Cover Image
close this bookHandbook for Emergencies - Second Edition (UNHCR, 1999, 414 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentUsing the Handbook
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentAbbreviations
View the documentUNHCR's Mission Statement
close this folder1. Aim and Principles of Response
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDefinition and Aim
View the documentResponsibilities
View the documentPrinciples of Response
close this folder2. Protection
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentProtection in Emergencies
View the documentInitial Actions
View the documentPhysical Safety of Refugees
View the documentEmergencies as a Result of Changes in Government Policy
View the documentOther Persons of Concern to UNHCR
View the documentDurable Solutions
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder3. Emergency Management
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe Key Emergency Management Functions
View the documentStages in Refugee Emergency Operations
View the documentKey References
close this folder4. Contingency Planning
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentPlanning as a Process
View the documentContingency Planning Tasks
View the documentCharacteristics of a Good Plan
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder5. Initial Assessment, Immediate Response
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentOrganizing the Assessment
View the documentImmediate Response
View the documentProtection and Material Assistance
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder6. Operations Planning
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentOperations Planning Tasks
View the documentAllocation of Responsibilities
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder7. Coordination and Site Level Organization
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCoordination
View the documentOrganization at the Site Level
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder8. Implementing Arrangements
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentImplementing Arrangements
View the documentImplementing Procedures
View the documentMonitoring, Reporting and Evaluation
View the documentSpecial Considerations
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder9. External Relations
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentRelations with Government and Diplomatic Corps
View the documentRelations with the Media
View the documentFunding and Donor Relations
View the documentFormal Written Communications
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder10. Community Services and Education
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentOrganizing Community Services
View the documentHuman Resources
View the documentFamily Tracing and Reunification
View the documentGroups at Risk and Vulnerable Groups
View the documentEducation
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder11. Population Estimation and Registration
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentPopulation Estimates
View the documentRegistration
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder12. Site Selection, Planning and Shelter
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentOrganization of Response
View the documentCriteria for Site Selection
View the documentSite Planning: General Considerations
View the documentSite Planning: Specific Infrastructure
View the documentShelter
View the documentReception and Transit Camps
View the documentPublic Buildings and Communal Facilities
close this folder13. Commodity Distribution
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentWhen to start distribution
View the documentChoosing a Commodity Distribution System
View the documentComponents of Distribution Systems
View the documentThe Role of Refugee Women
View the documentMonitoring
View the documentKey References
close this folder14. Health
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentHealth Assessment, Planning, Monitoring and Surveillance
View the documentMain Health Programmes
View the documentOrganization of Refugee Health Care
View the documentHuman Resources and Coordination
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder15. Food and Nutrition
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentOrganization of Food Support
View the documentNutritional Assessments
View the documentGeneral Feeding Programme
View the documentSelective Feeding Programmes
View the documentInfant Feeding and use of Milk Products
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder16. Water
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentAssessment and Organization
View the documentThe Need
View the documentImmediate Response
View the documentWater Supply Systems
View the documentWater Sources
View the documentPumping Equipment
View the documentTreatment
View the documentStorage
View the documentDistribution
View the documentKey References
close this folder17. Environmental Sanitation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentBasic Principles And Standards
View the documentHuman Resources And Organization
View the documentHuman Excretia Disposal
View the documentSolid Wastes
View the documentWastewater
View the documentPest and Vector Control
View the documentGeneral Hygiene
View the documentDisposal Of The Dead
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder18. Supplies and Transport
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentOrganization of the Supply Chain
View the documentSupplies
View the documentTransport
View the documentReception of Goods
View the documentStorage
View the documentStock Management
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder19. Voluntary Repatriation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentUNHCR's Role in Voluntary Repatriation
View the documentConditions For a Voluntary Repatriation
View the documentOn Route
View the documentOn Arrival in Country of Origin
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder20. Administration, Staffing and Finance
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentEmergency Staffing
View the documentBudget and Finance
View the documentNon-Expendable Property and Office Supplies
View the documentOffice Premises
View the documentOfficial Transport
View the documentOffice Organization
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder21. Communications
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentCommunications Management
View the documentTelecommunications
View the documentUNHCR Telecommunications Network Field Preparations
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder22. Coping with Stress
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentIdentifying Stress Symptoms
View the documentTechniques for dealing with Stress
View the documentKey References
close this folder23. Staff Safety
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe UN Security System
View the documentEssential Plans
View the documentSecurity
View the documentSecurity Management
View the documentKey References
close this folder24. Working with the Military
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentCategories of Military Forces
View the documentPossible Roles of Military Forces in Humanitarian Operations
View the documentCoordination Between Military Forces and Civilian Agencies
View the documentKey References
View the documentAppendix 1 - Catalogue of Emergency Response Resources
View the documentAppendix 2 - Toolbox
View the documentAppendix 3 - Memoranda
View the documentAppendix 4 - Glossary

