Deploying Experts to Protect Refugees and Asylum-Seekers Around the World

ICMC has been deploying refugee protection and resettlement experts to UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) field operations across the world for over 25 years. As one of UNHCR’s largest affiliate workforce partners, ICMC experts prepare more than one half of UNHCR’s refugee resettlement referrals each year, making an essential contribution to meeting global refugee resettlement needs. In 2022, ICMC deployed 124 qualified resettlement case processing experts and reviewers to UNHCR field operations in 41 countries: in Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe.

Every day, conflicts, serious human rights violations and persecution force millions of women, men and children to flee their homes to seek safety. Often, these persons of concern continue to face serious risks in neighboring countries which do not offer them adequate protection. Children, in particular unaccompanied children, are distinctly vulnerable to these risks.

This lack of protection leaves many with little or no choice but to move onwards on perilous journeys. In this context, third country options – such as resettlement and complementary admission pathways – are the only alternatives for protection and long-term solutions.

ICMC experts
ICMC experts are deployed on short notice to work in UN Refugee Agency offices worldwide. Photo: ICMC resettlement specialists deployed to a refugee camp in Ethioipia. ©Nathalie Perroud/ICMC

The International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) draws on a diverse and highly qualified pool of protection experts to deliver a rapid response. They provide support in resettlement and complementary admission pathways, child protection, refugee status determination, anti-fraud measures and more. ICMC experts can be deployed to support UN agencies across the world at short notice.

ICMC has been deploying experts to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)’s operations to ensure timely protection to refugees and asylum-seekers for over 25 years. Since 2020, ICMC also deploys experts to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)’s operations, ensuring child protection, psychosocial support, and gender-based violence experts to global emergency response situations.

Providing Unique and Valid Solutions for Refugees

ICMC deploys experts who work with integrity, quality and efficiency to support the UN Refugee Agency and governments in providing resettlement options for the most vulnerable refugees.

Integrity being a paramount aspect of ICMC’s work, all experts are meticulously checked for their background, experience and knowledge. All of them bring proven on-the-ground resettlement and protection experience, and put their expertise into practice with dedication, passion and commitment. They relate to vulnerable and traumatized people with sensitivity and professionalism.

In 2022, ICMC deployees carried out expert assessments for 47,489 persons, of whom 40,291 were identified as eligible for resettlement. Deployees also conducted “best interest of the child” assessments for 676 children and their caregivers.

Thanks to the diverse linguistic skills and cultural backgrounds in the Deployment Scheme’s roster of experts, ICMC can match their skills and experience to the specific requirements of each field operation. ICMC experts are able to work in difficult situations – whether that means remote or insecure locations, in hardship field operations or uncertain political environments. They also have the demonstrated ability to deliver results under time pressure, manage heavy caseloads and engage effectively in multicultural teams.

refugee in Tanzania
In Nduta refugee camp in Tanzania, a refugee signs his name for the first time on the declaration page after his interview with an ICMC expert. Interviews help assess a refugee’s status and need for protection. ©Kevin Urban/ICMC

Deploying a Multipurpose and Skilled Workforce

The experts deployed by ICMC work across several areas:

Refugee Resettlement and Complementary Admission Pathways

ICMC experts interview refugees and assess their needs and capacities to identify the best third-country solution; they prepare the resettlement registration forms for third countries and assist refugees to access other pathways for admission to third countries, such as humanitarian visas and family reunification.

Deployees are also responsible for managing refugee expectations through information-sharing, counseling and outreach, as well as taking care to mitigate potential resettlement fraud.

Refugee Status Determination

ICMC deployed experts oversee and undertake Refugee Status Determination (RSD), endorse and review RSD decisions and contribute to the development and implementation of RSD strategies, including Standard Operating Procedures and case management strategies.

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

ICMC experts are able to develop, revise and implement comprehensive strategies and protection plans to address the specific needs of survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). They also identify refugees at increased risk of SGBV and manage individual SGBV cases.

Child Protection

The experts deployed by ICMC identify children at risk and conduct Best Interests Assessments and Determinations (BIAs/BIDs) and follow up on cases. Deployees also provide training and capacity-building to governmental counterparts, partners, and other stakeholders, and develop and implement country-level child protection plans. They also participate in formal UNHCR BID panels with governmental counterparts to determine actions in the best interests of the child.

Capacity Building and Leadership

ICMC deployees help build the protection capacity of national and local governments, partners and civil society organizations through targeted protection trainings. They coordinate capacity-building initiatives for communities and individuals to assert their rights.

They also provide training on Refugee Status Determination, Refugee Resettlement, Child Protection and SGBV prevention procedures. ICMC experts develop training materials, manage teams, supervise case workers and provide coaching as needed.

Emergency Response

Thanks to the availability of its large roster of experts, ICMC can deploy supporting staff to UN agencies to protect refugees in emergency operations.

ICMC’s protection experts bring proven on-the-ground experience in remote or insecure locations and uncertain political environments. Their skills are critical to allowing UNHCR and UNICEF to quickly scale up in sudden-onset disasters or bring much-needed technical expertise to protracted crises, working alongside the agencies’ staff and partners to ensure every child is able to survive and thrive.

Child Protection, SGBV and other protection experts can rapidly be deployed around the world.

Anti-Fraud Prevention

ICMC experts assist with the establishment and enhancement of appropriate mechanisms to detect, prevent and respond to fraud. They conduct fraud investigations and case management, and provide capacity-building and awareness-raising about the importance of strategies to prevent fraud.

“I have had the privilege to meet people from all walks of life throughout my career. I can’t remember two similar cases; the challenges were always different. At times, I had to interview refugees at airports and in prisons. Each person made me feel blessed for having crossed their path. Each experience was unique and meaningful in its own way. It’s been a blessed journey.”

Maha Ganni, ICMC’s first deployee

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ICMC provides assistance and protection to vulnerable people on the move and advocates for sustainable solutions for refugees and migrants.