Assessing the Refugee Status of Vulnerable People

Many uprooted people have fled their home country to find safety from a dangerous situation. ICMC experts working with the UN Refugee Agency and governments help determine if those seeking international protection in a country of asylum can legally claim refugee status.

Conflict, violence and persecution drive millions of people from their homes each year. Many flee to another country to find the safety their country of origin was not able to provide. Without governmental protection their lives and freedom are at further risk.

To be recognized as a refugee gives uprooted people the right to protections set out in international conventions and agreements. They are not to be forced to return to a place where their life or basic human rights are in danger.

At the end of 2019, there were 26 million refugees worldwide. Approximately half of them are under 18 years old.

As a trusted partner of the UN Refugee Agency, ICMC manages the UNHCR-ICMC Deployment Scheme, which consists of a large roster of protection and refugee experts ready to be deployed at short notice to UNHCR field operations across the world.

ICMC experts assist UNHCR and governments in determining refugee status. They help to protect particularly vulnerable refugees, reviewing the possibility of resettlement to a third country. They also are active in preventing fraud.

Determining Refugee Status

ICMC experts conduct Refugee Status Determination interviews based on established UNHCR protocols. This procedure assesses whether an uprooted person seeking international protection can be considered a refugee according to international, regional or national law.

Our experts ensure a fair and efficient process by drawing on thorough knowledge of international refugee protection frameworks. They speak the languages of the people they are serving and are familiar with their cultural background, which allows them to build bridges of trust.

ICMC deployee
An ICMC expert deployed to a UN Refugee Agency office in Rwanda briefs asylum-seekers about to go through registration and verification in the hopes of being granted the status of refugee. ©GIBSON KARUMA/ICMC

ICMC experts give special attention to particularly vulnerable refugees, such as children without families, those at risk of sexual and gender-based violence, torture survivors and the elderly, disabled or sick. They work to streamline the refugee status determination process. And they prioritize children for interviews, where their unique protection needs are assessed.

Some refugees need protection that cannot be provided in the country where they have sought asylum. ICMC experts identify such people, then refer them for possible resettlement to a third country as a safe and durable solution.

Our experts also provide counselling to asylum seekers and refugees.

Ensuring Fairness and Integrity

Providing effective protection for vulnerable refugees can only happen if there are fair, expert operational standards.

ICMC contributes to ongoing development of strategies and procedures for determining refugee status. This involves issues of security, confidentiality, working with interpreters, managing files, and complaint mechanisms. We work together with partners to ensure that uprooted people feel secure and safe as they seek protection as refugees.

In 2019, ICMC experts referred more than 50,100 vulnerable refugees for resettlement consideration to third countries and conducted “best interest of the child” assessments for nearly 1,700 children and their caregivers.

Refugee status determination procedures that are poorly set up or not implemented correctly can lead to fraud. In a worst-case scenario, this could mean that an uprooted person who is eligible to claim refugee status is denied crucial international protection. ICMC experts play a key role in identifying and preventing fraud. We work with partners on the ground to flag areas of risk and put anti-fraud mechanisms into place.

We help to train and brief the staff of UNHCR and operational partners in refugee status determination that aligns with international standards and law. This includes pre-screening, interviewing, case management, and resettlement policy, as well as anti-fraud measures. We assist caseworkers as they assess claims for refugee status.

Over half of our expert pool are qualified to supervise and train staff, provide coaching and manage operations in the field. They are committed to staying abreast of developments that could impact our ability to provide protection for vulnerable refugees.

You can help refugees and migrants rebuild their lives with dignity and hope.


Get ICMC’s Monthly Newsletter
See What You Will Get (Past Issues)


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