As mentioned in greater detail herein, since the start of the socio-political crisis in Nicaragua in April 2018, the number of Nicaraguan asylum seekers in Costa Rica increased exponentially -- to over 74,000 at the end of 2019. This number is in addition to an ongoing increase in application from persons fleeing the three other situations in the Americas (Venezuela, NCA, and Colombia), plus Cubans and other persons who hail from outside the region. The increase in the numbers of asylum-seekers, whose vulnerabilities and needs are significant, has taxed the national authorities, UNHCR, and partners in their ability to respond.
This position is fundamental to support the coordination and implementation of the complex protection response to ensure protection and solutions for all persons in need of international protection in Costa Rica ¿ and to ensure that the country can remain a champion of human rights and refugee protection in the region.
The socio-political crisis and rise in violence in Nicaragua since mid-2018 have produced a sharp rise in the number of Nicaraguan asylum seekers in Costa Rica ¿ adding to an already significant number of applicants from the three other situations in the Americas (Venezuela, NCA, and Colombia). The increase in Nicaraguan asylum seekers is illustrated by the fact that in 2017, only 78 asylum seekers were registered in the country. By the end of 2019, this number had grown to over 74,000 persons, and could reach over 100,000 in 2020. A significant proportion of the arrivals require life-saving humanitarian assistance, as well as legal counselling and representation, and other support
The response capacities of Costa Rica, a country of only 5 million people, and those of UNHCR and other partners, have been severely stretched, resulting in critically inadequate government reception facilities and significant delays in registering and processing asylum claims. The large backlogs inhibit asylum-seekers from accessing work authorization, health insurance and other rights, deepening the their vulnerability and exposure to risks, and increasing their dependency on humanitarian aid. The RSD system itself requires a significant review to ensure that it becomes truly efficient and effective. UNHCR is engaging in an updated Quality Assurance Initiative (QAI) review of the asylum bodies, and the implementation of recommendations expected in early 2020 will be critical. Ensuring access to legal services and information is also important to allow PoC to understand their rights.
The Operation is also working to further implement its Community Based Protection (CBP) Strategy and has recently opened a Field Unit to provide direct registration, referral, and other community activities. UNHCR will continue working with the Civil Registry in assisting the GoCR efforts in addressing sub-birth registration, by expanding their joint work-plan of confirmation of nationality, late-birth registration and effective access to documentation to eradicate the risk of statelessness among indigenous and other cross-border populations and children born in CR to Panamanian and Nicaraguan parents who were not registered at birth. Finally, a Protection Transit Arrangement has been established as a strategic protection tool to ensure nationals from NCA countries with high protection risks have a safe transit location in Costa Rica while awaiting resettlement processes.
In sum, the multi-faceted nature of the Protection Unit and the Operation in general calls for an Associate Protection Officer with good knowledge of Protection matters, and with sufficient experience to manage the day-to-day operations of the Field Unit, as well as to assist in other activities to ensure a successful Protection response to growing needs of PoC in Costa Rica.
Accountability (key results that will be achieved):
The protection of population of concern is met through the application of International and National Law, relevant UN/UNHCR protection standards and principles.
Protection activities are guided by the protection strategy and respect the policy of UNHCR on age, gender and diversity (AGD).
The participation of persons of concern is assured through continuous assessment and evaluation using participatory-, rights- and community-based approaches.
All persons of concern have access to a fair and efficient asylum system, are knowledgeable about their rights, and can recive legal counseling and/or representation if needed.
Protection incidents are immediately identified and addressed.
Responsibility (process and functions undertaken to achieve results) :
Through relationships with persons of concern, authorities and a network of partners and other stakeholders, stay abreast of political, social, economic and cultural developments that have an impact on the protection environment.
Ensure that the perspectives, capacities, needs and resources of the persons of concerns are reflected in the planning and implementation of protection interventions, and that they address the specific protection needs of women and men, children, youth and older persons, persons with disabilities, and other minority groups such as members of the LGBTQ+ community and persons living with HIV/AIDS.
