thorities and are present in locations that can be important partners in working on
UNHCR may not be. Their expertise on gender issues and womens rights.
essential matters such as medical care,
water and sanitation, logistics, community Public relations and working with the
services, education and protection must media
be relied upon. Various agencies will 123. In certain circumstances tensions in
need to coordinate between themselves relations between neighbouring countries
to ensure that there is no unnecessary du- may make it necessary to stress even at
plication of services and that all possible the local level that the granting of asylum
sectors are covered simultaneously. In is a purely humanitarian act.
Emphasize that the granting of asylum is
human rights law, international humani-
purely humanitarian and therefore not a tarian law and international refugee law
hostile act, and that UNHCRs presence should also be used to guide UNHCRs
and involvement may help reduce ten- actions towards the internally displaced.
127. The Guiding Principles address
124. Often in an emergency, UNHCR may the specific needs of internally displaced
require the support of other agencies and persons worldwide. They identify rights
governments in urgently influencing the and guarantees relevant to the protection
host countries policies such as access to of persons from forced displacement and
asylum, non-refoulement and security of to their protection and assistance during
refugees and others of concern. Further- displacement as well as during return and
more, a number of governments and other reintegration.
UN agencies may also assist in funding 128. Generally, UNHCR is committed
or supporting UNHCRs operations. This to engaging with the internally displaced
is why briefing other UN organizations only when they are fleeing armed conflict,
and the diplomatic community, especially generalized violence or violations of hu-
governments whose influence may be able man rights. Only exceptionally and on a
to facilitate protection is vital. good offices basis, does UNHCR assist
125. Visits by national and internation- persons who are internally displaced for
al media and the diplomatic corps may other reasons.
help achieve a broader appreciation of 129. Since 2006, with a view to ensuring
UNHCRs protection function. The posi- a more predictable response, UNHCR ad-
tion to be taken with regard to the me- dresses all emergencies in relation to the
dia will depend very much on the cir- internally displaced within the context of
cumstances and whether or not publicity a broader UN-wide collaborative response
would help protect persons of concern to (an inter-agency response). UNHCR is
UNHCR. It is important that the confiden- responsible for ensuring (as the cluster
tiality and privacy of persons of concern lead) that the internally displaced are
is being protected, especially children and adequately protected (including issues
survivors of SGBV. Close coordination in relation to their return) and that the
within the various levels of UNHCR is emergency shelter and camp manage-
necessary. Where UNHCR is already rep- ment clusters are properly managed
resented, previously established good con- and addressed, either by UNHCR or by
tacts with the locally based (and especially other competent agencies. Other agencies
local language) media may prove a valu- will be responsible for ensuring that other
able source of information and is useful in clusters are properly addressed.
advancing an understanding of UNHCRs
role (See Chapter 9 on media relations). 130. As a cluster lead for these three ar-
eas, UNHCR is responsible as the first
Specific issues in relation to the inter- port of call and the provider of last re-
nally displaced sort. This means that UNHCR may not
126. While measures to assist the inter- necessarily be the agency funding, or car-
nally displaced are broadly similar to those rying out all the field activities. Rather, as
used for refugees, more reliance is placed cluster lead UNHCR must ensure that it,
on national authorities, national laws and as well as other actors, assume their own
human rights instruments to protect them. allocated responsibility to the best of their
The Guiding Principles on Internal Dis- capacities and that additional funding is
placement that are based on international secured.

131. In emergencies, UNHCR should be also, as part of the Country Team efforts,
ready from the outset to provide the Hu- be proactive in all other relevant clusters
manitarian Coordinator with needs and by lending its support, expertise and re-
capacity assessments on the ground and sources where required.
advocate for the resources needed. These
134. In relation to emergencies in coun-
assessments should indicate which orga-
tries where UNHCR has been protect-
nizations will address which aspects of
ing the internally displaced even prior to
an adequate response in protection, camp

2006, the existing arrangements can be
coordination and shelter. Where capacity
reviewed in light of the cluster approach
gaps exist in the cluster as a whole and
and if there are gaps in leadership or co-
where no other actors can realistically re-
ordination that need to be addressed, the

spond, UNHCR must be prepared to act
cluster approach should provide a useful
as a provider of last resort and to plan to
framework to discuss and clarify roles and
carry out priority activities, seeking funds
to draw more support from cluster leads,
thus strengthening the overall response.
132. In such emergencies, UNHCR must
build effective partnerships, with govern- Editors Note: Staff being deployed to
emergency operations involving the in-
ments, with UN agencies, inter-govern-
ternally displaced should first check for
mental organizations, NGOs and affected any updates on UNHCRs policy on this
populations. These agencies and others matter.
can significantly multiply response ca-
pacity and mobilize additional resources Emergencies as a result of changes in
within the clusters. Relationships with government policy
agencies and NGOs working in the three
135. A special type of protection emer-
UNHCR-led clusters require particular
gency can occur as the result of a sudden
effort and attention and co-coordinating
change, for whatever reason, in govern-
all activities under these clusters requires
ment policy towards persons of concern
specific attention.
to UNHCR already on its territory. Those
133. Humanitarian Coordinators in each affected may include both persons known
country are responsible for, among other to UNHCR and recognized as refugees,
things, establishing appropriate cluster ar- and others who have hitherto neither for-
rangements in close consultation with the mally requested asylum nor made them-
Country Team, taking into consideration selves known to UNHCR, but who may
the capacities of agencies specific to the nevertheless fall within the High Com-
situation. While the cluster approach can missioners competence.
be flexibly applied and may not exactly
136. The action to take in protection
replicate arrangements at the global lev-
emergencies of this type will vary greatly
el, the aim is to leave no major sectoral
in each case and only very general guid-
gaps in leadership and response. UNHCR
ance can be given. Accurate information,
should ensure that age, gender and diver-
a UNHCR presence where needed, and a
sity are mainstreamed in all cluster activi-
clear and consistent policy in defence of
ties. Needs assessments at the field level
the rights of the refugees will always be
should include the participation of the af-
required. The guidelines that follow must
fected populations - women, men, girls
be modified as necessary in light of the ac-
and boys of diverse backgrounds - using
tual situation. Some of the considerations
UNHCRs Tool for Participatory Assess-
discussed in the previous sections may
ment. While UNHCR has accepted to be
also be relevant.
the cluster lead in three areas, it should
137. UNHCR should immediately try Durable solutions
to identify and if possible establish a list
The three traditional durable solutions
of persons who are, or may be at risk but
were not previously known to UNHCR i. Voluntary repatriation occurs when
staff. This list must be constantly updated. uprooted people return to their homes
after making a free and informed de-
Sources of information include the diplo-
cision to do so.
matic community (some persons may ap-
proach or even seek asylum in embassies), ii. Resettlement occurs when refugees
the ICRC, the national Red Cross or Red are offered and take up permanent
admission in a third safe country to
Crescent society, churches and NGOs.
rebuild their lives.
Care should be taken to ensure the con-
fidentiality of individual cases when es- iii. Local integration occurs when refu-
tablishing contacts with embassies. Early gees rebuild their lives in the country
where they have found safety.
identification, and, if possible registration
of, these new cases by UNHCR can often 140. From the outset of an emergency,
be a very important source of protection. UNHCR and its partners must bear in
138. UNHCR must maintain (or in the mind the ultimate goal of international
case of a new regime, establish) close protection: to help uprooted people over-
and continuing cooperation with the au- come displacement and achieve a solution
thorities. If the country has acceded to the whereby national protection of a State
relevant international instruments, these is effectively and permanently re-estab-
obligations remain binding, whatever new lished. Achieving self-reliance through
policies may be adopted. If the country a community-based approach at an early
is not a party to any of the refugee instru- stage during displacement is essential in
ments, the Statute and universal instru- enhancing the sustainability of any future
ments must be invoked. durable solution.

139. The government is, of course, re- Whenever feasible, integrate voluntary
sponsible for the physical security of the repatriation, local integration and re-
refugees. Every effort must be made to settlement into one comprehensive ap-
proach. These three solutions must
encourage the government to protect refu-
be implemented in close cooperation
gees, particularly during any periods of among countries of origin, host States,
civil tension. The immediate aim is that UNHCR and its partners as well as the
refugees should be able to remain in safe- people of concern themselves.
ty in their present country of asylum. Re-
spect of the principle of non-refoulement Voluntary repatriation
is of paramount importance. 141. Most large scale refugee emergen-
cies are eventually resolved through the
voluntary repatriation of refugees and the
internally displaced once the danger they
have fled from has been removed or sig-
nificantly reduced. In the past decade,
many of UNHCRs larger operations in-
volve the large-scale repatriation of refu-
gees and the internally displaced.
142. The return of such uprooted people
must be voluntary -- free of physical,
psychological or material coercion to re-
turn. It must also take place in conditions
of safety and with dignity. Each indi- refugees are able to, at least de facto, in-
vidual, man and woman even individual tegrate into the host society, especially in
members of a family -- should be allowed situations where they are not forced to re-
to make this choice. Refugees and the in- side in camps and can become more self-
ternally displaced must be provided with reliant over time.
accurate information about the prevailing
situation in their home country/regions of Resettlement
origin so that they can make an informed 146. Resettlement (the process of selection

decision about if and when to return. This and transfer of refugees from a country of
information should be provided in a man- asylum to a third state that has agreed to
ner that will make it easier for them to admit them on a permanent basis) should

make a decision and reach all members be considered when refugees are at risk in
of the community. Specific needs of indi- their country of refuge or have particular
vidual persons such as unaccompanied needs during an emergency. The absence
and separated children, the disabled, sin- of (prospects for) another durable solution
gle parents or survivors of SGBV, torture is also relevant for determining whether
and trauma in the context of repatriation resettlement should be pursued. Before
should be carefully considered and ad- a decision is taken to pursue the resettle-
dressed. ment of a refugee, every effort should be
143. To ensure that uprooted people can made to fully explore the possibility of lo-
return home and live in safety and in dig- cal solutions. At the same time, the possi-
nity, UNHCR and its partners monitor the bility of voluntary repatriation in the fore-
repatriation and reintegration processes seeable future (within an acceptable time
to the greatest extent possible using inter- frame) should also be evaluated.
national human rights standards to guide 147. During an emergency, it is particular-
their work. Returnee monitoring is a cru- ly challenging to identify all persons who
cial activity that assists in ensuring the may be in need of urgent or emergency re-
long-term sustainability of return. settlement (i.e. provide equal access to all
144. UNHCR, its partners and develop- persons of concern to resettlement). Simi-
ment agencies assist countries in ensuring lar to accessing humanitarian assistance,
that returning refugees have equal access it may be difficult for women (including
to resources. These include food, land, married women), children, older persons
and housing, and such services as educa- or the disabled, and persons from minor-
tion, health care, potable water and sanita- ity ethnic or religions groups and who are
tion. Over time, returnees should become facing severe protection problems from
self-reliant. Successful repatriation fos- accessing resettlement. To address this
ters economic, cultural, and social stabil- issue during an emergency, it would be
ity and reduces the risk of new conflicts necessary for UNHCR and its partners to
erupting. (see chapter 22 for more infor- work closely with individuals and groups
mation on voluntary repatriation). to identify their needs and find solutions
for them.
Local integration
Emergency resettlement
145. Local integration in the country of
asylum is a complex and gradual process, 148. Emergency resettlement must be
comprising three distinct but inter-related used selectively and on the basis of a thor-
legal, economic, and social and cultural ough and objective assessment of both
dimensions. Over a long period of time, refugee status and urgency of removal.

Emergency resettlement should be
can sometimes remain pending for many
considered where the security and/or months. Field Offices may request Head-
medical threat faced by the refugee ne- quarters support, in such cases. Note that
cessitates his or her removal from the the abuse of the emergency category will
threatening conditions within a very few erode the credibility of UNHCRs judg-
days, if not within hours. For the sake ment concerning such submissions, there-
of clarity, a notional limit of a maximum by reducing the effectiveness of these
of five days during which the person is
resettled is considered.

149. Emergency resettlement can be con- Emergency resettlement procedures

sidered where there is: 152. When faced with an emergency re-
i. an immediate threat of refoulement to settlement requirement, time available for
the country of origin; investigation of a refugees statement may
be severely limited. Nevertheless, such
ii. an immediate threat of expulsion to
time that may be available before depar-
another country from where the refu-
ture must be used to the maximum with a
gee may be refouled or where his/her
view of checking the veracity of the story
life or liberty would be at risk of being
and its consistency.
iii. a threat of arbitrary arrest, detention or 153. The following information should be
imprisonment in the country of asy- conveyed to Headquarters immediately:
lum; full name, date of birth, place of birth,
iv. a threat to physical safety or human sex, nationality and ethnic origin;
rights in the country of refuge analo- details on status determination (Con-
gous to that under the refugee defini- vention or mandate);
tion and rendering asylum untenable. whether accompanied by family (if so,
150. Categories of refugees who can be size);
considered for emergency resettlement
details of each dependent to accom-
include refugees with legal and physical
pany the candidate;
protection needs, survivors of violence
brief explanation of need(s) for reset-
and torture, mixed marriages, refugees
with serious medical needs which can-
not be treated in the country of asylum, brief justification for emergency cat-
women-at-risk, children and adolescents egorization, and required time-frame
(for whom a determination has been made for departure;
that resettlement is in their best interests) whether valid travel documents held
and older refugees. (Refer to the UNHCR by all refugees concerned;
Resettlement Handbook, 2004 for more in case of medical emergency: diag-
information on resettlement categories nosis, prognosis, current condition of
and procedures). refugee (family members), whether
escort needed; and
Urgent cases recommendation on countries of reset-
151. Refugees who face conditions re- tlement and reasons, including third
quiring their expeditious resettlement but country links.
can wait for more than 5 days are cat-
egorized as urgent cases. Urgent cases
require close and early follow-up with
resettlement governments to ensure they
are prioritized over regular cases, which
154. A full submission, including the Re- Assembly Resolution 428 (V) of 14
settlement Registration Form (RRF) December 1950.
and supporting documentation, must fol- UNHCR Mission Statement.
low by the fastest means available. The Agenda for Protection, UNHCR,
155. The RRF can be obtained from the A/AC.96/965/Add 1 of 26 June 2002.
Resettlement and Special Cases Service Conclusions on the International Pro-
at Headquarters. This is the section of tection of Refugees adopted by the

the Division of International Protection Executive Committee of the UNHCR
Services that is responsible for process- Programme, UNHCR Geneva (updat-
ing emergency submissions. In addition, ed every year).
the Service helps coordinate and support Collection of International Instru-

the resettlement of difficult protection and ments Concerning Refugees, UNHCR,
special needs cases. It should be contacted Geneva, 2006.
for advice. Guiding Principles on Internal Dis-
156. Once a resettlement submission has placement, United Nations, document
been made, a focal-point should be desig- E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2 of 1998.
nated to follow-up on the particular case, Access and non-refoulement
thereby ensuring that the case proceeds in Asylum Processes (Fair and Efficient
a timely manner and that all unnecessary Asylum Procedures), Global Con-
delays are avoided. Additional informa- sultations on International Protec-
tion may be found in the UNHCR Reset- tion, Second Meeting, document EC/
tlement Handbook, 2004. GC/01/12, 31 May 2001.
Reception of Asylum-Seekers, Includ-
ing Standards of Treatment, in the
Key references context of Individual Asylum Systems,
UNHCRs RefWorld CD-ROM that is Global Consultations on International
updated annually, contains country-of- Protection, Second Meeting, document
origin information, maps, UNHCR guide- EC/GC/01/17, 4 September 2001.
lines, policies and handbooks, legal docu- Summary Conclusions The principle
ments, UN documents and other material of Non-Refoulement, Global Consul-
that very helpful in emergency operations. tations on International Protection,
All documents listed below are available Cambridge Roundtable 910 July
in RefWorld. 2001 .

Self-Study Module 1: An Introduction Registration
to International Protection: Protect- Practical Aspects of Physical and
ing Persons of Concern to UNHCR, Legal Protection with regard to Reg-
UNHCR, 1 August 2005. istration, Global Consultations on In-
Protecting Refugees: A Field Guide ternational Protection, First Meeting,
for NGOs, UNHCR and NGO Part- document EC/GC/01/6, 19 February
ners, May 1999. 2001.
Legal UNHCR Handbook on Registration
provisional release September 2003.
The Statute of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees, General

Refugee status determination Operational Protection in Camps and
Self-Study Module 2: Refugee Sta- Settlements: A reference guide to good
tus Determination. Identifying who practices in the protection of refugees
is a Refugee, UNHCR, 1 September and others of concern to UNHCR,
2005. UNHCR 2006.
Handbook on Procedures and Crite- Protection Gaps Framework of Analy-
ria for Determining Refugee Status sis: Enhancing Protection of Refu-
under the 1951 Convention and the gees, UNHCR 2006.
1967 Protocol relating to the Status
of Refugees, UNHCR, second edition,
January 1992. Partnership with uprooted women, men,
Guidelines on International Protec- girls and boys
tion No. 1 7 on (i) Gender-Related Reinforcing a Community Develop-
Persecution HCR/GIP/02/01 of 7 ment Approach, UNHCR, EC/51/SC/
May 2002; (ii) Membership of a Par- CRP.6 of February 2001.
ticular Social group, HCR/GIP/02/02 A Practical Guide to Empowerment,
of 7 May 2002; (iii) Cessation of Ref- UNHCR, 2001.
ugee Status under Article 1C(5) and UNHCR Tool for Participatory Assess-
(6), HCR/GIP/03/03 of 10 February ment in Operations, UNHCR, 2005.
2003; (iv) Internal Flight or Reloca- UNHCR policy on Harmful Tradition-
tion Alternative, HCR/GIP/03/04 of al Practices, Inter-Agency Standing
23 July 2003 (v): Application of the Committee (IASC) Handbook on gen-
Exclusion Clauses: Article 1F, HCR/ der mainstreaming (draft) 2006.
GIP/03/05 of 4 September 2003;
(vi) Religion-Based Refugee Claims,
HCR/GIP/04/06 of 28 April 2004; Children
(vii) Victims of Trafficking and Per-
Refugee Children, Global Consul-
sons at Risk of Being Trafficked, HCR/
tations on International Protection,
GIP/06/07 of 7 April 2006.
Fourth Meeting, document EC/
Procedural Standards for Refugee GC/02/9, 25 April 2002.
Status Determination under UNHCR's
Refugee Children: Guidelines on Pro-
Mandate, UNHCR, 1 September
tection and Care, UNHCR, 1994.
Inter-Agency Guiding Principles on
Quality of protection Unaccompanied and Separated Chil-
Protection of Refugees in mass influx dren, ICRC, IRC, Save the Children,
situations: Overall protection frame- UNHCR, UNICEF, WVI, 2004.
work, Global Consultations on Inter- Policy on Refugee Children, UNHCR,
national Protection, Second Meeting, EC/SCP/82 of October 1993.
document EC/GC/01/4, 19 February UNHCRs 5 priorities for girls and
2001. boys of concern to UNHCR, UNHCR
Designing Protection Strategies and 2005.
Measuring Progress: Checklist for Summary Update of UNHCRs Strat-
UNHCR Staff, UNHCR, July 2002. egy and Activities for Refugee Chil-
UNHCR Practical Guide to the use of dren, October 2005.
Standards and Indicators, UNHCR UNHCR Guidelines on Formal Deter-
2006. mination of the Best Interests of the
child (BID) (provisional release May
Women Repatriation and reintegration
Refugee Women, Global Consultations Voluntary Repatriation Handbook,
on International Protection, Fourth UNHCR, 1996.
Meeting, document EC/GC/02/8, 25 Handbook for Repatriation and Re-
April 2002. integration Activities, UNHCR, May
Five Commitments to Refugee Women, 2004.
UNHCR, 2001.

Policy on Refugee Women, UNHCR,
1990. Resettlement Handbook, UNHCR,
November 2004.
Handbook on the Protection of Dis-
placed Women and Girls, UNHCR Local integration and self-reliance

2006 (Provisional release). Local Integration. Global Consul-
SGBV tations on International Protection,
Fourth Meeting, document EC/
Sexual and Gender-based Violence
GC/02/6, 25 April 2002.
against Refugees, Returnees and In-
ternally Displaced Persons Guide- Handbook for Planning and Imple-
lines for Prevention and Response, menting Development Assistance for
UNHCR, May 2003. Refugees (DAR), UNHCR, January
Guidelines for Gender-based Violence
Interventions in Humanitarian Set- Handbook for Self-Reliance, UNHCR,
tings: Focusing on Prevention of and February 2005.
Response to Sexual Violence in Emer-
gencies IASC, 2005.
Timely and durable solutions
Framework for Durable Solutions for
Refugees and Persons of Concern,
UNHCR, May 2003.

Annex 1: International instruments and legal texts concerning refugees and others
of concern to UNHCR
Below are some of the international instruments and legal texts that may be particularly
useful in an emergency context. However, as emergencies vary, there may be other
instruments and legal texts as well as national legislation that would be relevant and
important. They can be found on UNHCRs RefWorld database.

Refugees and others of concern to UNHCR

Name Description
Statute of the Office of the United The Statute of the High Commissioners office was adopted by
Nations High Commissioner for General Assembly Resolution 428 (V) of 14 December 1950. It
Refugees serves as UNHCRs constitution and sets out UNHCRs function
and responsibility to provide international protection and to seek
permanent solutions to the problem of refugees. It also includes a
definition of persons who are of concern to UNHCR. The mandate
has been elaborated and expanded over time through subsequent
General Assembly and ECOSOC resolutions.
1951 Convention Relating to the Sta- An international treaty which is binding upon the signatory states.
tus of Refugees, and its 1967 Protocol It sets out the responsibilities of states which are parties to the
Relating to the Status of Refugees Convention vis--vis refugees on their territories, and sets out the
obligations of the refugees.
Conclusions on international protec- Contain important guidance (and standards) to States and UN-
tion adopted by UNHCRs Executive HCR on international protection.
Committee (ExCom Conclusions are
adopted every year)
OAU Convention governing the spe- A regional complement to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Proto-
cific aspects of refugee problems in col. It contains an expanded refugee definition as well as provi-
Africa (Organization of African Unity, sions on safe and peaceful asylum, burden-sharing and voluntary
Addis Ababa, 1969) repatriation.
i. Cartagena Declaration on Refu- Non binding declarations which have greatly influenced regional
gees, 1984 policies on refugees and asylum seekers, and contain an ex-
panded refugee definition.
ii. American Convention on Human
Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa
Rica, 1969
The Asian-African Legal Consulta- Another non-binding document that addresses refugee issues at
tive Organizations (AALCOs) 1966 a regional level.
Bangkok Principles on Status and
Treatment of Refugees (as adopted
on 24 June 2001 at the AALCOs 40th
session, New Delhi)
Convention Relating to the Status of Grants a recognized status to stateless persons who are lawful
Stateless Persons, 1954 and habitual residents. Similar to the 1951 Convention Relating to
the Status of Refugees.
Convention on the Reduction of State- Contains measures to ensure that persons do not become state-
lessness, 1961 less.
The Guiding Principles on Internal Addresses the specific needs of internally displaced persons
Displacement worldwide. They identify rights and guarantees relevant to the pro-
tection of persons from forced displacement and to their protec-
tion and assistance during displacement as well as during return
or resettlement and reintegration.

International Human Rights
Name Description
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Universal instrument setting out the basic human rights of all
1948 (UDHR) persons, including refugees and other persons of concern to
International Covenant on Civil and Obliges states which are parties to the Covenant to respect
Political Rights of 16 December 1966 and ensure the rights set out in the Covenant to all individuals
(ICCPR) (within the states territory and jurisdiction), without distinction

such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other
opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
The ICCPR also has two optional protocols as well (one on
an individual complaint mechanism and another to abolish the

death penalty)
International Covenant on Economic, Obliges states to respect the human right to work, the right to
Social and Cultural Rights of 16 Decem- an adequate standard of living, including food, clothing, and
ber 1966 (ICESCR) housing, the right to physical and mental health, the right to
social security, the right to a healthy environment, and the right
to education. It is also applicable to refugees and others of
concern to UNHCR.
Convention against Torture and Other Defines torture and bans torture under all circumstances. It
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment also states that States cannot return a refugee to his country
or Punishment of 10 December 1984 if there is reason to believe he/she will be tortured (principle of
(CAT) non-refoulement).
Convention on the Rights of the Child of A comprehensive code of rights for all children (defined as 18
20 November 1989 (CRC) years or under) including children of concern to UNHCR. It
requires that children have a right to citizenship upon birth and
specifically addresses the needs of refugee children (article 22).
The CRC also has two optional protocols (one on children in
armed conflict and another on the sale of children, child prosti-
tution, and child pornography).
International Convention on the Elimina- Prohibits racial discrimination (where a person or a group
tion of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is treated differently because of their race, colour, descent,
of 21 December 1965 (CERD) national origin or ethnic origin and this treatment impairs,
or is intended to impair, their human rights and fundamen-
tal freedoms). The Convention permits distinctions between
citizens and non-citizens; but not between different groups of
Convention on the Elimination of All Defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets
Forms of Discrimination against Women a framework for national action to end such discrimination and
of 18 December 1979 (CEDAW) to ensure the full development and advancement of women in
all spheres -- political, educational, employment, health care,
economic, social, legal, and marriage and family relations.
Convention on the Prevention and Defines genocide and declares it as a crime whether committed
Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of during peace time or during war.
9 December 1948

International Humanitarian Law and the Law of Neutrality
Name Description
Geneva Convention relative to the Covers the treatment of civilians in time of war, including refu-
Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of gees and other uprooted people. It also prevents states from
War of 12 August 1949 forcibly displacing civilian populations.
(i) Protocol Additional to the Geneva Provides for additional elements that can protect refugees and
Conventions of 12 August 1949, and others of concern in armed conflict.
relating to the Protection of Victims of In-
ternational Armed Conflicts (Protocol I)
Prior to the second protocol the only provision applicable to non-
international armed conflicts was Article 3 common to all four
(ii) Protocol Additional to the Geneva Geneva Conventions of 1949. The aim of the present Protocol
Conventions of 12 August 1949, and is to extend the essential rules of the law of armed conflicts to
relating to the Protection of Victims of internal wars.
Non-International Armed Conflicts of 8
June 1977 (Protocol II)

Hague Convention (V) Respecting the Jointly with Executive Committee Conclusion 94 (2002) this pro-
Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers vides a framework for neutral states to identify, disarm, separate
and Persons in Case of War on Land of and intern combatants who are mixed with refugee populations.
18 October 1907

International Criminal Law

(i) Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and These protocols include specific measures to ensure protec-
Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially tion of the human rights of victims of trafficking and smuggling
Women and Children, supplementing although they largely focus on reduction of the power and
the United Nations Convention Against influence of organized criminal groups that abuse migrants.
Transnational Organized Crime of 15 They define smuggling and trafficking and specify that no ac-
November 2000 (Palermo Protocol on tion taken by states to combat trafficking or smuggling should
Trafficking) contravene the principle of non-refoulement.

(ii) Protocol against the Smuggling of

Migrants by Land, Sea and Air supple-
menting the United Nations Convention
against Transnational Organized Crime
of 15 November 2000 (Palermo Protocol
on Smuggling)

The Charter of the United Nations, 1945 Places certain general obligations on member states of the
United Nations of particular relevance to UNHCRs international
protection function.

Annex 2: Physical security of refugees Do the police (and were applicable,
and others of concern other security forces) have and adhere
to a Code of Conduct relating to their
Checklist for addressing the physical
responsibilities in the refugee camp and
protection and security of refugees
do they have a gender balance?
In situations which may threaten refugee
security or give rise to tension and conflict Are the local judicial and penal services
between the refugee community and the adequate to cope with the added burden

local population, the following measures of a large refugee population, and if not,
may be considered to address the specific does UNHCR assist in any way?
causes of the problems: Do the camps have a participatory man-

Did the Office negotiate with the host agement structure including a refugee
government and ensure that refugee committee with 50% participation by
camps are situated in an appropriate women, and do refugees have a role
location at a safe distance away from in camp security? And does the camp
international borders and from zones of management NGO use a community-
conflict? based approach?
Are the size and the design of the refu- If yes, to what extent are refugees in-
gee camps and settlements effectively volved in camp security, i.e. through
contributing to the maintenance of a refugee security volunteers, community
peaceful environment and the security watch teams with 50% women, etc.? Is
of refugees and local residents? the role and responsibilities of the refu-
gees well-defined and integrated within
Has the Government provided compre- the official authority, i.e. the camp ad-
hensive security arrangements - through ministration and national police as-
the use of a civilian police force and signed to the camp?
professional camp administration - up-
holding law and order within the camps Is there effective interaction with the
and ensuring a peaceful environment? local host community and authorities?
If not, has the Office discussed with the Has the local population been sensitized
Government how to ensure the physi- to the plight of the refugees through lo-
cal protection of refugees, including cal media (programmes on radio and
practical mechanisms in safeguarding TV, articles in newspapers) and com-
their safety? And, has UNHCR sup- munity leaders?
ported the Government in ensuring its Has the Office sensitized refugees to
responsibility for refugee security with local customs, traditions and environ-
a security package type agreement? mental considerations?
Has the Government initiated and fa- Do camp management have adequate
cilitated measures for the early identi- means of contacting camp security, lo-
fication, separation, disarmament and cal authorities and UNHCR in cases of
internment of combatants? emergency?
Has participatory assessment been un- Do the camps have adequate fire pre-
dertaken with groups of women, girls, vention strategies and fire fighting ca-
boys and men and is it done regularly? pacity in place, and are camp residents
Have camp rules and regulations been educated about fire hazards and has first
developed with the women and men in aid training been provided to refugee
the city and also promulgated? volunteers?

Are communal areas and/or central houses, legal aid, support for medical
points provided with night lighting and exams, etc.)?
has the shelter and/or camp been de-
Is there an adequate complaints mecha-
signed with the participation of women,
nism in place to deal with SGBV?
men, girls and boys?
How is the Office working to create
Is the Government and Office aware of
awareness on the need to address SGBV
Executive Committee Conclusion No.
issues (including community-based dis-
94 on the Civilian and Humanitarian
cussions, training sessions, use of post-
Character of Asylum (2002), and where
ers and leaflets, other measures)?
applicable are actions being taken ac-
cordingly? Activities to maintain security in camps
[if required] Have measures been intro- The following activities may be consid-
duced to identify, disarm and separate ered to address these issues:
armed elements from bona-fide refu-
Establish mechanisms for the enforce-
gees, and intern combatants and ensure
ment of law and order, such as the pres-
their eligibility within a programme of
ence of an organized police force dedi-
cated to camp security, legal redress
Have measures been introduced to- mechanisms, and the physical aspects
gether with relevant actors to ensure of the camp (e.g. design layout, maxi-
special programmes in order to iden- mal size, capacity, and location).
tify, disarm, separate, demobilize and
Establish camp governance, manage-
reintegrate child soldiers, both girls and
ment and maintenance systems in-
boys? Have the needs of camp-follow-
corporating transparent structures for
ers/family members been considered?
encouraging effective refugee partici-
Has the Office encouraged the host pation, including women, adolescents
State to take measures to reduce the risk and groups with specific needs.
or prevent forced military recruitment
Ensure systematic protection monitor-
of refugees, in particular of refugee
ing including the regular presence of
children and adolescents?
UNHCR and NGO staff.
Sexual and gender-based violence:
Ensure community activities such as
Is there gender-based persecution of, educational programmes, health and
or violence against, refugee women or social services, self-reliance activities,
men? Any examples? What is being youth schemes, activities and services
done to try to combat this? How have which engage the host community with
such cases been detected? the refugee community, and refugee-
Are staff aware of the Sexual and Gen- managed infrastructure projects.
der-based Violence (SGBV) guidelines Refugees themselves should have a role
and applying them in practice? Are in- in ensuring their security. They should
cidents of sexual and gender-based vio- be empowered along with host commu-
lence reported and data registered and nity leaders and supported to develop
compiled on a weekly/monthly basis? of refugee volunteer guards /neighbour-
Have budgetary provisions been made hood watch teams with 50% participa-
to be able to deal with follow-up to tion by women.
SGBV cases (e.g. counselling, safe

Sensitize, and where warranted, Maintain constant dialogue and coop-
strengthen the capacity of the local po- eration with local populations and au-
lice to discharge its responsibilities ef- thorities.
fectively and efficiently.
Develop effective, objective, and safe
Refugee leaders and representatives information channels as well as report-
should be elected among candidates ing and compliant mechanisms.
that are committed to promoting the
Hold Codes of Conduct training for all

civilian and humanitarian character of
involved parties UN, NGO, and refu-
their camp and should reflect a fair gen-
gee committees.
der distribution.
Develop a strategy for cooperation with

Refugees should be involved in the de-
national law enforcement authorities
velopment of camp rules.
which includes their direct involvement
Recognize both the legal rights and ob- with UNHCR training and monitoring.
ligations that refugees have in a country
of asylum.

Emergency Management

Emergency Management
Paragraph Page
Introduction 1-9 58
Organization of this section 3 58
Capacity and resources 5 58

The key emergency management functions 10-21 61

Introduction 10 61
Leading 12 61
Planning 14 61
Organizing and coordinating 16 61
Controlling 20 62

Stages in refugee emergency operations 22-37 62

Emergency preparedness 25 63
Emergency response 35 64

Figures and Tables

Figure 1: Considerations in emergency management 60

Table 1: Emergency indicators 64

Introduction on external relations, covers relations with
1. There is no single blueprint for refu- the host government (including establish-
gee emergency management; each refu- ing a formal presence in the country of
gee emergency is unique, however, it can operations), relations with the donor and
be defined as: diplomatic community and handling me-
dia interest. Note that certain activities cut
The organization of capacities and re- across the phases of emergency prepared-
sources to meet threats to the lives and ness and response, such as, external rela-
well-being of refugees. tions, coordination, and planning and age,
gender and diversity mainstreaming using
2. There are a number of distinguishing a rights-based approach.
features in emergency management:
4. Figure 1 shows some of the consid-
i. The lives and well-being of people are erations discussed in this section in dia-
at stake. grammatic form, in particular in relation
ii. Reaction time is limited. to emergency response. The response
iii. Risk factors are high and consequenc- activities of problems and needs assess-
es of mistakes or delays can be disas- ments, operations planning, implementing
trous; arrangements and programme formula-
iv. There is great uncertainty. tion are all very closely related. Some as-
v. Investment in contingency planning pects treated separately may be indivisible
and other preparedness activities is in practice, and there is no single correct
crucial. order or way in which an emergency op-
vi. Staff and managers may be under par- eration should be formulated (but it must
ticularly high stress because of, for conform to established UNHCR proce-
example, security problems and harsh dures governing project submission and
living conditions. control).
vii. There is no single obvious right an-
swer. Capacity and resources

Organization of this section 5. Preparing for and responding to refu-

gee emergencies are tasks which require
3. This section of the handbook (chapters the availability of the right resources at
3 to 9) is structured to reflect the phases the right time as well as the capacity to
of emergency preparedness and response. use these resources effectively.
Firstly, the preparedness activities of con-
tingency planning and early warning are 6. Planning for capacity building from an
dealt with (chapter 4), followed by initial early stage of emergency is very impor-
needs, resource and participatory assess- tant. As soon as possible, efforts should
ment and immediate response (chapter be made to map out the community struc-
5). Operations planning, coordination tures (representing both women and men),
and site-level organization are dealt with means of communication within the popu-
in chapters 6 and 7. Next, implementing lation and identifying the potential areas
arrangements are discussed, including of community participation as well as their
procedures for operations implementation capacity and skills. These are crucial in
and control (chapter 8). Finally, chapter 9 successful management of the emergency.

This should be followed by planning com- port. Resources are the financial and hu-
munity-based activities and involving the man resources, relief materials, support
communities in implementation by aware- equipment, tools and facilities.
ness raising through existing communica-
tion channels if they are representative. Strong capacity can sometimes alleviate

Emergency Management
resource shortfalls by making more ef-
7. Capacity is the internal organizational fective use of limited resources.
capability which includes planning, staff-
ing, structure, systems, procedures, guide-
lines, information flow, communication,
decision-making and administrative sup-

Figure 1 Considerations in Emergency Management

8. Capacity, an aspect of emergency The process of creating and communi-
management, is sometimes not given ad- cating a vision for the emergency opera-
equate priority. Resources are often given tion and providing a clear strategic di-
more emphasis during both the planning rection for actions even in situations of
and operational stages since they are a great uncertainty and risk.