Coordination

Introduction

1. Coordination can be defined as the harmonious and effective working together of people and organizations towards a common goal.

2. Good coordination should result in:

i. Maximum impact for a given level of resources;

ii. Elimination of gaps and overlaps in services;

iii. Appropriate division of responsibilities;

iv. Uniform treatment and standards of protection and services for all the beneficiaries.

3. For effective coordination appropriate approaches and structures will need to be put in place at the various levels. Coordination requires good management and clearly defined objectives, responsibilities and authority.

Coordination is not free: it has costs in terms of time and other resources needed to make it work.

Coordination of the UN Response to Refugee Emergencies

4. Within the UN system the responsibility for refugees lies with UNHCR. Therefore, when there is a refugee emergency, UNHCR is the UN organization responsible for coordinating the response of the UN system to the emergency.

Mechanisms for Coordination in Refugee Emergencies

5. Effective coordination is the result of sound management. Coordination mechanisms set up without the establishment of clear objectives and assignment of responsibility and authority will be ineffective. Coordination must be based on good information exchange, particularly with the site level, otherwise it may even be counterproductive.

6. Mechanisms for coordination include:

i. International and Regional instruments and agreements which define responsibilities and roles at the global (and sometimes regional or country) level;

ii. Memoranda of Understanding and exchange of letters with other agencies, and agreements with implementing partners and host governments, defining responsibilities and roles at the situational level;

iii. A coordinating body;

iv. Sectoral committees as necessary;

v. Regular meetings;

vi. Reporting and information sharing;

vii. Joint services and facilities, for example, vehicle repair services, communications, and a joint staff security group;

viii. Codes of conduct for organizations working in humanitarian emergencies.

7. In refugee emergencies UNHCR should take the lead to ensure effective coordination if this is not already ensured, including establishing the coordinating body.

8.

Whatever the implementing arrangements, a single coordinating body should be established for the operation - for example, a task force, commission, or operations centre.

The coordinating body will provide a framework within which the implementation of the programme can be coordinated and management decisions taken. The coordinating body should have clearly defined and well promulgated responsibility and authority.

9. The elements of a coordinating body, including membership and functions are described in Annex 1. Tips for running meetings, including coordinating meetings are given in Annex 2.

10. Where a coordinating structure does not already exist, UNHCR should, in cooperation with the government, take the lead in setting up the coordinating body and mechanism. This is a crucial component of UNHCR's leadership role. The coordinating body may be set up and chaired by the government with strong support from UNHCR, or be co-chaired by the government and UNHCR, or be chaired by UNHCR alone.

11. The membership of the coordinating body should include government ministries and departments, as well as other UN agencies, NGOs and other concerned organizations. It is important to coordinate the activity of all NGOs - whether they have entered into an implementing agreement with UNHCR or not. In a large scale emergency with a number of actors, the coordinating body could become unwieldy. However, it should still be possible to ensure some degree of representation or participation on the coordinating body by all actors either directly, or on sectoral committees, or through close working partners who are represented on the coordinating body.

12. The coordinating body should hold regular, formal meetings during which overall progress is reviewed and plans adjusted. These meetings should be complemented by informal contacts with members of the coordinating body.

