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close this bookHandbook for Emergencies - Second Edition (UNHCR, 1999, 414 p.)
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



Refugee emergencies are often in locations removed from the main sources of supply and communications arteries. Exceptional efforts may be needed to ensure the provision of supplies and services. However without these, the whole operation will fail.


The timely delivery of the materials needed for the refugee operation.

Principles of Response

· There should be a single, unified "supply chain" with standardized procedures and coordinated with external agencies such as WFP. The term "supply chain" includes the sourcing, procurement, transport, import, management, storage and distribution of goods and services required to meet operational needs;

· Duplication of supply chain support within the UNHCR operation must be avoided;

· A single coordinating body of all the relevant UN agencies may be required to implement certain aspects of the supply chain such as transportation and storage (e.g. a "UN Joint Logistics Cell");

· Request urgently needed supplies from the UNHCR Central Emergency Stockpile if they are not available locally;

· Ensure there is good communication between offices involved in the supply chain and timely information exchange regarding logistical capacities and constraints;

· Transport and storage arrangements must have spare capacity: things often do not go according to plan, needs, and the demand for supplies, may increase;

· Seek technical assistance when necessary.


· Make a comprehensive plan for all supply chain functions. Integrate supply chain arrangements in the overall planning from the start, coordinate with all sectors, and take into account any special requirements;

· Identify weak elements in the supply chain and inform operational managers of actions rendered critical due to lead time (the delay between the request for material and its arrival);

· Seek out knowledge on local conditions and assess implementing possibilities with local suppliers, or other agencies.