Caribbean Protection - Non-Legal Internship

UNHCR – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Deadline: 9 June 2017 (for fall 2017)

Organization Description:

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Washington Regional Office seeks interns for its Caribbean Protection Unit.

The Caribbean Protection Unit assists asylum-seekers, refugees, and stateless persons in a particularly dynamic, unique, and challenging context. The Unit covers 24 different countries and territories in the Caribbean, the majority of which do not have functioning asylum systems. As a result, UNHCR works with governments in Caribbean countries to develop and strengthen their protections for asylum-seekers, refugees, and stateless persons, conducts refugee status determinations for asylum-seekers, and monitors and reports on the treatment of refugees and stateless persons throughout the Caribbean region.


Interns will assist with casework and policy work related to the assistance and protection of asylum-seekers and refugees in the Caribbean region.  This is a non-legal unpaid internship. Internships are divided into three terms: Spring (January – April), Summer (May – August) and Fall (September – December). Preference will be given to interns available for a minimum of 4 months or a maximum of 6 months.

Interns working with the Caribbean Protection Unit should have a background in human rights, international affairs, political sciences or a related subject, with knowledge of international law.

Duties and Responsibilities

While the precise tasks of interns vary, taking into account the dynamics of the Caribbean region and other Office priorities, as well as the specific skills, competencies and areas of interest of the respective intern, the main tasks in which interns at the Caribbean Protection Unit are involved are the following:

  • Draft Refugee Status Determination (RSD) and appeal decisions for asylum-seekers in the Caribbean region, including country of origin research and legal analysis.
  • Researching country of origin information related to asylum cases using governmental, NGO reports and internet research.
  • Maintaining electronic databases of asylum-seekers and refugees using Microsoft Excel and an internal database program, and opening, updating and closing of asylum seeker files.
  • Monitoring news for maritime incidents and migration flows in the Caribbean.
  • Undertake special projects & translate documents and correspondence, as needed.

Qualifications and Experience:

  • Knowledge of UNHCR’s Mandate, international refugee and/or human rights law
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills. Attention to detail required.
  • A high level of computer proficiency. Familiarity with electronic databases preferred and strong proficiency with Microsoft Excel required.
  • Ability to multi-task and prioritize with minimal supervision.
  • Fluency in English required; fluency in Spanish or another foreign language (Arabic, French, other) highly preferred.

Intern Expectations:

Interns will participate in a range of activities within the Caribbean Protection Unit and will become familiar with the daily realities of working in a large humanitarian organization. The overarching objectives of the internship from the perspective of the intern are (i) to gain a deeper knowledge of the international legal frameworks governing the organization’s interventions, particularly as they apply to the work of UNHCR in the Caribbean region; and (ii) to practice and develop writing and analysis skills and other professional working skills, such as project and time management, prioritization, team work, presentation skills, and drafting. Interns are directly involved in operational aspects of our work, including the maintenance of databases of information on asylum-seekers and refugees, assisting with special events, other administrative work.

Timeframe:                4 – 6 months

Location:                   UNHCR Regional Office in Washington, DC, USA

Remuneration:          Unfortunately, UNHCR is not in a position to pay interns, and cannot provide scholarships or living or moving stipends.


Please send your complete applications, including your resume, cover letter with dates of availability, a brief writing sample, and a list of three professional references, to: UNHCR, 1800 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20036, via email at and note in the subject line CARIBBEAN PROTECTION UNIT INTERNSHIP.