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Preparedness Package for Refugee Emergencies (PPRE)

Key points
  • Refugee emergency preparedness should always be undertaken in partnership with the host government, UN, NGOs, and other relevant partners.
  • UNHCR and the host government co-lead refugee emergency preparedness.
  • The PPRE approach requires the implementation of minimal preparedness, including emergency risk analysis, wherever UNHCR is present. Heightened risk of an emergency triggers the implementation of advanced preparedness measures, some of which are context specific.


The objective of emergency preparedness is to ensure that the strategic direction and required building blocks for an eventual emergency response are in place. Experience has shown that starting the delivery of emergency aid, especially at scale, takes significant lead time. By undertaking preparedness measures, operations frontload preparatory actions before a crisis occurs. Preparedness includes: a context analysis, planning, gap identification, training and capacity building, partnership development and coordination, and perhaps resource pre-positioning. Good emergency preparedness lays the foundation of an emergency response.

The Preparedness Package for Refugee Emergencies (PPRE) sets standards for preparing for refugee emergencies. It guides users to implement risk analysis, and minimum and advanced preparedness actions, including scenario-based contingency planning. It is designed for use by UNHCR in coordination and collaboration with all relevant actors, including government, the UN, NGOs, and other partners who are involved in preparing for potential refugee influxes or mass cross-border movements (for example, forced repatriation).

Conceptually, emergency preparedness actions align to a framework that has three pillars:

  • ANALYSIS: knowing why, where, when and how to get ready. Actions focus on knowledge management and involve collecting, mapping and monitoring information related to the potential emergency and the population of concern.
  • PARTNERSHIP: preparing to respond, particularly at the local level. All elements of preparedness require a joint approach with partners. Actions under this pillar promote discussion, coordination and inclusive decision-making, in which information is processed, plans are jointly produced and decisions are taken.
  • DEVELOP CAPACITY: responding faster and better in the field. By mapping and analysing gaps in their capacity to respond, partners in all relevant sectors become more robust as they implement preparedness actions ahead of a potential crisis.

Main guidance

When and for what purpose

All refugee operations must undertake emergency preparedness. Some PPRE components are triggered at specified levels of risk (see the flowchart below). The PPRE provides a framework for preparing systematically.

Preparedness flowchart

Preparedness flowchart

Summary of guidance and/or options

The PPRE is a practical guide that sets standards on how to:

  • Perform risk analysis for refugee emergencies systematically each year in every country and regularly monitor the evolution of the risks identified.
  • Implement Minimum Preparedness Actions (MPAs) to ensure a minimum level of preparedness at country level.
  • Develop a Preparedness Action Plan for high risk countries that identifies critical Minimum and Advanced Preparedness Actions (APAs) in each context. Preparedness Action Plans include an inter-agency scenario-based contingency plan when appropriate.
Building blocks of preparedness

Building blocks of preparedness

How to implement this at field level?

Designed to align with the Refugee Coordination Model (RCM), the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and other coordination mechanisms established in agreement with governments, the PPRE promotes an inclusive strategic planning process to ‘ensure that the multi-sector response is coordinated and delivered smoothly'.

Partnerships and inclusion in Preparedness
The activities described in the PPRE are to be undertaken in partnership with governments (including local authorities and line ministries), refugees already in country, host communities, UN agencies, development partners and private actors, local, national and international NGOs, and other relevant stakeholders. The inclusion of donors at all phases of preparedness helps to ensure that preparedness and early action are adequately understood, supported, and (when required) funded.
It is essential to make every effort to consult potential host communities and to capitalize on networks of local NGOs and private sector actors. These partners have invaluable inside knowledge of cultural, socio-economic and power dynamics in local communities, and well-developed support networks, which make them valuable allies during a refugee emergency response. Adopting an inclusive approach from the preparedness phase onwards will help to foster ownership and acceptance during an emergency.

Mixed situations
In mixed situations, the Joint UNHCR-OCHA note (the Note) applies. Under the terms of the Note, UNHCR ensures that the refugee preparedness action plan is consistent with and reinforces the ERP and ongoing humanitarian responses. When determining operational coordination at field level, as part of preparedness, a location specific approach should be adopted that takes account of the nature of the expected population influx. The Note's purpose is practical: it recognizes that, where IDPs and refugees reside or are expected to reside in the same locations, preparedness planning can be streamlined and jointly coordinated with respect to common protection and sectoral concerns.

UNHCR's engagement in emergency preparedness
UNHCR's Policy on Emergency Preparedness and Response (UNHCR/HCP/2017/1/Rev.1, the Policy) lays out the framework for UNHCR's engagement in situations that risk becoming a humanitarian emergency. It states that ‘UNHCR will proactively anticipate, prepare for and respond to emergencies with urgency, speed and nimbleness'. Compliance with the Policy is mandatory and UNHCR Representatives are responsible for ensuring its implementation.
The Policy requires UNHCR offices, but not partner agencies and government counterparts, to follow the PPRE methodology and components. UNHCR staff therefore need to use their advocacy and interpersonal skills to encourage others to participate in accomplishing MPAs and developing Preparedness Action Plans that have a genuinely interagency basis. Where governments prepare plans for refugee emergencies and contingencies, UNHCR's preparedness is at once complementary, because it builds on the objective capacity of the government, and distinct, because the office may need to prepare for activities that it undertakes independently of government, such as protection monitoring, communication with communities (CwC), and accountability to affected populations (AAP).
Where a Regional UNHCR Representative is present, s/he is responsible for ensuring coordination and for taking steps to manage preparedness in the region.

Main contacts

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

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