IDP living conditions in Eastern DRC. Throughout 2013, a total of 13 NORCAP deployees supported UN operations related to protection, prevention of GBV, logistics and CCCM in DRC. (Photo: George Swinimer/UNHCR)
Photo: UNHCR/George Swinimer

Strengthening protection

NRC works to protect the rights of displaced and vulnerable people during crisis.

What is protection?

Protection is about safety, dignity, and rights. It is about people being safe from the harm or abuse others might cause them when armed conflict or disaster leaves them vulnerable.

A commitment to protection underlies all humanitarian action. Grounded in human rights law, international humanitarian law, and refugee law, it is central to our mission to assist displaced and vulnerable people.

The Centrality of Protection: What it Means in Practice.

How does NRC contribute to protection?

NRC works to reduce or prevent threats to the safety, dignity, and well-being of affected persons. We reduce their vulnerability to threats, and strengthen their self-protection capacities. This is important in all phases of displacement.

From avoiding harm by providing lighting in a camp, to working on housing, land, and property rights to prevent discrimination of women, NRC works to protect displaced people and the communities that host them.

NRC's approaches to protection:

1. Work proactively to reduce protection risks

NRC works to reduce risks of harm and rights abuses, and to assist people to exercise their rights. For example:

  • Education programmes that provide safe educational spaces make children and youth less vulnerable. Here, they are less exposed to harassment and forced recruitment by armed groups in conflict areas.
  • Youth education programmes reduce negative coping mechanisms and exposure to harm. This can reduce the risk of early marriage, forced sex trade, child labour, and isolation and tension at home.
  • Information, counselling and legal assistance in conjunction with housing, land, and property rights reduces the chance of displaced families being evicted.
  • Shelter programmes can reduce negative coping mechanisms and promote access to other services and rights. For example, fewer displaced families have to remove their children from school when they receive rent support in urban areas.

2. Work responsibly to avoid causing harm

NRC – and all humanitarian actors – have a responsibility to avoid causing harm through our actions:

  • We prioritise people's safety, dignity, and well-being. In our interventions, we strive to minimise any negative, unintended consequences that can expose people to further harm.
  • We arrange for affected people's access to impartial assistance and services. This means overcoming barriers or discrimination of vulnerable persons. People may be vulnerable because of their age, gender, ethnicity, religion or disability.
NRC Protection policy


The Protection Standby Capacity Project (ProCap)

ProCap is an interagency initiative created in 2005, in a partnership between OCHA, NRC and the wider humanitarian system. ProCap's goal is to strengthen the collaborative response between protection and non-protection mandated organisations, and to support the objectives of the Humanitarian Reform Agenda.

ProCap deploys senior personnel with proven protection expertise to the field, regional and global operations. It trains mid-level protection staff from standby partners and UN agencies.

Read more about ProCap here.