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PPRE Advanced Preparedness Actions (APAs, refugee situations)

Key points
  • APAs are a UNHCR tool, designed to be implemented with partners, that increases readiness to respond to refugee emergencies.
  • APAs are coordinated by UNHCR or the government with all partners, including local communities, refugees themselves, and other actors in areas likely to be affected by the influx.
  • Mandatory APAs must be implemented when the risk ranking exercise indicates that the risk of a scenario occurring is assessed to be ‘high'. Some APAs are mandatory while others are context-specific.
  • Identify priority actions that will facilitate the initial phase of an emergency response.
  • Preparation of an inter-agency scenario-based contingency plan is a context-specific APA.


Advanced Preparedness Actions (APAs) are actions that enhance the level of preparedness for a possible refugee crisis. They must be implemented when a risk ranking exercise suggests that the risk of a refugee crisis is ‘high'.

Some APAs are mandatory while others are context-specific. This permits an operation to prioritize and tailor its preparedness actions to the situation on the ground. The actions selected should be achievable in a determined period of time with the current level of resources.

The Preparedness Action Plan checklist includes all APAs and distinguishes between mandatory and context-specific APAs.

Building Blocks of Preparedness

Building Blocks of Preparedness

Main guidance

When and for what purpose

APAs are mandatory when a risk ranking exercise determines that a scenario is high risk.
APAs are kept up to date and reviewed every 6 months, or according to the timeframe for implementation set out in the Preparedness Action Plan.

Progress on implementation is reviewed regularly (at least every 6 months) and in line with risk monitoring.

Summary of guidance and/or options

Country level
The staff focal points that have been designated for each thematic checklist should continue to review the implementation of Minimum Preparedness Actions (MPAs) while selecting relevant APAs for implementation. Focal points should also establish deadlines for implementation, the individuals who are responsible, and budgets (if required).

Senior management and external relations
Mandatory and context-specific APA actions in this area focus on the establishment of coordination mechanisms with key stakeholders to ensure effective local and national preparedness. These actions should encourage UNHCR staff, the government, and other key stakeholders to increase their readiness for the onset of an emergency. The scenario-based contingency plan is one of the context-specific APAs in this section. If a contingency plan is necessary, it should be developed in partnership with the government and partners.

A national office should reinforce the capacities of its staff, partners and other stakeholders while they prepare to meet potential protection-related needs. Decisions should be taken on key strategic issues, including a border monitoring system, emergency registration procedures, and a sourcing strategy.

Programme and basic needs
A national office should identify key programme components, including potential hosting locations, the presence and capacity of infrastructure and services, partners' sectoral capacities, and an initial response strategy for saving life. Each sector (health, shelter, food, WASH, etc.) should develop a specific strategy for sourcing and an initial emergency response. The offices should be aware of the capacity of hosting locations as all programme options.

Procurement and supply
An operation should be familiar with emergency supply procedures, including local supply options, and should establish a sourcing strategy for the outset of an emergency. It should establish relief item stocks in-country for the initial response.

Administration, human resources, security and safety, and ICT
An office should assess its potential administrative needs (for vehicles, visibility materials, staff field accommodations, the establishment of new offices, etc.). Human resources should list staff capacity and potential staffing needs in an emergency situation. Security briefing material should be kept up to date and made available to staff. Security and safety mechanisms and equipment in potential refugee-hosting locations should be assessed. Potential ICT providers, staffing and equipment should be identified.

How to implement this at field level?

APAs are a UNHCR tool but should be implemented with all relevant UNHCR partners. UNHCR offices and the host government (co)lead APAs in refugee situations. Internally, the operation's Preparedness Focal Point assigns each thematic areas on the Preparedness Action Plan checklist to a specific member of staff. The staff focal points are required to indicate deadlines and set budget requirements for each action.

UNHCR offices should:

  • Establish and (co)lead an inter-agency refugee contingency planning task force.
  • Assign responsibilities for each APA to specific persons and agencies, using the Preparedness Action Plan worksheet as a management tool.
  • Ensure that the Preparedness Action Plan contains reasonable timelines for implementing actions.
  • Regularly assess APA implementation and possible gaps, with the involvement of the Preparedness Focal Point, and share updates with the UN Country Team or Humanitarian Country Team, the Resident Coordinator or Humanitarian Coordinator, and UNHCR HQ.
  • Ensure that APAs are kept up to date and reviewed every 6 months, or according to the timeframe for implementation set out in the Preparedness Action Plan.
  • Record APAs that have been undertaken, and share this information regularly with HQ regional bureaux, regional offices, and the Division for Emergency, Security and Supply (DESS).

Main contacts

UNHCR HQ, Division for Emergency Security and Supply (DESS), at: [email protected]

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