Emergency Management
more tangible element. But it is capacity
that determines the quality of an emergen- 13. Successful management requires lead-
cy response. ership; subject to the role of the govern-
9. ment, leadership may be the most impor-
tant single contribution of UNHCR to the
Effective emergency management re- emergency situation. Leadership requires
quires that the development and use of that once decisions are reached, they are
capacity be accorded appropriate prior-

properly implemented. This discipline is
ity throughout the different phases of an
essential in emergencies when there is of-
ten no time to explain the considerations
While much of the required capacity must involved. As far as possible, those directly
be pre-existing, capacity can also be de- concerned should contribute to decisions
veloped during an operation. that affect them, but final responsibility
rests with the UNHCR officer in charge.
The key emergency management
functions Planning
Introduction 14. This can be defined as:
10. Certain management functions are es- Setting in place the process of assess-
sential throughout a refugee emergency. ing the situation, defining immediate ob-
These are: jectives and longer term goals and the
activities to accomplish them.
Planning 15. Planning is vital both before and dur-
Organizing and coordinating ing an emergency, and operations planning
Controlling must be based on detailed needs, resource,
11. These will be required of UNHCR as and participatory assessments with women,
an organization and also from individuals, girls, boys and men of concern. An essen-
at all levels, within UNHCR. tial element of good planning is to include
all relevant actors (UN agencies, NGOs,
If these functions are not being per- Governments, Local Authorities and Civil
formed then it is likely that there will be Society).
serious deficiencies in the management
of the emergency operation. Organizing and coordinating
They always remain the responsibility 16. This can be defined as:
of the person in overall charge of the op-
Establishing systems and mechanisms
eration, though they may be delegated to
to achieve a given objective by coordi-
other staff. nating people and organizations so that
they work together, in a logical way, to-
Leading wards the common objective.
12. This can be defined as:
17. It involves selecting, training and su-
pervising staff, creating a multi-functional
team approach to ensure a holistic re-

sponse, assigning and clarifying roles and Stages in refugee emergency
responsibilities of all those involved and operations
structuring communication and informa-
tion flow. In an emergency, coordinating 22. The table below depicts one model
within UNHCR and external actors, is a of activities as they may occur in refugee
crucial aspect of organizing. emergencies. It is important to understand
that the stages and activities of a refugee
Delegation of Authority and emergency operation could overlap, or oc-
Responsibility cur simultaneously.
18. Emergency management should be 23. A final phase of an emergency opera-
organized so that responsibility and au- tion is the transition from emergency re-
thority are delegated to the lowest appro- sponse to longer-term support, building a
priate level, and should be exercised as community-based approach and durable
close to the operation or beneficiaries as is solutions (voluntary repatriation, local
practical. Clear and unambiguous lines of integration and resettlement). The time
authority and reporting should be estab- spent providing emergency relief should
lished and communicated to all staff. be kept to a minimum, and planning and
19. The management structure should be implementation should always take ac-
organized so that accountability for ac- count the longer term. The importance of
tions, including management decisions, is the balance between short term and long
clear. Those who make a decision should term is seen in a number of vital sectors.
be those with the appropriate level of Stage Typical Activities
knowledge to enable them to make that Emergency Prevention
decision and should be responsible for en- prepared-
Early warning
suring its implementation and follow up ness
(including monitoring). The involvement Contingency planning
of unnecessary layers of management, and Development of emergency
response systems
unnecessary numbers of people, in deci- Generation of support among
sions and responsibility for implementa- potential host and donor
tion, confuses and diffuses accountability. governments
Provision of stand-by resources
Ambiguity and lack of simplicity in the Pre-positioning of supplies
definition of responsibilities also slows Training
action. Emergency Problem, needs, resources and
response participatory assessments
Controlling Community mobilization
Resource mobilization
20. This can be defined as: Handling donor relations and
media interest;
Monitoring and evaluating perform- Operations planning
Implementation and
ance in comparison with plans and ini- coordination
tiating changes where necessary. Monitoring and evaluation
Transition to the post
21. Note that the key management func- emergency operation
tions are important not only during emer-
24. Assisting governments in seeking
gency response, but also in the prepared-
durable solutions for the problem of refu-
ness phase. Organization and coordination
gees is a mandated function of UNHCR.
mechanisms, for example, should be de-
Durable solutions must always be kept
veloped during contingency planning.
in mind, starting at the contingency plan-
ning stage. It is in this period that choices
are made concerning how, how much,
and for how long, aid will be delivered. 29. The process of contingency planning
How aid is delivered and the role of the reduces the lead time necessary to mount
different members of the community can an effective response and is a crucial
strengthen or undermine their capacities tool to enhance the capacity to respond.
for self-reliance. These choices often have Depending on the likelihood of an emer-

Emergency Management
repercussions on the prospects for durable gency, the contingency plan should be up-
solutions that last long after the emergen- dated at regular intervals.
cy has ended.
At the country and regional levels, early
Emergency preparedness warning and contingency planning are
the key preparedness measures. As a
25. The best way to ensure an effective rule, these should be developed togeth-
emergency response is by being prepared. er with our main partners.
Emergency preparedness can be defined

as: 30. The contingency planning (see chap-
ter 4) will allow the identification, in ad-
Planning and taking action to ensure vance, of gaps in resources. A realistic
that the necessary resources will be plan may encourage donors and others to
available, in time, to meet the foreseen provide the missing resources.
emergency needs and that the capacity
to use the resources will be in place. 31. Contingency planning helps pre-
dict the characteristics of the impending
26. The scope of emergency preparedness emergency it increases the institutional
is broad and the activities at that stage can analytical capacity which can be drawn
be undertaken at the global, regional and upon should an emergency occur. It also
country levels. helps identify the additional preparedness
The preparedness measures should en-
activities which may be required. These
able an organization to respond rapidly may include development or restructuring
and effectively to an emergency. of the UNHCR organization in the coun-
try, emergency staffing, stockpiling, pre-
27. At the global level, UNHCR maintains positioning supplies and training. Prior-
centrally a range of stand-by emergency ity should be given to activities requiring
response resources. These resources have longer lead times.
been developed on the basis of past expe-
rience in emergencies. They include staff Emergency Indicators
support, human and financial resources, 32. An emergency may start with a sud-
operational support items and services, den large influx of refugees, with several
and centrally managed emergency stock- thousand persons crossing a border, caus-
piles. The resources are available for de- ing a highly visible life threatening situa-
ployment at short notice to any area where tion. More often however, the onset of an
the need arises. They ensure a minimum emergency is not so dramatic or obvious,
and predictable level of global prepared- and a situation requiring an extraordinary
ness for emergencies. Moreover, there are response and exceptional measures may
also training activities available which can develop over a period of time. It is there-
be used for capacity building. fore essential to be able to recognize if a
28. For details of these resources, see the situation exists (or is imminent) which re-
Catalogue of Emergency Response Re- quires an emergency response, and what
sources (UNHCR, 2006), which is avail- are the likely key characteristics (see table
able from Headquarters. 1).

33. The following indicators are meas- 36. Once safe asylum is assured, the prior-
urable and are therefore commonly used ity of emergency management will be life
as thresholds above (or below) which an saving activities. Timely and rapid problems,
emergency situation clearly exists, or to needs and resources assessments will help
signal whether a situation is under con- confirm or identify areas where gaps still
trol and whether there is a need for urgent exist from the contingency plan which will
remedial action. The most important of then be transformed to an operations plan
these indicators is the mortality (or death) (see chapter 6: Operations Planning).
rate (see chapter 17 on Health for infor-
37. Identification of problems requiring
mation on how to calculate the mortality
specialist expertise is essential. Most refu-
rate. More details of the other indicators
gee emergencies will require, in addition
are given in the respective chapters and in
to protection staff, community services
Appendix 2 Toolbox).
staff and one or more technical experts to
Table 1 Emergency Indicators
coordinate the crucial technical sectors,
such as health, food, nutrition, sanitation,
Indicator Emergency Levels water, shelter and infrastructure.
MORTALITY RATE > 2 per 10,000 per day
Nutritional > 10% with less than 80% Key References
status of children weight for height The UNHCR Tool for Participatory As-
Food < 2,100 calories/person/day sessment in Operations, UNHCR, Gene-
Water quantity < 10 litres per person per day va, 2006
Water quality > 25% of people with
A Framework for People-Oriented Plan-
ning in Refugee Situations Taking Ac-
SitesSpace < 30 sq. meters per person
count of Women, Men and Children, UN-
(this figure does not include
any garden space)
HCR, Geneva, 1992.
Shelter space < 3.5 sq. meters per person Contingency Planning A Practical
Guide for Field Staff, UNHCR, Gene-
va, 2006.
34. Other indicators may not be so easily
Coordination among International Or-
quantifiable but may be just as critical, for
ganizations in Complex Emergencies,
example, the presence of a physical threat
Disaster Management Training Pro-
to the refugees or to the standards of hu-
gramme, UN, 1997.
man rights which they enjoy. In particular,
threats of refoulement should be consid- UNHCR Manual, Chapter 4, UNHCR,
ered as an indicator of a need for an emer- Geneva, 1995 (and updates).
gency response. Partnership: A Programme Manage-
ment Handbook for UNHCRs Part-
Emergency Response
ners, UNHCR, Geneva, 1996.
35. Emergency response can be defined
Immediate and appropriate actions to
save lives, ensure protection, and re-
store the well-being of refugees.

3 Emergency Management
Contingency planning


Contingency planning
Paragraph Page

Introduction 1-14 68
Contingency planning objective 4 68
The inter-agency context 5 68
Early warning 6 68
When to plan 10 69

Responsibility for planning 11 70

Contingency planning and operations planning 15-25 70

Meetings 16 70
Scenario identification 20 71
Policy and strategic objectives 23 71
Sector objectives and activities 24 71
Environmental considerations in contingency plans 25 72

Characteristics of a good plan 26-28 72

Key References

Figure 1: The contingency planning process 69

Annex 1: A model structure for a contingency plan 73

Introduction ing resources. Once identified it may be
necessary to request some funds ahead of
1. Contingency planning can be defined
the emergency in order to implement any
emergency measures recommended in the
A forward planning process, in a state Plan.
of uncertainty, in which scenarios and
objectives are agreed, managerial and The inter-agency context
technical actions defined, preparedness 5. Since 2005, in the context of an inter-
measures undertaken to mitigate the ef- agency approach, UNHCR became re-
fects and response systems put in place sponsible for coordinating the protection,
in order to prevent, or better respond camp management and coordination and
to, an emergency. emergency shelter clusters within a col-
laborative humanitarian response for new
The contingency planning process builds
major emergencies, including man-made
organizational capacity and is thus a
foundation for operations planning and situations with Internally Displaced Per-
all aspects of emergency response. sons (IDPs). Contingency planning and
funding for IDP emergencies will be dealt
2. It involves a group of people represent- within the Inter-Agency Plan. In which
ing UNHCR and partner organizations case, the Inter-Agency Contingency Plan-
(a Planning Group) working together to ning Guidelines should be consulted. The
identify and validate the objectives, pos- guidance in this chapter, therefore, applies
sible scenarios and to define respective re- to UNHCR Contingency Planning for ref-
sponsibilities and actions and then to fol- ugee emergencies only.
low-up to ensure implementation. It is not
a one time planning exercise to produce Early warning
a single documented plan but rather an 6. Early warning is the starting point for
ongoing process led by a Planning Group all planning in anticipation of an emergen-
and based around a documented plan. Sys- cy. UNHCR Headquarters, (HQ) Geneva,
tematic reviews of the assumptions and maintains an Early Warning Action Alerts
scenarios built into the plan and proper system which classifies countries into four
implementation of the recommendations colour-coded categories to signify the im-
of the plan, particularly where prepared- mediacy of a potential emergency. These
ness measures are concerned, are essential are:
if the response to a real emergency is to be
effective. i. Red for potential emergencies con-
sidered likely to erupt within the next
3. Contingency planning is a prerequi- three months.
site for rapid and effective emergency
response. Without prior contingency plan- ii. Orange for potential emergencies con-
ning much time will be lost in the first sidered likely to erupt within the next
days of an emergency. six months.
iii. Yellow for potential emergencies con-
Contingency planning objective sidered likely to erupt within the next
4. The objective is to identify the ad- twelve months.
ditional resources needed to respond to
an emergency ie, over and above the re- iv. Blue for countries in which no crisis
sources already allocated to the country is foreseen within the next twelve
or regional programme in the Annual months.
Budgeting Round and to organize exist-

7. Signs of a potential emergency likely to are recorded and that any changes indicat-
generate refugees are monitored by field ing population displacements are spotted
offices and HQ desks. This is carried out early and appropriate action taken to plan
by monitoring a wide range of sources, for possible events.
such as internal politics of governments,
9. As stated above, contingency planning
local population, political leaders, media,
is an ongoing process which should also
academia, refugees and international and
take place during an existing operation to

Contingency planning
national organizations. Based on the anal-
prepare for a deteriorating situation, such
ysis, from the field and at HQ, the classifi-
as a new influx or a natural disaster affect-
cation of countries is changed accordingly
ing a camp.
in the Action Alerts system. As soon as a
country is classified as yellow or higher When to plan
then contingency planning, or a review of
10. Planning should begin or the process
the existing plan, should begin.
reinvigorated when the country is clas-

8. In order to maintain a close review sified as Yellow within the Action Alerts
of developing situations, it is important system, i.e. an emergency situation is
that the collection and analysis of early considered likely within the next twelve
warning information is integrated system- months.
atically into the routine work of UNHCR
offices. Regular monitoring and report- It is better to plan when it is not needed
ing, in a consistent format, is an important than not to have planned when it is nec-
means of ensuring that trends and patterns

Figure 1: The Contingency Planning Process

The Contingency Planning Process

Decreased Risk Assessment (1) Increased

Risk Risk

Initiate or Review CP

Agree Planning Scenarios

& Preparedness/Response
Measures (2)

Input to Inter-Agency
Contingency Plan
Situation Situation
Improves Deteriorates
Agree UNHCR and Inter-
Agency Contingency Plans

Implement Preparedness

Respond to the Emergency

(1) Reflected in the Action Alerts system maintained in HQ

(2) Where appropriate In consultation with Sister Agencies, Implementing Partners and Government 69
(3) In reality feedback should occur throughout the process
Responsibility for planning pected scenarios before adjusting objec-
11. Contingency planning is the respon- tives and courses of action in accordance
sibility of the field office and is generally with developments. A contingency plan
undertaken by staff from within a country represented by a static document creates
operation, supported by the Desk as nec- a false sense of security as it will quickly
essary, and requires a core planning group become out-of-date.
to progress the matter no one individual
Contingency planning is best achieved
can be expected to shoulder the burden. In
through a cooperative and coordinated
fast developing situations it may be neces- effort wherein all concerned work to-
sary to request the assistance of an Emer- gether with shared objectives over a pe-
gency Preparedness and Response Officer riod of time.
(EPRO), as explained in the Emergency
Response Resources Catalogue available Contingency planning and
from the Emergency, Preparedness and operations planning
Response Section (EPRS) or on the HCR-
Net. 15. Contingency planning is not the same
as operations planning. Both set strategic
12. The planning group, which should and sectoral objectives and develop action
normally be chaired by the Representative plans to achieve the objectives. However,
or the Deputy, should consist of key de- contingency planning involves making as-
cision-making staff from within the UN- sumptions and developing scenarios from
HCR office, including specialist expertise an unknown point in the future upon which
to provide advice, and results from field the response to an emergency is based. In
visits. Colleagues from sister UN agencies operations planning the starting point is
likely to be implicated in a refugee emer- known and the planning builds on known
gency, such as UNICEF, WFP and UNDP needs and resources based on actual field
and key partners, should also be invited assessment.
to join the group. Consideration should
also be given to inviting government rep- Meetings
resentatives depending on the situation.
16. As shown in Figure 1, contingency
Whether or not the government wishes to
planning requires that potential scenarios
join the Contingency Planning Group it
are identified and assumptions made about
should be kept informed of progress.
the possible evolution of the situation to-
The capacity of the actors to respond in wards an emergency. Clearly this requires
an emergency will be enhanced by their a high degree of interaction which is best
previous involvement in the contingency achieved in an initial meeting of the plan-
planning process. ning group. The agenda of the first meet-
ing should be agreed and include a short
13. A UNHCR focal point should be
(30 minutes) briefing on the UNHCR Ear-
identified with responsibility for calling
ly Warning system and the contingency
meetings of the group and maintaining the
planning process. The objectives of at the
momentum and to progress recommenda-
first meeting should emphasize the need
tions and actions arising from the plan.
to brainstorm the agreed possible, as well
Additionally, a facilitator and rapporteur
as most likely, scenarios, and to use this
for planning group meetings may be re-
planning scenario to thrash out the sec-
torial responses to that scenario and the
14. As Figure 1 shows planning is an on- resource requirements. This in essence
going activity. The planning group should will be the first step of the contingency
frequently review the indicators and ex- planning process.
17. The contingency planning process tion. However, removing the element of
requires regular meetings to follow-up unpredictability cannot be discounted.
on the initial draft plan and to ensure that
21. The scenario is a kind of benchmark.
the preparedness measures recommended
If the influx is smaller than envisaged,
in the plan are being implemented. Ad-
the safety margin will be welcome. If it
ditionally, these meetings should review
is larger, the importance of taking urgent
the assumptions, indicators and scenarios
corrective action is highlighted.

Contingency planning
envisaged in the plan and adjust as neces-
sary to reflect the actual evolution of the 22. For scenario development:
situation. i. consider all possibilities (be imagina-
18. The views of one agency may dif- tive);
fer from others, but this will often benefit ii. settle for a limited number of options
the planning process since its diversity of only (2 or 3 options is the norm); and
views will provide a useful forum for all

assumptions to be questioned and refined. iii. classify the scenarios into: worst,
The end product is thus more realistic. best and most likely. The most
While UNHCR may facilitate the meet- likely will then become the planning
ing, the role and function of each partici- scenario.
pant must be respected.
Policy and strategic objectives
19. The output of a contingency planning
23. The planning group needs to maintain
meeting should be a plan containing the
a shared vision of the probable response
despite the fact that various partners may
i. identification of scenarios hold different policy approaches. Such
differences should be identified and un-
ii. assumptions and indicators
derstood by all parties, if not reconciled.
iii. strategic objectives Whatever the differences, it is essential
iii. sector objectives and activities that the group agrees on the main princi-
ples by establishing overall objectives. All
iv. resources required for a response activities undertaken in the plan will need
v. recommendations for preparedness to be consistent with these overall objec-
measures tives.
Subsequent meetings should review early Sector objectives and activities
warning indicators, making changes to the 24. As this part of the plan is the most de-
scenarios as necessary, report on actions tailed it will be helpful to split the plan-
taken since the previous meeting, and up- ning group into smaller working groups to
date the existing plan. cover each of these sectors. For each sec-
tor the following should be agreed:
Scenario Identification
20. Based on early warning indicators i. sector objectives, including standards
the planning group should develop likely ii. main tasks
scenarios. This activity is essentially in-
tuitive and based on the experience of the iii. responsibility for implementing tasks
participants but is highly important since iv. time frame for implementation and
it lays the basis for all further planning. In
v. the resource requirements for each
establishing scenarios, assumptions must
be made based on best available informa-

Environmental considerations in contin- 27. A contingency plan should also
gency plans achieve a balance between flexibility, so
25. It is useful to identify, in advance, as to remain relevant in spite of changes
local environmental issues or concerns to the scenarios and specificity for key
which might be relevant to the planned or practical inputs e.g. pre-positioned
ongoing operation, so that these can be in- stockpiles. The plan must not be overly
corporated into a contingency plan. directive and yet must provide adequate
guidance. It should not be expected to act
Developing such a site-specific plan can as a blueprint.
help prevent, or at least minimize, irre-
versible environmental impacts as well 28. See Annex 1 for the structure of a
as identify environmental hazards which typical contingency plan.
might have an impact on refugee health.

Characteristics of a good plan

Key References

26. A good plan should be comprehensive Contingency Planning A Practical Guide

yet not too detailed, finding the proper for Field Staff, UNHCR, Geneva, 2006
balance between covering all the impor- Inter-Agency Contingency Planning
tant issues yet not flooding the plan with Guidelines
details. It should be well structured, easy
to read and, importantly, easy to update
and action oriented. It should be laid out
clearly showing what needs to be done, by
whom and by when.
A short document with a clear structure
will facilitate updating.

Annex 1: A model structure for a contingency plan

The following is a proposed structure, divided into six parts, of a Contingency Plan for
a refugee emergency (adaptation will be required for different scenarios):

Part 1: General situation and alternative scenario forecasts:

Overview of the situation, current country operations and existing Inter-Agency

Contingency planning
contingency plans.
Specify the planning assumptions.
Elaborate possible scenarios including worst case and best case and the scenario
retained as the planning scenario and why?
Reasons for changing or updating plans and the consequences (eg influxes, returns,
impact on local population, staff and refugee security).

Current host population and refugee population perceptions of UNHCR, UN staff
and international workers.
Expected refugee profile (including estimates by sex and age groups).
Total planning figure.
Entry/exit points.
Potential arrival/dispersal rate.
Reception and anticipated in-country movement.
Settlement arrangements.
Possible triggering events?
Part 2: Scenario indicators
Likely early warning indicators that will determine if scenarios are becoming more
or less likely.
The focal point for liaison with HQ over the Action Alerts system.
Frequency of review of the indicators.
Part 3: Policies and overall operation objectives
Overall policy (strategic) objectives of the program.
Comments on policy stance of various partners.
Planning assumptions.
Part 4: Objectives and activities by sector
Management and overall coordination.
Staff safety and security.
Protection and physical security of refugees and populations of interest.
Identification of groups with specific needs.
Reception and registration.
Logistics and transport (persons and goods).
Infrastructure and site planning.
Domestic needs and household support.
Environmental sanitation.
Health and nutrition.
Community-based activities.
Camp management and coordination.
Economic activities.
UNHCR administrative support available (including staffing, vehicles, telecom
Note: Each section should include consideration of sector objectives, needs, resources,
activities, existing and proposed preparedness measures, implementation responsibili-
ties, and timing. Activity tables should be used. In addition, all objectives and activities
detailed above need to reflect age, gender and diversity analysis and the High Commis-
sioners policy priorities concerning women, children and the environment.

Part 5: Feedback, maintenance and future action

Describe how the plan will be updated and revised.
Who will be responsible for ensuring this will be done and how will the informa-
tion be disseminated?
Part 6: Recommendations for preparedness measures
Describe the preparedness measures envisaged and the timescale for having these
in place.
Annexes to a contingency plan may include (but not limited to):
i. List of Members of the Planning Group
ii. Maps
iii. Security plan
iv. Registration forms
v. Agency Profiles (details of staff, resources, future intentions)
vi. Gap identification charts
vii. Commodity matrix and specifications
viii. Budgets
ix. Other useful information
Note: As a general rule UNHCR integrates its contingency plans for refugee emergen-
cies into Inter-Agency contingency plans as an Annex. A UNHCR contingency plan
must be a component of other partner organizations plans and as such should be seen
as the refugee component of an Inter-Agency plan, not limited to refugee situations
Key References
Contingency Planning in UNHCR A Practical Guide for Field Staff dated June 2006

4 Contingency planning
Initial Participatory Assessment: immediate response

Initial Participatory Assessment:
Paragraph Page

immediate response
Introduction 1- 11 78

Organizing and planning the assessment 12- 26 79

Planning the Initial Participatory Assessment 15 80
Implementing the Initial Participatory Assessment 18 80
Mapping diversity 19 80
Methods of enquiry 20 80

Selecting themes 21 81
Facilitating discussions 22 81
Systematizing information 23 81
Follow-up actions 24 81
Initial Participatory Assessment tools 25 81

Immediate response 27-33 81

Ensure the capacity to act 29 81
Protection 30 81
Organizational considerations 32 82

Protection and material assistance 34-39 82

The location of the refugees 34 82
Control at the sites 35 82
Numbers and registration 36 82
Urgent survival needs 37 82

Key References

Annex 1: Checklist for Initial Participatory Assessment 84
Annex 2: Potential protection risks: a non-exhaustive list 86
Annex 3: Themes and sample questions on protection risks 88
Annex 4: Systematization form for each sub-group discussion 90

Introduction from UNHCR (preferably with solid
experience in facilitating participa-
1.Emergency assistance must be based
tory assessment), the government and
on a sound, thorough initial participatory
other potential partners (for example
assessment of the refugees most immedi-
other UN agencies, NGOs). The inter-
ate protection problems and needs and the
agency multifunctional team will carry
resources available to meet those needs.
out contingency planning and conduct
2.The objective of the initial participa- the initial participatory assessment,
tory assessment, which includes protec- and analyze protection risks. Often the
tion risk analysis and needs, is to provide people carrying out the initial par-
UNHCR with a clear and concise picture ticipatory assessment will simultane-
of the emergency situation, in both quan- ously be providing the initial response.
titative and qualitative terms. It should Whenever possible, the multifunction-
provide enough information to predict the al team should include those who will
evolution of the emergency, be aware of implement the emergency operation in
protection risks, and begin building part- the field.
nerships with refugees from the start. It
Be carried out quickly.
is the basis for decisions which affect the
future of the operation. Provide a full picture of the scope of
the emergency, rather than focus on a
limited area or sector (it is better to get
3. More detailed assessments will follow the whole picture half right).
as the emergency develops and needs Describe the people affected by the
evolve: assessment never stops.
emergency (a simple demographic
The initial, and subsequent, participatory Identify the coping abilities of the
assessments are intricately linked with, refugees themselves.
and will form the basis for, operations
planning. The initial participatory assess- Identify locally available resources.
ment will also build on the contingency Identify what are the most immediate
planning process. priorities and who is most at risk.
4.The initial participatory assessment Use agreed and appropriate standards
should: against which needs can be measured.
Answer the questions What is the Involve the refugees, women, girls,
main problem? and Is there an emer- boys and men, from the outset by using
gency or not? participatory assessment. Get to know
Provide sufficient information to them and understand their protection
decide whether UNHCR should be and immediate needs as they are a key
involved in the emergency response source of information.
and what the scope of that involvement Record the sources of information col-
should be. lected.
Be an inter-agency initiative, but Cross-check information, not relying
with one body providing the overall on only one tool (e.g. aerial surveys
coordination. The inter-agency mul- cross-checked by on the ground obser-
tifunctional team should include staff vations and interviews).

Involve appropriate technical input. conduct a rapid assessment, the findings
of which should then be reflected in the
Use samples and surveys rather than
basic set-up of the refugee camp.
collect too much detailed information
which is difficult to analyze. 9. In cases where a specialist has not been
assigned to the team, one of the team
Produce recommendations for imme-

Initial Participatory Assessment:

members should be designated as the
diate action indicating the resources
Environmental Focal Point. S/he would
needed to implement them.
then be responsible for ensuring that en-
Be able to trigger an immediate and vironmental issues are considered during

immediate response
effective response. the development of activities.
Have the results shared promptly and
10. Setting standards appropriate for
5.The assessment should, as a minimum, the situation is an important prerequisite
answer the questions in the checklist in for needs assessment.

Annex 1. This includes essential mini-
mum information required for planning Standards provide a benchmark against
an emergency operation. which the condition of the refugees can
be measured (for some of the minimum
6.The initial participatory assessment survival standards see Appendix 2, Table
should focus on priority life threatening 1: Key Emergency Indicators). The stand-
problems and protection risks which are ards established for emergency assistance
usually in the sectors of protection (in- must be consistent with the aim of ensur-
cluding SGBV), water, food, sanitation, ing the survival and basic well-being of
shelter, health, and the environment. The the refugees, be fairly applied for all refu-
assessment should measure the actual gees and be respected by all involved.
condition of the refugees against what is
needed for their survival and immediate 11.The publication The UNHCR Tool
well-being (expressed as standards). for Participatory Assessment in Operations
In addition, it should clearly identify if includes more detailed checklists for as-
there are specific groups with heightened sessments and contains practical informa-
risks and needs who require specific sup- tion on principles, planning, techniques,
port. The resources at their disposal, such methods, and forms. Also see chapter 6 on
as natural resources, should also be as- operations planning for an example of a
sessed. Gap Identification Chart, a useful tool for
comparing needs and resources.
7. With respect to the environment, the in-
itial emergency phase is the most critical Organizing and planning the
period of an operational response. Deci- assessment
sions made at this time will have a major
bearing on both the type and scale of en- 12.The initial participatory assessment
vironmental impacts in subsequent opera- must be carried out on the spot as soon as
tional phases. it is clear that a refugee emergency may
exist. The assessment must involve (when
8. Some environmental damage is una- possible) the government and other key
voidable during the initial emergency actors as a part of a multifunctional team
phase. However, where preliminary infor- to conduct the assessment. Emergency
mation indicates the potential for serious team members should organize a multi-
environmental impact(s), an environmen- functional team on the ground to ensure
tal specialist should be included in the interactive information-gathering with
emergency team. The specialist should refugee women, girls, boys and men and
to ensure that the information is system- information can be tailored to the specific
atically shared, stored, and used for plan- requirements of the assessment.
17. The participatory assessment should
13.Immediate access to the area where aim to begin building partnerships with
the refugees are located is, of course, a refugees by holding separate discussions
prerequisite. Getting the assessment un- with women, girls, men and boys, in or-
derway as soon as possible requires quick, der to gather accurate information on the
practical steps: establish a presence at, or specific protection risks they face and the
near, the refugee site for first hand infor- underlying causes in order to understand
mation, discuss and engage with refugee their resources and capacities and to hear
women, girls, boys, and men, and use oth- their proposed solutions.
er available sources of information, mobi-
lize local expertise and resources. Implementing the Initial Participatory
14.While an organized approach is nec-
essary, and if UNHCR is already present, 18. The assessment should involve:
initial action must not be delayed pending i. mapping diversity
the arrival of staff with more expertise. ii. methods of inquiry
iii. selecting themes
A quick response to obviously urgent
needs must never be delayed because a iv. facilitating discussion
comprehensive assessment has not yet v. systematizing information
been completed. vi. follow-up actions

Planning the Initial Participatory Mapping diversity

Assessment 19. To map diversity, inter-agency multi-
15.Planning the initial participatory as- functional teams should identify the vari-
sessment involves setting the objectives, ous social groups according to age, sex,
establishing the terms of reference and ethnicity, power structures, power rela-
selecting multifunctional team members. tions, and specific needs.
The assessment plan should indicate
which information should be collected Methods of enquiry
and the report should make clear if it was 20. Teams should decide when to use the
not possible to collect that information. appropriate methods for engaging with
people concerned: observation and spot
If UNHCR is not already present in the checks, semi-structured discussions and
country, the assessment mission will focus group discussions. Through obser-
normally be organized by Headquarters.
vation visits teams can spontaneously ask
16.Participatory assessment should start questions to women, girls, men and boys
with a review of the existing background about their difficulties to get topical un-
information (mission reports, media arti- derstanding of protection problems and
cles, situation reports, local maps). Ide- about how services and assistance should
ally, a contingency plan would have been be designed. Teams should also organize
prepared and kept updated and would a few discussions with people of concern
provide input for the assessment and the through semi-structured/household dis-
immediate response. UNHCR Headquar- cussions and focus-group discussions.
ters Field Information and Coordination These discussions need not take much
Support Section (FICSS) - can provide time and they will reveal deep-seated pro-
maps and geographical information from tection risks.
a computerized database. The maps and
Selecting themes standardize the approach and force the as-
21. Considering the information gathered sessors to plan ahead and decide which
beforehand and the protection issues iden- information needs to be collected. Obser-
tified, teams can determine what kinds of vation visits provide general information
themes should be discussed in separate and can put into context data from more
meetings with refugee women, girls, men systematic assessments.

Initial Participatory Assessment:

and boys of all backgrounds in order to
understand their situation from their per- Immediate response
spective: health, water, sanitation, food

immediate response
27.Gathering information about prob-
and security may be some of the most ur-
lems, needs and resources on the one
gent topics to discuss.
hand, and the establishment of standards
Facilitating discussions
on the other, will allow the immediate un-
met needs to be determined.
22. Engage in conversation with refugees
on the selected theme by forming sepa- The most urgent actions must be taken

rate groups (no more than 10 persons per with whatever local material and organi-
group) and discuss with them how they zational resources are available, even if
see and analyze their situation, protec- the information at hand is incomplete.
tion risks, their capacities to cope, and the 28.In order to ensure urgent survival
solutions they identify to their protection needs are met, the most important initial
problems. actions are likely to be:
Systematizing information i. ensuring the capacity to act
23. Using the information gathered, review ii. protection
and discuss in a multifunctional team the iii. organizational considerations
data gathered during the discussions and
Ensure the capacity to act
fill out a systemization form (Annex 4 of
this chapter) to use for planning the emer- 29.The first priority is to provide the or-
gency and formulating emergency COP. ganizational capacity required to meet the
needs of the emergency.
Follow-up actions
Sufficient UNHCR and implementing
24. The multifunctional team should take partner staff of the right calibre and ex-
immediate action, thinking preventively perience must be deployed.
and follow-up on commitments and agree-
ments made. It may be necessary to invoke emergency
procedures for the allocation of funds, im-
Initial Participatory Assessment tools plementing arrangements, food supply, lo-
25.Tools commonly used in assessments cal purchase, and recruitment of personnel.
are: Along with the government, the resources
of other UN organizations, particularly
i. questionnaires UNICEF and WFP, and of the NGO sector
ii. checklists must be mobilized within the framework
iii. visual inspection of a plan for immediate action.
26.A combination of tools is normally
used in order to cross-check the conclu- Protection
sions. Questionnaires and checklists (see
Annex 1 for a basic checklist and Annex 30. Unless the refugees right to asylum
is assured there can be no assistance
2 for participatory assessment checklist/ programme.
steps) are particularly useful because they
Action must be taken to assure the refu- Protection and material assistance
gees right to asylum and to ensure their
The location of the refugees
security and fundamental human rights.
34.This will have a major influence on
Specific measures may be needed, for protection and indeed on all sectors of as-
example, to meet the special protection sistance. If the refugees have spontane-
problems and needs of groups at risk (un- ously settled in a scattered manner, they
accompanied children, single young girls, should not be brought together unless
minorities, etc.) and to protect the refugees there are compelling reasons for breaking
against arbitrary actions of outsiders and their present settlement pattern. If they
against groups within their own commu- are already in sites which are judged to be
nity who may pose a threat to their safety. unsatisfactory, move them in coordination
31. In order to gain a better understand- with the local authorities and government.
ing of the protection problems faced by The difficulty in moving refugees from an
refugees, and other people of concern to unsuitable site increases markedly with
UNHCR affected by displacement, they time. Even if those already there cannot
must be involved at the heart of decision- be moved, divert new arrivals elsewhere
making concerning their protection and (see chapter 12 on site planning).
well-being. Specific measures may be
needed, for example, to meet the special Control at the sites
protection problems and needs of groups 35.Determine the optimum population
at risk (unaccompanied children, single in advance and plan for new sites accord-
young girls, minorities, etc.) and to pro- ingly. Keep careful control of actual oc-
tect the refugees against arbitrary actions cupation of the site as refugees arrive, so
of outsiders and against groups within that sections prepared in advance are filled
their own number who may pose a threat in an orderly manner.
to their safety.
Numbers and registration
Organizational considerations 36.An accurate estimate of numbers is a
32.UNHCR must establish a presence prerequisite for effective protection and
where the refugees are, with assured com- assistance. Family registration is a mini-
munications with the main office and with mum requirement in order to deliver help
Headquarters. Organization of the neces- efficiently to all in need and should be
sary logistical capacity to deliver assist- organized as soon as possible. Neverthe-
ance will be of critical importance. less the initial provision of assistance may
33.The priority, once problems and needs have to be based on a population estima-
have been assessed, will be to provide vi- tion rather than full registration (see chap-
tal assistance wherever the refugees are lo- ters 11 and 13 on registration and com-
cated. There will also, however, be key or- modity distribution).
ganizational or planning decisions to take, Urgent survival needs
some of which may determine the future
shape of the whole operation. These often 37.Meet the most urgent survival needs:
include the points summarized below; de- food, water, emergency shelter, health care
cisions on them should be seen as a part of and sanitation, ensuring fair distribution:
the immediate response. i. Involve the refugee women and men
and promote their self-reliance from
If such decisions are not taken, or are
the start. If this is not done, the ef-
wrong ,they will be very difficult to cor-
rect later.
fectiveness of the emergency assist-
ance will be severely reduced and an
early opportunity to help the refugees personnel and basic drugs and
to start to recover from the psycho- equipment, including for reproduc-
logical effects of their ordeal may be tive healthcare, in close consultation
missed. with the national health authorities.
ii. Food: ensure that at least the mini- Although the immediate need and de-
mum need for energy is met, a full mand may be for curative care, do not

Initial Participatory Assessment:

ration can follow. Set up special neglect preventive and particularly
feeding programmes if there are clear environmental health measures. En-
indications of malnutrition. Establish sure female to female health services.

immediate response
storage facilities. vi. Sanitation: isolate human excreta
iii. Water: protect existing water from sources of water and accommo-
sources from pollution and establish dation.
maximum storage capacity with the 38.Take steps to meet social needs and
simplest available means. Transport reunite families if necessary. Surveys may
water to the site if the need cannot be necessary to identify people in need

otherwise be met. Check how groups but who often do not voluntarily come
with specific needs transport their forward. Tracing may be required particu-
water. larly for unaccompanied and separated
iv. Emergency shelter: meet the need for children. If groups of refugees have been
roofing and other materials from local separated, they should be reunited. Special
sources if possible. Request outside measures to ensure the care of any unac-
supplies (e.g. plastic sheeting) if nec- companied children will be a priority.
essary. 39.Once these and other priority meas-
v. Health care: provide the necessary ures are underway, begin the wider plan-
organizational assistance, health ning process.

Key References
UNHCR Tool for Participatory Assessment in Operations (2006)

Annex 1 Checklist for Initial Participatory Assessment

This checklist is based on a refugee influx, it should be modified in the light of the actual
nature of the emergency.

Who are the refugees, their numbers, and pattern of arrival

Approximately how many refugees are there?
Where have the refugees come from? Why?
What is the rate of arrival? Is it likely to increase or decrease?
What is the total number likely to arrive?
What is the location of the arrival points and of the sites where people are settling
(latitude and longitude)?
Are the refugees arriving as individuals or in groups? Are these family groups,
clans, tribal, ethnic or village groups?
Are families, village groups and communities intact?
How are the refugees organized? Are there group or community female/male lead-
How are the refugees traveling on foot, in vehicles?
What is the sex ratio of the population?
What is the age profile of the population? Can a breakdown by age and sex be
given under fives, age 5 to 17 years, 18 years and over?
How many unaccompanied and separated children (by age and sex) are there?
What is their condition?
What was the social and economic situation of the refugee women and men prior
to their flight?
What are their skills and languages? What is their ethnic and cultural background?
Are there individuals or groups with specific needs? Are there particular groups
at more risk by the situation? (e.g. persons with disabilities, unaccompanied and
separated children or older people in need of support).
What are the diet, shelter, and sanitation practices of the refugees?
What is the security situation within the population is there a need for separation
between different groups, are there armed groups within the population?
Are single women protected or is there a need for special consideration in camp
design or shelter provision?
What is the formal legal status of the refugees?
Characteristics of the location
What are the physical characteristics of the area where the refugees are located?
What is the soil, topography and drainage?
Is there enough space for those there and those likely to arrive?
Is there all season accessibility?
Can the refugees access relief assistance from where they are located?
What is the vegetation cover?
Will the refugees need to use wood for fuel and shelter? Will this cause tension
with the locals?
Approximately how many people already live in the local area?
Who owns (or has usage rights on) the land?
Is there grazing land and are there potential areas for cultivation?
What is the actual or likely impact on the local population and what is their attitude
and that of the local authorities towards the refugees?

Initial Participatory Assessment:

Are there security problems? If so, are they different for men and women?
What environmental factors must be taken into account (e.g. fragility of the local
environment and extent to which local community relies on it; how rapidly might

immediate response
it be degraded by the refugees, proximity to protected areas)?
What is the condition of the local population? If assistance is provided to the refu-
gees, should the local population also be assisted?
How will fuel be accessed? If it is firewood collection, who collects it and what
protection risks are they facing?
Who collects water and does this present protection risks?

Health status and basic problems (please also see chapter 14 on Health)
Are there significant numbers of sick or injured persons, is there excess mortality?
Are there signs of malnutrition? If so, is it different by age and sex?
Do the refugees have access to sufficient quantities of safe water?
Do the refugees have food stocks, for how long will they last?
Do the refugees have adequate shelter? Is there a need to give consideration to
child-headed households, older persons etc.?
What sanitary materials do women and girls use and how can they be best provid-
Do the refugees have basic domestic items?
Is there sufficient fuel for cooking and heating?
Resources, spontaneous arrangements and assistance being delivered
What type and quantity of possessions have the refugees brought with them?

What arrangements have the refugees already made to meet their most immediate
needs? And is it damaging to the immediate environment?
What assistance is already being provided by the local population, the government,
UN organizations and other organizations, is the assistance adequate, sustainable?
Is the present assistance likely to increase, continue, decrease?
What is the governments policy on assistance to the refugees?
Are there any major constraints likely to affect an assistance operation?
Has contingency planning for this type of emergency been undertaken?
What coordination and implementation arrangements are required?
How will the community participate and what, if any, specific measures are re-
quired to support women?

