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Refugee Status Determination Officer


  • Organization: UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Location: Gaalkacyo
  • Grade: Level not specified - Level not specified
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - International Law
    • Refugee rights and well-being
    • Protection Officer (Refugee)
  • Closing Date: Closed

Hardship Level (not applicable for home-based)

E (most hardship)

Family Type (not applicable for home-based)

Non Family with Residential Location

Staff Member / Affiliate Type


Target Start Date


Job Posting End Date

September 20, 2023

Terms of Reference

1. General Background
At the end of July 2023, there were a total of 36,107 refugees and asylum-seekers ( 19,244 asylum seekers) registered in Somalia, mainly from Ethiopia and Yemen. Further, Somalia hosts some 92,150 refugee returnees who have voluntary returned to Somalia with UNHCR support since December 2014 and some 40,000 Somalis were monitored as spontaneously arriving from Yemen since March 2015. There are also some 3.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia in 2023.

Access to asylum and the right to appeal is respected in Somalia. Yemenis (and Syrians, Palestinians, Sudanese in Somaliland) are accorded refugee status on a prima facie basis while all other nationalities in each region are required to undergo individual RSD. The Federal Government of Somalia and Puntland authorities recognize refugee status accorded by UNHCR, which conducts first instance Mandate RSD and appeals. In March 2023, Somaliland passed its first Refugees and Asylum Seekers, Act. There is a significant backlog of individuals in Somalia pending mandate RSD and the existing operational staffing capacity to clear the same is extremely limited. This backlog results in resource implications for the program given that about half of the population are asylum seekers and most vulnerable asylum seekers receive cash assistance. As per the draft UNHCR Somalia 2023-2025 Multi-Year Multi Partner Protection and Solutions Strategy and 2020 RSD Strategy (developed in line with UNHCR RSD Strategic Directions, 2015), those in need of RSD to achieve solutions and protection benefits will be prioritized for RSD processing on the basis of clearly defined prioritization criteria. The Somalia RSD strategy, including the Backlog Reduction Strategy. was developed based on extensive technical consultations with UNHCR Sub Offices and EHAGL Bureau and HQ.

UNHCR Protection Unit in UNHCR Mogadishu, Somalia is headed by the Senior Protection Officer and a team of protection staff who provide strategic guidance, technical advise and operational support to 3
Sub Offices, 1 Field Office and 3 Field Units. In addition, the Unit maintains close cooperation with other Units in UNHCR Mogadishu, works together with the Executive Office and Programme in designing, reviewing and implementation of protection and assistance programmes, as well as participate in protection-related meetings within the Protection Cluster and other partners, representing UNHCR Somalia position and strategy regarding protection of persons of concern (PoCs). The RSD Officer is a core member of the protection team with specific responsibilities for implementation of refugee status determination and other durable solutions- related activities, particularly for refugees and asylum seekers.

The position of RSD Officer is of high importance to the UNHCR Somalia Operation’s ability to create systems, including those related to coaching and training of protection teams and government counterparts in the field, for the effective implementation of the 2020 RSD Strategy and reduction of the RSD backlog (as of July 2023: 19,244 asylum seekers, excluding ongoing new arrivals in Puntland and Galmudug States) as well as the Protection and Solutions Strategy, 2023-2025. This position is needed to ensure the Operation’s compliance with the Administrative Instruction for the Minimum Procedural Standards for Refugee Status Determination under UNHCR’s Mandate (2020). Failure to address the RSD backlog could well impact resource management, as asylum seekers being assisted without the Operation’s and/or authorities’ knowledge of whether they are persons of concern to UNHCR and in need of international protection. Achieving this backlog reduction is not possible under the current and severely limited staffing capacity. A dedicated RSD position is required to ensure the Operation’s priority in clearing current RSD backlog and RSD Strategy is fully implemented in the field. In addition, this position will enable government authorities enhance their capacity to meet their regional and global CRRF commitments. This position will support enhanced accountability towards people that we work for and with, as well as donor resources entrusted to UNHCR.

