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

Durable Solutions

From the outset of an emergency, UNHCR must bear in mind the ultimate objective of refugee protection: to help refugees to overcome displacement and achieve a solution whereby national protection is re-established and they will no longer be refugees.

Voluntary Repatriation

90. Most large scale refugee emergencies are eventually resolved through the voluntary repatriation of refugees once the danger they have fled from has been removed or significantly reduced. See chapter 19 on voluntary repatriation.

Local Settlement

91. Local settlement means assimilation within the country of asylum. In the case of prolonged conflicts, refugees often at least de facto integrate into the host society. It is important in such situations that they should have official status in the country of asylum, a starting point for which should be recognition as refugees under the 1951 Convention.


92. Resettlement (meaning assimilation within another country) should be considered when refugees cannot repatriate or cannot settle in the country of first asylum, or are at risk in their country of refuge. The decision to resettle is taken when there is no other way to eliminate the danger to the legal or physical security of the persons concerned. Resettlement under the auspices of UNHCR is strictly limited to mandate refugees who have a continued need for international protection.

Emergency Resettlement

93. Emergency resettlement can be considered where there is:

i. An immediate threat of refoulement to the country of origin;

ii. An immediate threat of expulsion to another country from where the refugee may be refouled;

iii. A threat of arbitrary arrest, detention or imprisonment;

iv. A threat to physical safety or human rights in the country of refuge analogous to that under the refugee definition and rendering asylum untenable.

94. Categories of refugees who can be considered for emergency resettlement include: survivors of violence and torture, refugees with serious medical conditions which cannot be treated in the country of asylum, women-at-risk, children and adolescents. Priority attention should be given to those refugees with acute legal and physical protection needs such as women-at-risk, and unaccompanied children for whom a determination has been made that resettlement is in their best interests.

Emergency Resettlement Procedures

95. Emergency resettlement must be used selectively and on the basis of a thorough and objective assessment of both refugee status and urgency of removal. Emergency resettlement is undertaken when the immediacy of security and/or medical threat faced by the refugee necessitates the person's removal from the threatening conditions within a few days, or even within hours. For the sake of simplicity a notional limit of a maximum of five days is understood.

96. The following information should be sent to Headquarters immediately:

i. Full name, date of birth, place of birth, sex, nationality and ethnic origin;

ii. Detailed status determination analysis;

iii. Whether accompanied by family (if so, size);

iv. Details, as per (i), of each family member to accompany the candidate;

v. Explanation of the need(s) for resettlement;

vi. Justification for emergency categorization, and required time-frame for departure;

vii. Whether valid travel documents are held by all the refugees concerned;

viii. In case of medical emergency: diagnosis, prognosis, current condition of refugee (and family members if relevant), and whether an escort is needed;

ix. Recommendation on countries of resettlement and reasons, including third country links.

97. Detailed data in a duly completed Resettlement Registration Form (RRF) with supporting documentation must follow as soon as possible.

98. The RRF can be obtained from the Resettlement and Special Cases Section at Headquarters. This is the section of the Division of International Protection that is responsible for processing emergency submissions. In addition, the Section helps coordinate and support the resettlement of difficult protection and special needs cases. It should be contacted for advice.

99. Additional information may be found in the UNHCR Resettlement Handbook.