Means to deliver protection and assistance
Can effective implementing arrangements be made quickly and locally? If not,
what are the alternatives?
Is there already an identified refugee leadership with whom it will be possible to
coordinate the delivery of protection and assistance? Is the leadership representa-
tive and fair to men and women?
What are the logistical needs and how can they be met?
Where will the necessary supplies come from?
How will they reach the refugees?
How will distribution be monitored?
What storage is needed, where and how?
Are there essential items which can only be obtained outside the region and whose
early supply will be of critical importance (e.g. food, trucks, shelter materials?)
What are the needs for UNHCR and implementing partner staff and staff support?

Annex 2: Potential protection risks: a non-exhaustive list

General profiles
gender (where there is gender discrimination);
age group;
stage in the refugee cycle (new arrivals, earlier arrivals);
socio-economic group (poorest, middle-income, highest-income);
ethnicity (in relation to other more dominant groups or in relation to host commu-
religion (where different from other groups or the host population);
type of household (extended family, single-headed, grandparent-headed, etc.);
location in camp/area (proximity to police posts, proximity to the periphery, danger
health status (malnutrition, poor health, chronic illness, disabilities, etc.);
educational level (literacy, skills, including language skills);
livelihood activities, access to and control over resources.
Physical risks:
arbitrary arrest/detention;
torture, abduction;
inadequate shelter, inadequate heat, clothing;
inadequate food and/or means of its preparation;
inadequate quantity and quality of water per person;
inadequate availability of firewood;
severe health risks and epidemics, inadequate access to medical services;
political violence;
physical violence, sexual and gender-based exploitation and violence;
forced military recruitment;

rape (in camp/prison, during flight, or in host country);
domestic violence, abuse, neglect;
early pregnancies;
natural disasters (fire, flood, earthquake, landslides, etc.)

Initial Participatory Assessment:

Social risks:
lack of recognition as a person, absence of documentation (identity, birth, marriage
papers, etc.);

immediate response
lack of access to refugee registration process;
social discrimination/exclusion;
sexual exploitation, risk of forced prostitution;
discriminatory practices on the basis of gender, age, religion, tribe, clan, political
affiliation, etc.
exposure to abuse and exploitation, particularly of children, youth, unaccompanied

and separated children;
separation of children (female and male) from their families;
lack of access to basic education;
forced interruption of education, exclusion, marginalization;
forced military recruitment.
Economic risks:
no access to a means of livelihood (e.g. employment, piecework, agriculture);
single parents looking after young children unable to leave the home to find work
lack of labour power those who are incapable of work and not living with rela-
tives are likely to suffer more than the rest of the population of concern;
exploitation of refugee labour by local or refugee employers;
exploitation of refugee labour by local officials, etc.
Potential risks associated with cultural practices:
female genital mutilation, early marriage, bride price, etc.;
traditional justice systems.

Annex 3 Themes and sample questions on protection risks

What skills do women and men have that will enable them to earn an income?
How much time do women and men have to engage in income-generating activi-
Who does what in the community and how much time does it take?
Do women face problems of lack of access to markets, supplies, technology, credit,
skills training, and information, and lack of decision-making powers? Do men face
similar problems?
Who has access to various resources (e.g. who has jobs, access to markets, access
to materials such as firewood)?
Who decides how resources are used? Who decides to integrate locally and who
decides to return?
What is the impact of these problems on girls, boys, adolescents, women, men?
What do girls and boys do with their time?
Who goes to school? Who does not get to go to school?
What do girls who do not go to school do with their time? And boys?
What do girls who do go to school do outside school? And boys?
Are you afraid (are your children afraid) of going to school or of anything at
Who stays at home? Who is in charge? What is the impact on the family?
How are girls and boys looked after if they remain behind to attend school when
the parents return home?
Community participation
Do women participate in committees? Why not or how often? Do children partici-
pate in committees?
Can women make decisions? What do women think about that? And men? What is
the impact in the community?
What would women and men like to do differently? How would you go about
How do women and men participate in reconstruction of their home country or in
decision-making when settling locally?
What types of health problems are most widespread in the community?
Who takes care of people when they get sick?
Who do people go to see when they are not well? What happens if they get sick at
night or over the weekend? What types of health problems are covered? Which
are not covered?
Are there children in the community who do not get appropriate food? Other per-
sons without proper/enough food? Are there malnourished children in the commu-
nity? How are they treated? Can we visit them?
Do pregnant and lactating women eat differently from other household members?

How do you use water? How do you maintain personal/community hygiene?
How could houses and neighborhoods be kept clean so as to avoid health risks?
What is the lay-out/design of living arrangements? Town/camp?
Security and safety
What are the dangers that you experience in this environment?

Initial Participatory Assessment:

Do you feel that your physical safety and security are at risk? At what time? Why?
What is the source of the danger? Who is involved?
What do you worry about when you leave your home?

immediate response
What do you worry about for your children/husband/wife?
Are you aware of any incidents/problems that have threatened your friends or
How can you put a stop to domestic violence?
Does violence occur? What types of violence?
What do men think about it? And women? Girls and boys? What do you think

about it?
What can be done about it?
Where does the violence occur? (See below.)
Coping with risks and developing solutions
How do you think the situation could be improved? How do you and your neigh-
bours cope with these risks?
What do you do to protect your children?
What services or activities are available to you to help address these risks? How
can they help?
How in your culture/traditions were such problems dealt with/avoided before your
displacement? How can that can be applied now?
Would you be willing to help in improving the situation? How do you think you
could help?
Prioritizing risks:
Of all the issues just discussed, which do you consider the most important/urgent?
Who should be involved?
What might the community do to address this concern?

Annex 4: Systematization form for each sub-group discussion
(Source: UNHCR CDGECS Section)

Group: _________________ Subgroup: (Sex:_________ Age group:_____)

No. of people:_____ Facilitators:____________________

Date: ________________________ Location:________________________

Country: _____________________

Protection Causes Capacities Solutions Most important issues Urgent

risks/incidents within the proposed by to address as expressed Follow-up
community subgroups by people of concern action

Initial Participatory Assessment:
5 immediate response
Operations Planning


Paragraph Page
Introduction 1- 8 94

Operations Planning
Operations planning tasks 9 95

Allocation of responsibilities 10-14 96

Gap identification chart 10 96
Roles and tasks 11 96

Figure 1: Example of a gap identification chart 97

Annex 1: A model structure for an operations plan 98
Annex 2: Gap identification chart (blank) 99

Introduction contingency planning. The tasks and ap-
proach will be different primarily because
1.An emergency response requires good
of assessments in operations planning,
planning. An important aspect of plan-
the starting point is known and assess-
ning, particularly in an emergency situa-
ments of the situation replace the contin-
tion, is the development of an operations
gency planning scenarios and many of the
plan. The Operations Plan is a vital
management tool which should be based
on a problems, needs and resources as- 4.The participatory assessment with
sessment. refugees should form the basis for the
operations plan. They are the single most
The plan should determine programme important resource in meeting their own
priorities, set objectives, and specify ac- needs, and will have definite ideas on
tions that need to be taken by the actors
responsible for the various sectors of an
how this may best be done. The plan must
operation. strengthen the refugees own resources
and self-reliance and avoid creating de-
pendency. The plan should also reflect the
Specific tasks in an emergency and the aim of a durable solution.
parties responsible for the implementation
of these tasks need to be clearly identified 5.The operations plan must be compre-
and a plan formulated in a clear and con- hensive, identifying all problems, needs
crete way. and resources whether these are met
through UNHCR or by other organizations
At the start of an emergency there is a and sources of funds. Drawing up the op-
tendency to postpone planning, both be- erations plan should be a multi-functional
cause information is not available and team effort. Clear direction must, how-
because there are obvious urgent needs ever, come from the government and/or
which can be met piecemeal, without a UNHCR.
plan. This tendency should be resisted.
The most effective operations plans are
2.The more critical the situation, the
those developed by or with the people
more important it is for the operations who will implement them.
manager to find the time to take stock, de-
termine priorities and develop a plan for 6.Although the plan should be compre-
what needs to be done, when, by whom hensive, this should be balanced by the
and how. need to produce the plan quickly, so that in
rapidly evolving emergencies the plan will
3.Ideally, the operations plan should
not become outdated before it is finished.
make use of the contingency planning
In addition, lengthy plans can be difficult
process, partners identified, and resourc-
to update. Characteristics of a good plan
es prepared, as well as the plan itself. As
are discussed in paragraphs 23 to 25 of
the same principles of planning apply, the
chapter 4 on contingency planning.
structure of the operations plan can be
based on the contingency plan (also at-
tached here as Annex 1). There are a range
of additional considerations beyond what 7. It should be stressed that, as with
contingency planning, operations plan-
is included in the Contingency planning ning is a process.
format, many of which will be addressed
over time. However, the main differences A plan, as a document, represents the
between contingency planning and opera- outcome of the process. It should be kept
tions planning and the characteristics of a updated in light of the evolving situa-
good plan are discussed in chapter 4 on tion: implementation of the plan should
be monitored and corrective action taken, At the early stages of a major emergen-
and the plan should then be adjusted and cy, it is unlikely that resources will be
revised. The operations plan must be made sufficient to meet all needs, thus prioriti-
available to all who need it. zation with the refugees will be an impor-
tant part of operations planning.
8.This chapter focuses on operation
plans developed with partners. Howev- iii.Set overall goals
er, planning within the office should not The overall operation and strategic goals
be neglected. Simple plans of action at must be protection based and defined and
each administrative or office level within clarified. All other objectives and activi-
UNHCR should also be drawn up, from ties should be consistent with these overall

Operations Planning
site to Headquarters, tying in with the objectives. In formulating objectives, the
overall operations plan and involving the single most important question to ask is,
same principles. These are: clarifying ob- What is the intended result? Objectives
jectives, allocating responsibilities, defin- should be specific, measurable, achievable
ing activities to achieve objectives, and and realistic, and the time frame within
defining coordination mechanisms such which they should be reached should be

as staff meetings (discussed in chapter 20 specified.
on administration and staffing).
iv.Clarify planning assumptions
Operations planning tasks It will also be necessary to clarify the
main constraints, planning assumptions
9.Operations planning involves the tasks and principles behind the emergency op-
set out below: eration. These should be set out explicitly,
i. Review existing plans and informa- including an explanation of the role, re-
tion in the contingency plan; sponsibilities and policies of the govern-
ment, UNHCR, other UN organizations
ii. Assess problems, protection risks
and operational partners. In addition,
needs and resources: identify critical
standard or established procedures, such
unmet needs using age, gender and
as monitoring and coordination mecha-
diversity analysis.
nisms, MOUs etc. should also be set out.
The problems, protection risks, needs and Similarly, standards in various sectors and
resource participatory assessments deter- any specific guidelines necessary should
mine what must be done, and where the be specified (where the plan includes ob-
priorities are; this is part of planning. Plans jectives, outputs and activities on a sec-
must be updated to take account of new tor by sector basis). Although these issues
assessments and progress in implementa- should have been in the contingency plan,
tion. Identify critical unmet needs using they will need to be revisited in the light
the results of the participatory assessments of the problem and needs assessments,
and compare these with established stand- and restated as necessary to new partners,
ards the determination of the standards so everyone is working with the same as-
to which assistance should be delivered is sumptions and to the same standards.
of fundamental importance. The resources
which are available and those that are re-
quired must also be identified. Resources v.Determine the courses of action to
includes human resources, and personnel, reach overall objectives (implement-
local and international implementing and ing arrangements)
operational partners including material re- Consider various options to reach objec-
sources. tives, their advantages and disadvantages;
which are flexible, which are the most ef-
ficient and effective? Choosing an option
for implementing arrangements which re- Effective Planning Guidelines for UN-
tains flexibility is important in a rapidly HCR Teams (updated in June 1999) pro-
changing situation. Chapter 8 on imple- vides the most effective and efficient way
menting arrangements discusses this in on managing the planning process at all
more detail. levels of an operation. The assumption is
that better planning processes lead to bet-
vi. Determine objectives and courses of
ter quality results delivered on time, in a
action to reach objectives at sector
cost effective manner.
Decide on the objectives, activities and Allocation of responsibilities
outputs for each sector. As with contin-
gency planning, this is the most detailed Gap identification chart
part of the plan. The organization with 10.A gap identification chart is a simple
operational responsibility for a particular but very important and useful tool to allo-
sector or site should draw up the plan of cate responsibilities effectively and identi-
action for that sector or site. Ensure that fy the critical unmet needs of the refugees
each sector clearly outlines how the dif- site by site and sector by sector. It illus-
ferent needs of women, girls, boys and trates who is responsible for what in an
men will be met and highlight targeted operation (by site and sector) and points
action to empower women and other dis- out gaps where a sector or site needs at-
criminated groups. tention. Figure 1 shows an example where
vii. Allocate responsibilities the blanks indicate gaps i.e. sites or sec-
tors for which nobody has responsibility.
Responsibilities, both within UNHCR and
These would need to be given priority at-
between different actors in the operation,
tention. Annex 2 shows a blank chart that
need to be clearly stated.
can be used.
viii. Determine coordination mechanisms
Coordination mechanisms should be es- Roles and tasks
tablished between the different actors in 11.The roles and tasks of all involved
the operation. Coordination at different must be clearly stated. Delay in defining
geographical levels (e.g. at the site and in responsibility usually leads to each party
the capital or regional city) needs also to defining goals independently and setting
be assured. In a large operation, it may be their own limits of responsibility. This in
necessary to have separate coordination turn can lead quickly to confusion, gaps
mechanisms for sectors. and duplication. Responsibilities should
ix. Determine monitoring mechanisms be defined for each administrative level,
and for both organizations and individu-
From the start, the management of a refu-
als. How responsibilities are allocated to
gee emergency must include continuous
individuals is discussed in chapter 20 on
monitoring (by measuring the indicators
administration and staffing.
of performance) together with the com-
munity, reporting and evaluation in order 12.Responsibilities are allocated to dif-
to ensure that the objectives remain appro- ferent organizations in a refugee emer-
priate as circumstances change, and the gency primarily through organizations
activities to fulfill the objectives are being mandates, international instruments and
carried out effectively. pre-existing MOUs between organiza-
x. Record and disseminate the plan,
monitor progress, take corrective ac- 13. The responsibilities and roles, in re-
tion, and adjust and revise the plan sponse to the specific needs of the emer-
gency situation and capacities of the dif-
ferent parties, are defined in more detail Figure 1 An example of a Gap
on the ground. These are set out in imple- Identification Chart
menting agreements with implementing Site 1 Site 2 Site 3
partners, MOUs and exchange of letters Overall site Agency M Agency M Agency R
with other UN agencies, and agreements management
with the government. Protection UNHCR UNHCR UNHCR
Food Agency B Agency K
If formal agreements have not yet been distribution
drawn up and the basis of cooperation
Shelter Agency B Agency Y
remains a Letter of Intent, the defini-
tion of responsibilities contained in the Water Agency W Agency W

Operations Planning
operations plan is to be considered the Health Agency H Agency H
primary reference.
See Annex 1 of the chapter 8 implement- Prevention
ing arrangements for a format of a Letter and response
of Intent.
14. The responsibilities of organizations

panied and
delivering assistance but which are not separated
implementing partners of UNHCR must
also be defined. This may create problems,
particularly where individual NGOs wish
to have responsibility for a specific sector.
Final authority rests with the government,
and the Representative or the operations
manager should consult closely with the
authorities. To the extent possible, how-
ever, any conflict of interest should be
resolved within the framework of a coor-
dinating mechanism.

Annex 1 A model structure for an operations plan
Based on the problem, needs and resources assessments
The following is a proposed structure for an operations plan. It is based on a refugee
influx. Adaptation will naturally be required for different situations.

Chapter 1: General situation

i. Background, country information and results of participatory assessments by age
and sex
ii. Entry points
iii. Agreed planning figures
iv. Arrival rate
v. Reception and in-country movement
vi. Settlement arrangements
vii. Demographic profile of the refugees, including data disaggregates by age and sex
Chapter 2: Policies and overall operation objectives
i. Overall policy (strategic) objectives of the programme
ii. Comments on policy stance of various partners

Chapter 3: Objectives and activities by sector

i. Management and overall coordination; allocation of responsibilities
ii. Protection, reception, registration, security
iii. Identification of groups with specific
iv. Food
v. Logistics and transport
vi. Infrastructure and site planning
vii. Shelter
viii. Domestic needs, sanitary materials and household support
ix. Water
x. Environmental sanitation
xi. Health and nutrition
xii. Community-based activities
xiii. Prevention and response to SGBV
xiv. Education
xv. Economic activities
xvi. Support to the operation, administration, communications, staff support and

Each section should include overall sector objectives, and site by site objectives and
outputs, problems, needs, resources, financial requirements, activities, implementation
responsibilities and timing.

Chapter 4: Procedures for updating the operations plan

Describe how the plan will be updated, who will be responsible for ensuring this and
how the information will be disseminated.

Possible annexes
i. Maps
ii. Registration forms
iii. List of organizations or individuals participating in the operation
iv. Agency profiles (details of staff and resources involved in the operation)
v. Gap identification charts
vi. Commodity specifications
vii. Budgets

Operations Planning
Annex 2 Gap Identification Chart (blank)

Site 1 Site 2 Site 3

Overall site


Coordination and Site Level Organization

Paragraph Page

Coordination 1-15 102

and Site Level Organization

Introduction 1 102
Coordination of the UN response to refugee
emergencies 4 102
Mechanisms for coordination in refugee emergencies 5 102

Collaborative response to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
and other complex emergencies 16-18 103

The cluster approach 19-26 104
Introduction 19 104
Responsibilities of the cluster lead 20 104
Accountability 22 105

Organization at the site level 27-39 105

Introduction 27 105
Community organization 31 106
Community involvement 33 106
Refugee representation 38 107

Camp coordination and camp management in internally

displaced persons situations 40-45 108
Introduction 40 108
Camp coordination 41 108
Camp administration 42 108
Camp management 44 109

Key References

Annex 1: Elements of a coordinating body 110
Annex 2: Tips on running a meeting 111

Coordination the site level, otherwise it may even be
6.Mechanisms for coordination include:
1.Coordination can be defined as the
harmonious and effective interaction of i. international and regional instruments
people and organizations towards a com- and agreements which define respon-
mon goal. sibilities and roles at the global (and
sometimes regional or country) level;
2.Good coordination should result in:
ii. Memoranda of Understanding and
i. maximum impact for a given level of exchange of letters with other agen-
resources; cies, and agreements with implement-
ii. elimination of gaps and overlaps in ing partners and host governments,
services; defining responsibilities and roles at
iii. appropriate division of responsibili- the situational level;
ties; and iii. a coordinating body;
iv. uniform treatment and standards of iv. sectoral committees as necessary;
protection and services for all the v. regular meetings;
beneficiaries. vi. reporting and information sharing;
3.For effective coordination appropriate vii. joint services and facilities, for exam-
approaches and structures will need to be ple, vehicle repair services, commu-
put in place at the various levels. Coor- nications, and a joint staff security
dination requires good management and group; and
clearly defined objectives, responsibilities viii. codes of conduct for organizations
and authority. working in humanitarian emergen-
Coordination is not free: it has costs in
terms of time and other resources need-
ed to make it work. 7. Whatever the implementing arrange-
ments, a single coordinating body
Coordination of the UN response to refu- should be established for the operation
gee emergencies for example, a task force, commission,
or operations centre.
4.Within the UN system the responsibil-
ity for refugees lies with UNHCR. There- 8. The coordinating body will provide a
fore, in refugee emergencies UNHCR framework within which the implementa-
should take the lead to ensure effective tion of the programme can be coordinated
coordination and is responsible for coor- and management decisions taken. The
dinating the response of the UN system to coordinating body should have clearly de-
the emergency. fined and well promulgated responsibility
and authority.
Mechanisms for coordination in refugee
9.The elements of a coordinating body,
including membership and functions, are
5.Effective coordination is the result of described in Annex 1. Tips for running
sound management. Coordination mecha- meetings, including coordinating meet-
nisms set up without the establishment ings are given in Annex 2.
of clear objectives and assignment of re-
sponsibility and authority will be ineffec- 10.Where a coordinating structure does
tive. Coordination must be based on good not already exist, UNHCR should, in co-
information exchange, particularly with operation with the government, take the
lead in setting up the coordinating body
and mechanism. This is a crucial compo- 15.Coordination must be based on good
nent of UNHCRs leadership role. The co- information exchange, particularly with
ordinating body may be set up and chaired the site level. The framework for the or-
by the government with strong support ganization and coordinating mechanisms
from UNHCR, or be co-chaired by the at the site level is likely to broadly reflect
government and UNHCR, or be chaired that established centrally. To get infor-
by UNHCR alone. mation passed vertically between central
level and site level can be as hard as get-
11.The membership of the coordinating
ting information passed between organi-
body should include government min-
zations. Each organization should be re-

and Site Level Organization

istries and departments, as well as other
sponsible for ensuring that there is good
UN agencies, NGOs and other concerned
communication between its staff at site
organizations. It is important to coordi-
level and centrally, and that important in-
nate the activity of all NGOs whether
formation is then passed on to the coordi-

they have entered into an implement-
nation body.
ing agreement with UNHCR or not. In a
large scale emergency with a number of The collaborative response to Inter-
actors, the coordinating body could be- nally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and
come unwieldy. However, it should still other complex emergencies

be possible to ensure some degree of rep-
resentation or participation on the coordi- 16.Other than refugee emergencies,
nating body by all actors either directly, or UNHCR might be called upon to oper-
on sectoral committees, or through close ate in situations of internal dispalcement
working partners who are represented on caused by conflict and so-called complex
the coordinating body. emergencies. The Guiding Principles1
on Internal Displacement define inter-
12.The coordinating body should hold
nally displaced persons as individuals or
regular, formal meetings during which
groups of persons who have been forced
overall progress is reviewed and plans ad-
or obliged to flee or to leave their homes
justed. These meetings should be comple-
or places of habitual residence, in par-
mented by informal contacts with mem-
ticular as a result of or in order to avoid
bers of the coordinating body.
the effects of armed conflict, situations of
13.When required, the coordinating generalized violence, violations of human
body should create sectoral committees, rights or natural or human-made disasters,
for example for health and nutrition. Such and who have not crossed an internation-
committees will be responsible for coor- ally recognized State border. A complex
dinating implementation in that sector and emergency can be defined as: a multi-fac-
reporting back to the coordinating body. eted humanitarian crisis in a country,
They could also play an important part in region or society where there is a total
the development of specific standards for or considerable breakdown of author-
the delivery of assistance. When the oper- ity resulting from internal or external
ation is sufficiently large, a sectoral com- conflict, sometimes compounded by
mittee could be coordinated by a UNHCR natural calamities and which requires
sector coordinator.
Unlike in the case of refugees there are no spe-
14.A coordinating body can also be of cific conventions relating to the status, rights and
considerable value when new agencies ar- duties of IDPs as well as the roles, responsibilities,
rive, both in integrating their assistance in and mandates of governments and international
organizations towards IDPs. The full text of the
the overall programme and with practical Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement
administrative arrangements and briefing. can be found on RefWorld (CD-ROM and on www.
an international response that goes be- partnerships between the agencies of the
yond the mandate or capacity of any UN system, the Red Cross/Red Crescent
single agency and/or the ongoing UN movement and Non-Government Or-
country programme. ganizations (NGOs). In order to build a
stronger and more predictable standing
17.Likely characteristics of both Inter-
nally Displaced Persons and complex humanitarian response system the Clus-
emergencies include: ter approach was introduced for new ma-
jor emergencies. Under this framework
i. a large number of civilian victims, the following clusters and cluster leads
populations who are besieged or were designated:
Cluster Field Cluster Lead
ii. human suffering on a major scale;
Nutrition UNICEF
iii. substantial international assistance is
Water and sanitation UNICEF
needed and the response goes beyond
the mandate or capacity of any one Health WHO
agency; Camp coordination and UNHCR (For conflict-
management generated IDPs)
iv. delivery of humanitarian assistance IOM (For natural-
is impeded or prevented by parties to disaster generated
the conflict;
Emergency shelter UNHCR (For conflict-
v. high security risks for relief workers generated IDPs)
providing humanitarian assistance; IFRC(For natural-
and disaster generated
vi. relief workers targeted by parties to
Protection subgroups UNHCR (For conflict-
the conflict. generated IDPs)
18.In complex emergencies involving IFRC(For natural-
disaster generated
refugees and mixed IDP-refugee casel- IDPs)
oads, UNHCR will remain solely respon- Logistics WFP
sible for protection and assistance ac-
Telecoms OCHA for overall
tivities on behalf of the refugees. As the Process Owner
cluster lead, UNHCR might either directly UNICEF for Common
Data Services
assume or delegate to another agency the WFP for Common
responsibility for a) protection, b) emer- Security
gency shelter, and c) camp coordination Telecommunications
and camp management for conflict gener-
Early Recovery UNDP
ated IDPs.
However, it remains accountable to the
Responsibilities of the cluster lead
ERC that effective protection and assis-
tance is being delivered. 20. The general responsibility and ac-
countability of cluster leads entails:
The cluster approach
i. preparedness for response to new
Introduction crisis and certain current crisis;
19. In 2005, in the context of UN reform, ii. capacity assessment and developing
a review was undertaken which found capacity within the cluster; and
that the humanitarian response to crisis iii. commitments to contribute to these
situations is sometimes slow, inadequate functions and mechanisms for deliv-
and unpredictable. The review confirmed ering on commitments.
capacity gaps in key sectors and recog- 21. As the port of first call and the pro-
nized need for improved cooperation and vider of last resort the cluster lead is
responsible for providing an adequate re- The protection of refugees must remain
sponse to the needs of the beneficiaries in the sole prerogative of the High Com-
a given cluster. missioner. However, in his/her capacity
as cluster lead the UNHCR Represent-
However, the cluster lead might delegate ative supports the Humanitarian Coor-
its lead and coordination role at the Field dinator and the Inter-Agency Standing
level to another agency which is better Committee Country Team.
placed to perform its duties.
26. In whatever function and situation, it
The cluster lead also needs to engage and is important to understand that UNHCR,
mobilize all members of the cluster in a

and Site Level Organization

as part of the UN system, has to be an ef-
collegial and collaborative manner in or- fective team player that delivers on the
der to provide effective protection and as- commitments made by the High Commis-
sistance to IDPs. sioner in the UN and Humanitarian Re-
form process. As a member in all relevant

clusters it has to support their respective
22. At the global level, cluster leads are leads. As a cluster lead itself, UNHCR
accountable to the Emergency Relief has to discharge its functions effectively
Coordinator. At the country level, how- and with full respect to the mandates, ca-

ever, cluster leads are accountable to the pacities, and cultures of the other partner
Humanitarian Coordinator for ensuring organizations. It has to show due respect
adequate preparedness and effective re- to the national authorities and should not
sponses in the sectors or areas of activity attempt, willing or unwillingly, to assume
concerned. roles and responsibilities which rest with
23. The Emergency Relief Coordinator the authorities.
(ERC), appoints a Humanitarian Coordi-
Organization at the site level
nator for countries facing an IDP situa-
tion or a complex emergency, and is sup- Introduction
ported by the Office for the Coordination 27.The framework for the organization
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). At the and coordinating mechanisms at the site
country level, the Humanitarian Coor- level are likely to reflect broadly those
dinator retains overall responsibility for established centrally. However, there is
ensuring the effectiveness of the humani- one fundamental difference between the
tarian response and is accountable to the site and central levels: at the site level the
Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC). refugees themselves should play a major
24. Other partners of the collaborative role.
approach are the government and local
authorities, the IASC Country Team, i.e. The organization of the humanitarian re-
sponse should support the refugee com-
the UN agencies, international organisa- munity to enhance their own abilities to
tions, Red Cross/Crescent Movement, and provide for themselves.
international and local NGOs, donors and
bilateral agencies. 28.A clear understanding of the aims and
objectives of the emergency operation and
25.The UNHCR Representative remains proper coordination are even more impor-
directly responsible to the High Commis- tant at the site level than centrally, for it is
sioner on all issues related to the UNHCR here that failures and misunderstandings
country programme, as well as policy will directly affect the refugees.
matters and issues related to UNHCRs

traditional social patterns, and changes
Of particular importance will be the
adoption of common standards when a
caused by displacement (e.g. numbers of
number of organizations are providing unaccompanied and separated child and
similar assistance. grandparent headed households, single
women, especially women). Larger units
Regular meetings of those concerned for organizational and representational
are essential. There should be an overall purposes will again follow the community
coordinating mechanism chaired by the structure. For example, the next level up is
government authority, UNHCR and/or an likely to be community units of about 80
operational partner, and this mechanism to 100 people, grouped according to liv-
may be complemented by sectoral/cluster ing arrangements, followed by groups of
committees. communities of about 1,000 people. It is
29.Certain activities are interdependent important to respect the needs of minor-
or have a common component and will ity groups and be sensitive to any tension
need particularly close coordination at site in the city. Different settlement services
level. For example, environmental sanita- are decentralized to these different levels
tion measures must be closely coordinated e.g. water and latrines at household lev-
with health services, and the home visit- el, and education and health facilities at
ing component of health care with feeding community and larger levels. The physi-
programmes and community services. cal layout of the site will have a major in-
fluence on social organization.
30.A rapid changeover of outside per-
sonnel can create major problems for site Generally, the smaller the settlement the
level coordination, though some special- better the overriding aim should be to
ists may obviously be required for short avoid high density, large camps
periods. The importance of continuity is
proportional to the closeness of contact Community participation
with the refugees. Operational partners at 33.Refugee women, girls, men and boys
the site should have a standard orientation must be involved in designing and plan-
and briefing procedure to ensure continu- ning measures to meet their needs and in
ity of action and policy despite changes in implementing those measures. The way
personnel. the community is organized can help en-
sure that the refugees specific skills are
Community organization made use of and that the personnel for
31.The importance of preserving and pro- services at the site will come from the
moting a sense of community is stressed refugees.
in chapters 11 and 12 on community based 34.There are three levels of refugee in-
approach and community services and volvement. The first is in the overall plan-
site selection/planning. The approach to ning and organization, for example the
thinking about and understanding site and determination of what is the best, and
community organization should be from culturally most appropriate, solution to a
the smallest unit the family upwards, problem, given the constraints of the situ-
rather than imposed from the largest unit ation. This level requires that the refugees
downwards, which would be unlikely have a social organization within their
to reflect natural or existing community community that is properly representative
structures and concerns. of women and men of all age groups and
32.The basic planning unit for site or- backgrounds. As the previous social struc-
ganization and management is likely tures may have been severely disrupted,
therefore to be the family, subject to this may take time to re-build but will be
important to the success of the emergency conditions, mother and child care and the
operation and for the future of the refu- use of unfamiliar latrines is an example.
gees. Meanwhile, urgent action to meet As another example, if unfamiliar foods
evident needs must of, course, be taken. or preparation methods have to be used,
then immediate practical instruction is es-
35.The second level of involvement is
sential. Information and guidance of this
in the practical engagement of refugees
sort are best given by the refugees them-
skills and resources wherever possible in
selves (including women and youth), with
the implementation of the operation. The
outside assistance. Information and in-
refugees themselves should run their own
creased awareness regarding their rights

and Site Level Organization

community as far as possible but special
and obligations and the roles of the differ-
attention is required to ensure respect
ent actors protecting and assisting them is
for individual rights and gender equality.
Where suitably qualified or experienced

refugees exist, such as nurses, teachers Refugee representation
and traditional health workers, they must
obviously be involved. Where they do not, 38.Refugee settlements are not, typical-
outside assistance should ensure that refu- ly, simple replicas of former community
gees are trained to take over from those life, and large numbers of refugees may

who are temporarily filling the gap. Other be living temporarily outside their tradi-
services include feeding programmes, tional community leadership structures.
sanitation, (maintenance and cleaning of However, in nearly every emergency,
latrines, drainage, garbage disposal, vec- some refugee leaders, spokespersons, or
tor control, etc.) construction (shelters and respected elders will be present. It will be
communal buildings) education, tracing necessary to define with the community
and general administration. Note that an the method of choosing leaders to ensure
outreach programme to identify women fair representation with gender parity and
and adolescents, who often have the nec- meaningful participation in both the plan-
essary skills, might be necessary. ning and implementation of the emergen-
cy programme. The more the settlement
36.At the same time, other traditional differs from former community life, the
skills for example in construction or more important this action is likely to be
well-digging should be harnessed. It is to the success of the programme.
important to study roles and responsibili-
ties to see what women and men do to However, be aware that some new power
ensure implementation builds on these structures might emerge, for example
skills and supports gender equality. While through force, and may exercise de facto
control over the population, but may not
specific measures to develop self-reli-
be representative.
ance will vary with each situation, their
aim should always be to avoid or reduce 39.The system of refugee representation
the refugees dependence on outside as- should:
sistance. The more successful measures
i. Be truly representative of the differ-
are generally those based on methods and
ent interests and sectors of the com-
practices familiar to the refugees.
munity, and of both men and women.
37.The third level is in providing infor- ii. Include various levels of representa-
mation to the community on life in their tives and leaders to ensure adequate
new situation, which may be markedly representation and access for indi-
different from their previous experience. vidual refugees particularly minority
Public health education in such matters groups and those with specific needs.
as the importance of hygiene in crowded
iii. Avoid unconscious bias, for example all personnel on the Secretary Generals
on the basis of language. Bear in Bulletin on SEA and Code of Conduct);
mind that there is no reason why a and that service providers (Implement-
refugee should be representative of ing Partners/Operational Partners) are
the community simply because he identified, designated and mainstreamed
or she has a common language with on age, gender and diversity perspective.
those providing outside assistance. The monitoring and evaluation of service
iv. Be based on traditional leadership provision should be carried out in coor-
systems as much as possible but dination with the women, girls, men and
provided these allow proper represen- boys of the community. Advocacy and
tation (for example, if the traditional interface with national authorities at all
leadership system excludes women, levels, in order to create the humanitarian
there should nevertheless be women space necessary for an effective delivery
representatives) and the system re- of protection and assistance, is an integral
spects the rights of individual mem- part of the camp coordination function. It
bers of the city. also includes the responsibility to set-up
v. Be consistent with the physical divi- and maintain information management
sions in the layout of the site. systems that allow all partners and service
vi. Represent the interests for children providers to access and share operational
and include adolescent girls and boys. data at camp and inter-camp levels.

Camp administration
Camp coordination and camp
management in IDP situations 42. All responsibilities, such as overall
camp supervision and security; maintain-
Introduction ing law and order as well as the civil-
40. Although UNHCR is the designated ian and non-militarized character of the
cluster lead for Camp Coordination and camp; and the issuance of documentation,
Camp Management (CCCM), in reality, permits and licenses (birth certificates, ID
there are at least three main actors with cards, travel permits, etc.) all fall under
specific roles and responsibilities: the prerogative of governments, national
and local (civilian) authorities, and are
Actor Responsibility
called camp administration.
Governments and national Camp administration
authorities (supervision) 43. It is an obligation of the camp admin-
UN Agencies/ International Camp coordination istration to secure the land and occupancy
Organizations designated
as IASC cluster leads rights for a temporary settlement, as well
Camp Managing Agency, Camp management as to compensate the legal owners. The
normally national or administration must also prevent owners
international NGOs and proprietors from enforcing claims
against individual camp residents and /or
Camp coordination
agencies working in the camp that would
41. Camp coordination takes place at two be tantamount to payments (rent, sale,
levels: at the inter-camp (or national) lev- compensation, etc.) or which would result
el and at the level of an individual camp. in an eviction, dislocation or any other
Camp coordination is used to describe all further displacement of those living in the
responsibilities linked to the lead develop- camp before they can regain their original
ment of national or regional plans, includ- homes, in safety and dignity, or be provid-
ing exit strategies and solutions. It must ed with shelter that conforms to minimum
ensure that international standards are ap- standards.
plied and maintained (including training
Camp management the responsibility of another cluster (nutri-
44. Camp management focuses on: tion, water and sanitation for example). It
is the responsibility of CCCM agencies to
i. establishing camp governance and identify such gaps and bring them to the
community participation (with 50% attention of the respective cluster lead.
female participation) / mobilization
mechanisms; Key references
ii. maintenance of camp infra-structure; A Framework for People-Oriented Plan-
iii. data collection and sharing; ning in Refugee Situations: taking account
iv. providing defined services; of Women, Men and Children, UNHCR,

and Site Level Organization

v. monitoring the service delivery with Geneva, 1992.
the participation of the community
Partnership: A Programme Management
and of other providers in accordance
Handbook for UNHCRs Partners, UN-
with agreed standards, in order to

HCR, Geneva 1996.
avoid the duplication of activities and
emergence of protection and assist- UNHCR Handbook; People-Oriented
ance gaps; and Planning at Work: Using POP to Improve
vi. ensuring community complaints UNHCR Programming, UNHCR, Gene-

mechanisms are established and va, 1994.
known to all. Norwegian Refugee Council: Camp Man-
Camp management agencies should ap- agement Toolkit, 2004
ply a community-based approach and
IASC gender mainstreaming handbook
have a proven track record in practical
application of gender equality policies (Draft) 2006
and child protection as well as in the UNHCR Handbook on Protection of Dis-
protection of the rights of women and
placed Women and Girls (Provisional re-
lease) 2006
45. Camp Coordination and Camp Man- UNHCR Tool for Participatory Assess-
agement (CCCM) agencies do not have ment, 2006
the responsibility to provide services
within a camp environment that fall under

Annex 1
Elements of a coordinating body
Each of the factors listed below would need to be evaluated against the particular con-
text and policy of the host government. At the beginning of the operation UNHCR
should secure a suitable meeting room for coordination meetings.

The nature of the coordinating body and its usefulness will be determined partly by its
1. Criteria for participation:
i. Provision of direct services
ii. Regular attendance at coordination meetings
iii. Compliance with service guidelines and standards
iv. Regular financial contributions to coordination mechanism

2.Other organizations may wish to attend coordination meetings without full partici-
pation in the coordination mechanism:
i. Organizations which may choose not to fully participate, e.g. ICRC
ii. Funding organizations and donor representatives
iii. Public interest groups
iv. Military forces
Functions of the coordination body
1. Meetings.
These may be needed at the central and the site level, and include:
i. overall coordination meetings, which may be needed daily at the start of an emer-
ii. sectoral committee meetings (e.g. health, registration, water); and
iii. conferences.

2. Identification of needed services and soliciting voluntary agencies to assume re-

sponsibilities for the provision of these services.
3. Monitor respect for International Protection standards.
4. Allocation of donated commodities and financial contributions.
5. Guidelines and standards for the provision of services.
6. Orientation of newly arrived agencies.
7. Orientation of incoming staff.
8. Research and documentation.
9. Support for settlement coordination committees.
10. Coordination with agencies outside the country.
11. Information sharing.
12. Fund raising.
13. Gender balance in staffing.
14. Ensure training of all humanitarian and government personnel on the Secretary
Generals Bulletin and Code of Conduct.
Annex 2 Tips on running a meeting
1. Set clear objectives for the meeting
Why is the meeting needed and what is the expected outcome? (Communication?
Problem-solving? Planning? Decision-making?)
Who should attend the meeting?
Should the meeting be formal or informal?