2. Purpose and Scope of Assignment
-- Contribute to the development of the country RSD strategy and support senior management to ensure its full and effective integration into the protection and solution strategy of the Country
- Stay abreast of legal, political, security and other developments relevant to RSD (mandate and prima facie), the protection environment, including developments in relation to national asylum/RSD systems, as applicable.
- Engage relevant national authorities and structures in identifying and expanding opportunities in view of developing or strengthening national asylum/RSD systems, including the Transition process in Somaliland.
- Undertake quality review of RSD Assessments in line with UNHCR policies/guidelines related to mandate RSD and endorse RSD decisions as required. Where necessary, conduct interviews and draft assessments in complex/sensitive cases per relevant standards and guidelines.
- Provide ongoing coaching as well as specialized training on the inclusion criteria; principles/procedures related to exclusion; cancellation/revocation; international humanitarian law; human rights law; interviewing techniques and credibility assessment/establishing the facts; and legal drafting.
- Provide legal/procedural advice and support on RSD adjudication issues within the Area of Responsibility (AoR).
- Provide specialized training to other UNHCR units on the refugee criteria and related issues as needed. Assess training needs and assist Protection Officers to provide coaching/capacity building for UNHCR personnel, in coordination with GLDC as appropriate.
- Contribute to developing/enhancing regional and global RSD standards and policies, as required.
- Support the design and implementation of operation-specific strategies and SOPs for all aspects of RSD operations in line with relevant standards/policies, including the Backlog Reduction Plan ensuring the prioritization of persons with specific needs.
- Monitor trends and systematically compile statistics related to RSD case processing.
- Analyze key indicators of the quality and efficiency of decision-making in RSD processing to assess capacity and resource requirements of operations in the region or the operation to which the RSD Officer is assigned.
- Contribute to the evaluation and projection of RSD staffing and financial needs using the RSD Staffing Benchmarks, and support allocation of appropriate human, material and financial resources.
- Contribute to identifying and preventing fraud in RSD through oversight, advice and guidance to UNHCR personnel, partners and persons of concern.
- Conduct support missions to field locations, as required.
- Maintain and manage a consultative process with operations and other stakeholders in the region. If based in a country operation, together with competent host authorities and partners, develop processes aiming at developing national institutional capacities and the timely identification of
international protection needs in line with the GCR and other key planning considerations.
- Coordinate and respond to RB relevant Units as may be required
- Perform other related duties as required

Accountability (key results that will be achieved)
- Effective coordination mechanisms and tools are facilitated and maintained with protection members (at RO, field, RB and HQ level), government counterparts and other key stakeholders, for timely and effective planning, prioritization, implementation, reporting and evaluation.
- Support is provided to the development of a protection and solutions-oriented strategy, which incorporates an age, gender and diversity analysis and reflects the operation’s priorities.
- RSD capacities are improved through direct engagement, capacity building initiatives, research and advocacy with all relevant partners.
- RSD- related concerns are immediately identified and addressed.

Responsibility (process and functions undertaken to achieve results)
- Contributing to the promotion of durable solutions through trainings and advocacy work with/for local authorities and partners.
- Facilitate coordination with government counterparts and other relevant authorities.
- Assist in the delivery of RSD and protection training activities for staff, other local partners, and relevant authorities.
- Support to produce regular updates and briefing notes on RSD n concerns in the affected population, response activities, challenges and recommendations.
- Promote and help strengthen national legislation relevant to RSD and durable solutions.
- Perform other related tasks as required.

Authority (decisions made in executing responsibilities and to achieve results)
- Draft relevant RSD reports as and when required.
- Support the organization, facilitation and reporting of RSD-related meetings.
- In coordination with Protection Officers at RO and field level, liaise with government authorities and relevant stakeholders.
- Provide support and guidance to state-level RSD capacity/response implementing the RSD Backlog reduction Strategy as part of a core Protection intervention in the operation.
- Develop and lead RSD capacity building initiatives.


Core Competencies:
Organizational Awareness
Teamwork & Collaboration
Commitment to Continuous Learning
Client & Result Orientation

Managerial Competencies:
Empowering and Building Trust
Managing Performance
Judgement and Decision Making
Strategic Planning and Vision
Managing Resources

Cross-Functional Competencies:
Analytical Thinking
Planning and Organizing
Policy Development and Research


Education & Professional Work Experience
Years of Experience / Degree Level
- For P3/NOC - 6 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 5 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 4 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree
- Education (Level and area of required and/or preferred education)

Field(s) of Education
- International Refugee Law; International Human Rights Law; International Humanitarian Law;
- International Criminal Law; Social Sciences; or other relevant field.

Relevant Job Experience
3 years of experience working directly with procedures and principles related to adjudicating individual asylum claims in RSD procedures. In-depth knowledge of International Refugee Law, International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law and ability to apply relevant legal principles in the RSD context, including exclusion decision-making. Thorough knowledge of the "Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCR's Mandate" and other guidelines and standards governing UNHCR's mandate RSD activities. Experience in counselling asylum-seekers and individual case management. Experience in refugee law training.

Experience as a decision-maker in UNHCR or Government SD procedures is highly desirable. Experience in providing legal representation to asylum seekers in UNHCR or Government SD procedures. Experience in supervising a team. Completion of other UNHCR Learning Programmes relevant to RSD. Training and coaching experience. Experience in working with vulnerable or traumatized individuals. Knowledge of additional UN languages.


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This position doesn't require a functional clearance
This vacancy is now closed.
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