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Associate Refugee Status Determination Officer

Damascus (Syria)

Before submitting an application, UNHCR staff members intending to apply to this Job Opening are requested to consult the Recruitment and Assignments Policy (RAP, UNHCR/HCP/2017/2 and the Recruitment and Assignments Administrative Instruction (RAAI), UNHCR/AI/2017/7 OF 15 August 2017.

Associate Refugee Status Determination Officer

ORGANIZATIONAL CONTEXT

The Associate RSD Officer is a member of the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) team.  Under the direct supervision of the RSD Officer (RSD Supervisor), s/he is responsible for conducting RSD interviews to determine eligibility for refugee status, undertaking country of origin (COI) and other research related to the claim, as required, and drafting RSD assessments, including for complex cases.  The incumbent is also responsible for carrying out supervisory responsibilities in the RSD procedure, as delegated by the RSD Officer (RSD Supervisor), which may include responsibilities related to the reception and registration of asylum seekers and refugees, file assignment and scheduling of RSD interviews, coordination of the work of interpreters, reviewing RSD assessments of members of the RSD team and providing legal and procedural guidance and coaching, as required.  The Associate RSD Officer may liaise with Government authorities and other partners about issues related to UNHCR's RSD procedure and relevant UNHCR guidelines and standards related to RSD.  S/he may carry out training for Government authorities and other partners on legal and procedural issues related to RSD and provide technical advice to strengthen national asylum procedures.

FUNCTIONAL STATEMENT

Accountability

- UNHCR's RSD procedures are implemented in accordance with relevant UNHCR standards and
policies, including policies related to age, gender, and diversity mainstreaming (AGDM). 
- Persons of concern have fair and transparent access to the RSD procedures.
- Fraud in the RSD process is identified and appropriately addressed.

Responsibility

- Stay abreast of legal, political, security and other developments which impact on the protection environment, and in particular, on protection delivery through RSD.
- Assist in the development of the RSD strategy of the operation and in the annual planning exercise.
- Contribute to the development and enhancement of regional and global RSD standards and policies.
- Assist in the supervision and oversight of RSD and RSD-related activities to promote full compliance with written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
- Review and endorse RSD decisions and provide appropriate feedback and guidance to RSD staff. 
- Conduct RSD interviews and draft RSD Assessments in accordance with applicable standards and guidelines.
- Maintain accurate and up-to date records and data related to all work on individual cases.
- Provide counselling to asylum seekers and refugees.
- Assist in designing, implementing and revising operation-specific SOPs for all aspects of the
   RSD operation in accordance with applicable standards and policies.
- Assist in preventing and identifying fraud in RSD through oversight, advice and guidance to UNHCR staff, partners and persons of concern.  
- Assist in monitoring RSD trends and in compiling and analysing RSD statistics related to RSD case processing to identify and respond to developments or issues impacting on the efficiency or quality of RSD decision-making, and to propose remedial measures.
- Conduct research on country of origin information (COI) and legal issues related to RSD and assist in maintaining a local repository of relevant information, guidelines and standards accessible to RSD staff in the operation.
- Assist in developing and maintaining processes to ensure that persons of concern, Government authorities and partners have accurate information on the RSD procedures, including UNHCR standards, policy and practice.
- Assist in initiatives to advocate with and support Government authorities and legal partners to establish and strengthen fair and efficient RSD procedures and RSD decision-making.
- Regularly assess training needs of UNHCR staff engaged in RSD and related activities and provide on-going training and coaching on legal and procedural RSD issues.
- Support the development and implementation of RSD training initiatives for Government authorities and legal partners.

Authority

- Approve decisions to accelerate RSD processing for cases meeting established criteria.
- Enforce compliance by UNHCR staff engaged in RSD and related activities with UNHCR standards, policies and operation-specific SOPs for all aspects of the RSD operation.
- Decide and endorse RSD decisions.

ESSENTIAL MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE REQUIRED. 

- Undergraduate degree (equivalent of a BA/BS) in Law, political science, international relations or another related field plus minimum 3 years  of relevant professional job experience, preferably in the area of refugee protection, human rights or international humanitarian law. Graduate degree (equivalent of a Master¿s) plus 2 years or Doctorate degree (equivalent of a PhD) plus 1 year of previous relevant work experience may also be accepted.
- Minimum 1 year of experience working directly with procedures and principles related to RSD.
- Knowledge of International Refugee Law and Human Rights Law and ability to apply the relevant legal principles.
- Strong research and analytical skills.
- Excellent oral and written communication skills.
- Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.

*** For National Officer positions, very good knowledge of the local language and local institutions is essentials.

DESIRABLE QUALIFICATIONS & COMPETENCIES. 

- Experience as a decision-maker in UNHCR or Government RSD procedures is highly desirable.
- Experience in counselling asylum seekers or refugees.
- Experience in working with vulnerable or traumatized individuals.
- Completion of UNHCR's RSD Learning Programme, COI Learning Programme, Protection Learning Programme.
- Experience in supervising and in providing training or coaching, guidance or advice to staff.
- Knowledge of additional UN languages.

