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close this bookHandbook for Emergencies - Second Edition (UNHCR, 1999, 414 p.)
close this folder21. Communications
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentCommunications Management
View the documentTelecommunications
View the documentUNHCR Telecommunications Network Field Preparations
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes


Annex 1 - Common Communications Equipment and Terminology

name or

Full name

Description and Use


Manufacturer's name

High frequency radio system using voice communication,
commonly used in vehicles


Demand Assigned Multiple Access

Satellite (VSAT) system which allows multiple lines
of telephone, fax and data to be transmitted via


Digital Transmission System
(proprietary name)

A successor to PACTOR, allowing the transmission
of e-mail messages by radio


High Frequency

Range of frequency of radio waves used for long
distance radio communication


International Mobile Satellite
(originally called International
Maritime Satellite Organization)

Phone system which provides global phone, fax
and data transmission via satellite


Packetised Telex Over Radio

System whereby printed messages can be sent by


Satellite Communications

Generic term for any satellite communications

C, M, Mini-M

Refers specifically to INMARSAT
terminals used by UNHCR

Telephone system used for voice, fax and data
communications. The equipment comes in various
sizes, from suitcase size to small laptop and with
varying capabilities from simple telex to video-


Soci International de
Tcommunications Anautiques

An organization which provides a global
communications network for airline reservations and
ticketing. It can also provide a communications
network for non-airline customers (e.g. UNHCR)


Ultra High Frequency (Higher than VHF)

Range of frequency of radio waves used for short
distance radio communication


Very Small Aperture Terminal

Satellite system which allows multiple lines of
telephone, fax and data to be transmitted via
geo stationary satellite


Very High Frequency

Radio waves used for short distance radio
communications (e.g. handsets or walkie-talkies)

VHF Repeater

Very High Frequency Repeater

Equipment used to extend the range of VHF short
distance radio communications to a range of 20 to
80 km, depending on the topography

Annex 2 - Message Identification

The following instructions are for telecommunications operators who need to keep a formal log of all messages received and transmitted (including e-mail, fax and PACTOR). The principles are that in each case "HCR" must appear in the prefix and whatever the type and means of communication, each message must bear one number unique to that transmission for each addressee.

Components of the message identity are:

· Message from Headquarters to the Field: HCR/aaaaa/9999

· Message from the Field to Headquarters: aaaaa/HCR/9999

where aaaaa is the official UNHCR location (Duty Station) code of the Field Office concerned, and 9999 is a four figure sequential number starting at 0001 on the 1" of january each year.

· Between field offices: aaaaa/bbbbb/HCR/9999

where aaaaa is the five letter location code for the sending field office and bbbbb is the five letter location code for the addressee, and 9999 = four figure sequential number, starting at 0001 on the 1" of January each year.

· To non-UNHCR addressees: aaaaa/MSC/HCR/9999

There are two categories of four figure sequential numbers which may be used:

Category A is used for communications between Headquarters and field offices and between field offices with a considerable message exchange. The number used would be the next in the series for communications that year between the originator and addressee.

Category B is for UNHCR addressees who do not fall into Category A and for non-UNHCR addressees. If there are many such messages, two series may be used: UNHCR and non-UNHCR. All series or sequences restart at 0001 on the 1" of January.


Category A messages:

HCR/ANGLU/0123 means the 123rd message from Headquarters to Luanda, Angola this year. ANGLU/HCR/0210 means the 210th message from Luanda, Angola to Headquarters this year. ANGLU/RSAPR/HCR/0097 means the 97th message from Luanda to Pretoria, South Africa this year (where Luanda and Pretoria use sequential numbering).

Category B messages:

ANGLU/SENDA/HCR/0024 means a message from Luanda to Dakar, Senegal, and which is the 24th Category B message this year from ANGLU (where Luanda and Dakar do not use sequential numbering).

If there is more than one addressee, a separate message identity must be used for each. If the message is being sent to some addressees for information only, this should be indicated in brackets after the respective message identity. For example messages from Luanda to Headquarters for action, copied to Dakar for information, would bear the following:

(SENDA for info)

In order that the system can work effectively any missing sequential number in Category A must be reported to the other category A addressee as soon as possible, and the last number of the year (or of a series) must be reported to each category A addressee. If a category A number is duplicated by mistake, correct this by allocating the next available number and reporting this number to the addressee by a service (SVC) message. Note that the SVC message itself should also be numbered. Indicate the date or subject to avoid any danger of confusion.