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

Office Organization

(Checklist section on Filing & Documentation and Communications & Transport).

Filing and Documentation

76. A simple office communication system should be put in place immediately. This can be implemented by, for example, pigeon holes (ideally one for each staff-member and one for each collaborating organization), whiteboards and notice-boards. This will help to ease communication problems in the confusing early days of an emergency.

77. A suitable filing system and registry controls should be set up immediately on the opening of a new office. Annex 2 gives some guidance as to what might be required and how filing could be organized.

78. A rubber stamp to show date of receipt, file, action officer and remarks will be very useful. The practice of putting a chronological number on every outgoing communication is strongly recommended and will be particularly helpful in the confused early days. Everything should have copies on the chronological file in addition to a subject file.

79. As a precautionary measure, offices should have a shredder to destroy any unwanted documents or correspondence. In some countries waste paper is sold and used in markets for packaging, so care should be taken that discarded UNHCR documents are not used in this manner.


80. Communications needs are discussed in the communications chapter. A simple checklist for a new office is given below; the order will not necessarily be the priority.

Identify the need for a telecommunications network as soon as possible (radio, e-mail, satellite, etc.);

Obtain necessary permission from the authorities to operate the equipment with the assistance of the RTO or HQ Telecoms if necessary;

Obtain immediate access to a telephone and fax and tell Headquarters (and neighbouring UNHCR offices as appropriate) the numbers and where they are located;

Set up controls and registers for incoming and outgoing communications from the start;

Establish a pouch system between the offices within the country of operation and Headquarters;

Consider communications needs in selecting office premises;

Obtain a PO box number and tell Headquarters (and local authorities, etc.) the number;

Once the UNHCR telecommunications network is installed, inform government, UNHCR Headquarters, neighbouring UNHCR offices, diplomatic corps and others, and ensure correct listing in national telephone directories, in the local UN and diplomatic lists, and in the UNHCR directory.