2. Prepare an agenda
Make a written agenda with clear objectives and approximate timing for each item.

and Site Level Organization

Ensure that the agenda states why the meeting is needed.
Make sure the agenda is realistic (not too many items) and sequence the items ap-
Put the difficult, important issues near the beginning (perhaps dealing first with

something quick and simple).
Plan breaks if the meeting is more than 1 hour in length.
Avoid mixing information sharing and decision-making in the same meeting hold
separate meetings for these functions.

3. Documentation
Circulate a detailed agenda, list of participants and any background documentation
(such as minutes of previous meetings) in advance (but not too far ahead),
2 to 3 days before the meeting is best.
Indicate the time, place and duration of the meeting.
Prepare audio-visual materials in advance.

4. Seating arrangements
Choose a circular or rectangular table.
Avoid a long, narrow table if possible as this makes communication more difficult.
In an informal setting, a semicircle of chairs facing a flip chart is the best.
Everyone should be able to see each other.
Participants should not be too crowded or too far apart.

5. During the meeting

Start on time.
Have the participants introduce themselves if they do not know each other.
Clarify the objective(s) of the meeting and review the agenda and time limits.
Outline how the meeting will be conducted (methodology).
Identify the rapporteur or secretary for the meeting.
Ask the participants if they agree to the agenda and be flexible on minor changes if
there is consensus.
If applicable, review action items of previous meeting(s).
Make sure you have everyones attention before opening the meeting.

6. During the meeting the chairman or facilitator should:
Avoid getting personally involved in the discussions.
Keep an overall view of the objective(s).
Do not lose the thread of the argument.
Stick to the agenda (but be flexible within agenda items).
Ask for information and opinions.
Summarize and reformulate key points (have the rapporteur or secretary use the
flip chart to record the points as they occur).
Clarify and elaborate where needed.
Concentrate on key issues and stop digressions.
Test for consensus.
Ensure everyone gets a chance to speak.
Assign responsibilities and deadlines for agreed tasks (action, responsibility, and
date by agenda item).
Set date, time and place for next meeting.
Close the meeting on time, on a decided and positive note.

7. After the meeting

Keep a record of the meeting. It should include the following basic items:
i. a list of the participants noting those who were invited but did not attend, apolo-
gies list;
ii. the conclusions, decisions, recommendations and the follow up action required, by
agenda item, with the name of the person responsible for action and time frame;
iii. the time, date and place of the next meeting.

Note: working in small groups

Dividing the participants into small groups can be useful in large meetings (more than
12 participants), when discussions are lengthy.
Depending on the subject, it can allow in-depth discussion on specific questions and
possibly help to solve problems.


7 and Site Level Organization
Implementing arrangements

Paragraph Page

Introduction 1 116

Implementing arrangements 2-12 116

Implementing arrangements
Degree of operational responsibility of UNHCR 4-6 116-117
The operational role of the government 7-8 117
The operational role of UN agencies 9 117
Non-governmental organizations 10-12 117-118

Implementing procedures 13-29 118
The Letter of Instruction (LOI) 13-16 118
Implementing agreements 17-21 118-119
Administrative expenditure by implementing partners 22 119

Direct UNHCR expenditure 23 119
Procurement 24-28 119-120
Contributions in-kind 29 120

Monitoring, reporting and evaluation 30-37 120-121

Special considerations 38-48 121-123

Payment for the purchase or rent of
refugee-occupied land 39 121
Payment to refugees 40-43 121-122
Provision of services to the local population 44-45 122
Corruption 46 122
Political and religious activity 47-48 123

Key references
Annex 1: Sample Letter of Mutual Intent to Conclude an Agreement 124
Annex 2: Procurement by a UNHCR Branch Office (Field location) 129
Annex 3: Workplan 133
Annex 4: Example of a Standard Emergency Situation
Report (SITREP) 79-80 134
Annex 5: Format for reporting on population in Emergency
Situation Reports 81 136

Introduction 3. The origin of this policy is found in the
1.Appropriate arrangements to imple- Statute of UNHCR. Article 1 requires the
ment an emergency operation will be fun- High Commissioner to seek permanent
damental to its success. UNHCR has a solutions for the problem of refugees by
unique statutory responsibility for the pro- assisting Governments and, subject to the
vision of international protection. How- approval of the Governments concerned,
ever, there is no such unique statutory private organizations.... In accordance
responsibility for the provision and distri- with Article 10, the High Commissioner
bution of material assistance to refugees, shall administer any funds, public or
which might be carried out by other or- private, which he/she receives for assist-
ganizations governmental, UN agencies, ance to refugees, and shall distribute them
NGOs, as well as directly by UNHCR. among the private and, as appropriate,
There are a number of factors which will public agencies which he/she deems best
influence the implementing arrangements qualified to administer such assistance.
for assistance operations. This chapter
outlines implementing arrangements and
procedures in emergencies including mon- Degree of operational responsibility of
itoring, reporting and evaluation. UNHCR UNHCR
guidelines for standard procedures must 4.Although UNHCR normally seeks to
be referred to for more detail. implement indirectly through an imple-
menting partner, there are circumstances
in which it may be necessary, especially
Implementing arrangements in the interests of refugees, for UNHCR to
assume greater operational responsibility.
2.Depending on the scale and needs of UNHCRs degree of direct operational re-
the emergency, a number of different im- sponsibility will vary for each emergency
plementing arrangements may be needed situation, and also with time as the opera-
in the various sectors. One organization tion evolves.
might have operational responsibility for
health care, and another for logistics. Even 5.Factors influencing the degree of op-
within a sector, operational responsibility erational responsibility undertaken by
may have to be split up. Different opera- UNHCR, other organizations and the gov-
tional partners might have responsibility ernment include the following:
for health care in different refugee sites or i. The governments capacity to man-
communities. In UNHCR terminology, age the refugee emergency, because
an operating partner is an organization of the scale, nature, location of the
or agency that works in partnership with emergency, and ability of existing
UNHCR to protect and assist refugees, government structures to respond.
and an implementing partner is an opera- ii. The existence and capacity of other
tional partner that signs an implementing organizations in the country, and in
agreement with UNHCR and is partially the sectors where assistance is most
or fully funded by UNHCR. needed.
iii. The stage of the emergency. At the
Whenever possible, UNHCR seeks to
implement assistance indirectly through
start of an emergency, the govern-
an implementing partner rather than di- ment itself frequently has full opera-
rectly. tional responsibility. For example,
a new influx is often first assisted by
the local district and provincial au-
thorities. On the other hand, in other Every effort should be made to resist the
circumstances, it is often at the start creation of such specialized departments.
of an emergency where UNHCR has
the greatest operational responsibil- The operational role of UN agencies
ity because there may be no suitable 9.UNHCR always retains responsibility
operational/implementing partner for the protection needs of refugees, but the
immediately available within the refugees material needs are likely to fall
country. within sectors for which other organiza-
6.Where UNHCR does assume a high tions in the UN system have special com-
degree of operational responsibility, swift petence through their mandate, experience
action is needed to ensure that the neces- and capacity, e.g. WFP and UNICEF (see

Implementing arrangements
sary personnel and expertise are available, chapter 16 on WFP roles and responsibili-
by obtaining the rapid deployment of suf- ties on food assistance). The roles and re-
ficient UNHCR staff (see chapter 23 on sponsibilities of UN agencies are defined
administration and emergency staffing). through their mandates and MOUs, and
At the same time, other organizations situation-specific responsibilities are set
should be identified and mobilized to as- out in exchanges of letters and agreements
sume responsibilities in the various sec- this should avoid duplication, minimize
tors as soon as possible. gaps, and clarify roles on the basis of rec-

ognition of comparative advantages.
The operational role of the government
7.Whatever the implementing arrange- Non-governmental organizations
ments, overall responsibility remains with 10.Where the government is not the im-
the host government, assisted by UNHCR. plementing partner in a particular sector,
The governments concurrence must, in there may be advantages to selecting a
accordance with Article 1 of the Statute, national organization or an NGO with the
be sought on the proposed implementing required capacity as a partner. National
arrangements. or locally-based organizations may al-
ready be delivering emergency assistance,
8.The government may not have the
would already have staff on the ground,
capacity to be the primary operational or-
and would already be familiar with the
ganization, but may play a major role in
the implementation of various activities
of UNHCR and donors. In this case, it 11.Many international NGOs have great
is preferable to ensure that the policy arm experience of refugee emergencies and
of the government (e.g. the Ministry of some can deploy teams and resources at
the Interior) is separate from the opera- short notice, both for specific sectors and
tional entities, since, as recipients of UN- for general management. In addition to
HCR funds, the relationship with the latter their own staff, they will also know of a
is substantially different. wide circle of individuals with the appro-
priate skills and experience. International
It is preferable that the implementation NGOs already working in the country
of programmes be carried out by exist- may be strengthened by their headquar-
ing line ministries, e.g. the Ministry of
Health for health programmes, Ministry
ters. For instance, under the overall re-
of Education, Ministry for Gender etc. sponsibility of the national Red Cross or
As a rule, new government departments Red Crescent Society, IFRC/ICRC may
should not be specifically created to re- be able to strengthen quickly the capacity
spond to the refugee emergency. of the national society to implement the
emergency operation.

12.Criteria for the selection of imple- needs, pending the formulation of an as-
menting partners may be found in chapter sistance project based on a detailed needs
4 of the UNHCR Manual. Nonetheless, and resources assessment. Thus, in order
it is important to select partners with a to ensure continued assistance once these
sound track record in community-based funds are exhausted or the initial project
approach in child protection and promot- is terminated, the manager of the opera-
ing womens rights and gender equality. tion should, as soon as possible, send to
Headquarters a detailed project proposal
Implementing procedures for the issuance of an LOI, in accordance
with the procedures set out in Chapter 4 of
Implementing procedures are subject the UNHCR Manual.
to change. The forms, terms, documen-
tation, procedures and references (e.g. 15.The minimum information which the
chapter 4 of the UNHCR Manual) referred Field Office must send to Headquarters
to in this section from paragraphs 13 to in order for the initial spending authority
31 may change from time to time. How- to be issued is a budget proposal in US
ever, the basic principles should remain dollars at the sector level. No project de-
the same.
scription or work plan is required.
13.Authority to implement activities 16.Actual expenditures must be charged
envisaged in an operations plan must be to the appropriate project under which im-
given formally through an implementing plementation is taking place and must be
instrument which defines the conditions recorded at a more detailed level (i.e. cost
which govern project implementation and center, programme, sector activity, situa-
authorizes the expenditure of funds. Such tion and account code (former FMIS sub-
authorization is usually given through a item), as well as other MSRP chartfields
Letter of Instruction (LOI) which author- such as Theme or Donor Restriction,
izes the UNHCR Representative to im- as required. Procedures concerning dis-
plement projects directly or to enter into bursements and payment vouchers must
implementing agreements with imple- adhere to the existing Financial Rules.
menting partners.
Implementing agreements
Any party disbursing UNHCR funds
must have a formal signed agreement 17.Implementation of all or part of a
with UNHCR. project may be sub-contracted to one or
more implementing partners. A party dis-
14. However, in order to allow for im- bursing UNHCR funds must have a for-
plementation to commence prior to the mal signed agreement with UNHCR. The
establishment of a formal LOI, particular- agreement must be based on the internal
ly if it is not possible to reallocate funds delegation of authority, and must com-
under an existing LOI, Headquarters ply with the terms of the authority (i.e.
can give the Representative in a country initial spending authority or an LOI) and
where an emergency is rapidly evolving the Financial Rules. The standard clauses
the immediate authority to incur expen- which must figure in any implementing
ditures, and to enter into agreements for agreement are described in Chapter 4 of
project implementation with implement- the UNHCR Manual.
ing partners. Such authority will take
the form of a transfer of appropriations 18.If the government or an internation-
and the issuance of the related spending al organization advances relief supplies
authority. The latter is not intended to from their own resources, UNHCR may
cover the entire emergency operation, but agree in writing to reimburse them in cash
to permit a rapid response to immediate or kind, provided the maximum US dollar
commitment is specified and does not ex- the import and transport of relief supplies
ceed uncommitted funds available under (traffic and landing rights, tax and customs
the existing authority. Any such commit- exemptions, etc.).
ments should immediately be reported to
Headquarters. Administrative expenditure by imple-
menting partners
19.An agreement with the govern-
ment covering the provision of assist- 22.UNHCR looks to implementing part-
ance is quite separate from the admin- ners to contribute their own resources to
istrative agreement that governs the the refugee programme, and to develop the
status of the High Commissioners repre- capacity to meet their own support costs,
in particular their headquarters support

Implementing arrangements
sentation in the country. Where this admin-
istrative agreement (often referred to as the costs. However, for international NGOs,
UNHCR Country Agreement) needs to headquarters support costs can be covered
be concluded, special instructions will be up to a maximum of 5 %, but only at the
given by Headquarters. See also annexes request of the partner. UNHCR recog-
to the Checklist for the Emergency Admin- nizes, however, that certain types of sup-
istrator for examples of such agreements. port costs could be a legitimate charge on
UNHCR voluntary funds. Support costs
Letter of Intent (as opposed to operational costs) are de-
fined in chapter 4 of the UNHCR Manual,

20.If the implementing partner must start
as are the guidelines applicable to the cov-
providing assistance before there is time
erage of such costs.
to conclude an agreement, a signed Mu-
tual Letter of Intent to Conclude an Agree- Direct UNHCR expenditure
ment can authorize the first installment 23.In many cases, there may be a need
of funds. This is a temporary arrangement for direct UNHCR project expenditure in
until there has been time to develop the addition to programme delivery, and ad-
detail of the project agreement. The letter ministrative support. This might include
must include certain basic clauses. Annex international procurement by UNHCR,
1 contains a sample format for such a let- clearing, storage and internal transport
ter and the basic clauses. expenses for contributions in-kind, and
initial direct operational expenditure by
UNHCR Field Officers at the refugee site.
21.The form of the agreement will de-
pend on the circumstances and on the Procurement
identity of the implementing partner. The 24.The Representative may enter into a
agreements exist in two different formats. contract for the procurement of goods and
Bipartite agreements are for projects services up to a certain limit (US$20,000
implemented by a governmental or a non- in 2006), based on the results of a com-
governmental organization. Tripartite petitive bidding procedure.
agreements are for projects implemented
by a non-governmental organization and 25.Where the Representative needs to
where the host government is a third sig- enter into a contract (or series of related
natory to the agreement. The individual contracts1) in excess of US$20,000 and
signing on behalf of UNHCR should be 1
Related purchases are a series of contracts
the addressee of the LOI. The agreement with one single vendor within the previous period
sets out the responsibilities of each party, of 12 months excluding contracts that have been
approved by the Headquarters Committee on Con-
for example the governments contribu- tracts (CoC). CoC approval is required for related
tions to the programme (land, services purchases of US$200,000 or more; LCC approval
etc.) and its undertakings on facilitating is required from US$20,000 up to US$200,000.
below US$150,000, approval must be value of the contribution. The addressee
obtained either from the Local Contracts of the relevant LOI is required to provide
Committee, if such has been established, reports from the field to Headquarters on
or from the Regional Committee on Con- the arrival and distribution of the con-
tracts (see below) or if there is no Local or tribution. Paragraph 53 of chapter 9 on
Regional Committee from the Headquar- external relations discusses contributions
ters Committee on Contracts (CoC). A in-kind received by the Field.
Local Contracts Committee (LCC) can be
established when circumstances demand, Careful negotiation is necessary when
accepting in-kind contributions. Most
for example at the beginning of an emer-
of the time these donations do not cover
gency where required goods and services costs for transportation, storage and
are available locally. It can only be estab- distribution which could be very high at
lished with the approval of Headquarters the time of emergency. If theses costs
(according to the procedures in Annex 2). are not covered then funds must be al-
located through the existing LOI and di-
26. For contracts in excess of US$150,000, rectly implemented.
approval is required from the Headquar-
ters Committee on Contracts. In some Monitoring, reporting and evaluation
cases, Regional Contracts Committees
30.Monitoring is the ongoing review of
(RCCs) exist or may be established with
an operation or project during its imple-
authority above US$150,000. Represent-
mentation to ensure that inputs, activities,
atives may resort to an RCC if there is one
and outputs are proceeding according to
for their region and the contract is within
plans (including budget and work sched-
its threshold.
ules). Monitoring tracks progress towards
27.In all cases, the Representative must objectives, and that progress should be an-
ensure that there is always due assessment alysed and evaluated by management, who
of the available alternatives, including can make improvements and take correc-
competitive bidding, before procuring any tive measures to better achieve those ob-
goods or services. jectives. Monitoring can be summed up
28.Procurement procedures are described in the question: Are we doing the thing
in chapter 8 of the UNHCR Manual, and right?
are set out in Annex 2. 31.Careful and close monitoring of the
activities and outputs is essential. An
Contributions in-kind agreed work plan, which is mandatory in
29.Contributions in-kind may be made a sub-project agreement with partner, al-
towards needs foreseen under the emer- lows project managers to identify target
gency programme. Whether these are dates for the completion of essential de-
made bilaterally or through UNHCR, their liverables and as such is a monitoring tool
value (generally assessed on the same ba- (see Annex 3). Whatever the implement-
sis as foreseen in the budget costing) will ing arrangements, a UNHCR presence
normally be credited against the appropri- at, or at least frequent visits by the same
ate budget item, and the cash requirements person to, the site of the refugees will be
through UNHCR for that item reduced ac- required.
cordingly. This mechanism may need to 32.Control of UNHCR funds by the UN-
be carefully explained to the government HCR field office and operational partners,
and implementing partners. For all contri- and monitoring and evaluation, should be
butions in-kind made through UNHCR, a in accordance with established UNHCR
separate project or an in-kind LOI will procedures and the relevant clauses of
be established by Headquarters for the the LOI. Proper project control, includ-
ing the close monitoring of obligation and In addition to regular sitrep reporting on
expenditure levels, is particularly impor- all aspects of the operation, specific re-
tant in an emergency because of the risk of ports will be required for various sectors
over-expenditure and the need to reallo- like protection/SGBV, health etc.
cate under-used resources without delay.
37.Regular reports should be made by
33. Projects should also be evaluated with the implementing partner to UNHCR at
the community so that the goals of the field level. The reporting obligations of
project, and their relevance and achiev- implementing partners must be set out in
ability, can be analysed by the community the relevant agreements signed with them.
itself. This can be summed up in the ques- The Field must also send regular reports

Implementing arrangements
tion Are we doing and have we done the to Headquarters - implementing partners
right thing?. reports that are forwarded to Headquarters
must always be accompanied by an analy-
Sufficient information must be available sis and comments from the Representa-
to decision-makers so that the operation
can be adjusted to meet changing needs
or to correct shortcomings.
Special considerations
34.Participatory monitoring and evalua- 38.In an emergency, staff may be faced
tion should not be considered as time con- with a number of questions on which the

suming detractions from protecting and following guidance may be helpful.
assisting refugees, but as important tools
in an emergency to ensure that activities Payment for the purchase or rent of
being carried out retain their relevance in land occupied by persons concerning
rapidly changing situations, and continue UNHCR
to address the most urgent problems. The 39.As a matter of policy, UNHCR does
different circumstances of women, chil- not buy or rent land, which the govern-
dren, and adolescent boys and girls; and ment of the country of asylum is expected
groups with specific needs such as older to provide. Headquarters approval is re-
persons and minority groups should be quired for exceptions to this policy. Con-
identified and monitored closely. Their struction on the land may, however, be
circumstances could and should be used financed by UNHCR.
as benchmarks for monitoring the effec-
tiveness of the overall operation. Payment to refugees

35.Reports should be in standard formats 40.The issue of paying refugees in cash

or cover standard issues, in order to en- or kind for certain assistance activities
sure important information is covered but (e.g. health work, teaching, establishing
avoiding unnecessary detail. Always bear basic infrastructure and shelters) will in-
in mind the purpose of the report, and who evitably arise. How this issue is resolved
will be reading it, keeping it concise and to can have a crucial effect on a settlements
the point. Energy should not be wasted on character.
exchanging information that is not acted
Payment can destroy the sense of re-
upon a report that is not read and acted sponsibility refugees feel for their wel-
upon is a waste of paper and time. fare.
36.See Annex 4 for a suggested format However, the absence of payment may
for a standard emergency situation report. mean that tasks essential to the settle-
Situation reports should be sent as a
ments well-being are either not done or
matter of routine. have to be done by paid outside labour.

41.In the first days of a settlements this remuneration be fairly applied to all
existence payment to refugees would not refugees doing broadly the same work. A
normally be appropriate. In this start-up major cause of discord at many refugee
phase refugees should assume their re- sites has been the payment by different or-
sponsibility towards themselves and their ganizations of markedly different rates to
fellows to participate in the establishment refugees for the same work, particularly in
of their settlement. Even payment-in-kind the area of education.
is probably inappropriate at this stage. In
addition to the unfortunate impression of A standard payment rate is essential.
creating a right to payment, it may also If there are different levels of skill this
involve commitments which cannot con- should be recognized and discussed in
tinue to be met, or have to be met at the consultation with the refugees.
expense of other assistance intended for
the entire settlement. Problems with the Provision of services to the local popu-
supply system are almost inevitable at the lation
beginning of a settlements life and no 44.The local population should not see
group should in such circumstances get the refugees as a burden, because of their
extra commodities to the direct detriment effect on existing local services and en-
of others. vironment, nor should the refugees be a
42.In the longer-term, certain types cause of resentment, because of benefits
of community work frequently start to which may seem to accrue only to them.
emerge as areas where standards will drop So activities to benefit the refugees, such
if some form of payment is not given. This as maintaining or improving the local in-
is often the case with key public health frastructure (roads, hospitals and schools)
services whose importance is not always or to look after the local environment,
correctly understood by the refugees. Be- could help avoid or diminish resentment
fore starting any payment scheme, calcu- on the part of the local population.
late its full potential cost and ensure that 45.Bilateral aid programmes and other
the required extra funds or food are avail- organizations, both within and outside the
able. The continuing financial implica- UN system, should be encouraged to help
tions for a large refugee population may affected nationals. Assistance available to
be considerable. refugees should take account of the condi-
It should be borne in mind that, after pay- tions of nationals in the area and a flexible
ment is introduced for one type of job or approach should be adopted the princi-
for one group of workers, others will see ple is that provision of services to refugees
this as a precedent and common criteria should not be higher than that available to
must be agreed upon by agencies. the local population.
It will be necessary to have some very Corruption
clear but restrictive criteria for paid com-
46.UNHCR should ensure that all con-
munity work. The wage system intro-
cerned with the provision of assistance
duced should not inhibit progress towards
know clearly what UNHCR policy is re-
a self-reliant settlement. Those agencies
garding corruption. UNHCR is obliged by
responsible for different sectoral services
donors and by its mandate to ensure that
should meet the wage costs of refugees
all funds distributed by it are properly used
working in that sector.
for the benefit of refugees and all transac-
43.As the refugees are already support- tions must be in accordance with the Fi-
ed, remuneration levels should be well nancial Rules. UNHCR should clearly
below national rates. It is important that specify which practices are acceptable and
proper and which are not. It should also traditional partners of UNHCR, and the
be clear that breaches of the policy will separation of religious and other activities
not be tolerated, and this message will be is long established and well understood,
reinforced if rigorous monitoring and con- but for others it may be useful to recall
trol are apparent to all parties. the basic principles. Religious activities
by those outside the refugee community,
Political and religious activity where permitted by the authorities, must
47.Everyone has a right to political and be clearly dissociated from the delivery of
religious expression: however, refugees assistance and services to refugees.
are also obliged to conform to the laws and No proselytizing should take place in as-
regulations of the host country as well as

Implementing arrangements
sociation with the provision of services
to the measures taken for the maintenance such as education, health and community
of public order. UNHCR itself is obliged services.
to be non-political.2 Responsibility for
security and public order at the refugee Key references
site always rests with the government. To
Partnership: An Operations Management
help maintain order, site planning should
Handbook for UNHCRs Partners, UN-
take into account any need there may be to
HCR, Geneva, 2003.
physically separate any previously hostile
UNHCR Manual, Chapter 4, Operations

groups among the refugees.
Management 1995 (with revisions up to
48.Other organizations active in the de-
livery of assistance may have a religious
aspect in their normal work. Some are UNHCR Manual, Chapter 8, Supply Man-
agement, 2006.

Para. 2 of the Statute of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees states: the work of
the High Commissioner shall be of an entirely
non-political character; it shall be humanitarian
and social...
Annex 1: Sample Letter of Mutual Intent to Conclude an Agreement



Notre/Our code:
I should like to refer to our exchanges (add details and dates as appropriate, e.g., let-
ters, meetings, draft plans/budgets, etc.) concerning the implementation by . . . . . . . .
(implementing partner), hereinafter referred to as . . . , on behalf of the Office of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, hereinafter referred to as UNHCR,
of a programme of emergency assistance to . . . . . (origin and number of beneficiaries)
in . . . . . . . . . (location).
The programme of emergency assistance (reference . . . . . . . [sub-project symbol]) will
cover activities for an initial period of (number) months from (date) to (date).
It is my understanding that it is our mutual intention to conclude as soon as possible an
UNHCR Standard Sub-Project Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the Agreement)
governing our cooperation in the above-mentioned programme. The conclusion of such
an Agreement is mandatory under the Financial Rules of UNHCR whenever funds are
made available by UNHCR.
The Agreement will incorporate, inter alia, the attached key provisions (Annex A) and
will require . . . . . . . (name of implementing partner) to report in narrative and financial
form on the use of all contributions received from UNHCR.
In order to permit UNHCR to exceptionally begin with the implementation of the above-
mentioned programme and to transfer moneys, I should be grateful if you would con-
firm in writing below your consent that the use of the sum of . . . . . . . . . (currency and
amount) for the activities and budget outlined in Annex B, will be considered as subject
to the terms of the Agreement to be concluded with between UNHCR and .. (name of
implementing partner).

Thank you for your cooperation.

(name, signature and title of the addressee of the Emergency Letter of Instruction)

I confirm that I am duly authorized to represent and engage . (name of implementing

partner) and I agree on behalf of the latter that the use of the sum of . . . . . . . . . (cur-
rency and amount) will be considered as subject to the terms of the Agreement to be
concluded with UNHCR.
(name, signature and title of the addressee of the letter above, and date)

Annex A 6.14 Compliance with Law

Key provisions of the UNHCR Sub-

The Agency shall, at its own expense,
Project Agreement (Bipartite [Agency]) comply with all laws and regulations of its
country of residence or operation, if dif-
Obligations of the Agency ferent, and assume all liabilities and obli-
gations imposed by any law or regulation
6.03 Inspection and Audit with respect to its performance under this
The implementing Agency shall facilitate Agreement.
inspection and audit of Sub-Projects un-
der its implementation by a specialized General Conditions
audit firm contracted through UNHCR

Implementing arrangements
Representations in the country of op- 8.01 Copyright, Patents and other Pro-
prietary Rights
erations. However, sub-projects directly
implemnete by UNHCR will be subject UNHCR shall be entitled to all intellec-
to audit and inspection by UNHCR Au- tual property and other proprietary rights
dit Service of the United Nations Office including but not limited to patents, cop-
of the Internal Oversight Services, the yrights, and trademarks, with regard to
UNHCR Inspector Generals Office, or any products or documents and other materials
other person duly authorized by UNHCR. which bear a direct relation to or are pro-
Should they at any time wish to do so, the duced or prepared or collected in conse-

United Nations Board of Auditors may also quence of or in the course of the execution
carry out an audit of the Sub-Project. of this Agreement. At UNHCR request,
the Agency shall take all necessary steps,
6.06 Rate of Exchange execute all pertinent documents and gen-
The Agency shall apply the most favora- erally assist in securing such proprietary
ble official rate of exchange for all trans- rights and transferring them to UNHCR in
actions relating to the implementation of compliance with the requirements of the
the Sub-Project. applicable law.

6.07 Taxation and Customs 8.02 Confidentiality

In situations, where equipment bought 8.02.1 The confidentiality of any infor-
by the Agency may be subject to customs mation pertaining to any beneficiary or
duty or taxation, the Agency shall consult group of beneficiaries of the Sub-Project
with UNHCR on whether and how these shall be respected. The contents of any
payments may be exempted under the ap- files, including computerized databases,
plicable international legal instruments. can only be released to persons duly au-
thorized by UNHCR to receive such in-
6.08 Importation Documentation formation, and then only when in the
The Agency shall ensure that all customs interests of the beneficiary or group of
and registration documents, licenses and beneficiaries.
operating permits which may be required 8.02.2 All maps, drawings, photographs,
for the importation of Sub-Project supplies mosaics, plans, reports, recommenda-
and the operation of equipment will be ap- tions, estimates, documents and all oth-
plied for in ample time prior to the fore- er data compiled by or received by the
casted importation date in order to avoid Agency under this Agreement shall be the
delays at the port of entry. The Agency property of UNHCR, shall be treated as
shall indicate to the competent authorities confidential and shall be delivered only
that the Sub-Project supplies are bought to UNHCR Personnel on completion of
with UNHCR funds. work under this Agreement.
8.02.3 The Agency may not communi- consult on the appropriate action to be
cate at any time to any other person, Gov- taken, which may include termination of
ernment or authority external to UNHCR the Agreement, with either Party giving to
information known to it by reason of its the other at least seven days written notice
association with UNHCR which has not of such termination.
been made public, except with the authori-
zation of UNHCR; nor shall the Agency at 8.07 Early Termination
any time use such information to private 8.07.1 If the Agency refuses or fails to
advantage. These obligations do not lapse prosecute any work, or separable part
upon termination of this Agreement. thereof, or violates any term, condition or
requirement of this Agreement, UNHCR
8.03 Privileges and immunities may terminate this Agreement in writing
Nothing in this Agreement, and its An- with immediate effect. Such termination
nexes and Appendices shall be deemed a shall relieve UNHCR from any further ob-
waiver, expressed or implied, of any privi- ligations under this Agreement or liability
leges or immunities enjoyed by UNHCR. for compensation. The Agency shall re-
turn all unspent funds provided under this
8.04 Force majeure and other Agreement and UNHCR property in its
changes in condition possession, if any.
8.04.1 If during the period covered by
8.07.2 UNHCR may terminate forth-
this Agreement, the Agency is prevented with this Agreement at any time should
from carrying out its obligations referred the mandate or the funding of UNHCR
to in the Agreement, this fact shall be re- be curtailed or terminated, in which
ported to UNHCR whereupon the Parties case the Agency shall be reimbursed by
shall decide what arrangements, if any, UNHCR for all reasonable costs incurred
shall be made to further implement or ter- by the Agency prior to receipt of the notice
minate the Agreement. of termination; this does not extend to ex-
8.04.2 Should the number of beneficiar- penditure incurred in excess of the funds
ies, for whom assistance was foreseen un- made available under this Agreement.
der the Sub-Project, significantly change 8.07.3 In the event of any termination by
from the number originally envisaged, or UNHCR under this Article, no payment
if for any reason, changed circumstances shall be due from UNHCR to the Agency
reduce or increase the need for assistance except for work and services satisfactorily
in the amounts as originally foreseen, performed in conformity with the express
UNHCR shall be immediately in- terms of this Agreement. UNHCR shall
formed so that, after mutual consultation, not be liable for any expenditure or obli-
UNHCR can adapt its participation in the gations made in advance or in excess of
Sub-Project to the new situation or discon- remittances actually made, unless these
tinue it as the circumstances may warrant. were expressly authorized by UNHCR.
8.04.3 In the event of, and as soon as
8.07.4 Should the Agency be adjudged
possible after the occurrence of, any cause bankrupt, or be liquidated or become in-
constituting force majeure, the Agency solvent, or should the Agency make an as-
shall give notice and full particulars in signment for the benefit of its creditors, or
writing to UNHCR, of such occurrence or should a Receiver be appointed on account
change if the Agency is thereby rendered of the insolvency of the Agency, UNHCR
unable, wholly or in part, to perform its may, without prejudice to any other right
obligations and meet its responsibilities or remedy it may have under the terms of
under this Agreement. The Parties shall these conditions, terminate this Agreement
forthwith. The Agency shall immediately (f) reports by auditors on the accounts
inform UNHCR of the occurrence of any and activities of the Sub-Project;
of the above events.
10. Audit Certificates
Key provisions of Appendix 1 10.1 Audit Certificate for Government
to the Sub-Project Agreement Implementing Partners
6. Separate Interest-Bearing Bank The Government shall, when UNHCR
Account Agreements have an aggregate budget
The Government or Agency shall deposit value of US$100,000 and above, submit
all remittances received from UNHCR to UNHCR, within three months of the fi-
nal date for liquidation of commitments,

Implementing arrangements
into a separate bank account unless the
deposit into a general or pool account has an audit certificate. Governmental im-
been authorized in this Agreement. The plementing partners should be audited by
use of a general or pool account may be the governments highest audit institution
authorized if the deposit and the use of (Auditor General or Court of Audit). For
UNHCR funds remain traceable. The ac- all UNHCR Agreements having a value of
count into which the UNHCR remittances less than US$100,000, UNHCR reserves
are deposited should be interest bearing. the right to request an audit.
In the case of a general or pool account,

10.2 Audit Certificate for International
any interest earnings shall be apportioned
NGO Implementing Partners
according to the source of funds and a
fair share shall be credited to the UNHCR For all UNHCR Agreements with an ag-
Sub-Project. gregate budget value of US$300,000
and above, UNHCR, in consultation with
8. Maintenance of Financial and the Agency, will engage an audit firm to
Sub-Project Records conduct an independent audit of the Sub-
8.1 The Government or Agency shall Project(s). The audit report and certificate
maintain separate Sub-Project records and shall be submitted to UNHCR within three
accounts containing current information months of the final date for liquidation of
and documentation which, inter alia, shall commitments. They shall state whether
comprise: the final Financial Sub-Project Moni-
toring Report submitted by the Agency
(a) copies of the Agreement(s) and all to UNHCR gives a true and fair view
revisions thereto; of the state of affairs of the Sub-Project
(b) payment vouchers, clearly showing over the period of operation. The report
the Sub-Project symbol, the name of should include such comments as the au-
the payee, the amount, the purpose ditor may deem appropriate in respect of
and date of disbursement, evidenc- Sub-Project operations generally. For all
ing all payments made and with all UNHCR Agreements having a value of
pertinent supporting documentation less than US$300,000, UNHCR reserves
attached; the right to request an audit.
(c) vouchers evidencing the receipt of all
remittances, cash or any other form 10.3 Audit Certificate for National NGO
of credit to the Sub-Project account; Implementing Partners
(d) periodic analyses of actual expendi- For all UNHCR Agreements with an ag-
ture against the Sub-Project budget; gregate budget of US$100,000 and above,
(e) records of all financial commitments UNHCR, in consultation with the Agency,
entered into during the duration of the will engage an audit firm to conduct an
Sub-Project; independent audit of the Sub-Project. The
audit report and certificate shall be sub- generally. For all UNHCR Agreements
mitted to UNHCR, within three months of having a budget of less than US$ 100,000,
the final date for liquidation of commit- UNHCR reserves the right to engage an
ments. They shall state whether the final audit firm.
Financial Sub-Project Monitoring Report
submitted by the Agency to UNHCR United Nations agencies (including IOM)
gives a true and fair view of the state of af- Audit certificates are not required from
fairs of the Sub-Project over the period of these agencies, as the financial statements
operation. The report should include such are audited by the same or comparable au-
comments as the auditor may deem appro- thority that audits UNHCR accounts.
priate in respect of Sub-Project operations

Annex B

Activities and Budget *

Sector-Activity Sector-Activity Budget Amount

Code Description/Details (currency)

Implementing arrangements

Annex 2: Procurement by a UNHCR or consultancies, the procedures described
Branch Offices (Field location). below will apply. The term Purchase Or-
der is to be read as also applying to other
1. Introduction
forms of authorization used in relation to
1.1. The procedures applicable to the contracts for services or corporate or insti-
procurement of goods and/or services by tutional consultancies.
UNHCR Headquarters or UNHCR offic-
es in the field (other than contractual ar- 1.3 In all cases of procurement of goods
rangements for the employment of staff) and/or services, the procedures and con-
vary according to the US dollar value (at trols applied should be in accordance with
the prevailing United Nations rate of ex- Chapter 8 of the UNHCR Manual and
change) of the goods or services, and are must provide an open, competitive, quali-
described below. tative and accountable process to obtain
such goods or services which meet project
1.2 For all purchases of substantial requirements at the lowest available cost.
quantities of relief or other supplies by It is the responsibility of the addressee of
UNHCR offices in the field, Representa- the Letter of Instruction to ensure that the
tives should nominate a purchasing/logis- relevant procedures are adhered to.
tics focal point with a clear line of respon-
sibility. Local purchases will be initiated 1.4 All contracts entered into for the pro-
by, or at least cleared with, the purchas- curement of goods and/or services should
ing/logistics focal point. In all circum- ensure exemption from, or reimbursement
stances, including the evaluation of con- of, all customs duties, levies and direct
tracts for the supply of goods and services taxes on services and goods, supplies or
any other articles imported or domesti-
cally purchased.
Please provide a succinct description of the ac-
tivities to be carried out under this Letter of Intent.
If available, you also may also attach a Budget
1.5 It is the responsibility of the Repre- the witness. The witness shall be selected
sentative to ensure that each UNHCR of- by the Representative and drawn from the
fice in the field maintains a register of all professional or national officer categories.
commercial contracts entered into and that All formal offers will be compared on a
a sequential number is assigned to every Tabulation of Bids form. The recommend-
such contract. ed supplier and the reasons for selecting
that supplier will be stated thereon.
1.7 For a value of less than US$ 1000:
A Purchase Order may be issued without 1.10 For a value of over US$ 20,000 and
recourse to formal tender, provided that up to US$ 150,000 Representatives will
funds are available under the Letter of In- establish a Local Contracts Committee to
struction and that at least three informal consider bids and to make the appropri-
offers or prices have been considered and ate recommendations. Rules and proce-
the best offer has been selected. dures concerning Contract Committees
and their composition are set out below.
1.8 For a value of over US$ 1,000 and
In a country with more than one Field/Sub
up to US$ 5,000:
Office, the Representative may wish to es-
A Purchase Order should be issued pro-
tablish Contract Committees at different
vided that funds are available under the
duty stations. Depending on local costs
Letter of Instruction and that at least three
and current exchange rates, Representa-
formal quotations have been compared
tives may also lower the financial limit
and the best offer has been selected. A
of procurement to be considered by the
written record of the quotations and the
Local Contract Committee. The Commit-
reasons for the selection must be kept.
tee will consider quotations subject to the
1.9 For a value of over US$ 5,000: same conditions as set out in paragraph 1.9
A Purchase Order should be issued provid- above. If appropriate, the Representative
ed that funds are available under the Letter and/or the Committee may wish to request
of Instruction and that selection has been specialist advice from the Programme and
made on the basis of competitive bidding, Technical Support Section or the Supply
obtained in response to a formal Quota- Management Section at Headquarters.
tion Request sent to selected suppliers
1.11 For a value of US$ 150,000 or more:
inviting them to submit sealed quotations
A submission must be made to the Com-
within a specified time frame. Section 6
mittee on Contracts at Headquarters ex-
of UNHCR Supply Manual (Chapter 8)
cept in cases where Headquarters has au-
provide guidelines and an example for a
thorized the establishment of a Regional
Quotation, Tender and Request for propos-
Committee on Contracts as described in 3
al (RFP). The Quotation, Tender or Pro-
below. For submissions to the Headquar-
posal Request must stipulate that all offers
ters Committee on Contracts, a minimum
must be received at the UNHCR office in
number of quotations must be requested
signed and sealed envelopes and marked
and considered by the Local Contract
with the Quotation Request number. All
Committee which will make a proposal
sealed offers received must remain sealed
as to the most suitable supplier to the HQ
and must be kept under lock and key until
Committee on Contracts through the rele-
the expiration of the bid deadline. All bids
vant Desk at Headquarters. Please refer to
must be opened before a witness by the
Section 6, page 2.6.6 in Supply Manual on
recommended number of quotations to be
Officer or the Officer in charge of admin- requested for a specific purchase value. In
istration in the office, and must be initiated cases where Headquarters has authorized
by both the person opening the bids and the establishment of a Regional Commit-

tee on Contracts, the latter may evaluate goods or services to be procured as per.
and decide on all bids without recourse to Section 6 Chart Evaluating Offers &
the Local Contracts Committee. Neverthe- Proposalsof the Supply Manual. The
less, in all cases, the relevant specialists minutes of the meeting will be taken and
in the Programme and Technical Support issued (at least in draft) within two work-
Section and the Supply Management ing days after the meeting. Alternatively,
particularly in an emergency, Members of
Section must be consulted before or dur-
the Committee may approve purchase by
ing the tendering and evaluation stages
signature of the proposal with appropri-
so as to ensure compliance with technical
ate comments. In general, the Committee
requirements and that prices are compat-
should adopt procedures similar to those

