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

Protection and Material Assistance

The Location of the Refugees

23. This will have a major influence on protection and all sectors of assistance. If the refugees have spontaneously settled in a scattered manner, they should not be brought together unless there are compelling reasons for breaking their present settlement pattern. If they are already in sites which are judged to be unsatisfactory, move them. The difficulty in moving refugees from an unsuitable site increases markedly with time. Even if those already there cannot be moved, divert new arrivals elsewhere (see chapter 12 on site planning).

Control at the Sites

24. Determine the optimum population in advance and plan for new sites accordingly. Keep careful control of actual occupation of the site as refugees arrive, so that sections prepared in advance are filled in an orderly manner.

Numbers and Registration

25. An accurate estimate of numbers is a prerequisite for effective protection and assistance. Efficient delivery of help to all in need will require at least family registration which should be organized as soon as possible. Nevertheless the initial provision of assistance may have to be based on a population estimation rather than full registration (see chapters 11 and 13 on registration and commodity distribution).

Urgent Survival Needs

26. Meet the most urgent survival needs: food, water, emergency shelter, health care and sanitation, ensuring fair distribution:

i. Involve the refugees and promote their self-reliance from the start. If this is not done the effectiveness of the emergency assistance will be severely reduced, and an early opportunity to help the refugees to start to recover from the psychological effects of their ordeal may be missed;

ii. Food. Ensure that at least the minimum need for energy is met; a full ration can follow. Set up special feeding programmes if there are clear indications of malnutrition. Establish storage facilities;

iii. Water. Protect existing water sources from pollution and establish maximum storage capacity with the simplest available means. Transport water to the site if the need cannot otherwise be met;

iv. Emergency shelter. Meet the need for roofing and other materials from local sources if possible. Request outside supplies (e.g. plastic sheeting) if necessary;

v. Health care. Provide the necessary organizational assistance, health personnel and basic drugs and equipment in close consultation with the national health authorities. Although the immediate need and demand may be for curative care, do not neglect preventive and particularly environmental health measures;

vi. Sanitation. Isolate human excreta from sources of water and accommodation.

27. Take steps to meet the social needs and reunite families if necessary. Surveys may be necessary to identify those in need, who often do not come forward. Tracing may be required. If groups of refugees have been separeted, they should be reunited. Special measures to ensure the care of any unaccompanied children will be a priority.

28. Once these and other priority measures are underway, begin the wider planning process.