13. When required, the coordinating body should create sectoral committees, for example for health and nutrition. Such committees will be responsible for coordinating implementation in that sector and reporting back to the coordinating body. They could also play an important part in the development of specific standards for the delivery of assistance. When the operation is sufficiently large, a sectoral committee could be coordinated by a UNHCR sector coordinator.

14. A coordinating body can also be of considerable value when new agencies arrive, both in integrating their assistance in the overall programme and with practical administrative arrangements and briefing.

15. Coordination must be based on good information exchange, particularly with the site level. The framework for the organization and coordinating mechanisms at the site level is likely to broadly reflect that established centrally. To get information passed vertically between central level and site level can be as hard as getting information passed between organizations. Each organization should be responsible for ensuring that there is good communication between its staff at site level and centrally, and that important information is then passed on to the coordination body.

Coordination of the UN Response to Complex Emergencies

16. A complex emergency can be defined as:

a humanitarian crisis in a country, region or society where there is a total or considerable breakdown of authority resulting from internal or external conflict, and which requires an international response that goes beyond the mandate or capacity of any single agency and/or the ongoing UN country programme.

17. Likely characteristics of complex emergencies include:

i. A large number of civilian victims, populations who are besieged or displaced, human suffering on a major scale;

ii. Substantial international assistance is needed and the response goes beyond the mandate or capacity of any one agency;

iii. Delivery of humanitarian assistance is impeded or prevented by parties to the conflict;

iv. High security risks for relief workers providing humanitarian assistance;

v. Relief workers targeted by parties to the conflict.

18. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is the UN body charged with strengthening the coordination of humanitarian assistance of the UN to complex emergencies. OCHA has three main functions in this field: coordination of humanitarian response, policy development and advocacy on humanitarian issues.

19. OCHA discharges its coordination function primarily throughout the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) which is chaired by the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), with the participation of humanitarian partners1. The IASC ensures interagency decision-making in response to complex emergencies, including needs assessments, consolidated appeals, field coordination arrangements and the development of humanitarian policies.

20. Where there is a complex emergency an individual or agency is appointed to be responsible for the coordination of the UN system response at field level - this individual or agency is designated the "Humanitarian Coordinator".

21. The decision on who to appoint as Humanitarian Coordinator is made by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC).

22. The agency appointed as Humanitarian Coordinator will depend on the nature of the emergency, and comparative existing agency capacity in the region.

23. There are four possible options which are normally used for the coordination of UN assistance in a complex emergency. These are:

i. Resident Coordinator

The Resident Coordinator is the leader of the United Nations country team and is normally the head of UNDP in a particular country. In a complex emergency, the Resident Coordinator may also be designated as the Humanitarian Coordinator.

ii. Lead Agency

One of the UN agencies may be selected to coordinate and this is often the agency which provides the majority of the assistance;

iii. Humanitarian Coordinator

If the emergency is of considerable size a Humanitarian Coordinator may be appointed distinct from the office of the Resident Coordinator and lead agency. The Humanitarian Coordinator normally phases out once the emergency reaches recovery phase and any residual tasks are returned to the Resident Coordinator;

iv. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator

If the emergency affects more than one country a Humanitarian Coordinator having regional responsibilities may be appointed.

1 The full members of the IASC are OCHA (convenor), FAO, IOM, UNDP, UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF, WHO, and there are a number of standing invitees, including the Red Cross movement and NGOs. i. Resident Coordinator

Role of UNHCR and Other UN Agencies in a Complex Emergency

24. In complex emergencies involving refugees, UNHCR will be responsible for protection and assistance activities on behalf of the refugees. UNHCR may also be appointed lead agency, and therefore be responsible for the coordination of the UN response.

25. Whether or not UNHCR is lead agency, the UNHCR Representative remains directly responsible to the High Commissioner on all issues related to the UNHCR country programme as well as policy matters and issues related to UNHCR's mandate.

The protection of refugees must remain the sole prerogative of the High Commissioner.