Working in humanitarian emergencies
UNICEF staff work in some of the world’s most challenging environments, to reach the most disadvantaged children
UNICEF is on the ground before, during, and after emergencies, working to reach children and families with lifesaving aid and long-term assistance. As part of its mission, UNICEF responds to global humanitarian crises that include natural disasters, human-caused crises, health-related emergencies and pandemics, and the negative effects of climate change.
Our work in humanitarian emergencies
On average, UNICEF responds to more than 200 emergencies that affect an estimated 535 million children every year, informing and shaping these interventions as a global leader for children. Natural disasters and the impact of climate change are forcing more children from their homes and exposing them to violence, exploitation, malnutrition and disease. Moreover, armed conflict, civil unrest and the targeting of humanitarian workers have made recent years the deadliest on record for the aid community. The need for staff at emergency locations is more important than ever.
Working in emergency duty stations
UNICEF personnel are at the heart of our ability to respond to complex emergencies. They work with partners, in some of the most challenging contexts, to reach the children at greatest risk, taking bold and innovative actions to deliver results. Working in emergency and high-risk settings can be extremely fulfilling, and every emergency duty station presents its own unique opportunities and challenges.
Candidates applying for positions in emergency locations should be mindful of the working and living conditions to expect. Although these vary greatly, there are a number of challenges you may experience, including the witnessing of human suffering and children in distress, extremely heavy workloads, limited accommodation options and strict curfews with significant restrictions on freedom of movement. In addition, access to power, running water, and the internet may be intermittent. Moreover, since most emergency locations are non-family duty stations, staff are not permitted to bring their families with them.
For staff deployed to emergency countries, UNICEF has a legal and moral obligation under what is known as ‘duty of care’. This involves a collection of measures targeted at our personnel to enable UNICEF to stay and deliver in high-risk duty stations. Duty of care principles and initiatives cover psychosocial, wellbeing, medical, human resources, administrative, and safety and security support for staff in emergency locations, including medical evacuation for staff and their eligible family members when needed.
If you are interested in working in an emergency country, there are a range of employment opportunities available. All of UNICEF’s functional areas at all levels are involved, to some degree in emergency preparedness and response, including child protection, communication, early childhood development, education, gender, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, logistics, human resources, security, social policy, water, sanitation and hygiene, and other areas.
What we offer
UNICEF recognizes that personnel working in emergencies and high-risk settings face challenges that need to be reflected in the benefits and entitlements we provide. In addition to the standard benefits and entitlements offered to all staff in our specific job categories, additional benefits and entitlements are provided to staff in emergencies, depending on the duty station category.
The following table is a quick reference guide summarizing the most relevant benefits and entitlements for different groups of UNICEF staff serving in emergencies. They are subject to change. Upon acceptance of a job offer, UNICEF staff receive consolidated, up-to-date information about their benefits and entitlements under their contract. Learn more about UNICEF compensation, benefits and wellbeing support