Our work in protection

Humanitarian protection officers play a critical role in ensuring the safety, well-being, and rights of vulnerable people and communities affected by crises and disasters. They work within various organisations and agencies to provide assistance and protection to those in need. Protection officers are at the heart of the humanitarian community, bringing hope to the most desperate situations.

In Boa Vista, Roraima, northern Brazil, UNHCR has been providing protection services for Venezuelan refugees through Operation Welcome. ©Francesco Pistilli

The immediate role of humanitarian protection officers

In the immediate aftermath of a conflict of a disaster, humanitarian protection officers play a crucial role in assessing the unique needs of affected populations. They work closely with communities, conducting thorough assessments to identify vulnerabilities and determine the appropriate response. They implement emergency response strategies, ensuring that essential services such as food, shelter, and healthcare are provided promptly.

Blue Dots hubs were installed in Medyka, Poland, as safe spaces where Ukrainian refugees could access the most urgent services after being forced to flee. ©UNHCR/Maciej Moskwa


Beyond immediate relief efforts, protection officers advocate for the rights of displaced people. They work tirelessly to ensure that those among the most vulnerable communities, including women, children, LGBT persons, and persons with disabilities, are treated with dignity and respect, and that their voices are heard. By empowering communities to participate in decision-making processes, these officers help build resilience and foster self-sufficiency.

Collaboration and coordination

Protection officers work closely with other agencies, governments, and local communities to address the complex challenges faced by those affected by humanitarian crises. By coordinating efforts and sharing resources, they maximise the impact of their work and ensure a comprehensive response.

At the IOM San Vicente reception station in Panama, migrants await to be registered after making the dangerous journey across the Darien Gap. ©IOM/Gema Cortes

Humanitarian protection officers bring light to the darkest moments. They are present at the very beginning of an emergency response, and ensure the longer term protection and empowerment of affected communities.

“Many children who arrive hide under blankets or beds, still fearing that bombs will drop…it takes time for them to feel safe and start to play again…”

Medyka transit centre Coordinator, UNHCR