Implementing arrangements
ible with international market rates for
of the UNHCR Committee on Contracts
the goods or services under consideration.
as set out in Annex 8.5 of Chapter 4 of
Submissions to the Committee on Con-
the UNHCR Manual, except for the provi-
tracts should include information as shown
sions concerning emergency procedures.
in Section 6 Chart Evaluating Offers &
Proposalsof the Supply Manual. .After 3. Establishment of Local and Regional
approval by the Committee on Contracts, Committees on Contracts:
a Purchase Order may be issued. 3.1 In a UNHCR office in the field, the
Representative may establish a Local or

2. Local Committee on Contracts
Regional Committee on Contracts, partic-
2.1 Procurement of goods or services by
ularly in the early stages of an emergency
a UNHCR office in the field for a value of
operation and when required goods or
over US$ 20,000 and up to US$ 150,000
services are known to be available locally
must be approved by a Local Contracts
or regionally. The authority to establish a
Committee. This Committee will also pre-
such Committee on Contracts rests with
pare proposals to the Headquarters Com-
the Representative, as regards the Local
mittee on Contracts for procurement for a
Committee on Contracts but the establish-
value of over US$ 150,000 in cases where
ment of a Regional Committee on Con-
Headquarters has not authorized the es-
tracts must be approved by Headquarters.
tablishment of a Regional Committee on
The Representative should contact the
Contracts. The Local Contracts Com-
Secretary of the HQ Contracts Commit-
mittee will be established and chaired by
tee at Headquarters for further informa-
the Representative and will consolidate
tion in this regard. The Committee will
the requirements, oversee the tendering
be chaired by the Representative or by a
process, select suitable local suppliers and
formally designated alternate, and will be
record its recommendations in writing.
composed of at least three professional
2.2 The Committee will be composed staff members. If there is no quorum, the
of Members and alternate members des- matter will be referred to the Committee
ignated by the Representative and drawn on Contracts at Headquarters. The Local
from the professional or national officer Committee on Contracts will consider
categories. Staff members responsible quotations subject to the same conditions
for procurement should be excluded from as set out in paragraph 1.9 above.
membership. A quorum will consist of
3.2 The Representative should notify
three Members.
Headquarters of the establishment of a
2.3 The staff member in charge of pro- Local Contracts Committee. All notifica-
curement should present a written pro- tions of establishment (or the extension
posal to the Local Contracts Committee of the period of validity) of a Local Com-
which will include information on the mittee on Contracts should be sent via the
Desk to the Chairperson of the Committee 3.4 Copies of the minutes and proceed-
on Contracts and the Head, Supply Man- ings of each meeting of the Local Com-
agement Service. mittee on Contracts, together with a
Tabulation of Bids form and copies of the
3.3 The Representative shall appoint
contracts entered into or purchase orders
a secretary to the Local Committee on
placed (and any amendments to these)
Contracts to receive submissions to the
must be forwarded to the Secretary of the
Committee, to schedule meetings and se-
Committee on Contracts at Headquarters..
cure the relevant documentation, to con-
The minutes must contain a summary of
duct required correspondence, to maintain
the discussion, the reasons for decisions
the Committees files and to prepare and
taken, details regarding the contractor or
distribute minutes of the Committees
supplier selected and the potential costs
proceedings. Each member shall have an

Annex 3


Sub-Project Symbol: __________________________

Sector: ______________________

Outputs Activities Responsibility Completion

Implementing arrangements

Annex 4: Example of a Standard Emer- central office to Headquarters, it will
gency Situation Report (SITREP) make it easier to consolidate reports from
1. In emergencies, it is essential that various areas. Major headings should as a
regular situation reports reach the outside rule be the same in each report, indicating
world (other UN agencies, implementing no change if appropriate. The report can
partners). The frequency of such reports either be structured by sector of assistance
will be determined by the characteristics with sites covered under each sector, or
of the situation; more frequent reports alternatively, by site, with sectors of as-
will be necessary in the initial stage of an sistance covered under each site heading.
emergency. Situation reports should give In either case, the information under each
an overall view of the situation with suf- sector of assistance and for each location
ficient factual content and explanation of should cover as applicable:
changes since the last report to answer i. current situation;
rather than raise substantive questions. ii. particular problem areas, remedial
By indicating progress achieved, prob- action planned with time frame;
lems encountered and steps being taken or
iii. any variation from overall imple-
planned to overcome these problems, the
menting arrangements; and/or
reports should give a cumulative picture
of how the needs of the refugees are being iv. any action required from the address-
met. It should report on actions including ee of the SITREP.
actual and planned activities; however, it 3. The reports should be sequentially
should not dwell on intentions. numbered, copied to other UNHCR offic-
es as appropriate (including the UNHCR
The SITREP should: liaison office in New York). The report
be short; may be used as the basis for wider situa-
focus on priority areas; tion reports issued from Headquarters.
include a section on protection with SITREP (number)
information on SGBV and participa- COUNTRY
tory assessment results; COVERING PERIOD (date) TO (date)
Drafted, cleared, authorized by ( ) on
give quantitative data in a standard
format (e.g. give the death rate as
deaths/10,000/day NOT the number A. GENERAL SITUATION
of people who have died); B. MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS
highlight trends (e.g. increasing/de- Summary of general assessment of
creasing water supply, increase/de- situation, assessment of refugee loca-
crease in arrival rate); tion, and field deployment of
mainstream age, gender and diversity UNHCR staff. Summary of major
analysis throughout; and trends including protection.
clearly say who is expected to take C. REFUGEE STATISTICS AND REG-
any actions which are specified. ISTRATION (by sex and age)
2. A suggested format is given below. In- By location in country of origin or by
formation contained in the SITREP should distinct groups if not self-evident. Ex-
be analyzed and consolidated before being planation of changes since last report.
passed on to the next management level. Indication of sources, e.g. govern-
The practice of simply copying raw and ment, UNHCR, etc. Any additional
un-analyzed information from one level information (as relevant) on gender
to another should be avoided. If the same breakdown, vulnerable cases, vari-
format is used by all levels from site to ances between UNHCR and official
figures, group or individual determi-
nation, etc. A format for reporting on E.3. Assistance
population in emergency situation Summary of main developments
reports is given in Annex 1 of chap- since the last report, broken down by
ter 10 on population estimation and sector and/or site, as applicable. Ad-
registration. ditional information provided could
include major problems encountered
D. PROTECTION AND DURABLE in programme delivery and modi-
SOLUTIONS fications required to implementing
Summary of any developments. arrangements.
Special attention should be given to
specific issues as SBGV, unaccom-

Implementing arrangements
panied and separated children, older
E.1. Coordination
persons, persons with disabilities etc,
Government departments, UN sys-
tem, NGOs both at central and field
E.2. Overall Implementing Arrange- Significant events in relations with
ments donor government representatives,
with diplomatic missions in general
Role of authorities. Operational
and with the media.
role of UNHCR. Role of UNHCRs

government counterparts, other UN G. ADMINISTRATION AND STAFF-
agencies, international organizations ING
and NGO partners. Other sources of Establishment of UNHCR presence,
significant assistance. office premises, vehicles and equip-
ment, staffing arrangements, local
recruitment, etc.

Annex 5 - Format for Reporting on Population in Emergency Situation Report

Period: From _______________________ to ___________________________

Decreases Pop. at end of period

Type/ Current Origin/ Pop. New ar-
Sta- location from at start rivlas
Vol. Re- Other Total % of % of
tus of of
Return settle- total total
popu- period
ment 0-4 who are
years* female*

* Estimate

Main source of information is Government; UNHCR; NGO

Main basis of the information is Registration; Estimate

8 Implementing arrangements
External Relations

Paragraph Page

Relations with the Government and Diplomatic Corps 1-11 140

Briefing meetings 3 140

Relations with the media 12-42 141

Introduction 12 141
General guidelines for relations with the media 15 141

External Relations
Locally-based media 20 142
Information sharing with the government 23 142
Field/Headquarters information sharing 24 142
Tips for interviews 28 143
Guidelines for appearance on television 39 144
Visibility of the operation 40 145

Funding and donor relations 43-62 145
Operational reserve 43 145
Central Emergency Revolving Fund 44 145
Using existing funds 45 147
Communicating needs to donors 46 147
Preparation of a flash appeal 53 148
Communication between the Field and Headquarters 57 148
Reporting to donors and special requirements 60 149

Formal written communications 63-70 149

Annex 1: Member States of the Executive Committee of the
High Commissioners Programme (EXCOM) 151
Annex 2: Example of a Note Verbale 152

Relations with the government and
ambassador from the country of the cur-
diplomatic corps rent Executive Committee Chairman may
be helpful in advising on the organization
1.All matters of protocol relating to es- of briefings, or the Dean of the Diplomatic
tablishing a new UNHCR presence in an Corps, or the ambassador of the country
emergency are likely to be handled by currently holding the presidency of the
the Foreign Ministry in the same way as European Union (as a major donor group),
for other United Nations organizations. or the Organization of African Unity or
However, substantive matters concern- other regional groups.
ing refugees may be handled by another 5.A representative of the government
authority, for example the President or would normally be present at these brief-
Prime Ministers office or the Ministry of ings. United Nations organizations and
Interior. Guidance on the form of written NGOs directly involved in the emergency
communications with the government is operation should also be invited to attend.
given below.
6.Unless chaired by the representative of
2.It is important that the diplomatic the Government, the meeting should nor-
corps accredited to the country is kept in- mally be chaired by UNHCR. Other agen-
formed of UNHCRs activities from the cies should be encouraged to give account
start of an emergency. An informed and of their activities. Initially these meetings
concerned diplomatic corps will be help- may need to be held fortnightly or even
ful in gaining support for the emergency weekly, but once a month is a reasonable
operation both from the host country in- interval once the situation starts to come
stitutions and from donor governments for under control.
7.It may be useful to prepare for briefing
Briefing meetings meetings by prior discussions with other
3.Briefing meetings should start in the participating agencies to ensure that there
early days of an emergency and continue is agreement on the issues and on infor-
on a regular basis. There may already be mation such as population figures.
a contact group of the ambassadors most 8.If a question cannot be answered im-
interested in refugee matters who could mediately, arrangements to follow up on
be briefed in the early days of an emer- an individual basis with the questioner
gency. Where there is no such group, or to should be made.
make the arrangements for meetings more
formal, it may be appropriate to invite 9.These briefing meetings will be im-
the ambassadors of member states of the portant for fund-raising purposes. Rep-
Executive Committee of the High Com- resentatives of donor governments will
missioners Programme (EXCOM) to the form part of the diplomatic corps and will
briefings (for a list of EXCOM members, therefore be involved in the meetings. Ad-
see Annex 1). ditional smaller briefing meetings may be
appropriate, to deal with particular con-
The aim is to keep the Executive Com- cerns of a donor, or to respond to a donor
mittee and other immediately concerned mission, or in respect of major protection
Governments well informed while not issues which might require smaller, more
devoting scarce time to a major protocol discreet, briefings.
10.A useful complementary measure,
4.A number of people may be helpful in which might eventually substitute dip-
giving advice on the organization and par- lomatic and other briefings, is a weekly
ticipants of the meetings, including: the or monthly written report prepared by
UNHCR. The standard internal emer- 13.Television, radio and newspapers op-
gency situation report, or sitrep, could be erate on tight deadlines and need factual
used as the basis for this report (the format stories on the emergency, with some back-
for this is suggested in Annex 3 of chapter ground information. Magazines and some
8 on implementing arrangements). If the radio and television programs cover sto-
sitrep is to be used in this way the parts ries in depth and have more time available
which must not be made public should be for research and subsequent re-checking.
clearly marked. Other United Television news channels (such as CNN,
BBC World and Sky News), and wire
Nations bodies directly involved should
services (for example AFP, AP, Reuters),
contribute an account of their work. Such
produce bulletin-type news stories, have
situation reports should be widely distrib-
very short deadlines, and are likely to be
uted in the operations area and to focal
the major source for world-wide coverage
points at Headquarters.
of the emergency.
11.Implementation of these briefing ar-
14.Given the logistical difficulties of

External Relations
rangements will require valuable time and
some emergencies, journalists are likely to
effort. Clearly the priority is to deliver the
approach humanitarian agencies with re-
emergency assistance needed by refugees.
quests for help in moving around. When-
However, if those interested do not have
ever possible, and taking into account the
a regular source of information on the
operational priorities and the sensitivity of
progress of the operation, UNHCR staff

some situations, journalists, both national
may end up spending even more time on
and international, should be assisted in
individual briefings.
getting to the story.
Relations with the Media
General Guidelines for Relations with
the media
12.The media has traditionally been an 15.The first decision to make concerns
ally of UNHCR and other humanitarian who should handle relations with the me-
agencies working in difficult conditions. dia. The media prefer information directly
The media, especially locally based cor- from those responsible, which can be very
respondents, can also be a useful source time-consuming. It is therefore recom-
of information. There may be consider- mended that a Public Information Officer
able media interest in an emergency and be a member of the UNHCR field team
perceptions of how the international com- from the start.
munity in general, and UNHCR in partic-
ular, is responding will be set in the early 16.The Public Information Officer must
days. This has important implications for have full and immediate access to infor-
support for UNHCR. It takes time to cor- mation concerning developments in the
rect an unfavourable first impression, and operation and UNHCR policies and reac-
media interest may have shifted elsewhere tions. He/she needs to be updated by the
before this happens. most senior UNHCR Officer in the opera-
tion as often as necessary, at least once per
The best way to have positive media day in a major emergency. The Public In-
coverage and support is to run the most formation Officer should then be respon-
effective emergency operation possible sible for all aspects of relations with the
in the circumstances. Expertise in rela-
tions with the media can never substi-
media. Where there is no UNHCR Public
tute good performance. Information Officer, good contacts with
the press officers of other organizations

will be helpful for general advice, and for 21.Field offices should monitor the local
organizing joint news conferences. media, including the radio and television,
which may play a much greater role in
17.In emergencies the media will prob-
influencing public opinion than newspa-
ably go to the location of the refugees,
pers. Good relations should be developed
often unannounced, and expect a briefing
with local correspondents covering the
from UNHCR field officers on the spot.
emergency. However, exercise consid-
The briefing given should be limited to
erable discretion until there is practical
facts and practical intentions. See below
experience of the outcome of interviews.
for tips for interviews.
Language barriers are often a source of
18.When intense press interest in a partic- misunderstanding, particularly on the tel-
ular event can be predicted, there is much ephone and a locally recruited Public In-
to be said for preparing a short and simple formation Assistant can be very helpful in
statement, distributing it to the enquirers, this respect.
and avoiding further comment. Close in-
22.It will probably be useful to make
ternal coordination with field staff is es-
early contact with the news editors of
sential, particularly if the interest relates
the main national (and any local foreign
to an event occurring in a location where
language) radio, television stations and
UNHCR has field staff. Sending the state-
newspapers to explain UNHCRs role.
ment to Headquarters is essential as ques-
Stress that every priority is being given
tions are likely to be raised in Geneva.
to the needs of the emergency and give a
19.Newspaper editors will generally contact reference, should further informa-
print a factual correction, and will often tion be required.
give space in opinion or correspondence
columns for UNHCR to comment on er- Information sharing with the
rors of interpretation of UNHCRs role government
and policy. It is more difficult to correct a 23.The government may be sensitive to
factual error made on television or radio. coverage of the refugees, and early con-
However, when trying to made correc- tact should be established with the official
tions, these should be corrections of fact press office or information service. Gen-
not of interpretation. eral statements or press releases should be
shared with government information serv-
UNHCR should be careful to avoid public
ices and the department handling refugees
polemical debate.
and UNHCR. Statements relating to joint
government-UNHCR actions may have to
Locally-based media
be cleared with the government first.
20. The national media will be very im-
portant in determining local attitudes to Field/Headquarters information sharing
the refugees, and may also give an early 24.A regular and swift exchange of infor-
indication of sensitive issues and even mation is essential. Many questions on the
government policy. The government may operation will be asked directly in Geneva
be as concerned by national coverage as and New York. There is a UN press brief-
by foreign coverage. Local foreign-lan- ing in Geneva every Tuesday and Friday
guage newspapers may be less important, morning, in which UNHCR participates,
except indirectly as a result of their effect and a weekday press briefing at noon in
on the diplomatic community or foreign New York by the spokesperson of the Sec-
press corps. retary-General. In

addition, UNHCR calls special news con- for information on political considerations
ferences whenever necessary. and constraints. Alternatively, an inter-
view can be fully attributed and may often
25.The Public Information Section at
be tape recorded. An interview can also be
Headquarters must have access to up-to-
for background information, and in this
date information. The Field should there-
case what is said by the interviewee is not
attributed directly.
keep media interest in mind when re-
29.Radio and television interviews can
porting to Headquarters (for example
provide good coverage for UNHCRs
in sitreps);
aims. They are, by definition, for full at-
provide information (in sitreps or tribution. If this is not advisable because
separately) on matters likely to be of of particular sensitivities, avoid such in-
specific press interest; terviews. Bear in mind that interviews on
send reviews of local media coverage radio and television can be edited.
to Headquarters.

External Relations
26.In addition, if the Field has given an 30.In all interviews and comments to the
interview with a major foreign newspaper media, when in doubt err on the side of
or network, or if a foreign correspondent discretion. Considerable experience and
has been aggressive or appeared unsatis- self-discipline is needed to limit remarks
fied with answers, the Public Information to what was previously planned. Having
Section at Headquarters should be fore- agreed to give an interview or answer

warned. questions, showing hostility or irritation
will nearly always be counter-productive,
27.Similarly, the Field must be kept reg- no matter how unreasonable or loaded the
ularly informed by the Public Information questions are.
Section at Headquarters of international
media coverage. Important international 31.UNHCRs work is difficult and mis-
media reports (including those based on takes will inevitably be made, but do not
briefings given in the field) may not be try to hide problems and difficulties.
available in the field. Though it is important to be discreet,
honesty and clarity are the best policy.
Press who contact Headquarters be-
fore going to the field should be clearly Most journalists understand these prob-
briefed that only limited attention and lo-
lems and respect efforts in what they know
gistical support can be devoted to them
by the field offices during the emergency
are very difficult conditions. In fact, it is
phase. almost always best to talk about problems
before the media find out about them on
Tips for interviews their own and they usually do. Finally, if
mistakes are made, admit them and try to
28.Reporters generally respect the
learn from them.
ground rules for an interview, provided
these are clearly established in advance. 32.When a complete answer to a ques-
The interviewer and interviewee should tion is given and a silence ensues, leave
agree on type of attribution and how the it silent. There is no law stating that one
interviewee will be quoted. For exam- has to say more than one wants or intends
ple: by name, a UNHCR spokesman, to say. It is better to pause to construct a
UN sources, humanitarian worker, response than to ramble. Do not suggest
sources in the international community, follow-up questions, unless it is in order
etc. An interview may need to mix full at- to disseminate important information.
tribution for the facts, and no attribution
33.Do not ask for a story to be killed or and NGOs. We are all in the same
suppressed. Attempts at censorship will boat.
backfire and are likely to generate two im- BE CONVERSATIONAL. When you
mediate consequences; stepped up inves- talk to journalists, keep it simple and
tigation of the matter to be suppressed and clear. Do not use the type of language
an unfavourable story on the attempts to found in many UNHCR internal
suppress it. documents. In everyday conversation,
34.When in a press conference, espe- ordinary people dont use terms like
cially with the electronic media, state the modalities, durable solutions,
most important point at the beginning. In inter alia, specific international
subsequent answers and statements, refer protection mandat,, NGO and
again to the most important point. When implementing partner. Use exam-
dealing with radio and television, keep ples that will make the information
answers short. Television and radio put comprehensible to your audience.
severe restrictions on how much informa- BE CONCISE. A 10-minute interview
tion can be used and long, drawn-out ex- may end up being seconds on the air,
planations and answers tend not to be used or three lines in the newspaper. It is
and the main point not covered. essential to crystallize your thoughts
in a few quotable sentences.
35.Give direct answers to direct ques- BE IDENTIFIABLE WITH UN-
tions. If the facts are not known, say so, HCR. If you are being interviewed
and offer to get back to the reporter with for television, or if a photograph
the information. will accompany the report, try to get
36.Sensitive political or policy questions a UNHCR logo in the background
should be referred to the main UNHCR possibly a flag or on a vehicle, wear
field office. Responses to general ques- a UNHCR T-shirt or cap.
tions about the situation should be made
Guidelines for appearance on television
with UNHCRs mandate and goals in
mind. 39.Key things to remember for television
interviews are:
37.Take the initiative/control. Avoid an-
swering speculative what if questions. DOs
Be prepared to take the lead and direct the Do make and maintain eye contact
interview into positive areas of informa- with the questioner, not the camera.
tion about the operation. Do not let your eyes wander.
38.Key things to remember for all inter- DO wear suitable subdued-coloured
views are: clothes. Normal working clothes for
field conditions are fine ties and
BE YOURSELF. While journal- suits are not appropriate.
ists are always on the lookout for a DO check your appearance before
good story, they are not out to make going in front of the camera, hair,
your life miserable. So relax and be buttons, zips?
friendly. Look at the interviewer. DO make short statements, each hold-
Avoid nervous gestures and manner- ing up on its own.
isms. Keep your answers short and
DO remember to make your most
important points as early as possible.
BE POSITIVE. Do not criticize col-
DO, before you begin, discuss with
leagues or other UN organizations
the interviewer what line the discus-
sion will take.
DO remember that the interviewer istrative support expenditure is likely to
and audience know less about your be allocated from UNHCRs Operational
subject than you do. Reserve. Under the terms of UNHCRs
DO remember that any programme is Financial Rules (A/AC.96/503/Rev.7 is-
likely to be edited before use. sued 07 October 1999, Article 6 para 6.5),
the Operational Reserve is established to
DONTs provide financial assistance to refugees
DONT smoke. and displaced persons in emergency situa-
DONT wear sunglasses or jewellery. tions for which there is no provision in the
DONT forget that the smallest man- programmes approved by the Executive
nerisms show up more obviously on Committee and to meet additional admin-
television. istrative expenditures resulting from those
DONT fidget or fiddle with pens, emergencies. Further details are provided
pencils, lighters, etc. in Chapter 4 of the UNHCR Manual and
DONT say I think too often. it in Appendix 1, Catalogue of Emergency

External Relations
sounds as though you are uncertain Response Resources.
of your subject. Talk about we or
Central Emergency Response Fund
UNHCR instead.
44. The upgraded Central Emergency
Visibility of the operation Response Fund (CERF) has been estab-
40.In addition to working with the media lished by the General Assembly to pro-

to ensure coverage of UNHCR operations, vide a more equitable and timely response
emergency managers must pay attention to identified core emergency humanitarian
to the visibility of the operation. needs, in case of a sudden onset of new
41.Proper identification of staff, vehicles, emergencies or for chronically under-
buildings and relief materials contributes funded crises. Under the revised scheme,
to improved dialogue with beneficiaries, the new CERF grant component will con-
local authorities and partners. tain funds of up to US Dollars 450 million,
depending on the voluntary contributions
In conflict zones, visible markings can received. UN agencies and IOM are eligi-
be an important security measure for ble to apply. All CERF grant components
staff and property. must address core life-saving humanitar-
ian needs. The application is primarily
42.Staff should be visible and identifi-
field-driven led by the Humanitarian/Res-
able as UNHCR personnel. Visibility
ident Coordinator of a given country who,
items for staff, vehicles and buildings are
together with IASC country team, will
available from Headquarters (see Cata-
jointly discuss the priority projects.
logue of Emergency Response Resources,
Appendix 1). A visible UNHCR will help Disbursements for rapid response: Un-
to show the beneficiaries and the outside der this category, funds shall be disbursed
world that UNHCR is present, active and to provide an initial injection of funds for a
delivering services to the refugees. particular emergency. In principle, a max-
imum of USD 30 million will be applied
Funding and donor relations to any disaster or emergency for a project
duration of maximum three months.
Operational reserve
43.The availability of funds is a prereq- Disbursements for chronically under-
uisite for any UNHCR emergency action. funded crises: Grants for under-funded
The initial funding in an emergency for emergencies have been established with
project, operations delivery and admin- a view to providing and promoting an
equitable response to core humanitarian shortages. These advances are to be re-
emergencies. The implementation period imbursed as a first charge against income
is usually based on a calendar year. To de- subsequently received, usually as a result
termine the appropriate use of grants, the of a CAP. Only under very exceptional
Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) will circumstances do the rules allow for the
consult with the IASC to decide the coun- nonreimbursement of allocations made
tries for allocation. Such an exercise will from this fund.
take place twice a year. Firstly soon after
For the CERF loan component, the Direc-
the launch and the Kick-Off of the Con-
tor of Bureau should initiate a request for
solidated Appeals Process (CAP) in early
CERF funds by addressing a memorandum
January, and secondly, after the CAP mid-
to the High Commissioner for approval to
year review in July. The allocations are not
request an allocation from the CERF. The
exclusive to CAP countries, and non-CAP
memorandum is routed through the Head
countries can also be considered.
of DRRM, the Controller and Director of
Procedures for application: In both cat- DFSM and the Deputy High Commis-
egories above, Field shall discuss with the sioner.
IASC country team the priority projects
based on demonstrable/assessed needs No request to the CERF shall be under-
taken without clearance from the Con-
and prepare the proposal based on the
troller and the Chief of DRRM.
CERF grant application form. It is high-
ly encouraged that the Field Offices share Once the High Commissioner has agreed
draft application forms with Headquarters to the request, a letter requesting an allo-
prior to their finalization, in order to keep cation from the Fund is sent from the High
a minimum quality and consistency of ap- Commissioner to the UnderSecretary
plications. Thereafter, all applications will General and Coordinator for Humanitar-
be sent to ERC, by the Humanitarian/Res- ian Affairs. This letter should:
ident Coordinator, with an endorsement/
define the purpose and objectives of
cover. No application will be considered
the programme;
eligible without such endorsement letters.
After review, ERC will send an approval specify the amount of money request-
letter to the High Commissioner, based ed; and
on which a Letter of Understanding will indicate the initiatives that are being
be prepared by Donor Relations and Re- undertaken to raise funds for this
source Mobilisation (DRRM) and signed programme to allow for the Funds
on his behalf. Throughout the process, reimbursement.
Field is advised to keep DRRM and the If agreed, OCHA will reply confirming
Liaison Office New York informed of any that an allocation can be made available,
follow up required. the conditions that will apply and the re-
porting requirements. These two letters
For both grants, financial and narrative re- will constitute a formal exchange be-
ports on the use of grants are mandatory. tween the Organizations. In exceptional
The loan component of CERF will re- circumstances involving particularly ur-
main unchanged with a target level of gent emergencies, OCHA may authorize
USD 50 million and is used for cash ad- advances prior to the formal exchange of
vances to operational organizations and letters. This must, however, be followed
entities within the UN system. Gener- with a formal exchange of letters within
ally, UNHCR would access funds from 30 days.
CERF in installments of USD 5.0 million,
which can be very useful in cases of cash
Using existing funds 49. Funding appeal or donor contacts are
45.If an emergency develops in an exist- usually preceded by the official approval
ing operation, immediate funds may be and establishment of the (new) emergency
available from those already foreseen for programme by ORB. There are no excep-
that operation or, if appropriate, from the tions to this. This is necessary to ensure
Operational Reserve. Depending on the funding is targeted where it is most need-
scale of further needs, and also on the time ed, to provide consistency in operational
of year when the emergency occurs, a pro- priorities and objectives, and in commu-
posal for further funding could be made nicating these priorities to donors. Several
to the Executive Committee as a new cur- sections in UNHCR brief donors and it is
rent year project or as a new project for important for the organisations credibil-
the coming year, or could be the subject of ity that the briefings be consistent. In case
a special appeal. of doubts regarding what should be pre-
sented to donors for funding, contact the
Communicating needs to donors Donor Relations and Resource Mobiliza-

External Relations
46.Operational needs, progress and con- tion Service at Headquarters for advice.
straints must be clearly communicated to 50.Steer donors towards funding those
donors. A donor relations strategy should activities or areas of the operation that
be established in the first days of an emer- are most in need of funding. When appro-
gency and maintained for its duration. priate, promote regional funding. Do not

47.Donor relations should be maintained forget that the emergency may have a re-
through: gional dimension. Include this, and other
elements of the UNHCR operation, in the
i. Briefing meetings and regular contact briefing and be prepared to discuss fund-
at field level between UNHCR staff ing for all aspects of the operation with
and donor representatives. Regular donors.
briefing meetings (see paragraphs 3
to 11 above) with donors should 51.Contributions tightly earmarked to
aim to keep them up to date on ac- one aspect of the operation impede flex-
tions being taken, protection issues, ibility. Sometimes substantial contribu-
and any constraints. tions are strictly earmarked and there is
ii. Regular contact and follow-up at little scope for amending budgets once
Headquarters level. they are approved. Donors should be en-
couraged to make un-earmarked contri-
iii. Regular updates on field operations.
butions whenever possible. However, if
iv. Involving donor representatives in donors do want to earmark a contribution
missions to see refugee sites and to a specific part of the operation, advise
other points at which assistance is them to check with the DRRM at Head-
delivered. quarters to ensure that this portion of the
v. Indirect communication of operation- operation has not been funded already, or
al needs through enhancing offered for funding, to another donor.
UNHCRs visibility in the media.
48.It is important to highlight UNHCRs 52.Particularly in emergencies, donors
protection and coordinating role when may offer to supply in-kind contribution
communicating with donors. Coordina- (i.e. commodities or services) rather than
tion must be a reality on the ground with make cash contribution. To a large extent
UNHCR taking, and being seen to take, an it will be up the Field to decide on the
appropriate leadership role. suitability of such contributions. The of-
fer should be immediately reported to the
DRRM and the donor requested to follow
up with Headquarters. In kind contribu- nor relations issues. The focal point for
tions need to be coordinated by Headquar- this at Headquarters is the Donor Rela-
ters to avoid duplication of similar contri- tions and Resource Mobilization Service.
butions by different donors, and to avoid The Private Sector Fund Raising Unit at
confusion over the amount of cash versus Headquarters may also issue submissions
total contribution.1 to the general public or aimed at individu-
al or corporate donors.
Preparation of a flash appeal
58.Donor Relations and Resource Mobi-
53.The primary document for communi- lization Service at Headquarters will:
cating with donors is the Flash Appeal. It
is the appeal which needs to be brought to Advise how to deal with a particular
the donors attention at briefings, and it is donor.
the activities in the appeal against which Provide latest information on funding
progress should be reported. It can be done for the operation.
in the context of inter-agency appeals led Follow up with Permanent Missions
by the humanitarian/resident coordinators at Geneva and/or donor capitals on
with the support of OCHA; or individu- potential contributions discussed in
ally by agencies. the Field.
54.Flash Appeals are prepared and issued Produce and distribute submissions
by Headquarters with strong inputs from (with the active participation of the
the Field. If a supplementary budget is Field).
established, the operational requirements Prepare specific submissions to donor
will be consolidated by issuing a Supple- funding agencies (with the active
mentary Appeal. No appeal can be issued participation of the Field).
without the prior approval of ORB on the Finalize detailed reports to the do-
programme. nors.
55.Whenever possible, the government 59.The Field should:
should be consulted in the development Produce the basic operation informa-
of the appeal. The appeal should also take tion and submission for the appeals.
into account the results of the initial as- Inform Headquarters when a donor
sessment, and the budget should cover all has indicated an interest in contribut-
foreseen expenditures. ing funds, whether to the appeal, to
56.If the situation changes dramatically a particular operation, to earmarked
during the emergency, and the current ap- activities, or as a contributions in-
peal becomes inappropriate, then the Field kind, and should also ask the donor to
should review operational objectives and follow up through the normal chan-
agree the new direction with Headquarters nels at Headquarters.
before the revised operation is presented Through Donor Relations and Re-
to donors. source Mobilisation Service, provide
information to the donors about
Communication between the Field and the current situation and UNHCRs
Headquarters. plans. When deciding on a contribu-
57.Headquarters and the Field need to tion, donors need relevant informa-
work together closely on funding and do- tion. Some information will be in
the flash appeal and given at brief-
Further information on contributions in kind can ings, but some donors require more
be found in Making Contributions In Kind to detailed information. Timely and
UNHCR A Guide for Donors, DRRM October detailed responses will ensure the
most rapid funding.
Provide reports and information to 65.Note the following points for written
Headquarters to assist it in submitting correspondence with ambassadors, minis-
reports to donors. To ensure continu- ters and other dignitaries:
ity of funding it is essential that the
i. The proper opening salutation is:
required information be provided
Sir or Madam, with His/Her Ex-
from the Field without delay.
cellency used, if appropriate, only in
Reporting to donors and special the address. However, it may be local
requirements practice to begin and end with Your
60.A variety of reports are required Excellency. When in doubt check
by donors in order to account for their with UNDP or use Sir. His/Her
contributions and to release additional Excellency precedes all other titles
funds. Bear in mind that donor reporting and ranks (e.g. Her Excellency Dr.
cycles do not necessarily correspond to X Y; His Excellency General A B,
UNHCRs reporting and operation cy- Minister of the Interior).
ii. The expression I have the honour ...

External Relations
is usually used only in the opening
61.Some major donors to UNHCRs sentence.
emergency operation require particularly
iii. You can normally be used in the
detailed reporting at both financial and
text. However, in a long text it may
narrative level in a unique format with
be courteous from time to time to in-
strict deadlines. These special reports

terject the more formal address (e.g.
are prepared by the Donor Relations and
I should be grateful if you, Sir, [or
Resource Mobilization Service at Head-
Your Excellency] would confirm that
quarters on the basis of information from
this is also the understanding of your
the Field. Some donors also monitor im-
plementation directly through their local
representatives. iv. Formal letters end with Accept, Sir/
Madam/Your Excellency, the assur-
62.A number of donors attach great im- ances of my highest consideration.
portance to the visibility of their financial 66.A note verbale is a formal note writ-
support, through the marking of assistance ten in the third person. Notes verbales
material and other means. may be addressed to a Minister for For-
eign Affairs or a Ministry of Foreign Af-
Formal written communications
fairs, an ambassador or an embassy. Notes
63.When establishing a new UNHCR verbales are always used in replying to an
presence in a country, there is likely to incoming note verbale. It is written from
be a need for a number of formal written person to person (e.g. Representative to
communications to government or local Minister) or office to office (e.g. Branch
authorities. The purpose of this section is Office to Ministry). The following points
to give brief guidance on the preparation should be noted:
of formal letters and notes verbales (for-
mal notes written in the third person see i. Typical uses of notes verbales include
sample in Annex 2). the exchange of information between
UNHCR and governments, embas-
64.Formal letters are used for commu- sies or permanent missions. The note
nications to ministers, ambassadors and verbale is not normally used to com-
senior officials (for example, the Director- municate with other United Nations
General of a government department) on agencies and is never used to address
important matters. NGOs or the public. The note begins

either, The Special Envoy/Repre- 67.Both formal letters and notes verbales
sentative of the United Nations High may bear file references, as brief as possi-
Commissioner for Refugees in (coun- ble, on the top left of the first page.
try) presents his/her compliments to
68.Notes verbales are always answered
... and has the honour to ... or the
by notes verbales, and formal letters by
Branch Office of the United Nations
formal letters. Apart from the restrictions
High Commissioner for Refugees in
on the use of notes verbales given above,
(country) presents its compliments to
there are no completely clear-cut rules
... and has the honour to ....
about which to employ when UNHCR is
ii. Titles must be given in full, at least in initiating the communication. In general
the opening and closing paragraphs. terms, the note verbale conveys brief in-
Be sure to use the full correct desig- formation and is the normal form for rou-
nation of the country (Kingdom of ..., tine exchanges with the protocol depart-
Republic of ..., Democratic Republic ment, for example, when seeking customs
of..., etc.)2. clearance for relief supplies or advising
iii. The complimentary closing of a note of the arrival of international staff. Refer-
verbale is always the same: The ences to important meetings with senior
(Representative/Special Envoy) of officials and major issues, particularly
the United Nations High Commis- those already discussed, are better treated
sioner for Refugees in (country) in a formal letter. A formal letter may also
avails him/herself of this opportunity reach the action officer more quickly than
to express (renew) to ... the assur- a note.
ances of his/her highest considera-
tion, or, as appropriate, The Branch 69.If it is necessary to set out UNHCRs
Office ... etc. position on a specific subject (policy, ac-
iv. The note should bear no signature. tion taken, intentions, etc.), this may be
The Office stamp should be placed done in the form of an aide-mmoire writ-
over the typewritten date and the ten in the third person. An aide-mmoire
officer responsible for its dispatch has no addressee and is simply headed
should sign his/her initials within the Aide-Mmoire, with the title below. A
stamp. The Representative or Special similar purpose is served by a Note by
Envoy and an alternate may be re- the Office of the United Nations High
quired to register their initials or even Commissioner for Refugees, a minor dif-
signatures with the protocol depart- ference being that this description goes
ment of the foreign ministry. below the title. An aide-mmoire would
normally be used to convey information
v. The place and date should appear on
to a government ministry or department,
the bottom right-hand side of the last
an embassy or the diplomatic corps. For
page. The address does not appear on
a less formal or wider distribution, the
a note verbale.
Note by ... form may be appropriate.
vi. The text of the note verbale should be
single spaced with double spacing 70. All four types of communication
between paragraphs. should be presented on UNHCR letter-
head stationery.

