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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
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View the documentDefinition and Aim
View the documentResponsibilities
View the documentPrinciples of Response
close this folder2. Protection
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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
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View the documentThe Key Emergency Management Functions
View the documentStages in Refugee Emergency Operations
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close this folder4. Contingency Planning
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View the documentPlanning as a Process
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close this folder5. Initial Assessment, Immediate Response
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close this folder6. Operations Planning
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close this folder7. Coordination and Site Level Organization
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close this folder8. Implementing Arrangements
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View the documentImplementing Arrangements
View the documentImplementing Procedures
View the documentMonitoring, Reporting and Evaluation
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close this folder9. External Relations
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close this folder10. Community Services and Education
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View the documentOrganizing Community Services
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View the documentFamily Tracing and Reunification
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close this folder11. Population Estimation and Registration
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close this folder12. Site Selection, Planning and Shelter
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View the documentCriteria for Site Selection
View the documentSite Planning: General Considerations
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View the documentShelter
View the documentReception and Transit Camps
View the documentPublic Buildings and Communal Facilities
close this folder13. Commodity Distribution
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View the documentChoosing a Commodity Distribution System
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View the documentThe Role of Refugee Women
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close this folder14. Health
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View the documentHealth Assessment, Planning, Monitoring and Surveillance
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close this folder15. Food and Nutrition
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View the documentOrganization of Food Support
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View the documentGeneral Feeding Programme
View the documentSelective Feeding Programmes
View the documentInfant Feeding and use of Milk Products
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close this folder16. Water
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View the documentThe Need
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close this folder17. Environmental Sanitation
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close this folder18. Supplies and Transport
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close this folder19. Voluntary Repatriation
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View the documentOn Route
View the documentOn Arrival in Country of Origin
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close this folder20. Administration, Staffing and Finance
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close this folder21. Communications
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close this folder22. Coping with Stress
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close this folder23. Staff Safety
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View the documentThe UN Security System
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close this folder24. Working with the Military
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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

Overview

Situation

Emergency situations are characterized by an urgent need to distribute life sustaining commodities such as food, shelter materials, cooking implements and fuel. The fair distribution of commodities is often problematic and groups and individuals from among the refugees can use the confusion of the emergency to obtain unfair control over the resources which are distributed.

Objectives

To provide life-sustaining commodities to the refugee families, fairly, according to specified rations, selection criteria and priorities.

Principles of response

· The design of the distribution system should be based on a thorough understanding of the social structure of the refugees;

· The refugees should be kept continuously informed on the design of the distribution system, on the timing of distributions and on the quantity of commodities to be distributed;

· All groups among the refugees should be appropriately involved in the design and operation of the distribution system. Particular care must be taken to involve women;

· The family as the basic social unit plays the key role in meeting basic needs of individuals, therefore, the family unit should be the target of commodity distribution;

· The commodity distribution cycle should be regular and predictable. Irregularities in the distribution cycle increases the tendency of the refugees to circumvent the system.

Action

· Use community services structures (or set up new structures if necessary) to consult the refugees on the design and operation of the commodity distribution system;

· Select and implement a commodity distribution system;

· Set up a system by which information on the operation of the commodity distribution system can be regularly conveyed to the mass of the refugees;

· Allow the refugees themselves to monitor the fairness of the distribution system.

Introduction

· Distribution passes control over a commodity to the intended beneficiaries. Distribution must be fair, and commodities must be distributed according to specified rations, selection criteria and priorities;

· Distribution must be monitored to ensure that it is fair and reaches vulnerable groups;

· However ingenious the distribution system devised, it is unlikely to work fairly without the support of the refugees themselves;

· UNHCR's distribution systems should provide material assistance to and through families.

1. The principles in the chapter apply to the distribution of both food and non-food items, although food often forms the bulk of the commodities distributed. This chapter provides brief guidance on the subject. The handbook "Commodity Distribution: A Practical Guide For Field Staff" is essential reading for those who plan to set up and run a commodity distribution system (see Key References at the end of the chapter).