Summary conclusions from discussions between UNHCR and OCHA on protection and internal displacement

Manual and Guideline
Originally published



UNHCR and OCHA discussed their distinct and complementary roles and responsibilities to ensure that the needs and rights of populations affected by conflict and natural disasters are met.
This document summarizes the main outcomes of these discussions.

UNHCR and OCHA acknowledged that, often field-based actors do not share common views on the underlying causes of protection challenges, including those for IDPs and affected communities. This complicates efforts to agree on shared priorities and to develop coherent strategies that effectively engage the full spectrum of stakeholders. This can also lead to a fragmented approach to protecting civilians, including vis-a-vis military, security and political actors. More determined leadership at field and headquarters levels, alongside clear roles, responsibilities and comparative advantages is, therefore, key to effective humanitarian responses, including to situations of internal displacement.



States ultimately have the responsibility to ensure the human rights of all citizens, including ensuring that those displaced internally within their territories are protected without discrimination. Within the IASC coordinated framework, in locations where countries have provided consent to humanitarian assistance, overall accountability for meeting that response, particularly for the internally displaced, ultimately rests with the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC). Specifically, the HC is accountable and responsible for ensuring an effective, coherent and realistic response to the protection and humanitarian assistance needs of affected populations, particularly IDPs, including through advocacy and resource mobilization.

It is the primary role of OCHA to support the HC in meeting these responsibilities. In addition,
OCHA supports the HC to ensure that cross-cutting protection concerns, including those of IDP’s, are adequately reflected and addressed in the work of all clusters through its inter-cluster coordination role.

At the same time, field-based protection clusters, as the primary coordination forum for protection, “play a crucial role in supporting humanitarian actors to develop protection strategies, including to mainstream protection throughout all sectors, and to coordinate specialized protection services for affected populations”.3 UNHCR, in its capacity as lead of the Global Protection Cluster and field-based protection clusters, will, as appropriate, provide advice to the HC and HCT on protection. Field-based protection clusters ensure that the HC is equipped to adequately address protection needs by supporting advocacy and informing the overarching protection strategy for the humanitarian response.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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