Annex 1



Algeria Madagascar
Argentina Mexico
Australia Morocco
Austria Mozambique
Bangladesh Namibia
Belgium Netherlands
Brazil New Zealand
Canada Nicaragua
Chile Nigeria

External Relations
China Norway
Colombia Pakistan
Cte dIvoire Philippines
Cyprus Poland
Democratic Republic Portugal
of the Congo Republic of Korea

Denmark Romania
Ecuador Russian Federation
Egypt Serbia
Ethiopia Somalia
Finland South Africa
France Spain
Germany Sudan
Ghana Sweden
Greece Switzerland
Guinea Thailand
Holy See Tunisia
Hungary Turkey
India Uganda
Iran (Islamic Republic of) United Kingdom
Ireland United Republic
Israel of Tanzania
Italy United States of America
Japan Venezuela (Bolivarian
Jordan Republic of)
Kenya Yemen
Lebanon Zambia

Annex 2 Example of a Note Verbale



Note Verbale

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Branch Office
for [the respective country] presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
________________________________ and has the honour to request authorization
to import [two Toyota land-cruisers]. It requests furthermore that the usual advice be
sent to the appropriate authorities for exemption of payment of import duty, excise duty,
registration and licensing fees for [these vehicles]. Details of (the vehicles) are as fol-
1. Bill of lading number: TAN-P-C 16-11/25-03
2. Engine numbers of vehicles: B-L-C 741-1334
B-L-C 24-04-01
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees avails itself of this
opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [of the respective country] the
assurances of its highest consideration.


[name of place of UNHCR office in the respective country], [date]

Further information can be found in Guide for UNHCR Field Offices on Donor Rela-
tions and Resource Mobilisation, July 2003.

9 External Relations
Population estimation and registration

Paragraph Page

Introduction 1-8 157

Population estimates 9-24 159

Introduction 9 159
Counting 12 159
Administrative records 13 159

Population estimation
Lists compiled by refugee leaders 14 159

and registration
Extrapolation 17 159

Registration 25-54 162

Introduction 25 162
Standard UNHCR registration materials 31 163

Registration phases 32 163

Key references

Annex 1: Emergency statistical report (to be included in the
emergency situation reports) 167
Annex 2: Sample counting form 168
Annex 3: Minimum information to be collected 169
Annex 4: List of countries covered by Senior (Regional)
Registration Officers 170
Annex 5: Sample fixing token and wristbands 171
Annex 6: Registration layout - concept 172
Annex 7: Sample family card 172
Annex 8: Sample control sheet 173
Annex 9: Sample registration form 174
Annex 10: Sample codes 175
Annex 11: Sample budget, registration staffing and equipment
requirement calculation sheet in Excel 176

A Executive Committee Conclusion No. 91 of 2001 177

Situation The information collected will be
Refugee emergencies are characterized important in planning for the care and
by a mobile population, often with rap- maintenance in the country of asy-
idly fluctuating numbers. While it may be lum, as well as for voluntary repatria-
difficult to collect exact information on tion and reintegration in the country
the total number and composition of the of origin.
population, every effort should be made Individual registration is the standard
to obtain individual information, progres- and the ultimate goal. Where this
sively through phases, to better assist the is not immediately possible, it can
population. be achieved progressively in stages,
starting with a household level
Objectives registration. At each phase of the
To obtain working figures on the registration process, it is crucial to
population of concern, including a computerize the information as soon
breakdown of the population by age, as possible to facilitate programme
sex, and groups with specific needs. delivery and beneficiary analysis.
To obtain detailed individual infor- Continuous registration and verifica-
mation on the population of concern tion is the norm. Information needs
which will help to better identify will change through the course of
protection needs and to deliver more time and the first registration should
appropriate assistance. not necessarily attempt to collect all
the information at once.
Principles of response
If refugees are still on the move, the Action
influx is rapid or there are concerns Use population estimation techniques
for general security, an estimation of only if the situation is not conducive
the population should be conducted for a more thorough registration or
to obtain working figures until the during the initial days of an influx.
situation stabilizes and is conducive Conduct a household registration as
for registration. early as possible.
Registration is the primary respon- Plan towards an individual registra-
sibility of the refugee hosting gov- tion, keeping the population and
ernment; however, in an emergency partners (government, WFP and the
situation, UNHCR may be called NGO community) informed.
upon to conduct the registration on Identify resources which will be
their behalf. It is essential to involve required for a full registration.
the government from the early stages Define the protection and operational
of registration planning. strategy,1 and consult the Regional
Knowing the size and profile of the Registration Officers and HQ in plan-
refugee population is essential for an ning for an individual registration
efficient and cost-effective operation exercise as soon as feasible.
and is at the core of UNHCRs pro-
tection mandate. Refugee registra-
tion will serve as the basis for various
standards and indicator reporting.
Involvement and understanding by
the refugees (women and men) them-
selves is essential to the success of
See: How to Register, Manage Population Data
and Issue Documentation process. (Registration
registration. Handbook 2006).
Introduction lutions. It also recommends that refugees
Knowing how many refugees there should be registered on an individual ba-
are and who they are is fundamental sis.
for planning and managing an effi-
Although individual registration is the
cient operation. It is also essential for standard to be achieved within the first
public information and fund raising. 3 months of an influx3, this should not be
Successful registration needs good an automatic response at the start of an
planning, careful implementation emergency.
and consistent monitoring. Indi-
3. Although every effort should be made
vidual population records need to be
to create the conditions in which registra-
continuously updated to ensure that
tion can be achieved, there may be situa-
registration data reflects the actual
tions in which registration activities may
situation at all times.
be inappropriate or not feasible. Situations
To plan and manage an efficient op- in which registration should be delayed
eration, it is critical to know the size include:

Population estimation
and the profile of the refugee popu-
lation. It is also important to have Populations that are still moving:

and registration
good baseline data to ensure that you If refugees have not yet reached a
are meeting minimum standards.1 An destination, whether temporary or
accurate enumeration is therefore an final, registration can be difficult to
essential component of any assess- organize and manage. In addition,
ment. registration formalities might com-

1. Chapter II, 8(f) of the UNHCR Statute promise the flight to safety, part of
states that the High Commissioner shall the population may be missed in the
provide for the protection of refugees by registration activities, and there is a
obtaining from Governments informa- risk of multiple enrollments.
tion concerning the number and condition Proximity to borders: Registration
of refugees in their territories. It must be may have to be avoided for security
made clear to the authorities that an assist- reasons or to avoid mixing the refu-
ance operation cannot be carried out with- gee population with armed elements
out this information. moving back and forth across the bor-
der. There may also be mixing with
2. Executive Committee Conclusion the local population living on both
No. 91 of 2001 (Appendix A) sets the sides of the borders.
standards for the registration of persons
Security problems: Under no cir-
of concern to UNHCR and acknowledges
cumstances should registration activi-
the importance of registration as a tool
ties be carried out if they are deemed
of protection, including protection against
to be or become detrimental to the
refoulement, protection against forcible
safety and security of refugees or to
recruitment, protection of access to basic
the security of staff.
rights, family reunification of refugees
and identification of those in need of spe- Saving lives is a high priority:
cial assistance, and as a means to enable Saving lives is more important than
the quantification and assessment of needs registering people. In circumstances
and to implement appropriate durable so- where staff must concentrate on other
priorities, registration may not be
For example, if the population figure is
higher than reality, the crude mortality rate
when calculated will be low or below critical 3 As agreed with WFP under the joint UNHCR
but in reality there may be more than e.g. 1 and WFP Memorandum of Understanding (July
death per 10,000 person per day. 2002).
carried out. This is often the case in 7. Discrepancies may arise over time be-
the first few weeks of an emergency tween official figures and the estimates
when the level of trauma amongst ar- of those working closest to the refugees.
riving refugees is high, or where the Unless these discrepancies are swiftly
response by UNHCR or its partners is resolved, major problems will follow.
not fully implemented. Small discrepancies are likely, given the
difficulties in enumeration and registra-
4. Where formal registration is not pos- tion. Large ones can be avoided by timely
sible, efforts should concentrate on popu- action to verify numbers through the vari-
lation estimates, rate of influx, general ous methods set out in this chapter. The
characteristics of the population and infor- key point for registration is that it is not a
mation on origin and destination. There one-off exercise it is a continuous proc-
are a number of methods for population ess that is incorporated in the day to day
estimation which do not require a formal activities of the operation.
registration. In circumstances where min- 8. For detailed information on regis-
imal conditions for operation do not exist, tration and population estimation tech-
these methods may be preferable as an ini- niques, refer to UNHCR Handbook for
tial first response. Registration (2006) and UNHCR/WFP
5 . Information compiled through a reg- Joint Assessment Guidelines First
istration process is required to support a Edition (June 2004).
wide range of activities. The same set of
Population estimates
core data is used for different purposes,
although most also require specific ad- Population estimation techniques
ditional information and variations in the should be used when basic ground
registration steps. These may include: conditions are not conducive for a
registration. For example, during the
Issuance of identity documents very initial phase when refugees are
Refugee status determination still on the move, the influx is rapid
Planning and targeting of assistance and any activity would create a bot-
(food, shelter) and services (health, tleneck for the delivery of essential
water) assistance or there are concerns for
Issuance of documents providing ac- general security.
cess to services (ration cards, health For most methods of population
cards) estimation, it is important to under-
Identification of beneficiaries with stand the community structure of the
specific needs beneficiary population. It may be
Voluntary repatriation necessary to employ several methods
Resettlement of estimation to obtain a better esti-
Local integration mate.
Estimates should be updated regularly
until the situation stabilizes and is
6. The most practical time to register ref- conducive for registration.
ugees is when they arrive at a reception/ The estimates should be obtained in
transit centre or site for settlement. Regis- close cooperation with the Govern-
tration is often carried out in conjunction ment, WFP and other partners on the
with health screening. Transferring refu- ground.
gees to a new site also provides an oppor-
tunity for registration.

Introduction Lists compiled by refugee leaders
9. The following methods can be used to 14. Lists of names can be compiled by
estimate the population: refugee leaders and verified through a
process agreed with the refugee commu-
i. Counting
nity. If this method is taken, it is essential
ii. Administrative records to harmonize the information collected
iii. Lists compiled by refugee leaders at all locations for easy comparison. See
and/or outreach teams Annex 3 for the minimum information to
iv. Extrapolation including the use of be collected.
aerial photographs and satellite im-
agery To ensure that the population estimates
10. Understanding the community struc- are as accurate and as fair as possible,
it is particularly important to understand
ture of the beneficiary population is im-
the community structure.
portant for most methods of population
estimation for example, living arrange- 15. The normal community structure

Population estimation
ments and the average number in a family and hierarchy in a society are often dis-
group. rupted during exodus and new leaders can

and registration
11. Annex 1 provides a format for re- emerge who were not necessarily leaders
porting population estimates as part of an in the country of origin. It is essential to
overall situation report. Estimates should understand the role, motives and effec-
be updated regularly and the methodology tiveness of the new leadership. Communi-
should be determined jointly with other ty services and field staff can help in this.

key partners who are affected, e.g. WFP Initial records compiled by refugee lead-
who will deliver food based on the esti- ers may eliminate the need for immedi-
mated numbers. ate registration; however the information
provided should be randomly checked and
Counting verified and regularly updated. Once the
situation stabilizes, the registration should
12. If there are easily identified entry
be streamlined into the regular activity.
or transit points during a refugee influx
(e.g. bridges or transportation sites), daily 16. The lists can also be useful in iden-
counts of the number of people passing tifying refugees with specific needs who
through these points can give a reasonable require special assistance. Community
estimate of the refugee population. Suf- services staff and health outreach teams
ficient staff should be immediately posi- should visit such individuals and families
tioned at bridges and other critical points to confirm the accuracy of lists provided
to provide 24-hour coverage. These staff by the leaders. This method can also be
members should be provided with counters used in non-camp spontaneous settlement
to aid counting and with simple recording situations, and/ or populations on the
and reporting forms. See Annex 2 a. move (nomadic).

Administrative records Extrapolation

13. Local authorities or volunteers at 17. Population estimates can also be ob-
the refugee site may collect population tained by calculating the total area of the
data on the refugees. If possible, national camp, then counting shelters in a fraction
census and other population data should of the camp, from which the population of
be obtained from the country of origin as the whole camp can be extrapolated. Al-
a means of cross-checking the host area ternatively, aerial photograph or satellite
data. images may be used to count the number
of shelters.
18. In all scenarios, it must be accom- measure all break points on the perimeter
panied by a ground survey to establish enclosing the camp. Any simple GPS re-
the average family size per shelter and the ceiver can be used to measure the points,
percentage of empty shelters. for example the Thuraya phones that have
a built in GPS. The more irregular the
19. The total surface area of the camp
camps shape, the more perimeter points
can be determined in a number of ways.
will be needed. Once the break points
Below are some examples on how it can
have been measured the area can be cal-
be determined:
Area calculation based on measurement
The lines of latitude are parallel and even-
made with a Global Positioning System
ly spaced with approximately 111 km for
(GPS) receiver. GPS uses satellites to es-
one degree latitude. The distance which
tablish and indicate the latitude and lon-
a degree of longitude represents on the
gitude of its current position. The device
ground varies with the latitude. This is
does not work under heavy forest cover or
because lines of longitude converge at the
in deep narrow valleys because it needs an
poles and thereby make the distance rep-
unobstructed sightline to several satellites.
resented by one degree of longitude small-
It is important to note in which coordinate
er moving away from equator towards the
system the GPS receiver is displaying the
North and South poles. It is necessary to
positions. UNHCR uses WGS84 in lati-
know the distance which one degree rep-
tude and longitude as standard, the format
resents at the exact location of the camp,
of the coordinates being degrees () min-
for example by determining it with help of
utes () and seconds (), dd mm ss.. This
a map of the area, if it is sufficiently large
should normally be the setting for any
scale. The length of a degree at any given
GPS receiver at all times. Due to the accu-
latitude can be found in the graph below.
racy of the GPS, it is not recommenced to
measure areas below 200m x 200m. The Distance (km) of 1 degree longitude at a given latitude

table below indicates the error in percent- 120

age that a GPS might give on a square area

Distance of 1 degree longitude (km)


assuming the accuracy is +/- 10m: 90


Maximum error on 60
Area 50
surface calculation 40

100m x100m +/- 20% 30

200m x 200m +/- 10% 10
300m x 300m +/- 7% 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
Latitude (North or South)

a) Automatic area calculation using a

GPS. Many GPS receivers have a function
to calculate an area from measurements Many GPS receivers have a function for
made while walking the perimeter of the selecting the format in which the positions
area. It is important to slowly follow the are being displayed. To avoid the calcula-
perimeter of the area to be measured and tion of the length of a degree, the positions
to make sure that the track does not cross can be displayed and recorded in a metric
itself since that would make the calculated system directly. A very common metric
area incorrect. Consult the handbook for system is the coordinate system Universal
the GPS receiver for exact instructions on Transverse Mercator (UTM). There are
how to calculate an area automatically. 36 different UTM zones and each UTM
zone is six degrees of longitude wide. Ei-
b) Area calculation based on points meas-
ther the GPS receiver detects the actual
ured with GPS. If the GPS has no function
zone by itself or it has to be entered.
for calculating the area, it can be used to
Once the camp perimeter points have been For example, if the total surface area of the
measured, the surface area of the camp can camp is 600,000 sq. m, then each sample
be calculated in the following ways: area should be 20,000 sq. m. Any variation
of length or width which yields 20,000
i. The perimeters breakpoints can be
sq. m could be used for the sample sec-
marked on paper which has scaled
tions. The normal GPS is not sufficiently
gridlines by using the Y-axis to
accurate for use in measuring the size of
represent longitude and the X-axis
the sample area and conventional means
to represent latitude. A line is drawn
of measuring should be used instead.
joining these points. Counting the
scaled squares inside the perimeter 20. Count the number of family shelters
will give the total area. Make sure occupied in each of the three sample
that the correct scale factor for the sections. Obtain a figure for the average
length of a degree is being used. number of shelters per section (i.e. in
ii. Geographical Information Systems 20,000 sq. metres). Then multiply by 30
(GIS) can automatically map and to extrapolate this over the entire camp.

Population estimation
calculate an area based on the pe- For example, if 3 sample sections have 120,
rimeter points measured with GPS.

and registration
134, and 150 occupied shelters respective-
Technical assistance for setting up ly, then the average number of shelters in
this software can be obtained from a sample section will be (120 + 134 + 145)
Field Information and Coordination / 3 = 133. Thus the total number of oc-
Support Section, (FICSS) at HQ (hq- cupied shelters in the 600,000 sq. metres

map@unhcr.org). camp will be 133 x 30 = 3,990 shelters.
iii. FICSS can also assist in calculat-
ing the area for the measured points. 21. Determine average family size per
Communicate the perimeter coor- occupied shelter to estimate the total
dinates to FICSS at HQ (hqmap@ population. For example, if the average
unhcr.org). family size per shelter is 5, then the total
iv. Calculation from an existing map: If population is 5 x 3,990 = 19,950.
there is a map of the camp, the sur- 22. Alternatively, aerial photographs (or
face area of the camp can be estimat- sometimes videos of a camp) or satellite
ed by overlaying scaled gridlines on image can be used to count the number of
the map, and adding up the number of family shelters. Depending on the topog-
the squares falling within the camps raphy, a picture from a nearby hill, tower
boundaries. or tall building may be sufficient. In ad-
Area estimation: The estimated area can dition to professional aerial photography
be calculated by using the average length or satellite images, photographs taken, for
and average width of the camp and other example, from a UNHCR plane can be
necessary measurements depending on the used for estimation. It is important to de-
shape of the camp. The length and width fine an appropriate scale for the photogra-
can be measured with a GPS receiver, phy. This will depend, in part, on the size
by pacing, or by using a wheel meter or of the camps. High altitude flights produce
measurement tape (if the camp is small), fewer photographs to handle and interpret,
or by driving (if the camp is large), using but it will be more difficult to distinguish
the trip meter to estimate distance. the shelters. Note, however, that flying
over the site may require the permission
Once the surface area has been estab-
of the authorities.
lished, select a minimum of three sample
areas within the camp, each representing 23. Once the number of shelters is
about one thirtieth of the total camp area. counted on the photo, it can be multiplied
by the average family size per shelter to 26. There are 3 levels of registration
obtain an estimated total population. If which are determined by the amount of in-
the ground survey indicated that there are formation collected. Level 1 is household
some percentages of empty shelters, en- registration which should take place imme-
sure that this is factored into the shelter diately upon arrival of the refugees. Level
calculation. 2 is individual registration required for
prima facie caseload/camp management
24. The results of aerial surveys or sat-
or voluntary repatriation which should be
ellite images can be integrated within the
achieved within 3 months from the influx.
GIS from which maps can then be pro-
Level 3 is individual registration required
duced. This is also true for the GPS co-
for status determination, local integration
ordinates collected during the surface cal-
and resettlement. The information below
culation. The coordinates can be a base to
relates mainly to initial registration at the
create camp maps.
time of an influx. For further details, refer
TIP: If there are various estimates float- to the registration handbook.
ing around, a quick count of all children
under five years old in the camp or in a Registration is not a one-off exercise.
section of the camp (that can then be ex- Individual and continuous registration is
trapolated for the camp) can be used to the UNHCR standard for registration.
cross-check the various estimates. For
most developing countries, the percent-
27. In order to cope with large num-
age of under 5 year-old range between bers, normally household registration is
15- 20% of the population. conducted immediately, followed by indi-
vidual registration according to the imme-
Registration diate needs of the population and the time
Registration provides the more and staff available to carry out the task.
detailed information needed for the In some situations, the operation may go
efficient management of an assistance directly into individual registration. Reg-
operation. istration should only be carried out when:
Registration is carried out over sev- i. the safety of the staff and of the refu-
eral phases. gees can be assured;
Individual registration should be the ii. the refugees and other stakeholders
final goal and should also be continu- accept the process;
ously updated, including deregistra- iii. the key partners can supply personnel
tion of those no longer of concern, to to help carry out the registration; and
avoid becoming irrelevant. iv there are sufficient quantities of reg-
Introduction istration materials and other equip-
ment, including logistical support and
25. For effective protection and assist-
ance delivery, individual and demographic
information obtained through registration 28. There are 4 main phases in registra-
is imperative. Information requirements tion, regardless of whether you conduct
will change during different phases of an a household registration or an individual
operation (emergency, care and mainte- registration. In all stages, staff training
nance, VolRep); therefore, the initial reg- and full understanding of the process in-
istration should be followed by continuous volved is essential for the success of the
verification of information and additional exercise. The 4 main phases in registra-
information collection to ensure up-to- tion are:
date information. i. assessing and determining the regis-
tration strategy;
ii. collecting information and issuing 32. This is the initial step to determine
registration cards; the registration methodology based on es-
iii. computerization; and timated or existing planning figures. It is
iv. Verification and updating. crucial to review the available information
29. The ideal in registration is to work and to build on it rather than start every-
as closely as possible with the refugee thing from scratch.
population and its leadership, especially 33. Designate a focal point to take re-
refugee women, to ensure their concerns sponsibility for planning and executing
are noted, promoting community respon- the registration. A pilot registration in
sibility and participation in all stages of a small camp can help identify potential
the process. Whilst this may not always difficulties. Planning should be a joint
be possible initially, it should be a major exercise with the concerned partners, in-
objective for both registration and camp cluding refugees. Staff training, including
management. basic protection training may be required
30. Formal registration requires consid- at this stage. Ensure that the necessary

Population estimation
erable time and personnel resources and staffing, equipment, supplies, security,
telecommunications, vehicles and logisti-

and registration
needs the active involvement of key part-
ners to supply the necessary personnel. cal support will be available on the date of
Key partners include government, other the exercise. Decide on the level of infor-
UN agencies, NGOs and the authorities re- mation to be collected on a control sheet
sponsible for security. See Excel sheet in or registration form, and ensure planning
includes procedures for data entry compu-

the CD-ROM which helps to give an idea
for registration staffing and equipment terization.
requirement; however, this will change 34. At the same time as planning, there
depending on the operating environment. should be an intensive information cam-
Case by case support is provided by the paign aimed at the refugee population at
Senior (Regional) Registration Officers large (not just the leaders) informing the
covering the country who can advise on refugees of the procedures and benefits of
the best methodology for a particular situ- registration. Special arrangements should
ation. List of country coverage is attached be made to cater to the needs of those who
as Annex 4. are unable to spend time in queues and un-
der the hot sun for example, such as older
Standard UNHCR registration materials persons and those with disabilities.
31. Standard materials for registration
are stockpiled at Headquarters and are
sufficient to register 300,000 refugees. Phase 2: Collecting information and is-
The materials include standard cards and suing registration cards
forms, wristbands, fixing tokens, etc. 35. Registration should be conducted on
These materials are included as part of a a fixed population. This means that the
refugee registration package. Please refere size of the group on whom more detailed
to the catalogue of Emergency Response information will be collected needs to be
Resources which has further details of temporarily frozen. Without some kind
these resources and how to obtain them. of fixing, registration will become a re-
volving door, open to escalating distortion
Registration phases
and abuse.
Phase 1: Assessing and determining the
registration strategy 36. Depending on the situation and the
availability of previous lists, the fixing
can be done in different ways. Tradition-
ally, it was done using tokens and wrist- dents may occur if there are bottlenecks
bands. (See Annex 5) It must be done or long waiting periods, disorganised pro-
rapidly (preferably within a few hours, cedures, and large numbers of beneficiar-
maximum one day) to avoid multiple and/ ies exposed to extreme conditions (heat,
or bogus registration. While the popula- cold, sandstorm, etc.). See Annex 6 for a
tion may be given only short notice of sample site set-up. Communication with
when this will take place, it is necessary to the beneficiary population is essential to
ensure that they understand what is hap- ensure that they are fully aware of the pro-
pening. This method is best used when cedure and what it entails.
absolutely no prior information exists for
41. Below are 2 levels of information
the population.
collection and entitlement card issuance
37. In situations where an initial large depending on the operating environment.
influx has stabilized to a steady trickle
a) Collecting limited information on con-
of hundreds, fixing tokens or wristbands
trol sheets and issuing temporary family
can be issued at entry/transit points. This
would fix a population and indicate who
needs to be registered at the camp in the 42. Collecting information and issuing
following days. (See Annex 2 b) temporary family cards should be carried
out immediately after the fixing and
38. Alternatively, when you have a con-
preferably, before any food or NFI distri-
trol sheet or an existing assistance list (such
bution. Usually there will be no time to
as food list) compiled by an NGO working
collect detailed information immediately,
with the refugee population, this list can
yet assistance should be distributed urgent-
be used as a fixing tool. The accuracy
ly and basic demographic data is needed.
of the list should be verified by random
The first step therefore is to exchange the
sampling and a review of the process used
fixing token or wristband (if used) for a
to compile the list. Those who are not on
temporary family card (see Annex 7) to
the list need to be interviewed and verified
all heads of family, and collect limited in-
to determine whether they are persons of
formation on control sheets (see Annex 8).
UNHCRs concern. Another method is to
In most instances this information will be
conduct a tent to tent (or shelter to shelter)
limited to the names of the head of fam-
verification to create a list of refugees who
ily, family size, age and sex breakdown
would be registered.
of the family members and the number of
39. In a scenario where there is a man- the temporary family card, with an indica-
ageable rate of new arrivals to a camp, the tion of any immediately visible vulnerable
registration can take place upon arrival. family members.
The fixing element of the registration
43. The control sheet can be used as a
may be the convoys arriving from the
beneficiary list until the information is
border (or foot arrivals in the transit area
computerized to create distribution lists.
of the camp) and through allocating tent/
shelter plots in the camp. In this situation, b) Completing registration forms and dis-
the families are allocated a fixed tent/shel- tributing ration cards
ter in the camp and fully registered. The 44. The second step is to record detailed
operation can go straight into continu- information about the families on regis-
ous registration/verification, by using the tration forms (see Annex 9) and to issue
camp address as a verification tool. longer-term ration cards (the standard
40. In planning for this phase, it is essen- UNHCR card lasts about one year or 24
tial to pay attention to the flow of people to 36 distributions). When it is done af-
coming in for registration. Security inci- ter the issue of temporary family cards it
can be spread over a longer period of time, pany. If a data entry company is hired, it
with a cut-off date for the validity of the is essential that they sign a confidentiality
temporary cards. declaration. The data should be computer-
ized as soon as possible and not more than
45. For operations without assistance
a few months after being collected on the
delivery or where refugees have been ac-
registration forms or control sheet, other-
cepted in the local communities (spon-
wise it will be outdated and unusable.
taneous settlements), the individual reg-
istration should still be undertaken for 50. Refugee data is normally processed
protection and eventual durable solutions. using proGres (UNHCR standard registra-
tion software). ProGres is a holistic reg-
The registration form constitutes the istration and case management tool which
core document of a UNHCR registration
can be used during an emergency phase
and will provide the basis for future ref-
erence, analysis, verification and updat-
to record personal bio-data, to capture in-
ing of information. dividual photos, and to create beneficiary
lists. If the emergency is taking place in

Population estimation
46. This step provides a verifiable link a remote location with very basic infra-
between the identity of persons of con- structure, it is possible to record the data

and registration
cern and the very simple forms needed in Excel with a view to migrate to proGres
for processing large numbers of people at a later stage. See Excel sheets and user
for assistance distribution. The two-step guide in the attached CD-ROM. Opera-
process of information collecting is nor- tions are advised to migrate their registra-
mally used because the second step can tion data to proGres as soon as the situa-

take considerable time, and registration tion stabilizes.
information is needed in the interim for
commodity distribution. If the Excel option is selected, it is
strongly recommended to use the sheets
47. One key aspect to registration is the attached in the CD-ROM. Any modifica-
use of standard codes. This is essential in tion should be done in consultation with
order to obtain data which is easily com- FICSS and proGres Support to ensure
parable and analysable. Further, it facili- the data can be migrated to proGres.
tates the collection and input of data. It 51. Country specific advice on the best
is particularly important to have personnel registration method or process for the situ-
who speak the language of the refugees ation can be obtained from either the Sen-
and to ensure there is a common trans- ior Regional Registration Officers cover-
literation between alphabets, particularly ing the country or from FICSS (hqcs00@
for names. See Annex 10 for parts of the unhcr.org) in HQ. Technical support on
standard code list. The full list is in the proGres can be obtained from proGres
CD-ROM. Support Desk (hqprosup@unhcr.org).
Phase 3: Computerization Phase 4: Verification and updating
48. Computerization must start immedi- 52. Registration information must be
ately when any form of entitlement card updated as the population changes with
(temporary family card or ration card) has births, deaths and population movements.
been issued. Any assistance delivery must It is important to deregister and close cas-
use a combination of an entitlement card es when the persons are no longer of con-
and a beneficiary list. cern. There should be a procedure to do
49. Data can be entered on-site by this from the start and it should be docu-
trained data-entry clerks or by outsourcing mented in the Standard Operating Proce-
to an off-site specialized data entry com- dure to ensure consistent practice. This
is especially important during the emer- 54. Entitlement documents (such
gency phase when there is a high turnover as ration cards) and identity documents
of staff. (such as attestation letters or ID cards)
are 2 distinct documents which should
53. Registration and verification should
not be mixed in use. Identity documents
not be a one-off exercise conducted once
confirm the status of the persons of con-
every year. The registered numbers and
cern whereas entitlement documents con-
information should be continuously cross-
firm that a person or family is entitled to
checked with other available informa-
a specific assistance. For example, being
tion, for example, births and deaths can
a refugee does not automatically imply
be monitored through the health services,
that a person is entitled to a certain type of
and population movements monitored
assistance. Both documents can acquire
through any of the methods for population
monetary value, depending on the con-
estimation described above. Verification
text. To ensure the refugees are not using
can also be conducted during food distri-
other peoples documents or forged docu-
bution, house to house visits by commu-
ments there should be a system to check
nity services/community health workers,
the documents, for example random veri-
through school enrolment etc. The meth-
fication at food distribution points.
od of reporting back field findings should
be agreed as early as possible at the onset It is important to emphasize the differ-
of an emergency to ensure that most up- ence between entitlement documents
to-date information is available centrally. and identity documents. This means
In order to facilitate the verification proc- that the total population of concern to
ess, shelters should be given an address UNHCR (with identity documents) can be
(block/ community/individual shelter higher than the number of beneficiaries
(with entitlement documents).
number) which will be linked to the in-
dividual family registration information.
Assistance to set up Continuous Regis-
tration Process is available with FICSS Key references
and the Regional Registration Officers. Handbook for Registration, UNHCR, Ge-
neva, 2006.
A situation where various agencies main-
tain their own lists which are not shared UNHCR/ WFP Joint Assessment Guide-
or sharable should be avoided. lines, First Edition (June 2004).

Annex 1: Emergency statistical report (to be included in the emergency
situation reports)

Period: From to
Type/status of population:
Origin of the population:

Main source of information is Government UNHCR NGO

Main basis of the information is Registration Estimate

Current Pop. at Increase Decreases Pop. at % of % of total

location start of New New Other Spont. Death Other end of total 0 who are
period arrival born depart period 4 years female *
Total old*

Population estimation
and registration
* Percentage as per end of period. Estimate, if statistics are not available.

Annex 2a: Sample counting form

Location name: Date:

Start time: End time:

Name of supervisor: Signature:

Name of clerk Serial # of manual Number counted Signature

counter *


* The serial number is solely used to keep track of the equipment.

Annex 2 b: Sample form to count issued wristbands/fixing tokens at entry points

Location name: Date:

Start time: End time:

Name of supervisor: Signature:

Name of clerk Serial # of Wristbands/ Fixing Tokens issued Signature

From To

TOTAL of wristbands/
tokens issued

Annex 3: Minimum information to be collected
The information listed below is the minimum information to be collected if a list is to be
maintained by community leaders. The information can be collected in a ledger book or
notebooks provided to the block leaders (if the camp is organized). As indicated earlier,
it is essential that the leaders are made fully aware that this is a temporary measure and
that verification will take place as soon as the opportunity arises.

Name (first/ given and family name), of head(s) of household

Age/ date of birth
Relationship to the head(s) of family
Marital status
Place of origin
Date of arrival

Population estimation
Family size

and registration
Ration card number
Camp address
Specific needs groups


Annex 4:

List of countries covered by Senior Registration Officers

(as per IOM/ FOM No. 91/2003/ Rev. 1 Human Resources management procedures
relating to Regional Global posts effective 1 January 2004)

Name (based in) Countries covered

Ms. Maureen Mc Brien (Nairobi) Burundi, Djibouti, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, ROC, Rwanda, Soma-
lia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda
Mr. Koffi Adossi (Accra) Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, CAR, Chad, Cote dIvoire,
Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Li-
beria, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone,
Mr. Nasir Fernandes (Cairo) Afghanistan*, Algeria, Bahrain*, Egypt, Iran*, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Ka-
zakhstan*, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan*, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania*, Morocco,
Pakistan*, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Tajikistan*, Turkmenistan*, UAE,
Uzbekistan*, Western Sahara*, Yemen
To be determined Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South
(Pretoria) Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Ms. Sakura Atsumi (HQ) All other countries in the world
Mr. Christian Oxenboll (HQ)
Countries added after the issuance of the IOM/ FOM No. 91/2003/ Rev. 1 is indicated with an asterisk (*).

