UNHCR was created in 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes. We had three years to complete our work and then disband. Today, over 65 years later, our organization is still hard at work, protecting and assisting refugees around the world.

We are recruiting to fill this position. 


Organizational Context
The Senior Protection Assistant will provide quality, timely and effective protection support to persons of concern and identifies opportunities to mainstream protection methodologies and safeguards in operational responses. The Senior Protection Assistant also ensures that persons of concern are involved with the Office in making decisions that affect them, whether in accessing their rights or in identifying appropriate solutions to their problems. To achieve this, the incumbent will need to build and maintain effective interfaces with communities of concern, local authorities and protection and assistance partners.

The Senior Protection Assistant will contribute to strengthening the coordination of members’ activities and the exchange of all protection-related information in the country, including through regular communication with Protection Sector actors (governmental, non-governmental and UN). He/she will maintain linkages with Protection Sector Sub-Working Groups (SWGs), chiefly the Child Protection and Gender-Based Violence SWGs, and will support the UNHCR protection unit in ensuring the centrality of protection in the humanitarian response in Nigeria through effective mainstreaming of protection across all sectors.

He/she will stay abreast of protection standards, operational procedures and practices in protection delivery in line with international standards and provide functional protection support to other units, including information management, external relations and programme staff.

Operational Context
UNHCR’s Protection Unit in the Abuja Branch Office covers UNHCR protection activities throughout the country, including in Northeast (NE) Nigeria where UNHCR is currently operational in 3 States with independent governments under Nigeria’s federal system. There are almost 2 million IDPs and more than 6 million people have been identified as being in need of humanitarian assistance by humanitarian agencies. Protection activities are implemented by UNHCR directly and through the Protection Sector Working Group (PSWG) under the sector approach; the Protection Sector is co-chaired at the national-level by UNHCR and the National Human Rights Commission.

Ongoing conflict and counter-insurgency measures have resulted in severe humanitarian crisis and large scale forced displacement across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States. An estimated 6.7 million civilians are in need of protection services and have experienced grave human rights abuses including abductions, sexual abuse, forced marriage and witnessing first hand violence to family members. More than 1.7 million people have been internally displaced, 79% of which are women and children; 6 out of 10 IDPs are in host communities. Insecurity continues to restrict humanitarian access to an estimated 930,000 people in several LGAs particularly in the Borno. In August 2016, UNHCR declared a Level 3 emergency to respond to the humanitarian crisis in North East of Nigeria.

Since 2015, over 1 million displaced persons have made the return journey to their areas of origin or areas closer to their homes. This includes over 388,000 Nigerian refugees who have returned from neighbouring countries mainly from Cameroon and Niger. Many returns have fallen short of international standards on voluntariness, safety and dignity, including refoulement, and populations have returned to dire situations of secondary displacement, with shortages of basic needs/services including food, water, shelter and health. Most of returning refugees are in secondary displacement situations as they have not been able to return to their places of origin. Similarly, attempted returns of IDPs are not always successful or sustainable. While the desire by some IDPs and refugees to return to their places of origin remains a priority, concerns persist that conditions in those areas are not yet conducive for such returns, particularly in Borno State. Returning IDPs may not be sufficiently informed regarding remaining threats, including IEDs and unexploded devices, and may be incentivised by assistance, political agendas, and push or pull factors.

UNHCR Nigeria’s aim is to support the government to establish an effective coordination and protection system for refugees, asylum seekers, IDPs, stateless persons, returnees and other persons of concern, with a particular emphasis on protection-focused response to the displacement crisis in the North East. The office provides targeted protection services to the most vulnerable IDPs, IDP returnees and refugee returnees in coordination and complementarity of the efforts of authorities at the national and State levels, UN partners and NGOs. UNHCR Nigeria utilizes a rights-based protection approach to implement activities, incorporating age gender and diversity analysis and focusing on strengthening community-based protection mechanisms.

Duties And Responsibilities

  • The Senior Protection Assistant will support the National Protection Sector Coordinator and Secretariat, working closely with the UNHCR Protection Coordination teams in North East offices (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe), to enable effective coordination, in line with international standards. He/she will contribute to carrying out the Protection Sector’s strategy and will liaise externally with agencies (UN, INGO, NNGO and government) on protection issues and operational delivery as guided by the supervisor.
  • The Senior Protection Assistant will support the UNHCR Protection Unit in the development, carrying out and monitoring of protection operations in the North East.
  • Fundamental to the position is the frequent drafting of high-quality reports for UNHCR and the Protection Sector on protection issues and operational achievements, which will be published externally.

The incumbent will have the following responsibilities:

  • Consistently apply International and National Law and applicable UN/UNHCR and IASC policy, standards and codes of conduct.
  • Provide counselling on protection issues to persons of concern; liaise with competent authorities to ensure the issuance of personal and other relevant documentation.
  • Support activities in protection related AGD based programming with implementing and operational partners.
  • Conduct preliminary information gathering and interviews in support of eligibility, status determination, durable solutions and social needs assessment.
  • Contribute to measures to identify, prevent and reduce statelessness.
  • Contribute to a country-level child protection plan as part of the protection strategy.
  • Contribute to a country-level education plan for persons of concern as part of the protection strategy.
  • Monitor Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all protection/solutions activities.
  • Participate in individual protection case management including cases of SGBV and child protection. Monitor and report on cases of refoulement, expulsion and other protection incidents.
  • Assist in identifying durable solutions for persons of concern in voluntary repatriation, local integration and where appropriate, resettlement.
  • Contribute to the design, implementation and evaluation of protection related AGD based programming with implementing and operational partners.
  • Assist in drafting reports, routine correspondence, updating relevant databases and compiling statistics for the protection unit / section.
  • Contribute to initiatives to enhance national and local protection capacities.

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