Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps
Under Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative, we regularly deploy highly-skilled and experienced individuals from our Rapid Response Corps roster to work as surge capacity with Ireland’s UN Stand-by partners as part of their humanitarian and emergency response efforts.
Rapid Response Corps member, Peter Cooney (on Right) visiting a camp for internally displaced persons in Maiduguri, Nigeria in his role with the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as Civil Military Coordination Officer, to assist with the humanitarian response effort, including access to and protection of civilians
The Rapid Response Corps (RRC) currently comprises 120 individuals with specialised skills in logistics, engineering, water and sanitation, humanitarian coordination, protection and other areas. Most have worked extensively overseas in humanitarian and/or development settings.
Individual members of the Corps are deployed at the request of those UN humanitarian agencies with which Ireland has concluded formal bilateral Standby Agreements under the UN Stand-by Partnership Programme. These four UN agencies are the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The Standby Partnership Agreements commit Irish Aid to maintaining a Standby Roster of personnel with general skills profiles and other specialised qualifications that match the requirements of the UN Partner Agencies and who can be available at short notice for deployment where gaps exist.
Following our latest recruitment drive in 2015, the following roles and areas of expertise were prioritised:
- Information Management Officers (including GIS)
- Protection (including Child Protection Officers, Community Services Officers and Gender Based Violence Advisers)
- Gender Advisers
- Humanitarian Affairs Officers
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Engineers
- Engineers (Civil or Electrical)
- Shelter Experts/Site Planners/Construction Engineers
- Cash Assistance Officers
- Supply Chain/Logistics Officers
- Nutrition Specialists
Since the establishment of the roster in September 2007, Irish Aid has deployed 318 Rapid Response Corps roster members to 52 countries, with the majority deploying to the Horn of Africa and the Middle East in response to severe protracted crises in these regions, and to Haiti, Philippines, Nepal and Ecuador in response to sudden onset emergencies there in 2010 (Haitian earthquake), 2013 (Typhoon Haiyan), 2015 (Nepal earthquake) and 2016 (Ecuador earthquake) respectively.
37 roster members were deployed in 2016 to Ethiopia, DRC, Nigeria, Lesotho, Djibouti, Swaziland, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Macedonia, Greece, Timor Leste, Haiti, Ecuador and to the UN Humanitarian Response Depot in UAE. 32 members were deployed in 2015, while 32 members were also deployed in 2014.
See the chart and map below setting out the types of profiles and locations of our 2016 deployments.
Irish Aid provides pre-departure training to Roster members, in conjunction with the Defence Forces’ UN Training School Ireland (UNTSI) in the Curragh Camp. This includes a general orientation on humanitarian response, and training on humanitarian reform and architecture, and on humanitarian codes, standards and best practice. It also includes training on personal safety and security to prepare Rapid Responders for the challenging and difficult environments they will work in.
We also encourage and support our Roster members to participate in UN and other donors’ specialised training courses from time to time, for example in civil-military coordination, child protection in emergencies, emergency preparedness and response, cluster coordination and gender-based violence in emergencies.
Rapid Responders usually receive a daily stipend during their deployment. Public servants who are also Roster members may, subject to their employer’s approval, be deployed on assignment from the Roster and retain their salary and benefits.
Irish Aid also meets basic costs while on deployment including travel to and from the RRC member’s duty station, food and accommodation, visas, vaccinations and insurance. Rapid Responders receive medical check-ups prior to departure and are provided with advice and assistance in case of illness or emergency while in the field.