This is a Standard Job Description for all UNHCR Associate Refugee Status Determination Officer positions. The Operational Context may contain additional essential and/or desirable qualifications relating to the specific operation and/or position. Any such requirements are incorporated by reference in this Job Description and will be considered for the screening, shortlisting and selection of candidates. C001L2 - Accountability Level 2
C002L2 - Teamwork & Collaboration Level 2
C003L2 - Communication Level 2
C004L2 - Commitment to Continuous Learning Level 2
C005L2 - Client & Result Orientation Level 2
C006L2 - Organizational Awareness Level 2
M001L2 - Empowering and Building Trust Level 2
M002L2 - Managing Performance Level 2
M003L2 - Judgement and Decision Making Level 2
X001L2 - Analytical Thinking Level 2
X005L2 - Planning and Organizing Level 2
X008L2 - Stakeholder Management Level 2 <p>The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.</p>
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See below for this postion's Operational Context
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For those people applying for High Risk Duty Stations, we strongly encourage colleagues to read the country specific security and welfare profiles which can be found on the Intranet under Support Services - Duty of Care (https://intranet.unhcr.org/en/support-services/duty-of-care.html). These profiles have been specifically designed to answer some of the key questions (on security conditions, medical provisions, staff welfare, living and working conditions) potential applicants might have before deciding to apply. Ensuring staff are better informed is part of the increased attention UNHCR is paying to Duty of Care. This project is still in the pilot phase, and as such some of the information leaflets are being produced as we speak and might not be available yet. They will be soon, so keep checking. 

Working under the direct supervision of the RSD Officer (Exclusion), the Associate RSD Officer will assist in managing and supervising the RSD operation in Syria. The incumbent will require a solid protection profile, a demonstrated knowledge of related legal matters (incl. international refugee law, human rights law, international criminal law and international humanitarian law as well as appropriate interviewing skills to conduct a robust fact-finding process), sound expertise and practical experience of implementation of UNHCR¿s RSD policies and procedural standards with diverse and complex caseloads, as well as strong managerial and organizational abilities. Moreover, the incumbent should have experience in the application of Article 1F of the 1951 Convention (exclusion clause) in order to assess corresponding cases from among the refugee and asylum-seeker populations in Syria. Previous working experience in an emergency environment would be desirable as would previous experience with registration. As a matter of course, the incumbent is required to have proven advanced knowledge and experience in working with the proGres database. A working knowledge of Arabic is desirable. The Syrian Arab Republic is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol and has also not enacted national refugee legislation. In the absence of a national asylum framework, UNHCR exercises its mandate for refugee protection in Syria, ensuring registration, refugee status determination (RSD), as well as life-saving assistance and seeking durable solutions. The population of refugees and asylum seekers is 48,822. This includes 18,605 refugees mostly residing in Damascus and in Hassakeh Governorates who are predominantly from Iraq (some 83%); 18,828 asylum-seekers, mostly residing in urban Qamishli; and 12,309 Iraqi asylum seekers located in three camps (Newroz, Roj and Al Hol) in Hassakeh governorate.  There has been a significant reduction in the camp-based population in 2017 due to individuals returning to Iraq under bilateral arrangements of the authorities since November 2017. Although the Syrian Arab Republic maintains a generous approach to refugees (granting them access to territory and free access to education), since the onset of the conflict in 2011, the protection environment for refugees has seriously deteriorated, prompting many to spontaneously return to their countries of origin despite unconducive conditions or relocate to neighbouring countries or further afield. More than six years of conflict have resulted in devastating consequences for civilians in Syria. The sanctions, deepening economic recession, fluctuating national currency, soaring food and fuel prices, destroyed infrastructure and reduced availability of basic services have further aggravated the humanitarian situation. Host government prohibition for refugees to engage in formal employment as well as protection risks in a host country in conflict, are impacting negatively on coping strategies of refugees.  The breakdown of family structures and of law and order have led to an increase of SGBV and child protection concerns, such as child labour, school drop-outs and early marriages. Lack of documentation, residency problems, detention and lack of solutions are key challenges. Refugees can access health care facilities in Syria, but these services are not free of charge. As a consequence of the volatile situation in Syria and the unconducive conditions for return in most of the countries of origin of refugees, there are few prospects for durable solutions aside from the over-stretched resettlement programme Conflict and repeated displacement have resulted in the loss of livelihoods and strained the coping capacities of communities across the country, exposing them to a range of protection risks. Refugees risk arbitrary arrest, recruitment by armed actors, and scrutiny and harassment due to their ethnic or religious backgrounds.

RSD is currently centralized in Damascus, requiring support missions to the field offices for case adjudication. The incumbent will be part of the RSD Unit in Damascus and may be tasked with leading and coordinating RSD-related missions to field locations for asylum case processing as well as assisting the RSD Officer in managing and supervising the RSD Unit and also supervising the Registration unit. The present security situation in Syria creates pressures at work and in daily life. The incumbent should be prepared to work under such conditions and be able to manage stressful situations. The position is based at the UNHCR Country Office in Damascus. In view of the volatile security situation, international staff are accommodated in a designated hotel from which free movement is at times restricted. Public health facilities in Syria offer a wide range of medical services at an acceptable rate. While basic health facilities are available locally, more serious conditions will require treatment outside the country. Banking facilities are not available to international staff. International personnel are not authorized to use public transportation and specific movement SOPs are in place for all duty stations.

Damascus is classified as an E-category, non-family duty station with a UN security level 5 (high) and (currently) a four-week R&R cycle. Damascus airport is operational with some local and regional airlines, however, most of the UN personnel enter the country via Beirut airport and proceed by road to Damascus in daylight hours.

Please note that the closing date for all vacancies in the Add.4 to March 2018 Compendium is Wednesday 5 Septembe 2018 (midnight Geneva time).

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.
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  • Organization: UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Location: Damascus (Syria)
  • Grade: P-2, International Professional - Internationally recruited position - Junior level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - International Law
    • Protection Officer (Refugee)
    • Refugee rights and well-being
  • Closing Date: 2018-09-05

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