Annex 5: Sample fixing token and wristbands

Fixing token in 3 colours Wrist band in 4 colours

Population estimation
and registration

Annex 6: Registration layout - concept

More examples Registration Layout

on CD-ROM Admission Desk ~ Concept ~

Registration Desk 1
Data Entry/ Photo Desk 2

Registration Desk 2 Data Entry/ Photo Desk 1

Wait Area

Registration Desk 3
Litigation Desk

Waiting Area
Waiting Area, Distribute Token

Annex 7: Sample family card

Annex 8: Sample control sheet

Population estimation

10 and registration
Annex 9: Sample registration form

Annex 10: Sample codes
UNHCR Code Tables UNHCR Code Tables
(Extract) (Extract)
Age Year AgeMaritalYear
Status Age Code Year Marital Status
Education CodeCode Education Occupation Code Code Occupation
61 1944 1
Married/Common 2004
Law 61 MA 1944 Primary Married/Common
1 Law MA 1 Primary 1 Accountant 1 2411 Accountant
62 1943 Single 2 2003 62 SN 1943 Primary Single
2 SN 2 Primary 2 Agronomist 2 2213 Agronomist
63 1942 Widowed 3 2002 63 WD 1942 Primary Widowed
3 WD 3 Primary 3 Artist 3 2452 Artist
64 1941 Separated 4 2001 64 SR 1941 Primary Separated
4 SR 4 Primary 4 Athlete 4 3475 Athlete
65 1940 Divorced5 2000 65 DV 1940 Primary Divorced
5 DV 5 Primary 5 Baker 5 7412 Baker
6 1999 66 1939 Engaged EG Primary 6 6 Basket weavers
66 1939 Engaged EG Primary 6 6 Basket weavers 7424
7 1998 67 1938 Primary 7 7 Blacksmith
67 1938 Primary 7 7 Blacksmith 7221
8 1997 68 1937 Primary 8 8 Builder
68 1937 Primary 8 8 Builder 7121
9 1996 69 1936 Secondary/ Vocational/ Agricultural 1 9 Building labourer
69 1936 Relationship
Secondary/ Vocational/ Agricultural 1 Code 9 Building labourer 9313
1995 70 Code 1935 Secondary/ Vocational/ Agricultural 2 10 Butcher
70 1935 11 1994 71 1934
Secondary/ Vocational/ Agricultural 2
Household Representative HR1
10 Butcher
Secondary/ Vocational/ Agricultural 3 11
7411 Car drivers
71 1934 Household12 Representative
1993 72 HR1 1933 Secondary/
Wife Vocational/ Agricultural 3 WIF 11 Car drivers
Vocational/ Agricultural 4 12 8322 Carpenter
72 1933 Wife 13 1992 73 WIF 1932 Vocational/
HusbandAgricultural 4 HUS 12 Carpenter
Vocational/ Agricultural 5 13 7124 Carrier
73 1932 Husband 14 1991 74 HUS 1931 Vocational/
Son Agricultural 5 SON 13 Carrier school finished
Technical or Vocational TC 9150 Cattle breeder
74 1931 Son 15 1990 75 SON 1930 Technical or Vocational school finished DAU TC
Daughter University Cattle breeder UG 6121 Civil servant
75 1930 Daughter 16 1989 76 DAU 1929 University
Household Representative 2 HR2 UG Post University/Civil
Doctorservant PG 1120 Computer expert
76 1929 Household17 Representative
1988 2 77 HR2 1928 Post University/ Doctor PG Computer expert 2130 Cook
77 1928 18 1987 78 1927 Brother SBM Cook
Informal education IN 5122 Craftsman
78 1927 Brother19 1986 79 SBM 1926 Informal education
Sister SBF IN No education Craftsman NE 7330 Doctor
79 1926 Sister 20 1985 80 SBF 1925 No education
Father PRM NE No data Doctor U 2221 Domestic helper
80 1925 Father 21 1984 81 PRM 1924 No data Mother PRF U Domestic helper 9131 Electrician
81 1924 Mother22 1983 82 PRF 1923 Electrician 7241 Engineer
82 1923 23 1982 83 1922 Grandfather GPM Special
Engineer Needs Code Detail
2140 Farm labourer
83 1922 24
Grandfather 1981 84 GPM 1921 Grandmother
Special Needs GPF Code Blind
Detail Farm labourer DS BD9211 Farmer
84 1921 25
Grandmother 1980 85 GPF 1920 Blind Grandson GCM DS DeafBDand/or Mute
Farmer DS DF6111 Fisherman
85 1920 Grandson 26 1979 86 GCM 1919 Deaf and/or
Mute GCF DS Mentally
DF Disabled (Moderate)
Fisherman DS MM6152 Guard
86 1919 27
Granddaughter 1978 87 GCF 1918 Mentally Disabled (Moderate) DS Mentally
MM Disabled (Severe)
Guard DS MS9152 Hairdresser
28 1977 88 1917 Mentally
Uncle UNC DS Physically Disabled (Moderate) DS PM5141 Housewife

Population estimation
87 1918 Disabled (Severe) MS Hairdresser
88 1917 Uncle 29 1976 89 UNC 1916 Physically
AuntDisabled (Moderate) ANT DS Physically
PM Disabled (Severe)
Housewife DS PS 5121 Hunter
30 1975 90 1915 Nephew NEP Unaccompanied elderly ER UR Journalist
89 1916 Aunt ANT Physically Disabled (Severe) DS PS Hunter 6154
31 1974 Niece NCE Single Parent SP PT Labourer
90 1915 Nephew NEP Unaccompanied elderly ER UR Journalist 2451

and registration
32 1973 Cousin - male COM Unaccompanied minor SC UM Lawyer
Niece NCE Single Parent SP PT Labourer 4131
33 1972 Cousin (female) COF Separated Child SC SC Mason
Cousin - male COM Unaccompanied minor SC UM Lawyer 2421
34 1971 Month Abv. Woman at risk WR UW Mechanic
Cousin (female) COF Separated Child SC SC Mason 7122
35 1970 January Jan Father-in-law PLM Media
onth Abv. 36 1969 February Feb Woman at risk
Mother-in-law PLF WR UW Mechanic 7231 Merchant
ary Jan Father-in-law
37 1968 March PLM Mar Son-in-law CLM Media 3472 Military
uary Feb Mother-in-law
38 1967 April PLF Apr Daughter-in-law CLF Merchant 3415 Miner
h Mar Son-in-law
39 1966 May CLM May In-law (male) ILM Military 0110 None
Apr Daughter-in-law
40 1965 June CLF Jun In-law (female) ILF Miner 7111 Nurse
May In-law 41(male) 1964 July ILM Jul None NE Plumber
Jun In-law 42(female) 1963 August ILF Aug Step-father SPM Nurse 2230 Police officer

Jul 43 1962 September Sep Step-mother SPF Plumber 7136 Political
st Aug Step-father
44 1961 October SPM Oct Step-son SCM Police officer 5162 Potters
ember Sep 45
Step-mother 1960 NovemberSPF Nov Step-daughter SCF Political 1141 Religious
ber Oct Step-son 46 1959 DecemberSCM Dec Potters 7320 School teacher - Primary
mber Nov 47
Step-daughter 1958 SCF No blood relation (male) NRM Religious 2460 School teacher - Secondary
mber Dec 48 1957 No blood relation (female) NRF School teacher - Primary 2331 Secretary
No blood 49relation1956
(male) NRM School teacher - Secondary 2320 Shepherd
No blood 50relation1955
(female) NRF Secretary 4115 Shoe maker
51 1954 Status Code Shepherd 6120 Shopkeeper/ Small business
52 1953 Asylum seeker ASR Shoe maker 7442 Social Worker
53 Status 1952 Code Internally displaced person IDP Shopkeeper/ Small business 1319 Street food seller
54 1951 Not of concern NOC Student
Asylum seeker ASR Social Worker 2446
55 1950 Returnee (returned refugee) RTR Tailor
Internally displaced person IDP Street food seller 9111
56 1949 Refugee REF TBA/ midwifes
Not of concern NOC Student 0001
57 1948 Legal Basis Code Traditional healer
Returnee (returned refugee) RTR Tailor 7433
58 1947 Other/unknown (inc. human status) HumSt Traditional leaders
Refugee REF TBA/ midwifes 3232
59 1946 1951 Convention 51Con Weavers
Legal Basis
60 1945 Code UNHCR mandate HCMan Traditional healer 3241 Well technician
Other/unknown (inc. human status) HumSt Not applicable N/A Traditional leaders 1130
1951 ConventionThis year is: 51Con OAU - 1969 Convention OAU69 Weavers 7432
UNHCR mandate2005 HCMan Complementary protection CmPro Well technician 8113
Not applicable N/A Temporary protection TP
- 1969 Convention
Code Tables OAU69
Complementary protection
(Extract) CmPro
Temporary protection TP
atus Code Education Code Occupation Code
aw MA Primary 1 1 Accountant 2411 Version: 23/11/2005
SN Primary 2 2 Agronomist 2213
WD Primary 3 3 Artist 2452
SR Primary 4 4 Athlete 3475
DV Primary 5 5 Baker 7412
EG Primary 6 6 Basket weavers 7424
Primary 7 7 Blacksmith 7221
Primary 8 8 Builder 7121
Secondary/ Vocational/ Agricultural 1 9 Building labourer 9313
ship Code
Secondary/ Vocational/ Agricultural 2 10 Butcher 7411
ntative HR1 Secondary/ Vocational/ Agricultural 3 11 Car drivers 8322
WIF Vocational/ Agricultural 4 12 Carpenter 7124
HUS Vocational/ Agricultural 5 13 Carrier 9150
SON Technical or Vocational school finished TC Cattle breeder 6121
DAU University UG Civil servant 1120
ntative 2 HR2 Post University/ Doctor PG Computer expert 2130
Cook 5122
SBM Informal education IN Craftsman 7330
SBF No education NE Doctor 2221
PRM No data U Domestic helper 9131
PRF Electrician 7241
Engineer 2140
GPM Special Needs Code Detail Farm labourer 9211
GPF Blind DS BD Farmer 6111
GCM Deaf and/or Mute DS DF Fisherman 6152
GCF Mentally Disabled (Moderate) DS MM Guard 9152
Mentally Disabled (Severe) DS MS Hairdresser 5141
UNC Physically Disabled (Moderate) DS PM Housewife 5121
ANT Physically Disabled (Severe) DS PS Hunter 6154
NEP Unaccompanied elderly ER UR Journalist 2451
NCE Single Parent SP PT Labourer 4131
COM Unaccompanied minor SC UM Lawyer 2421
COF Separated Child SC SC Mason 7122
Woman at risk WR UW Mechanic 7231
PLM Media 3472
PLF Merchant 3415 175
CLM Military 0110
CLF Miner 7111
ILF Nurse 2230
Annex 11: Sample budget, registration staffing and equipment
requirement calculation sheet in Excel

XXXXXX Verification / Registration Xxx-Xxx 2005 Total population 14 128

Operational Assumptions Total households 5 620
1. User pre-populated or blank registration form for the interview Planning Worksheet
2. Data Entry on site will be kept to minimum bio data and photo
3. Rest of the data entry (comments etc) will be completed in the office 7 hours/day of operational hours
If one interviewer is able to verify/ collect data for 20 households/ day = 50 individuals/day
( 21 ) minuites/household
and a data entry person takes pictures of 101 Individuals/day
Interview/ basic data entry / photo capture will finish in 28,1 working days
I. Human Resources
Cout unit
Cout Total Nbre de jrs Cout total de
Staff HCR Staff recruter par jour
par jour prestes l'operation en $ US
Superviseur( HCR) 1
Controleur foule 1 20 20 28 $560
Enregistreurs 5 5 20 100 28 $2 800
Personnel de Protection(HCR) 1
Bureau controle/Reception(HCR) 1
Administrateur de la base de donnes 1
Agents de Saisie(staff HCR) 0 5 30 150 28 $4 200
Assistant de Photo
Agents Feuille de controle
Carte de ration(HCR)
Charg de la logistique
Electricien 1 25 25 30 $750
Autorites locales 4 20 80 28 $2 240
Cdt Police 1 20 20 28 $560
Policier(agent securit) 2 10 20 28 $560
S/Total 9 19 $11 670

NB: Les staff du HCR sont responsible de la logistique, cartes de ration et les autres aspects administratives. If faut ajouter le DSA pour les staff en mission (de Bangui)


Qte PrixUnit

Fournitures de Bureau/consommables
a. Formulaires d'enregistrement (virges ou pre-populated) 6000 Stock
b. Bic Bleu 20 Stock
c. Marqueurs 5 Stock
d. Classeurs levrier 10 Stock
e. Perforateur Stock
f. Perforateur carte Stock
g. Papier duplicateur Stock
h. Agraffeuse 4 Stock
i. Agraffes 2 Stock
j. Farde chemise 10 Stock
S/Total $0
Furnitures Informatiques
a. Ordinateurs (x6) new laptops -> 5 1500 $7 500
b. Imprimante (x1) 1 Imprimante Stock ?
c. Switched hub 8/16 port (x2) One spare? 1 33 $33
d. UPSs (x1) 1(Existe) stock?
e. WebCams/Tripods (x5 ) PROFILE stock -> 5( existent) stock
f. Cables RJ 45 10( fabriquer) Stock
g. Draps (mieux Fonds Blancs durs)/ 10m 1 $10
S/Total $7 543
Materiel electronique
a. Groupe 1KVA (x1) 1 generateur Stock?
b. Rlx cables de 2,5mm 100 m
c. Prises avec terres
d. Chevilles $1 000
e. Reglette avec tubes de 40 watt
f. Rallonges electriques
g. Domino
S/Total $1 000
a. Gasoil vehicule 600 litres de GO 2 $1 200
b. Essence groupe electrogene 50 litres 5 $300
c.Huile moteur Groupe Electrogene 2 litres 10 $50
S/Total $1 550
Autres materiels
Megaphone 2 Stock?
Ciseaux 5 pieces Stock
S/Total $0

Imprevus(10%) $2 176

Grand Total $23 939

Appendixies A

2001 Executive Committee of the UNHCR Programme (52nd Session)

Conclusion No. 91 (LII)


The Executive Committee,

Recalling its Conclusion No. 22 (XXXII) on the protection of asylum-seekers in

situations of large-scale influx, Conclusion No. 35 (XXXV) on identity documents for
refugees, Conclusion No. 39 (XXXVI) and Conclusion No. 64 (XLI) on refugee women
and international protection, as well as Conclusion No. 73 (XLIV) on refugee protection
and sexual violence;

Population estimation
and registration
Noting also that the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in article 27,
calls on States Parties to issue identity papers to refugees;

Mindful of the importance accorded to registration in the independent evaluation of

UNHCRs emergency preparedness and response to the Kosovo crisis;

Welcoming the discussion which took place on registration in the context of the Global
Consultations on International Protection;

(a) Acknowledges the importance of registration as a tool of protection, including

protection against refoulement, protection against forcible recruitment,
protection of access to basic rights, family reunification of refugees and
identification of those in need of special assistance, and as a means to enable
the quantification and assessment of needs and to implement appropriate
durable solutions;

(b) Recommends that the registration of refugees and asylum-seekers should be

guided by the following basic considerations:

(i) Registration should be a continuing process to record essential

information at the time of initial displacement, as well as any subsequent
demographic and other changes in the refugee population (such as births,
deaths, new arrivals, departures, cessation, naturalization, etc.);

(ii) The registration process should abide by the fundamental principles of


(iii) The registration process should to the extent possible be easily

accessible, and take place in a safe and secure location;

(iv) Registration should be conducted in a non-intimidating, non-threatening

and impartial manner, with due respect for the safety and dignity of refugees;

(v) Personnel conducting the registration, including, where necessary,
refugees and asylum-seekers, should be adequately trained, should include
a sufficient number of female staff and should have clear instructions on
the procedures and requirements for registration, including the need for
confidentiality of information collected; special measures should be taken to
ensure the integrity of the registration process;

(vi) In principle, refugees should be registered on an individual basis with the

following basic information being recorded: identity document and number,
photograph, name, sex, date of birth (or age), marital status, special protection
and assistance needs, level of education, occupation (skills), household
(family) size and composition, date of arrival, current location and place of

(c) Encourages States and UNHCR, on the basis of existing expertise, to

develop further and implement registration guidelines to ensure the quality
and comparability of registered data, especially regarding special needs,
occupational skills and level of education;

(d) Also encourages States and UNHCR to introduce new techniques and tools
to enhance the identification and documentation of refugees and asylum-
seekers, including biometrics features, and to share these with a view towards
developing a more standardized worldwide registration system;

(e) Acknowledges the importance to the international community, particularly

States, UNHCR and other relevant organizations, of sharing statistical data;

(f) Recognizes the confidential nature of personal data and the need to continue
to protect confidentiality; also recognizes that the appropriate sharing of
some personal data in line with data protection principles can assist States
to combat fraud, to address irregular movements of refugees and asylum-
seekers, and to identify those not entitled to international protection under the
1951 Convention and/or 1967 Protocol;

(g) Requests States, which have not yet done so, to take all necessary measures
to register and document refugees and asylum-seekers on their territory as
quickly as possible upon their arrival, bearing in mind the resources available,
and where appropriate to seek the support and co-operation of UNHCR;

(h) Emphasizes the critical role of material, financial, technical and human
resources in assisting host countries in registering and documenting refugees
and asylum-seekers, particularly developing countries confronted with large-
scale influxes and protracted refugee situations.

Population estimation

10 and registration
A community-based approach and community services

CONTENTS Paragraph Page


Introduction 1 182

Situation 2-3 182

Objectives 4 182

A community-based approach
and community services
Principles in an emergency response 5-7 183

Key Actions to be undertaken using a

multi-functional team approach 8-38 184-200
Principles of Empowernment 9-15 184-186
Womens participation/empowerment 16 187
Childrens Participation 17-19 188-189

Women at Risk 22 192
Unaccompanied and Separated Children 23-28 193-194
Best Interest Determination 29-30 194-195
Family tracing and reunification 31 197
Older Persons 32 197
Unaccompanied older Persons 33 198
Grandparent headed households 34 198
Persons with physical and mental disabilities 35 198
Psychosocial needs 36-38 199-200

Key references 202

Introduction without the familiar structures of school
and home and often face serious protec-
A community-based approach and
tion risks such as military recruitment and
community services1
exploitation. Women and girls are partic-
1. UNHCRs strategy for reinforcing a ularly affected. Sexual and gender based
community development approach2 em- violence is frequently present during con-
phasizes that all persons of concern should flict and continues into the emergency set-
be considered as resourceful and active ting. Much can be done to improve the
partners. A community-based approach is protection of women, girls, boys and men
an inclusive partnership strategy, a proc- through the manner in which an emer-
ess, and a way of working with persons gency is responded to by the emergency
of concern that recognizes their individual team.
and collective capacities and resources
and builds on these to ensure their protec- 3 .Normal and traditional community
tion. The approach seeks to understand structures, which may have regulated
the communitys concerns, capacities, community well-being, may have broken
and priorities and to engage women, men, down. Social and psychological prob-
girls, and boys of all ages and diverse lems are created and exacerbated. New re-
backgrounds as partners in protection and sponse mechanisms will emerge possibly
programming. In an emergency, the role with new leadership structures, which may
of UNHCR is to recognize the resilience or may not be representative of all mem-
of the community members, work with bers of the community. Negative coping
them as equal partners in designing, im- mechanisms might also arise as people
plementing and evaluating protection and struggle to meet basic needs. Developing
assistance responses and strengthen their a community-based approach and pro-
capacity to build solutions for the future. viding community based services in an
emergency requires a full understanding
Situation of these community dynamics, the eco-
nomic, legal, social and political context,
2. Conflict, war, persecution and displace- as well as the roles of women, girls, boys
ment are devastating for individuals, and men and the power relations between
families and communities. People often them and between different majority and
lose their livelihoods, their land, their minority groups.
property and belongings and their entire
way of living. Displaced women and men Objectives
are forced to live in makeshift emergency
shelter, overcrowded camps and centres 4. During the emergency phase, UNHCR
while struggling to protect their depend- and partner multi-functional teams3 should
ents, particularly young children and work to:
those with specific needs such as persons Implement a community-based ap-
with disabilities and unaccompanied older proach, including participatory assess-
persons. Adolescent boys and girls are ment, in the emergency operation to
uprooted and find themselves suddenly ensure that the follow up phase sup-
ports communities to regain control of
their lives as quickly as possible.
The manual Community-Based Approach in
UNHCR Operation, will provide details on com- 3
A multifunctional team is, at a minimum, com-
munity-based approach and different techniques posed of protection, programme, and community
for its implementation. service staff. Ideally, it should include female and
Standing committee meeting document Rein- male staff, both national and international and of
forcing a Community Development Approach, 15 different levels and government and non-govern-
February 2001. ment partners.
Support the re-establishment and/or approach is for multifunctional teams to
development of refugee community- undertake participatory assessment by
based structures which are representa- holding separate discussions with women,
tive of the population from an age, men, girls, and boys, including adoles-
gender and diversity perspective and cents, in order to gather accurate informa-
respect international legal standards. tion on the specific protection risks they
face and the underlying causes of those
Provide and support opportunities that
risks, to identify their capacities and re-
are community based to explore liveli-
sources, and to hear their proposed so-
hoods for men and women with the
lutions.4 Participatory assessment helps
purpose of gaining food security and
to mobilize communities to take collec-
earning incomes to meet other basic
tive action to enhance their own protec-
living standards.
tion and encourages individual, family
Provide targeted community-based and community self-esteem.5 The find-
services for those groups with

A community-based approach
ings from the participatory assessments
specific needs and ensure regular should be analysed from an age, gender

and community services

monitoring and follow up to identify and diversity perspective and be used
protection risks and assistance gaps. to define the protection strategy and the
Establish an effective community emergency operations plan. Teams must
services system for community-based also take steps to share the outcomes of
activities. the findings, to understand and verify the
analysis and planning decisions with the
Principles in an emergency response
community, as well as work with the dif-

5. Work in partnership and adopt a ferent members to evaluate the impact of
multi-functional team approach: An ef- service delivery early on in the emergency
fective UNHCR emergency team needs and correct mistakes in a timely fashion.
to ensure that protection, programme, Information, particularly in an emergency,
community services, field, technical staff must be disseminated in different manners
and others coordinate closely and adopt to reach all people in the community.
complementary working methods, shar- 7. Equality and non-discrimination: The
ing information and agreeing on com- UNHCR code of conduct states that From
mon goals. Such an approach requires the outset of an emergency, refugees and
mutual understanding and respect of the other people of concern to UNHCR must
complementarity of different functions be treated equally and with respect and
combined with a respectful attitude to the dignity regardless of race, sex, religion,
women, men, girls and boys of concern colour, national or ethnic origin, language,
and a commitment to work with them as marital status, sexual orientation, age, so-
partners. A multifunctional team approach cio-economic status, disability, political
includes partnership with government or- conviction, or any other distinguishing
ganizations, UN agencies, implementing feature.6 This requires staff to ensure that
and operational national and international they take steps to dialogue with persons
non-governmental organizations to en- from different backgrounds and not only
sure a multi-lateral ownership for refugee
protection. A multifunctional team is, at a
minimum, composed of protection, pro-
Please refer to the UNHCR Tool for Participa-
tory Assessment in Operations, UNHCR, 2006.
gramme, and community service staff and 5
The manual on Community-based Approach
should include female and male staff. provides details on principles as well as techniques
in community participation.
6. Participation and transparency: The 6
UNHCRs Code of Conduct, Commitment
first step to setting up a community-based Number 1.
focus on leaders, who are often tradition- be excluded traditionally such as single
ally male. This is particularly important in women, are benefiting from the assistance.
an emergency. Leaders might be selective Refugees need to know that they should
in providing and distributing informa- contribute to the decisions, what they can
tion. This can result in inequitable assist- expect, what our limitations might be, the
ance distribution and serious oversights in time frame for assistance and based on this
terms of protection risks, for example in information, participate in decisions to pri-
the case of unaccompanied and separated oritize the assistance and its delivery.
children, child headed households, young
adolescent girls or older persons on their Principles of empowerment
own. 9. Awareness raising and critical analy-
sis of the situation: Awareness raising
Key Actions to be undertaken using with women and men of concern is a
a multi-functional team approach
process of critical analysis of their situ-
ation and their roles and contributions in
Implement a community-based ap- resolving protection risks and exercising
proach, including participatory assess-
their rights. The impact of emergency ac-
ment, in the emergency operation to en-
sure that the follow-up phase supports tivities should be analysed carefully with
communities to regain control of their both women and men to ensure that they
lives as quickly as possible. promote empowerment and gender equal-
ity and that solutions are identified.
8. The implementation of a community-
based approach means placing refugee 10. Meaningful participation: Participa-
women, men, girls and boys of diverse tion7 refers to the full and equal involve-
backgrounds at the centre of decision ment of men and women of all ages and
making for how protection and assist- backgrounds in all decision-making proc-
ance will be provided at the outset of the esses and activities in the public and pri-
emergency phase. This will ensure that vate spheres that affect their lives and the
protection strategies and the delivery of life of their community. As women are
assistance are adapted to the specific cul- traditionally disadvantaged and excluded
ture, traditions and structures of the refu- this often requires taking positive action
gee community. This approach will enable to support womens access to decision-
each community to participate directly in making processes, especially in emergen-
the decisions affecting their future, to re- cies.
gain control of their lives and support their 11. Mobilization: Mobilization is the
empowerment. A community-based ap- process of bringing men and women to-
proach seeks to build trust and mutual re- gether to discuss common problems and
spect between UNHCR, its implementing establishing community responses with
partners and the people of concern. In or- the support of the humanitarian workers.
der to facilitate and promote participation This can lead to the formation of womens
and decision-making as well as to obtain a groups, organizations, and networks, and
good understanding of the dynamics with-
in the community, the delivery of services
7 The themes of participation and equal rights
must be developed and monitored together in decision-making runs through CEDAW, which
with the different members. A constant in- refers to the right of women to participate in the
formation exchange should be maintained political and public spheres, have access to and
between the community and service pro- use of resources, inherit property, to participate
in recreation, sports, and all aspects of cultural
viders on the quality of the services and to life, to participate in all community activities, and
monitor that all groups, particularly those in decision-making in relation to marriage and
with specific needs and those who might family life.
to public lobbying for the recognition of those most at risk, the overall context,
women and men rights. the roles assumed by women, girls,
boys and men, and the background
12. Access and control: Access and con-
and diversity of the people of con-
trol refer to the opportunities and rights
cern as well as the host population.
available to women and men to be able to
Incorporate findings into the emer-
have access to or have control over serv-
gency programme and work with the
ices, resources, and the distribution of
programme officer to ensure these
benefits. In the context of an emergency,
aspects are budgeted
problems of access and control can have
devastating consequences on those ex- Identify relevant key actors such as
cluded and lead to heightened protection local authorities (in particular Minis-
risks. Staff need to monitor closely who tries for social welfare/services, fam-
has access to and control of services that ily, gender, etc.), religious leaders,
are established. If any excluded groups traditional leaders, teachers, political

A community-based approach
are identified, such as minority groups, or leaders, landowners, implementing
unaccompanied and separated children, and operational partners, or other

and community services

staff will need to work with the communi- important stakeholders and make sure
ty and aid workers to change any discrimi- that their opinions are reviewed with
natory patterns through empowerment and community members (women and
improved service delivery. men) and taken into consideration.
Together with the community, iden-
Actions tify and assess resources within the
13. Obtain a good understanding of the op- community, such as skills, equip-

erational context through a review of doc- ment, tools or existing social projects
uments and reports on the social, cultural, and initiatives.
economic and legal context, including the Follow up with regular participatory
position of women and gender roles. assessments8 because in an emer-
gency, the situation is often rapidly
Undertake initial participatory as- changing as people might move from
sessments with women, men, girls one place to another, the security situ-
and boys of diverse backgrounds by ation may change and new people can
engaging in informal discussions arrive etc. These changes are likely
with as many different focus groups to affect the environment, the relation
as possible. to the host population and the power
Find out who does what by sex and balance within the refugee commu-
age, i.e. what activities do women nity.
and girls undertake and where? What Keep a continual dialogue with
activities do men and boys undertake women, men, girls and boys to build
and where? Who controls resources trust and confidence and to ensure ac-
in the community? Who takes deci- tive participation in planning, imple-
sions? mentation and monitoring of service
Consider the specific needs of par- delivery.
ticular groups such as older persons
living alone, persons with disabilities
and child headed households and
discuss with the community how they 8
In an emergency the participatory assessment
are being cared for and protected? might need to be slightly adjusted. If not all the
Systematize the information to build steps within the tool can be used, parts can be
used as a basis. Please see Chapter 5 for more
a picture of the population profile, information.
Mobilize the community to form or- Support the re-establishment and/or de-
ganizations and claim their rights by: velopment of refugee community-based
meeting with them regularly and structures which are representative of
making sure specific information the population from an age, gender and
campaigns are held for women diversity perspective and respect inter-
and those who cannot leave their national legal standards
homes; 14. Every community has its own system
visiting schools and health centres and mechanisms to solve problems. In an
to exchange information; emergency situation it is vital to seek to
informing people of the assistance enhance and improve existing positive
programmes; coping mechanisms which may include
informing people who will do family relationships, mutual assistance
what amongst the agencies; among neighbours, local, social and eco-
informing people how their views nomic organizations, community leaders,
have been reflected in any actions religious institutions and practices, tradi-
taken and then reviewing the ef- tional ceremonies, festivals and traditional
fectiveness of the decisions taken; healers.
and 15. Assistance should be channelled in a
Supporting the development of ap- way that enhances already existing struc-
propriate community management tures and mobilizes resources within the
structures, including mechanisms community. It is however important to
to ensure the meaningful par- recognize that existing structures and sys-
ticipation of women, children and tems are not necessarily fair and do not
groups with specific needs. always respect human rights, particularly
Discuss with the community the over- womens rights and childrens rights. The
all goals of the operation, as well as arrival of humanitarian assistance can
constraints based on finance, duration exacerbate discriminatory practices like
of support and personnel. the exclusion of minority groups from ac-
Adapt activities to the time and avail- cessing services, resources and decision
ability of persons of concern. making processes and lead to heightened
Keep a focus on the long-term sustain- protection risks. It is therefore vital that
ability and impact of the operation and community structures are analysed in this
provide protection and assistance with light and strengthened to ensure fair repre-
the aim of self-help and self-reliance. sentation of the community and that they
Coordinate with local authorities enable meaningful participation of wom-
and host communities to set up a en, adolescents and groups with specific
framework for peaceful partnership needs.
between the refugee/IDP community
and the host population.
Ensure coordination with other agen-
cies to draw their focus to refugee
hosted areas in order to support the
host community to cope with the
influx of refugees.

Reactivate and support traditional
Communities, culture, tradition
and rights community management structures
and coping mechanisms if they
The universality of human rights is often respect human rights and are repre-
challenged by members of the commu-
sentative, if not, work with them to
nity on the grounds that local culture
and tradition should take precedence. promote human rights.
Some UNHCR staff have resisted taking Support community members to set
action to promote and protect, for exam- criteria for leadership and arrange for
ple, the rights of women and girls on the representatives to be selected by the
grounds that it would interfere with local community and respect principles of
Cultural beliefs are not homogenous and Coordinate with agencies on how to
cultures are not static; they are continu- work with leaders representing the
ally being renewed and reshaped.9 Cul-
interests of the displaced community.
tural change is shaped by many factors,

A community-based approach
particularly conflict and displacement. Analyse, with the community, priori-
ties for action and work with them in

and community services

Change also results from deliberate ef-
forts to influence values through revi- distributing roles and responsibilities.
sions of law or government policy. Monitor that women, adolescents
International law provides that States girls and boys and groups with spe-
are obliged to take measures to modify cific needs participate in decision
cultural patterns of conduct with the aim making systems for the distribution
of eliminating customary and other prac- of food, basic goods and registration.
tices that are based on the superiority or
Ensure equal participation of women,

inferiority of either sex or on stereotyped
roles for women and men.10 When a tra- men of all ages and backgrounds in
dition or practice is considered by the sectors such as food, health, shelter,
relevant organ of the United Nations to education, environment, water and
be directly contrary to an international sanitation.
human rights instrument or standard, Ensure constant monitoring of how
UNHCR staff will be guided by the appli-
the assistance is being provided in-
cable human rights instrument or stand-
ard.11 cluding distribution of food and NFIs
(non food items) in order to identify
Actions: abuse of power, corruption and dis-
Establish good relations with the
community to understand the dynam- Support refugees own initiatives
ics and social interactions in order to and the creation of cultural, social
identify the support structures already economic activities and/or religious
existing in the community before and centres and events. Involve the host
after displacement. population where appropriate.
Womens participation/ empowerment12
Adapted from Addressing Cultural Relativism in 16. In most refugee and displacement
Relation to Gender Equality and Womens Rights: contexts, the roles and responsibilities of
An Approach by CIDA, contained in Gender men and women change because of the
Training Kit on Refugee Protection, UNHCR,
2002, pp. 175180.
impact of conflict on family and commu-
CEDAW, Article 5; DEVAW, Article 4; General nity structures. For example, women may
Comment No. 28, Equality of rights between men become the breadwinners and men could
and women (Article 3), 2000, para. 5.
For guidance see UNHCR, Code of Conduct
and Explanatory Notes, Core Values and Guiding 12
Part adapted from UNHCR Handbook for Pro-
Principles, p. 4. tection of Women and Girls.
get involved in childcare. Displacement section on protection and on preven-
can be an empowering or disempower- tion of and response to sexual and
ing experience for women. Every day, gender-based violence [SGBV]).
displaced women actively challenge their Work with partners to guarantee
traditional gender roles that hinder their womens representation on all deci-
participation in the political, economic, sion making structures such as shelter
and social realms. Displacement in an design and layout, NFIs, food and
emergency generally has a higher number security.
of women and children. The inclusion of Ensure individual registration and
women in community structures, camp documentation, including women in
management, economic life, and peace polygamous marriages.
negotiations widens the range of choices Together with women, decide who will
available to women, provides them with receive the family ration cards.
discretion over their futures, and enhances
Provide female to female medical
the quality of their lives and those of their
services so that women will not face
families and communities.
barriers to accessing health support.
Participatory assessments and an analysis Provide conditions/space and time for
of the findings from a gender perspective womens groups to meet, discuss com-
are essential for gender mainstreaming. mon problems and advise collective
The power relations between women and strategies and share their experiences
men and how they impact on womens and ideas.
participation in decision-making, access Provide information and awareness to
and control of resources and physical staff and people of concern on the UN
security must be well understood. When Security Council Resolution 1325 on
violations of womens and girls rights Women, Peace and Security.
and inequalities between women and men Implement brief sessions, including
are identified in an operation, UNHCR capacity development in leadership
programmes must seek to address these skills for women and on conflict reso-
through sustainable targeted action. lution and peace building.
Key actions
Raise awareness and promote wom-
ens participation in peace negotiations
Ensure that structured dialogue and political governance.
includes a substantial number of
Promote mens participation in activi-
displaced women and girls from the
ties that reinforce womens empower-
outset of the emergency to enable a
holistic understanding of the prob-
lems. Childrens participation
Have female staff with a community 17. Child participation is integral to a
services background on the emer- rights- and community-based approach.
gency team to ensure easy access to The core purpose of childrens participa-
displaced women and girls. tion is to empower them as individuals
Analyse with women and girls the pro- and members of civil society, giving them
tection risks that they in particular face the opportunity to influence the actions
and ensure that the operational design and decisions that affect their lives.13
considers these risks as well as the
delivery of assistance to support them
This is the draft definition used by Save the Chil-
dren Alliance as reproduced in Save the Children
in carrying out their activities, such as Sweden, Creating an Enabling Environment: Ca-
sanitary materials, sufficient domestic pacity-building in childrens participation, Save the
items and support for dependents (cf Children Sweden, Vietnam, 20022004, pp. 1516.
18. The consequences of displacement and greater the opportunity for personal devel-
the loss of their normal social and cultural opment and empowerment.
environment are devastating for children.
Girls may be particularly affected as they Key actions:
are required to assume more adult respon- Be sensitive to gender, culture ethics
sibilities, including domestic chores and and the power relations within the
caring for younger children, and may not community between adults and chil-
be able to go to school. Many girls suf- dren and between girls and boys.
fer sexual exploitation and violence dur- Set up informal focus groups with
ing flight. Further abuse often takes place girls and boys to discuss their main
in displacement for both girls and boys. concerns in the emergency and to
Children who are unaccompanied and understand how they are coping with
separated or children who are heads-of- the situation.
households with younger siblings are at Ensure a safe environment where they

A community-based approach
particular risk of social marginalization feel secure enough to discuss their
and isolation, and are often overlooked needs.

and community services

within conflict-affected populations.14 Explain the purpose of emergency
More information on children at risk is support and seek their ideas on what
covered under groups and individuals should be done and how protection
with specific needs. and assistance should be provided.
19. Therefore, ensuring the meaningful Identify experts in child interviewing
participation of girls and boys, in particu- techniques to support/undertake focus
lar adolescent girls, in decisions and ac- group discussions and follow up ac-

tivities that affect their lives is essential. tions.
Participation will help children to have A sympathetic and imaginative ap-
some structure to their lives, and will en- proach to interviewing children is
able them to take action to improve their very important and best conducted by
circumstances and their future. Partici- carefully trained refugees; if pos-
pation also enhances their protection. As sible by someone the child already
girls and boys are given the opportunity to knows and trusts. If an interview has
express their views, in safety and in confi- to take place through an interpreter,
dence, protection problems and solutions the interpreter must be well briefed,
can be identified. Participation is also es- with his or her role limited to direct
sential as it helps operations to address the translation, and must not be allowed
problems faced by girls and boys, as well to break personal contact between
as build on their resources and capaci- interviewer and child. Children may
ties. Participation is also a right that can react very differently. The presence
lead to the access and enjoyment of other of the childs friend(s) at the inter-
fundamental rights, including the right to view reassures the child but may also
education. Children participate to differ- yield important information. Any
ent degrees; but the deeper the level of accompanying adults or persons who
participation, the more children are able brought the child forward should also
to influence what happens to them and the be interviewed.
Use simple language and creative
14 See Adolescent Girls Affected by Armed activities to facilitate participation
Conflict: Why Should we Care, a fact sheet issued among children
by the Gender and Peace Working Group of the
Canadian Peace-building Coordination Unit and Provide feedback on how their con-
the Womens Commission for Refugee Women and cerns will be addressed.
Provide and support opportunities that
fears and insecurities due to loss of
are community-based to explore liveli- livelihood and their plans to address
hoods for men and women with the pur- them and ways in which UNHCR and
pose of gaining food security and earn- other partners can support them in
ing incomes to meet other basic living implementing these plans.
standards. Provide literacy training and conduct
20. Many individuals in the emergency awareness raising workshops on the
context are pre-occupied with fulfilling entitlements of the displaced persons
the basic needs of their family members, and on their rights and responsi-
including finding ways to re-establish their bilities. This may be appropriate for
livelihoods even if they are displaced. The women and adolescent boys and girls.
process of taking actions to explore live- Provide training on womens leader-
lihood opportunities will provide women ship skills that includes participation
and men an avenue to address psycho-so- in decision-making in community
cial stresses and insecurities by identifying structures, peace building and peace
solutions to take control over their lives negotiations.
and gradually gain back their self-confi- Co-ordinate with colleagues and
dence. Therefore any initiatives aiming at NGOs working on environment
re-establishing livelihoods should be sup- concerns to introduce fuel efficient
ported by UNHCR or partners. stoves.
Identify local organizations and
Key actions: womens groups and partner with
Through focus group discussion with them to support the possibilities with
groups of men and women of differ- displaced communities to implement
ent age groups, identify the various their plans for re-establishing their
skills and capacities that they pos- livelihoods so as to address gaps in
sess. Prepare a roster with names, their living standards.
skills, age and sex. This roster can Provide targeted community based serv-
include doctors, nurses, teachers, wa- ices for groups with specific needs and
ter engineers, public heath workers, ensure regular monitoring and follow up
community workers and social work- to identify protection risks and assist-
ers, interpreters, water engineers, ance gaps.
construction workers, other trades 21. In every emergency there will be refu-
persons, administrators etc, so that gee groups or individuals facing height-
NGOs and UN agencies can call upon ened protection risks because of their
the professionals and skilled persons specific needs, including individuals with
to assist with the relief activities. trauma related problems. In stable situa-
Identify informal livelihood skills tions, most communities respond to these
and capacities people may have and needs through traditional community
support those which the community structures. Therefore it is important that
consider feasible as well as identify assistance is community based, focusing
local markets. on building the communitys capacity to
Since women often play multiple meet their needs and, if possible, within
roles, ensure that they are not over- the care of their families or neighbours. In
burdened with additional tasks linked an emergency, groups or individuals with
to re-establishing livelihoods. How- specific needs may be unintentionally
ever, if found relevant, do provide ignored or excluded, leading to further
them opportunities through organ- problems. It is therefore vital to ensure
izing group meetings to express their that groups or individuals with specific
needs are not overlooked and/or discrimi-
nated and that protection and assistance Women at risk
are provided based on their concerns and Woman associated with fighting forces
needs. (see chapter 18 for information on Female headed households
survivors of SGBV). Victim/survivor of domestic violence/SGBV
Unaccompanied single woman

Older persons at risk

Groups with Specific Needs Older person as caretaker for separated
The following groups are generally consid- children
ered to need more attention in an emergen- Older person with grandchildren
cy than other members of the community, Unaccompanied older person
based on their specific needs. However, it
is important to remember that this might not Persons with disabilities
be the case for all persons within that group Physical disability
Mental disability

A community-based approach
or that these may change according to the
context and over time. Rather than targeting

and community services

labelled groups of people with a standard
package of assistance it is essential that an Single parent
assessment is done to analyse the protec- Person requiring family reunion
tion risks facing individuals or groups with
specific needs to identify those at height- Key actions:
ened risk and the nature of the assistance Jointly with the community, arrange
they are likely to need..
systematic identification of individu-
This list is not exhaustive and it is important als and/or groups with specific needs.

to not limit the scope of assistance to only Identify those who require immediate
these groups, but to ensure that all persons
with specific needs in a particular communi-
attention, such as for example unac-
ty receive appropriate protection and assist- companied and separated children,
ance according to their needs as expressed sick or malnourished, unaccompanied
by themselves: persons with severe disabilities etc.,
Girls and boys at risk
and those with needs who require
Child-headed household medium term follow up.
Separated child Register persons with specific needs
Unaccompanied child so that the operation plans adequately
Child associated with fighting forces for their protection and assistance.
Victim/survivor of violence
Ensure that persons with urgent medi-
Important medical/health condition cal needs and chronic conditions are
Serious medical condition chronic illness referred to the health centres for im-
Psychosocial needs mediate treatment.
Serious medical condition other Provide a fast-track queuing system
Persons living with HIV/AIDS for registration and distribution
purposes for persons with specific
Special legal or physical protection
need needs, in particular in regards to older
Survivor of torture/violence in asylum persons or persons with disabilities.
At risk of deportation Establish up-to-date records and con-
Urgent need of physical protection fidential individual files and a simple
Minority group member periodic reporting system, focusing
Other individual or group excluded or mar- on the needs identified and services
ginalized from the community
provided as well as statistical data.
Jointly with the community, and those
affected, agree on a system to provide
basic services to groups with specific incorporate them into operational
needs and monitor delivery of serv- planning.
ices and implementation of follow-up Provide incentive opportunities/train-
actions. ing/employment/income-generating
Ensure that groups or individuals with opportunities for those with specific
specific needs are able to access dis- needs or their families to facilitate
tribution points and are not neglected support and longer term solutions.
in the delivery of goods: if necessary Assign tasks adapted to their disabil-
arrange for separate queuing systems ity and skills and personal situation.
or arrange for goods to be delivered Undertake special measures to ensure
to persons not able to attend distribu- that groups with specific needs are
tion gatherings. Monitor the distribu- fully informed on protection and as-
tion of goods to groups or individuals sistance measures and in particular
with specific needs so that to ensure distribution systems.
that they are not being discriminated Keep in mind that displaced persons
or taken advantage of. most in need are often the least likely
Monitor the construction of shelter, to come forward to make their needs
water and sanitation facilities to en- known!
sure that they are adapted to individu-
als with specific needs. Women at risk
Provide transport for individuals 22. Different groups of women exposed to
with physical disabilities, frail older risk: Although not all women are at risk or
persons, women in late pregnancy exposed to protection problems, it is im-
or persons in severe psychological portant to identify those women who are
distress to access medical and other specifically at risk due to gender-related
services as appropriate. Ensure that reasons. Protection problems include ex-
the person of concern is accompanied pulsion, refoulment and other security
by a responsible attendant (usually threats. Women may be survivors/victims
a relative) and that a clear meeting of sexual and gender violence. Women
point has been identified to prevent torture survivors and those associated with
separation from family members. fighting forces can also be at risk. Women
Avoid unnecessary repetition of basic could also experience different forms of
interviewing, which might jeopardize exploitation like forced labour and face
the confidentiality as well as be trau- acute economic hardships or marginaliza-
matic for the person of concern, by tion forcing them into engaging in risky
ensuring that case records are being behaviour, including survival sex. Groups
transferred if individuals with specific or individual women could face discrimi-
needs are being moved. nation and community hostility. Protec-
Identify and strengthen local in- tion problems can become exacerbated
stitutions which have facilities for based on family composition. Individual
care and treatment, such as clinics, or groups of women at risk can be catego-
schools, hospitals and recreational rized either as single woman household,
facilities. unaccompanied girls (please refer section
104 for unaccompanied and separated
Undertake participatory assessment
children), survivors of SGBV etc. Please
with groups or individuals with spe-
refer to the chapter 18 on SGBV for plan-
cific needs and ensure that they are
ning and suggested actions in emergen-
able to attend meetings or conduct
home visits to gather their views and

Key actions: Unaccompanied and separated children
Undertake focus group discussions UNHCR defines a separated child as a
with various groups of women to child, separated from both parents, or
identify those single women who previous legal or customary primary
are at risk and require immediate care-giver, but not necessarily from
responses and follow up with indi- other relatives. (it may therefore include
vidual interviews to set up a case children accompanied by other adult
family members.)
management system.
Design and plan emergency responses An unaccompanied child is defined as a
that take into consideration the spe- child, separated from both parents and
other relatives and is not being cared for
cific needs of those groups of women by an adult who, by law or custom, is re-
who are identified as at risk, so as sponsible for doing so.
to ensure emergency assistance is
provided and followed up with dis- Orphans are defined as children, both
of whose parents are known to be dead.