Support the implementation and monitoring of programmes ensuring that identified protection needs, including an Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD) approach, are adequately addressed. This may include, inter alia, overseeing a pilot of the Protection Monitoring Tool (PMT) survey and subsequent analysis and reporting efforts.
Identify protection gaps and implement the appropriate UNHCR responses to protection concerns of asylum seekers and other persons of concerns. Provide policy guidance and operational support to UNHCR and partners on protection related issues.
Provide legal advice and guidance on protection issues to internal and external interlocutors; ensure legal assistance is accessible to persons of concern; liaise with competent authorities to ensure the issuance of personal and other relevant documents to persons of concern (including asylum documentation, as well as birth certificates and documentation within the statelessness determination procedure).
Monitor, and assist with the intervention in cases of refoulement, expulsion, detention, and other protection incidents, through working relations with relevant officials and other partners.
Assist in the coordinated implementation and oversight of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all protection/solutions activities. Suggest any areas where SOPs may be lacking and work to create/update them.
Research, collect, and disseminate relevant protection information and good practices to enhance protection delivery and provide technical advice if necessary. Ensure participatory, community-based protection and AGD approaches are included in strategies and plans in the country operation.
Ensure through direct action and advocacy with more senior protection staff that the necessary resources (human and financial) are allocated to enable protection activities to identify and address protection and assistance gaps.
Support a consultative process with government counterparts at local levels, partners and persons of concern to develop and implement integrated strategies that address the key protection priorities, including, for example, child protection, education and SGBV, and solutions approaches.
Supervise CBP staff. Oversee protection and assistance activities conducted by staff and partners at the new Field Unit, including community-based protection initiatives that take place in and out of the FU. This includes assessing the protection needs of populations of concern through individual interviews, participatory assessments, and/or the use of the Protection Monitoring Tool, as well as including confidence building and conflict resolution among populations of concern, authorities and host communities. Support persons of concern to develop structures that enhance their participation and protection.
Contribute to training and internal capacity building of UNHCR staff in protection, registration methodologies, technologies and standards by providing support, guidance and assistance to staff and partners on protection priorities, issues and concerns.
In cooperation with relevant Registration, Protection, and Information Management staff, as well as relevant Government counterparts, ensure the collection of disaggregated data on populations of concern and their needs, support analysis and ensuretimely dissemination of reports and statistics on persons of concern.
Contribute to the Protection team's information management component, by liaising with the relevant IMO, Registration, and Government staff to ensure that.
Represent UNHCR at meetings with a wide range of stakeholders such as partners, government authorities, etc.
Perform other Protection-related duties as required.
Authority (decisions made in executing responsibilities and to achieve results):
InIntervene directly with authorities and partners on critical protection cases.
Enforce compliance with, and integrity of, all protection standard operating procedures.
Supervise CBP and other staff as required.
ESSENTIAL MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE REQUIRED.
EDUCATION/QUALIFICATION: University Degree in Law
WORK EXPERIENCE: Minimum of 2 years of relevant professional experience with Advanced University/Master's Degree (3 years with University/Bachelor's Degree) in the area of refugee law.
SKILLS: Excellent knowledge of English and Spanish, both written and oral. Ability to work in a multi-cultural environment. Ability to work as a part of a team and on own initiative. Ability to meet deadlines. Experience or demonstrated interest in refugee and/or statelessness related matters. Excellent interpersonal skills. Committed to the values and principles of the United Nations. Proficient computer skills.
DESIRABLE QUALIFICATIONS & COMPETENCIES.
Knowledge of UN Policies and procedures.
Commitment to help persons of concern and willingness to cooperate with various stakeholders.
Strong analytical skills.
Strong interpersonal and communication skills in a multi-cultural setting
Experience of working with persons of concern desirable
Prior management and/or supervisory experience would be an asset.