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UNHCR has agreements with several emergency standby partners that are able to deploy individual experts in a wide range of functions for an average of 6 months (with possible extension), often supported by the partners’ own resources (considered as in-kind contribution).
Country operations under emergency declarations (L1, L2, L3), or at high / medium risks of emergencies, and/or covered by IASC systemwide Scale-up, can request deployments from standby partners.
Country operations and HQ divisions can also request deployment from standby partners if they require specific profiles or expertise that are not internally available to pursue organizational strategic priorities.
Deployment requests from standby partners need to include TORs endorsed by the Representative. There may be cases where the partners do not have funds / suitable candidates to support.
To request a deployment from Standby Partners, contact the Emergency Preparedness, Deployments and Partnerships Section (EPDPS) in the Division of Emergency, Security and Supply (DESS).
In order to improve the efficiency and predictability of emergency response, UNHCR concluded a number of standby partnership agreements with Government agencies, NGOs, and private sector organizations whose specific expertise and capacity complement UNHCR's internal emergency and surge capacity. Emergency standby partners are organizations or entities that maintain a capacity of personnel or equipment on standby, which can be rapidly deployed upon request, to enhance UNHCR's capacity to respond to humanitarian crises. UNHCR's emergency standby partners offer two kinds of services: deployment of personnel and Service Packages.
Through the deployment of standby personnel, qualified deployees are made available quickly for short periods, often at no cost to UNHCR. Emergency Standby Partners can provide a wide range of skills, such as technical experts (in shelter, site planning, WASH, energy & environment, etc.); protection specialists (child protection, gender-based violence, accountability to affected populations etc.), or have skills in cluster/sector coordination or information management.
The deployment of standby personnel is meant to temporarily complement UNHCR staffing, especially in emergency operations. Therefore, it should be used strategically and should not be used to fill regular staffing gaps.
The possibility to secure a standby deployment depends on the standby partner’s funding (Standby Partners usually have their own geographic or thematic priorities), as well as the availability of suitable roster members. It usually takes several weeks to secure such deployments, up to 8 weeks.
Requesting Deployments from Standby Partners
In general, standby deployments can be requested when UNHCR operations meet one or more of the following criteria:
UNHCR operations need emergency staffing that are not internally available, and are in one or more of the following situations:
(i) under UNHCR’s declared emergencies (Level 1/2/3)
(ii) rated at high or medium risk of emergencies (ERM risk register)
UNHCR operations and HQ divisions require specific profiles or expertise that are not internally available to pursue organizational strategic priorities.
Standby partner deployment requests from declared emergency operations will be prioritized among all the requests. The average duration of the standby deployment is 6 months, with possible extension. The deployment duration may be shorter (e.g. 3 months) in certain circumstances, depending on the needs on the ground.
UNHCR currently has Standby Partnership Agreements with 20 Standby Partners (access to UNHCR staff only).
They are the following:
CANADEM, International Civilian Response Corps, Canada
Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA)
Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning of Norway (DCPEP)
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)
German Center for Peace Operations (ZIF)
German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW)
International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP)
Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Norwegian Refugee Council, including NORCAP (NRC)
Save the Children Norway
Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB)
Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)
White Helmets Commission
The Standby Partner deployees are considered as ‘UN expert on mission' and support emergency response within the UNHCR's office structure in the country.
If a Standby Partner is not able to fully fund a deployment, costs may be covered by the requesting UNHCR operation under a Reimbursable Loan Arrangement (RLA) on an exceptional basis. In this case, Standby Partners would submit a budget to be confirmed by the UNHCR operation, prompting the UNHCR operation to prepare a Letter of Agreement (LoA) that is to be signed by both parties. This modality can be used to cover the cost of an extension, should the partner not have funding available.
Requesting an emergency deployment from Standby Partners:
Contact Emergency Preparedness, Deployments and Partnerships Section (EPDPS)/DESS and the Regional Bureau. The request must be submitted to EPDPS/DESS with TORs and a Request Form endorsed/signed by the Representative, keeping the Regional Bureau in copy. The TORs should be provided in Word format, while the request form should be provided in PDF format.
Profile: The TORs should be specific and realistic, in line with the timeframe of the deployment. It is recommended to avoid using standard job descriptions given the shorter and temporary nature of these deployments. The more specific the TORs are, the higher the chance of identifying a candidate corresponding to the actual needs of the operation. UNHCR colleagues can find the TOR template as well as the Standby Partner request form on the Emergency Response and Preparedness Portal (access to UNHCR staff only).
Grade: Given that the majority of Standby Partner roster members are at P3 or P4 levels, it is generally recommended to avoid requesting junior experts at P2 level.
Feasibility and timeframe: Succeeding in securing Standby Partner deployments depends on several factors, including the availability of funding on the Partner’s side (often reflecting the partner’s geographic or thematic priorities), as well as the availability of a suitable candidate in the Standby Partner’s roster. Some profiles can be particularly hard to find, such as a combination of technical experts with a specific language requirement (e.g. Arabic, French or Spanish). The time it takes to secure a deployment varies. It may take from 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the context, profile and the partner. It is thus important for the operation to consider alternative staffing solution from the onset should the deployment request not be successful, especially in the emergency phase or if the need is urgent.
Administration: The Standby Partner Agency is responsible for the arrangement and payment of most administrative matters related to the employment cost including salary, daily subsistence allowance (DSA) and any other benefits. UNHCR is responsible for covering the cost of internal travel (excluding DSA) and travel to the designated Rest and Recuperation (R&R) location. More details on the administration of the deployment of standby personnel are available in the Standby Partners Deployments Information Note available on the Emergency Response and Preparedness Portal (access to UNHCR staff only).
Post emergency phase
Emergency operations may request deployments from Standby Partners at any time, during which they are covered by the funds associated with an emergency declaration (L1, L2 or L3). Standby Partner deployments can also provide support in the post-emergency phase as well as in protracted crises as long as the deployments are considered as UNHCR’s strategic priorities and it does not have internally available human resources. The operations are encouraged to plan for mid and longer-term staffing requirements as soon as possible, including standby partner deployments.
To request a standby partner deployment and/or Service Package, contact the Emergency Preparedness, Deployments and Partnerships Section (EPDPS) in the Division of Emergency, Security and Supply (DESS) @ [email protected]
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