A community-based approach
cussions for agreeing on other short In some countries, however, a child
term action plans.

and community services

who has lost one parent is called an
Combine a variety of methods like orphan.1
follow-up visits, observations and
individual discussions to monitor 23. Children separated from their immedi-
the targeted assistance and support ate next-of-kin during an emergency are
and check if the protection impacts often cared for by the displaced communi-
are positive and as intended on the ty, frequently within an extended family. It
individual or group of women who is only where children cannot be cared for

require these targeted actions. by the community that special measures
will be required for their care, but the situ-
Organize community meetings to
ation of all unaccompanied and separated
ensure that established community
children should be monitored. Although
structures are taking responsibility
the government of the country of asylum
for providing community protection
should take legal responsibility for these
and support to individual and groups
children, in practice if government re-
of women at risk.
sources are thinly stretched, UNHCR may
Identify and partner with womens have to take a more pro-active role.
groups and NGOs to support ac-
tivities that undertake case work and 24. The failure to protect family unity not
draw up plans of action with indi- only results in physical and emotional
vidual women at risk. suffering, but subsequent efforts to reu-
Ensure that women exposed to risk nite families are costly and difficult, and
have opportunities to participate in delays in family reunification will impede
any womens group activities that are durable solutions. Continuity of existing
organized for information sharing and care arrangements will help avoid further
raising awareness on entitlements etc. disruption and may facilitate reunion. Sib-
Undertake brief awareness raising lings should be kept together, as should
workshops with local NGO partner unrelated children who have been living
staff members and community lead- together and give each other emotional
ers so that the concept of individual support.
and groups of women at risk are 15
These defintions have been endorsed by the follo-
understood and response actions are wing agencies: International Committee of the Red
supported. Cross, the International Rescue Committee, Save
the Children UK, UNHCR, UNICEF and World
Vision International.
25. There is sometimes pressure to rescue 28. Criteria for foster family care should
children from dangerous situations but be worked out together with the com-
some child-only evacuations have caused munity. Foster care arrangements should
years of separation and in some cases the be formalized as quickly as possible by
breaks have been permanent. The physical signed agreements, with an understand-
dangers may be over estimated, while the ing that if the childs own family is traced,
childrens psychological need to be with reunification is to go ahead.18 The child
their parents may be under appreciated. should continue to have registration and
ration documents separate from those of
26. An assessment must be conducted to
the foster family. Foster care arrangements
establish the extent of familiy separation
should be monitored closely and regularly
and the situation of affected children. This
through outreach activities in the commu-
should be carried out at the earliest pos-
nity and careful account should be taken
sible stage of any emergency as part of a
of cultural attitudes towards fostering.
broader situation analysis in order to de-
Monitoring should also include the care
velop an appropriate response.16
arrangements of separated children, who
27. Whenever possible, children should are living with adult family members/rela-
be placed with families and not be subject tives to ensure that children in foster care
to institutional care. Ideally, they should are not subject to exploitation, abuse, ne-
be cared for by relatives or others from glect or denial of other rights. While pay-
the same ethnic or cultural groups.17 An ment of individual foster families should
unaccompanied child must be placed in a be avoided, programmes should focus, in
family where bonding can continue until the context of wider community-based ac-
the parent(s) or previous legal or custom- tivities, on enhancing the ability of fami-
ary primary care-giver is found. The child lies to support the children in their care.
will then need time to re-establish a bond Fostering of refugee children by families
with his or her parent(s) or the previous of the host country should be discouraged,
legal or customary primary care-giver(s). as this puts these children at additional
A period of overlap with the two families risk of abuse and exploitation and their
may therefore be necessary, in order to situation is difficult to monitor.
permit the re-establishment of the rela-
tionship with the parents while avoiding Best Interest Determination
an abrupt severance of the ties with the 29. The use of Best Interests Determina-
foster family. Where years have elapsed, tion (BID) is a means to ensure that spe-
the childs interests may be better served cific protection and assistance is provided
by remaining with the foster family. How- to children who are or may become de-
ever, a formal individual Best Interests prived of the protection of their family. It
Determination is required to determine is a necessary tool to ensure that all fac-
the best durable solution for the child (see tors and rights under international law are
below and UNHCR guidelines on Formal taken into account when making a deci-
Determination of the Best Interest of the sion that has a fundamental impact on the
Child, 2006). child. The formal and documented proc-
Please see page 30-32, Tracing and Family Re- 18
While family reunification should be a prior-
unification in the Inter-Agency Guiding Prinicples ity, the decision to return a child to the country of
on Unaccompanied and Separated children. origin for family reunification should be based on
Please see page 42-51, Care Arrangements in the best interest of the child. Family reunification
the Inter-Agency guiding Prinicples on Unaccom- should be balanced with, for example, the condi-
panied and Separate Children. tions in the country of origin, conditions in the
country of asylum, the wishes of the parents and
those of the child.
ess enables UNHCR staff and partners to and girls at risk of (sexual) abuse,
ensure that decisions are in line with the exploitation or military recruitment.
provisions and the spirit of the Conven- Agree with the community on mecha-
tion on the Rights of the Child and other nisms to identify unaccompanied
relevant international instruments and are and separated children and who the
set within a human rights framework. It children should be referred to for
ensures that such decisions take due ac- registration.
count of the fundamental right to life, sur- Once identified, unaccompanied and
vival and development of the child to the separated children should be indi-
maximum extent possible. vidually registered as soon as possi-
30. A determination of what is in the best ble (see Annex 2 for the inter-agency
interests of the child will have a funda- registration form for unaccompanied
mental and often long-term impact on the and separated children).
child. It requires a clear and comprehen- Ensure that unaccompanied and

A community-based approach
sive assessment of the childs background, separated children are issued with
particular specific needs and protection separate registration documents and

and community services

risks, while analysing this from an age, ration cards and that these documents
gender and diversity perspective, thus (including a recent photograph),
making it essential that suitably qualified always travel with the child. These
personnel are involved in gathering infor- measures will avoid confusion if a
mation and determining the best interests fostering arrangement breaks down.
of the child. A report and an assessment As soon as unaccompanied and sepa-
made by a specialist on protection, com- rated children are identified, start to

munity services, or child welfare, to a trace their parents or families. Family
multi-disciplinary panel capable of con- tracing is not considered exhausted
sidering each child on a case-by-case ba- before a two year investigation has
sis, is the most appropriate mechanism for been completed. All claims for reuni-
undertaking a BID. fication must be verified, as mistakes
and false claims sometimes occur.19
Key actions: Do not undertake evacuations which
The description unaccompanied chil- separate children from their parents
dren, or separated children, should or others recognized as primary care-
always be used in place of orphans takers (custody) unless essential to
in particular since the status of these protect life and after careful determi-
children is rarely immediately clear nation that protection and assistance
in an emergency. Labelling chil- cannot be provided in place and that
dren as orphans tends to encourage evacuation of the entire family is not
adoptions, (and in some cases, there feasible.
may be enormous external pressure If an evacuation is essential, the fol-
for orphanages and/or third country lowing safeguards should be ob-
adoption) rather than focusing on served:
family tracing, foster placements and Children should be accompanied
increasing community support. by an adult relative, and if this is
Make a rapid assessment of the situa- not possible, by a qualified car-
tion of unaccompanied and separated egiver known to the children, such
children, girls and boys, among the as their teachers.
refugee population. Priority should 19
Please see page 47-39, Verification and Family
be given to children under five years, Reunification in the Inter-Agency Guiding Prin-
child headed households and boys ciples on Unaccompanied and Separated Children.
The childrens identities must be child development, community
fully documented before departure. mobilization and child trauma. Train
Whenever possible, documentation refugees and aid workers to identify
should travel with the children, and register unaccompanied and
and caregivers should be waiting separated children, girls and boys,
at the destination. The evacua- from the outset of an emergency.
tion must be co-ordinated with the Stigmatization needs to be avoided
designated lead agency. and the social integration of children
If the children are moved across an orphaned by war, HIV/AIDS or other
international border, written agree- misfortune should be facilitated.
ments with the government should Ensure that the BID is child-centered,
be secured in advance in order to gender sensitive and guarantees the
ensure family visits and reunions childs participation.
are possible.20 While conducting a BID take into
Interim care must be provided to chil- account the views of the child and of
dren who are unaccompanied or sepa- persons close to the child and gather
rated and where possible this should information on:
be in families within the childs own Key personal data of the child
community, with close monitoring. History prior to separation
The opinion of the child regarding
History of separation and flight
the care arrangement should be taken
into consideration.
History after flight and current
Where institutional care is neces-
sary,21 it should be small, decentral-
ized within the community, and The childs age and maturity
integrated into community activities. Identify follow-up measures to ad-
Unaccompanied and separated chil- dress protection gaps as identified
dren should be integrated into the jointly with the child and person(s)
life, activities and services available close to the child and have a BID
to other children to ensure that they panel make a decision on the best
are not marginalized. interests of the child based on the re-
port and assessment of a BID special-
Ensure continuity and stability in care
(foster families and other) by em-
ploying refugee and national commu- Child headed households:
nity services staff who are less likely Analyse the protection risks and as-
to move on than international staff. sistance requirements of child-headed
Provide supervision, support and households with the affected persons
training to child care workers, includ- and develop specific assistance pack-
ing child interviewing techniques, ages accordingly.
Pay particular attention to the shelter
The InterAgency Guiding Principles on Unac- requirements of child-headed house-
companied and Separated Children (page 24-26)
provides some useful guidance in addition to the
holds and ensure that they are placed
points mentioned here, e.g. children should be in locations where they will obtain
given the opportunity to express their opinion, the support and monitoring of
which should be taken into consideration; agen- responsible community members.
cies or individuals should evacuate children only
as part of a coordinated plan of action; informed Assistance to children who are heads
consent of the parents. of households should be integrated in
Institutionalization should be seen as a last any given community with overall as-
resort even during emergencies.
sistance to children in need of special the refugees themselves, who will
protection. play a key role. The local population
Monitor the delivery of all services and authorities also play an important
to child-headed households and be role.
aware of any potential for exploita- Confidentiality of information and
tion and abuse as this particular group protection of individuals is essential.
is easily exposed to such protection Consider the causes of separation
risks. when establishing tracing systems.
Provide child-headed households Separation may have been caused by
information on the services that are large scale population movements
available to them and evaluate the but may also have been due to other
delivery of assistance with them. factors such as children opting to
leave their families, or placement of
Family tracing and reunification
persons outside their family for sur-

A community-based approach
31. Tracing and reunion of separated fam- vival purposes. Outsiders, often relief
ily members is a priority action in emer- workers, may have removed a child

and community services

gencies and should be organized as quick- from an apparently dangerous situ-
ly as possible, using all possible means in ation, without informing the family
coordination with other agencies. Where and without proper documentation.
possible, facilitate mailing services for Combine a variety of systems: on
refugees and IDPs to support tracing and the spot tracing, use of community
reunification. mechanisms and formalized tracing
at a regional level.

Key actions:
Coordinate activities with agencies
Procedures for the reunion of refugee having expertise, e.g. the ICRC. Note
family members separated during that ICRC procedures, using the
flight or within the country of asylum national Red Cross or Red Crescent
should be agreed with the authorities societies, can be lengthy but may
and partners, in particular ICRC and be the most appropriate for difficult
implemented as soon as practicable. cases.
Tracing programmes should be set Ensure regional standardization of
up and co-ordinated in the country of registration systems.
asylum, country of origin and region-
Agree upon a communication net-
ally. At camp or local level, simple
work in the community, including a
and effective tracing mechanisms
mailing system. A properly organized
include posting lists of names with
exchange of news (Red Cross mes-
photographs on the community notice
sages) may considerably diminish
boards in different locations, using
the workload of a tracing service
the radio, or even making announce-
and accelerate the reunion of family
ments by megaphone.
members. Refugees have the right to
The tracing arrangements must be send and receive mail.
widely promulgated; a central contact
point in each site is likely to be need- Older persons
ed. Tracing is a delicate task, and has 32. The UNHCR policy on older persons
to be organized by people who have stresses the importance to see older refu-
the necessary experience and skills. A gees as active and contributing members
suitably experienced agency may be in the community and emphasizes that
needed to implement these activities. older refugees have valuable resources
Tracing requires the involvement of and skills and can provide guidance and
advice in the actual displacement context Food - consideration should be given
as well as in the rebuilding of community to include undernourished older
structures. persons in the supplementary feed-
ing programmes and the food bas-
Unaccompanied older persons ket should include items that older
33. Unaccompanied older persons have persons can consume/eat/chew easily.
particular challenges in emergency situ- Arrange with WFP to provide grind-
ations such as finding adequate accom- ing machines to ease access to ground
modation. The standard issue of one tent soft cereal food.
per five persons may lead to them having Water and fuel - limited mobility may
to share with strangers, as well as being preclude collection of water or fuel
unable to protect their belongings while essential for food preparation and
struggling to collect water, rations and other basic needs.
fuel. Older persons risk being neglected in NFIs ensure appropriate distribu-
NFI distribution because they might not tion, such as the number of blankets
be able to attend the distribution or might taking into account their age and
need assistance in carrying the distributed health requirements.
items back to their shelter. Set up a community-based distribu-
tion system involving neighbours
Grandparent headed households and family members for provision of
34. In normal situations, older persons food, water, fuel and NFIs to older
are often taken care of by their children. persons.
In emergency refugee situations family Identify neighbours, relatives or oth-
members might have become separated or ers who can assist with food, water
have died, leaving older persons without or fuel collection for grandparent
their traditional family support mecha- headed household to allow children
nisms. In addition, in the absence of the to be released from chores so that
parents, many older persons become the they can attend school.
main care givers for their grandchildren. Find creative ways of including older
Without being able to fend for themselves, persons in activities such as advisory
older persons risk becoming dependent on groups on issues regarding the com-
their grandchildren for the collection of munity, awareness raising groups for
fuel, water, food and economic activities. issues concerning adolescents and
children and build on skills such as,
Key actions:
for example, skills in traditional birth
Undertake participatory assessment attendance.
with older women and men to learn Regularly visit grandparent-headed
about their protection risks and con- households to monitor their welfare
cerns, as well as to seek their advice and provide support.
on solutions and traditional commu-
nity practices for resolving problems. Persons with physical and mental dis-
Design the emergency response tak- abilities
ing into consideration the specific 35. Initial care for women, men, girls and
needs of older persons requiring ad- boys with disabilities should be through
ditional support in areas such as: families and the community, whereas re-
Shelter - ensure that the entrance to habilitation service such as wheel chair,
the shelter is high enough so that crutches etc, should be introduced as soon
people do not have to bend to get in as possible. The participation of persons
and out of the shelter. with disabilities through participatory as-
sessments is essential because it will lead peoples behaviour and well-being and
to better protection, as well as raising their need to be taken into consideration22 when
self-esteem and help to reduce isolation. building an appropriate response which
It is also important to note that persons supports communities to respond to psy-
with disabilities are at risk of sexual ex- chosocial needs.
ploitation and violence and their protec-
tion situation should be regularly analysed Key actions:
with them through home visits and focus Identify and analyse with the com-
group discussions. munity, both women and men, the
traditional forms of coping with
Key actions: trauma and who are the key actors in
Adapt the time and place for partici- these processes.
patory assessments so that persons Explore whether the community
with disabilities are able to attend or based mechanisms respect human

A community-based approach
visit them at home. rights, particularly in relation to
Review how the community tradition- women and girls.

and community services

ally cares for persons with disabilities Work with the main community
and ensure that these respect human actors to see how support can be
rights standards. provided to community-based mecha-
Adapt distribution systems so that nisms which respect human rights.
persons with disabilities are able to Advocate for and integrate appropri-
access basic goods and work with ate community-based psychosocial
the community leaders to arrange for support in the emergency prepared-

home delivery of all items. ness and contingency planning.
In coordination with the community, Include and support traditional heal-
appoint caregivers for persons with ers and/or religious leaders in psy-
disabilities from among family and chosocial assistance programmes if
neighbours. appropriate.
Work with persons with physical and Provide appropriate psychologi-
mental disabilities and their caregiv- cal, social, economic, educational
ers to ensure their specific needs are and medical support to survivors of
taken into account in sectors such as rights violations and encourage active
site planning, health, shelter construc- participation of the survivor in family
tion, water, sanitation and educa- and community activities.
tion, as well as in defining nutritional Encourage the re-establishment of
needs, and food and NFI distribution. normal cultural and religious events,
Coordinate with health institutions as well as other activities, in order to
and organizations to include IDPs or support social networks.
refugees with disabilities into pro- Promote the establishment of child-
grammes of the host country. friendly spaces (which provide
Psychosocial needs among others, recreational activities,
psychosocial support, information
36. Most societies have some form of cop-
on issues like hygiene, HIV/AIDS,
ing mechanisms for mental health condi-
and child rights, and access to trusted
tions and an interpretation of what trauma
adults) and establish education sys-
is and ways of responding. In some socie-
tems as soon as possible even if in
ties healing is seen as a collective process
promoted by the conduct of spiritual and
Janaka Jayawickrama and Eileen Brady
Trauma and Psychosocial Assessment in Western
religious practices. These beliefs shape Darfur, Sudan, 2005.
makeshift conditions. This will help Key actions:
in restoring some kind of normalcy Identify national government struc-
and providing a daily routine and tures which can provide staff and
structure. support to the community services
Involve adults and adolescents in con- strategy and avoid setting up parallel
crete, purposeful, common interest structures where local and national
activities (e.g., constructing/organiz- facilities already exist.
ing shelter, organizing family tracing, If possible, make an agreement with
distribution of food, teaching children the national government structure
etc). to provide resources to support the
Establish an effective community serv- implementation of community-based
ices system for community-based activi- services.
ties Identify all local and international
non-government organizations with
37. The purpose of adopting a community-
expertise in community-based serv-
based approach is to ensure that the emer-
ices already working in the area and
gency protection and assistance response
learn from their experiences.
is effective and to ensure sustainability
of the programme through participation Together with these existing struc-
of the concerned community members tures, assess community services
from the initial stages. The participation staffing and resource needs, including
of the host government, refugee/IDP com- the services of interpreters.
munities and host population will create Ensure the recruitment of local staff
a sense of ownership of initiatives un- with knowledge of the culture and
dertaken jointly and will help in handing language of the community.
over the responsibility of managing the Monitor the security of national staff
programmes when the emergency phase to avoid harm while dealing with
is over. sensitive situations.
Assess training needs of all staff and
38. The implementation of a community-
implement briefings on main issues
based approach and ensuring adequate
until there is more time for more in-
protection of groups with specific needs
depth training. Prioritize training in:
requires the establishment of an effective-
ly trained and managed community serv- CBA, including participatory as-
ices team. This team will comprise of both sessment for the establishment of
international and national staff, as well as systems for identification;
support outreach workers from the host registration and monitoring of
and displaced community. During the those with specific needs;
emergency phase, deployed community prevention and response to SGBV;
services staff will play a key role in set- Code of Conduct training; and
ting up this system with national govern- gender issues and people oriented
ment partners, as well as national and in- planning.
ternational non-government partners. By Ensure that all community services
the end of the initial emergency phase it is staff signs the Code of Conduct and
important that a Community Services Ac- the confidentiality agreement.
tion Plan has been established to enable a Based on the findings of the initial
smooth handover. participatory assessment, work with
the team and community members to
establish a Community Services Plan

of Action share it with all members of collecting and disseminating infor-
the multifunctional team. mation;
Work with local authorities on the assisting in documentation and
recruitment of staff from the host registration with a focus on groups
community to reduce any potential with specific needs;
for tension while taking into consid- referring persons to units within
eration local politics, security issues UNHCR and/or its implementing
and other factors particular to the or operational partners; and
context. establishment of community-based
As much as possible, support local services and monitoring to support
and national structures to include groups with specific needs.
refugees and persons of concern as Train refugee community workers
interpreters and outreach workers and and draw on their own knowledge
in the provision of services. If inter- of their community, and make use

A community-based approach
preters are selected from the refugee of outside expertise (from within the
or host population ensure balancing host country if possible). Over time

and community services

selection by age, gender and diversity training should cover community
and monitor them closely to ensure outreach techniques, a community-
their security in sensitive situations. based approach, gender awareness,
In all community services staffing childrens rights, and include inputs
structures ensure a gender balance from other disciplines such as public
is maintained and promote the same health, reproductive health, HIV and
policy with all humanitarian workers, AIDS, nutrition, sanitation, protec-

in particular UNHCR implementing tion, water and environment.
partners. Monitor the performance of the com-
Build the capacity of the community munity outreach workers to ensure
by identifying training needs and impartial assistance and confidential-
by helping to organize practical and ity and evaluate their performance
hands-on training in community with the diverse groups among the
work. community, as well as the work of the
Based on joint assessments with community services team as a whole.
the refugee community, support the Coordinate with authorities of the
establishment of refugee or IDP host country for them to include refu-
community outreach teams, includ- gees and IDPs in their programmes.
ing persons from the host population, As far as possible ensure continuity
both men and women. Jointly with of staff in order to strengthen the re-
the community select community out- lationship between UNHCR and the
reach workers based on their previous refugee/ IDP community.
skills, including women and men and
Jointly with the community provide
terms of reference for the community
outreach team including tasks such
identifying resources, protection
risks and needs;

Key references Executive Committee of the High
UNHCR Tool for Participatory As- Commissioner's Programme
sessment in Operations Conclusion No. 105 (LVII), 2006, on
"A community-Based approach to Women and Girls at Risk
UNHCR operations" provisional INTERNAL DOCUMENT - UNHCR
release in 2007 Guidelines on the Sharing of
"Interagency guideline Mental Health Information on Individual Cases
and Psychosocial response in - Confidentiality Guidelines
emergencies"( IASC) UNHCR Policy on Harmful Tradi-
"Concept of Care" Trauma and psy- tional Practices Ref ADM 1.1, PRL
chosocial assessment in Western 9.5,
Darfur- Sudan 2005 OPS 5.41 Dated 19 December 1997
Interagency Guiding Principles on Information and Training Resources
Unaccompanied and Separated on Combatting Trafficking of Women
Children and Girls for Sexual exploitation and
Domestic Slavery. Compiled by
UNHCR refugee Children Guidelines
UNHCR's Bureau for Europe,
IOM/FOM/62/2006 - Sexual and July 2004
Gender Based Violence SGBV
IASC GBV Guidelines
List of resource materials for SGBV
Training Of Trainers

A community-based approach

11 and community services
Site selection, planning and shelter

CONTENTS Paragraph Page

Introduction 1-17 207-208
Dispersed settlement 6 207
Mass shelter 10 208
Camps 12 208
Organization of response 18-25 209-210
Introduction 18 209
Contingency planning 19 209
Information for site selection and planning 21 209
Expertize and personnel 23 209
Criteria for site selection 26-42 210-213
Introduction 26 210
Water supply 27 210
Size of camp sites 28 210
Land use and land rights 32 211

Site selection, planning

Security and protection 35 211
Topography, drainage and soil conditions 36 212
Accessibility 39 212

and shelter
Climatic conditions and local health and other risks 40 212
Vegetation 41 212
Site selection methodology 42 213
Site planning: general considerations 43-63 215-218

Introduction 43 215
Master plan 44 215
Services and infrastructure 48 215
Modular planning 51 216
Environmental considerations 55 216
Gender considerations 61 218
Site planning: specific infrastructure 64-75 218-220
Sanitation 65 218
Water supply 68 219
Roads 70 219
Fire prevention 71 219
Administrative and communal services 72 219
Shelter 76-94 220-222
Introduction 76 220
Type of shelter 81 221
Standards 83 221
Plastic sheeting 85 221
Tents 87 221
Prefabricated shelters 91 222
Shelter for cold conditions 92 222
Reception and transit camps 95-100 223

Public buildings and communal facilities 101-104 224

Key references
Situation Avoid very large settlements; refugee
Suitable, well-selected sites and soundly camps should normally be considered
planned refugee settlements with ade- as the last option.
quate shelter and integrated, appropriate Involve refugees in all phases of set-
infrastructure are essential from the early tlement layout and shelter design and
stages of a refugee emergency as they are construction.
life-saving and alleviate hardship. Ac- Use a bottom-up planning approach,
commodating refugees in emergencies beginning with the smallest social
may take the form of host families/com- units, preserving traditional social
munities, mass accommodation in exist- arrangements and structures as far as
ing shelters or organized camps. Initial possible.
decisions on the location of the camp Develop a comprehensive master plan
should involve the host government as with a layout based on open commu-
well as local authorities and communities. nity forms and community services,
Likewise, layout should involve refugees. such as water points, latrines, show-
This approach is necessary to avoid long- ers, cloth washing facilities and gar-
term protection issues such as conflict bage collection to promote ownership
with local communities and to ensure a and maintenance of the services.
safe environment for the refugees and the
delivery of humanitarian assistance. Action
Identify the most suitable option or
Objectives combination of options for accommo-
To provide suitable sites and shelter, in dating the refugees.
order to accommodate refugees in emer- In the case of planned camps, assess
gencies. the suitability of the refugee site and
ensure that it meets the basic criteria.
Principles of response Provide suitable shelter.
In addition to meeting the immedi- Simultaneously assess the most im-
ate needs, planning should take into mediate needs for emergency shelter
consideration the long-term provision and provide the necessary materials
of services even if the situation is that cannot be met from locally avail-
expected to be temporary. able resources.
Decisions on site selection and camp In the case of spontaneous settlement,
planning are very difficult to reverse, identify the most urgently required
therefore seek technical support. measures to improve site planning
Avoid high population density con- and layout, and implement these as
gestion in settlements and in accom- soon as possible.

Introduction Dispersed settlement/host families
6.This type of arrangement is where the
1.Aside from a life-saving measure, hav-
refugees find accommodation within the
ing a place to live is a basic human right and
households of families who already live
this should be upheld by providing shelter
in the area of refuge. The refugees either
and a friendly environment. The layout,
share existing accommodation or set up
infrastructure and shelter of a camp will
temporary accommodation nearby and
have a major influence on the safety and
share water, sanitation, cooking and other
well-being of refugees. Therefore, other
services of the pre-existing households.
vital sectors such as water (good quality,
quantity and ease of access), sanitation, 7.Accommodation is often found with
administration and security, food distribu- extended family members or with people
tion, health, education, community serv- of the same ethnic background. This type
ices, and income-generating activities of arrangement may occur in rural or ur-
should be taken into consideration during ban settings. The advantages of this type
the humanitarian response. of settlement are:
2.Most refugee operations last much i. quick implementation;
longer than initially anticipated, therefore, ii. limited administrative support is

Site selection, planning

site selection, camp planning and provi- needed;
sion of assistance should take this into iii. low cost;
consideration as well as bearing in mind iv. fosters self help and independence;

and shelter
the exit strategy from the start. and
3.The role and responsibility of the local v. it has less impact on the local envi-
and national authorities in site selection is ronment than camps.

of fundamental importance. Equally, the 8.The disadvantages of this type of set-
refugees themselves must be involved tlement are:
as early as possible. Ideally, the needs
and human rights of the refugees should i. the host families and communities
determine the size and layout of the site. can become overburdened and im-
In practice, a compromise has to be made poverished;
when considering all of the relevant ele- ii. it can be difficult to distinguish the
ments. host population from the refugees
and this may pose problems where
4.good site selection, planning and shel- population estimation and registration
ter will: are required;
i. uphold UNHCRs protection mandate; iii. protection, nutrition and health prob-
ii. minimize the need for difficult, cor- lems may not be as easy to detect as
rective measures later; when the population is more concen-
iii. make the provision of services easier trated; and
and more cost-effective; and iv. shelter and other forms of assistance
iv. ensure most efficient use of land, are likely to be needed by the host
resources and time. population as well as the refugees.
5.Emergency refugee settlements gener- 9. In order to alleviate some of these dis-
ally fall into one of three categories: advantages the host communities can be
supported through Quick Impact Projects
i. dispersed settlement/host families; (QIPs) where increasing needs of the com-
ii. mass shelter; and munity could be met through UNHCR as-
iii. camps: (a) spontaneous and (b) sistance.
Mass shelter: public buildings and com-
Spontaneous camps should be avoided
munity facilities to the extent possible.
10.This type of settlement is where refu-
gees are accommodated in pre-existing fa- 13. Generally, spontaneous camps have
cilities, for example, in schools, barracks, more disadvantages than advantages, for
hotels, gymnasiums or warehouses. These example:
are normally in urban areas and are often i. re-designing the camp would be
intended as temporary or transit accom- necessary (where resources are avail-
modation. The advantages of this type of able); and
settlement are: ii. re-location, as early as possible, to a
i. they are not continuously inhabited well-identified site; especially if there
during normal use and refugees can is conflict with local community.
be accommodated immediately with- 14.High density camps with very large
out disrupting accommodation in the populations are the worst possible option
hosting area; for refugee accommodation and an intol-
ii. services such as water and sanitation erable strain on local services. However,
are immediately available, though this may be the only option because of de-
these may be inadequate if the num- cisions by the host country or simply be-
bers are large; and cause of a lack of sufficient land.
iii. the need to construct additional struc-
Planned camps
tures specifically for the refugees is
avoided. 15.This type of settlement is where refu-
11.The disadvantages of this type of set- gees are accommodated in purpose-built
tlement are: sites where a full range of services, within
possible means, are provided.
i. they can quickly become overcrowd-
ed; 16.The advantages of this type of settle-
ii. sanitation and other services can ment are:
become overburdened; i. services can be provided to a large
iii. equipment and structure can be dam- population in a centralized and ef-
aged; ficient way;
iv. buildings are no longer available for ii. there may be economies of scale
their original purpose, thus disrupting in the provision of some services
public services to the hosting popula- compared with more dispersed settle-
tion (e.g. schools should be evacuated ments;
as early as possible); and iii. the refugee population can be easy to
v. lack of privacy and increased protec- identify and communicate with; and
tion risks. iv. voluntary repatriation can be easier to
17.The disadvantages of this type of set-
Spontaneous camps
tlement are:
12. This type of camp is formed without
adequate planning in order to meet im- i. high population seriously increases
mediate needs. Aside from creating a health risks;
unfriendly environment, the provision of ii. high risk of environmental damage in
services may become cumbersome and the immediate vicinity of the camp;
costly. iii. high population concentrations and
proximity to international borders

may expose the refugees to protection Information for site selection and
problems; and planning
iv. large camps may provide a hiding 21.The contingency plan and informa-
place and support base for persons tion already available, combined with
other than refugees. It may be dif- visual and technical evaluation, should
ficult to distinguish these people from assist in in the selection of the most suit-
the normal refugee population and able site. Information that is essential for
thus they may continue to benefit site selection and planning will often be
from assistance. in the form of maps, reports, surveys and
other data as reflected in the table in annex
Sites criteria.
Organization of response
It should be noted that each criteria should
Site selection, planning and shelter be reviewed and commented on in relation
have a major bearing on the provision to the minimum standards (please see Key
of other assistance. Indicators, Toolbox, Table 1) rather than
This subject must therefore be consid- using a grading system which would be-
ered as essential to the needs and come misleading.

Site selection, planning

resource assessment and response.
Expertize and swift coordinated plan- 22. Sources of information for site selec-
ning are necessary for a new site or tion and planning should include local
the improvement of existing condi- authorities and communities, government

and shelter
tions. offices, educational institutions and UN
agencies. UNHCR Headquarters, through
Introduction the focal point on Geographical Informa-
18.Site selection, planning and the provi- tion Systems (GIS), can also support op-

sion of shelter have a direct bearing on the erations with maps, aerial photographs,
provision of other assistance. These will satellite images and a special geographic
be important considerations in the over- database. Furthermore, the Technical
all needs assessment and planning of re- Support Section (TSS) at Headquarters,
sponse. Decisions must be made using an upon request, could assist in the process
integrated approach, incorporating both of site selection and planning.
the advice of specialists and the views of
the refugees. Expertize and personnel
23.Expertize may be required in the
Contingency planning fields of hydrology, surveying, physical
19.Ideally, sites should be selected and planning, engineering (e.g. water sup-
planned prior to the arrival of the refugees. ply, environmental sanitation, road and
However, an unoccupied, developed site bridge construction, building materials,
may send the wrong signal and encourage etc.), public health, the environment and
people to cross the border. perhaps social anthropology. Familiarity
with conditions in both the country of ori-
20. Frequently, the scale, nature, timing gin and of asylum is very important. Prior
or direction of movement of the refugee emergency experience and a flexible ap-
flow will mean that some or all aspects of proach are particularly valuable.
a contingency plan may need to be modi-
fied in the face of changing or unforeseen 24.Expertize and advice should be
events. However, the information previ- sought through UNHCRs Technical Sup-
ously gathered in the contingency plan- port Section (TSS), who will advise on
ning process will usually be useful. the fielding of a specialist to coordinate
activities in this sector. Potential sources
of the necessary expertize are government The availability of an adequate amount of
line ministries, national and international water on a year-round basis has proved
NGOs, engineering faculties, local indus- in practice to be the single most impor-
try and professional organizations, as well tant criterion, and commonly the most
as other UN organizations. problematic.

25.Site selection and settlement plan- A site should not be selected on the as-
ning require broad consultations with all sumption that water can be found merely
concerned in the planning, development by drilling, digging, or trucking. Drilling
and use of the site. When appropriate, may not be feasible or may not provide
multi-sector planning teams, work-groups water in an adequate quantity and qual-
or task-forces might be formed to bet- ity. No site should be selected where the
ter structure consultations and better so- trucking of water will be required over a
licit inputs. Consensus should be sought, long period.
though it is rare that the needs of all the
parties will be fully satisfied. Size of camp sites
28.While there are recommended mini-
Criteria for site selection mum area requirements for refugee sites,
Land may be scarce in the country of these should be applied cautiously and
asylum and no site may be available with flexibility. They are a rule of thumb
that meets all of the desired criteria. for an initial calculation rather than pre-
If, however, the site does not meet the cise standards.
basic characteristics as mentioned in
annex Sites criteria and is clearly Ideally, the recommended minimum sur-
unsuitable, every effort must be made face area is 45 m2 per person when plan-
ning a refugee camp (including kitchen/
to convince the host Government re-
vegetable gardening space). However,
garding another location. The prob- the actual surface area per person (ex-
lems associated with an unsuitable cluding garden space) should not be
site would be enormous in terms of less than 30 m2 per person.
protection and financial implications,
which would escalate over time. The bare minimum figure of 30 m2 surface
area per person includes the area neces-
Introduction sary for roads, foot paths, educational
26.The social and cultural background of facilities, sanitation, security, firebreaks,
the refugees are important determinants in administration, water storage, distribu-
site selection, physical planning and shel- tion, markets, relief item storage and, of
ter. In many circumstances, however, op- course, plots for shelter. The figure of 30
tions will be limited and land that meets m2 does not include, however, any land for
even minimum standards may be scarce. significant agricultural activities or live-
It is therefore wise to put on record the stock. Although agricultural activities are
short-comings of the site and the rationale not usually a priority during emergencies,
for its selection. small vegetable gardens (kitchen garden-
ing) attached to the family plot should be
included in the site plan from the outset.
Water supply This requires a minimum increase of 15
m2 per person, hence, a minimum of 45 m2
27.A specialists assessment of water overall land allocation per person would
availability should be a prerequisite in se- be needed.
lecting a site.

29.Large camps of over 20,000 people 34.The refugees should have the exclu-
should generally be avoided. The size of sive use of the site through agreement
a site for 20,000 people should be calcu- with national and local (including tradi-
lated as follows, assuming space for veg- tional) authorities. Traditional or cus-
etable gardens is included: tomary land-use rights are very sensitive
2 2 issues, and even if there may be an agree-
20,000 people x 45 m = 900,000 m = 90
ment with the national government to use
hectares (for example, a site measuring
a site, local groups may disagree with the
900 m x 1000 m).
site being used, even temporarily. Clari-
30.If possible, there should be a sub- fication of access rights and land-use re-
stantial distance between each camp. The strictions are also necessary to define the
distance depends on a number of factors: rights of the refugees to:
access, proximity of the local population,
i. collect fuel-wood, and timber for
water supplies, environmental considera-
shelter construction as well as fodder
tions and land use and rights.
for animals;
31.Refugee settlements should have ii. graze their animals; and
potential for expansion to accommodate iii. engage in agriculture or other subsist-

Site selection, planning

increase in the population due to natural ence activities.
increases or new arrivals. The excess of
births over deaths means that the popu- Security and protection
lation could grow as fast as 3 to 4% per 35.In principle, the granting of asylum is

and shelter
year. not an unfriendly act by the host country
towards the country of origin. However,
Land use and land rights to ensure the security and protection of

32.In most countries land for the estab- the refugees, it is recommended that they
lishment of refugee camps is scarce. Of- be settled at a reasonable distance from
ten, sites are provided on public land by international borders as well as other po-
the government. Any use of private land tentially sensitive areas such as military
must be based on formal legal arrange- installations.
ments through the Government and in ac-
cordance with the laws of the country. The Organization of African Unity Ref-
ugee Convention (OAU Convention)
Note that UNHCR neither purchases nor states: For reasons of security, coun-
rents land for refugee settlements. tries of asylum shall, as far as possible,
settle refugees at a reasonable distance
Headquarters should be consulted at once from the frontier of their country of ori-
if there is a problem with land use and/or gin.1
land rights. Exceptions should only be made to this
33.Once a possible site has bee