Having entered the fifth decade of their displacement, Afghan refugees constitute one of the largest protracted displacement crises of our time. Over the years, the region has remained in flux and return movements have been interspersed with waves of emigration, sporadic flows of refugees, and exponential internal displacement. COVID-19 has pushed millions of vulnerable people further into poverty, with potential implications for population movements within the region and further afield. Hundreds of thousands remain further afield, notably in Germany, other European Union Member States and Turkey.
Between 2002 and 2020 an estimated 7 million Afghans have returned to Afghanistan, with more than 5.2 million being refugees who have voluntarily repatriated with UNHCR’s assistance. Refugee returns during the last three years have been far lower than in previous years, with 2,147 Afghan refugees returned from Pakistan (1,092), Iran (939), and other countries (116) in 2020, the lowest return figure that could be attributed to the deteriorating political, security and economic situation in Afghanistan and the impact of COVID-19. These returns have taken place against a backdrop of increased internal displacement due to conflict and natural disaster. OCHA, estimates that overall, nearly five million persons have been displaced since 2012 and have not returned to their place of origin.
Despite strong political will to achieve peace in Afghanistan, uncertainties result from the current political context, including the significant delays in the intra-Afghan peace negotiations and the withdrawal of US troops as part of the US/Taliban negotiations. There are currently two elements constituting the international military forces in Afghanistan: the US Operation Freedom with 2,500 troops, which were recently reduced from 4,500 troops on 15 January 2021 with a possible complete withdrawal by May 2021; and the NATO Resolute Support with fewer than 12,000 troops from dozens of nations involved in a non-combat mission of training and advising the Afghan security forces.
There are 72,445 refugees living in Afghanistan. Most of this group were displaced from Pakistan to Afghanistan in 2014 and settled in areas of Khost and Paktika provinces. A small number (approximately 380 people) reside in urban areas of Kabul and other cities. Refugees constitute one of the most vulnerable populations in the country. They face significant legal challenges due to the fact that that the National Law on Asylum still has not been enacted.
UNHCR provides international protection and finds solutions to the refugee situation in Afghanistan building upon the ongoing consultations within the context of the Support Platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) and the Global Compact on Refugees. These include the Inaugural Meeting of the Core Group of the SSAR Support Platform (7 October 2020), the 7th Meeting of the SSAR Quadripartite Steering Committee (1 October 2020), and the High-Level Meeting on the SSAR Support Platform (6 July 2020).
While ongoing security challenges remain significant, there is also an opportunity at present for Afghanistan’s gradual progression on the path towards peace and stability, which could pave the way for the long-awaited solution of voluntary repatriation. UNHCR will expand the Priority Area of Return and Reintegration (PARR) from 20 to 40 areas in 2021. Full, explicit and impactful inclusion of returning refugees into national development planning and programming is essential to enable their sustainable reintegration which will in turn solidify and fortify the broader peacebuilding, reconciliation and stabilization efforts, the integral linkages between timely, inclusive and forward-looking planning for return and reintegration and the three overarching pillars of Afghanistan’s National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF II) for 2021-2025, as well as relevant implementation mechanisms, including the National Priority Programs (NPPs):
Peacebuilding: ensuring that the imperative of voluntary return and reintegration is firmly embedded in relevant peace processes and any subsequent agreement with a view to enabling returning refugees to become part of cohesive and harmonious communities and to
participate in peacebuilding and reconciliation efforts.
Market-building: capitalizing on the human capital, skills and assets acquired by refugees in host countries to support market-building efforts and address human resource gaps, including through return of qualified individuals, private sector investments or opportunities for regional connectivity; and
State-building: advancing inclusion of the displaced in development processes, planning and programmes; with particular focus on enhancing absorption capacity and delivery of quality services and ensuring rights through targeted humanitarian, development, and peace (triple nexus) investments in priority areas of return and reintegration, building resilience of communities as a whole; in full alignment with the strategic long-term approach to peacebuilding outlined by the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
The Protection Associate normally reports to the Protection Officer or the Senior Protection Officer. The incumbent monitors protection standards, operational procedures and practices in protection delivery in line with international standards and provides functional protection support to information management and programme staff.
The Protection Associate is expected to coordinate quality, timely and effective protection responses to the needs of populations of concern (PoC) and identify opportunities to mainstream protection methodologies and integrate protection safeguards in operational responses in all sectors. S/he contributes to designing a comprehensive protection strategy and liaises externally with authorities and partners on protection doctrine and policy as guided by the supervisor.
The Protection Associate also ensures that PoC are involved 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.
All UNHCR staff members are accountable to perform their duties as reflected in their job description. They do so within their delegated authorities, in line with the regulatory framework of UNHCR which includes the UN Charter, UN Staff Regulations and Rules, UNHCR Policies and Administrative Instructions as well as relevant accountability frameworks. In addition, staff members are required to discharge their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the core, functional, cross-functional and managerial competencies and UNHCR’s core values of professionalism, integrity and respect for diversity.
– Stay abreast of political, social, economic and cultural developments that have an impact on the protection environment.
– Consistently apply International and National Law and applicable UN/UNHCR and IASC policy, standards and codes of conduct.
– Assist in providing comments on existing and draft legislation related to PoC.
– Provide advice on protection issues to PoC; liaise with competent authorities to ensure the issuance of personal and other relevant documentation.
– Assist in conducting eligibility and status determination for PoC.
– 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 as part of the protection strategy.
– Monitor Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all protection/solutions activities.
– Manage individual protection cases including those on GBV and child protection. Monitor, and intervene in cases of refoulement, expulsion and other protection incidents.
– Assist in identifying durable solutions for the largest possible number of PoC through 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.
– Facilitate effective information management through the provision of disaggregated data on PoC and their problems.
– Participate in initiatives to capacitate authorities, relevant institutions and NGOs to strengthen national protection related legislation and procedures.
– Assist the supervisor in prioritizing PoC for interview, counselling and propose protection support for individual cases.
– Assist the supervisor with enforcing compliance of local implementing partners with global protection policies and standards of professional integrity in the delivery of protection services.
– Assit the supervisor with enforcing compliance with, and integrity of, all protection standard operating procedures.
– Submit individual payments request for PoC for approval.
– Perform other related duties as required.
Education & Professional Work Experience
Years of Experience / Degree Level
For G6 – 3 years relevant experience with High School Diploma; or 2 years relevant work experience with Bachelor or equivalent or higher
Field(s) of Education
Certificates and/or Licenses
International Law, Political Science
or other related field
(Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk* are essential)
Relevant Job Experience
Protection Learning Programme
PR-Refugee Protection Principles and Framework
PR-Protection-related guidelines, standards and indicators
(Functional Skills marked with an asterisk* are essential)
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.
For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language.
For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English.
The management of the advertised openings in this announcement is in line with UNHCR Recruitment and Assignment Policy (RAP).
The vacancies are open to eligible internal and external applicants.
- Internal applicants are requested to submit their applications through Workday – Menu – Career. It is important that applicants update their Profiles (languages, education and prior working experience) before submitting their applications.
- External applicants are requested to submit their applications through the UNHCR Careers – Careers (myworkdayjobs.com). You will need to create an account as “New User” and then click on “My Account Information”. Complete the application and submit it.