Job description

Hardship Level (not applicable for home-based)

H (no hardship)

Family Type (not applicable for home-based)


Staff Member / Affiliate Type

CONTR Local Professional Level

Target Start Date


Job Posting End Date

May 12, 2024

Terms of Reference

  • General Background of Project or Assignment:

UNHCR is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. Every year, millions of men, women and children are forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution. We are in over 125 countries, using our expertise to protect and care for millions.

Refugee Status Determination, or RSD, is the legal or administrative process by which governments or UNHCR determine whether a person seeking international protection is considered a refugee under international, regional or national law. RSD is often a vital process in helping refugees realize their rights under international law.

States have the primary responsibility to conduct RSD, however, UNHCR may conduct RSD under its mandate when a State is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and/or does not have a fair and efficient national asylum procedure in place.

The core standards and best practices to ensure harmonized, efficient and quality RSD procedures, including reception and registration, are presented in the “Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCR’s Mandate.” The adoption and implementation of these revised procedural standards is essential to harmonizing RSD and ensuring that persons of concern and the international community continue to have confidence in the fairness, integrity and quality of UNHCR decision-making.

In situations where UNHCR conducts RSD under its mandate, UNHCR continues to explore and implement measures to enhance the effectiveness of its RSD response.

The Asylum Systems and Determination (ASD) Section within the Division of International Protection, exercises oversight of UNHCR’s mandate RSD operations, seeking to ensure appropriate levels of consistency in approach and adherence to global standards. In coordination with UNHCR’s Regional Bureaux, the ASD Section supports operations in undertaking mandate RSD in a more strategic manner, with mandate RSD being one of multiple available protection tools.

Under UNHCR’s Executive Office, the UNHCR Innovation Service is committed to creating an enabling environment for innovation to flourish within UNHCR. The Innovation Service staff with the knowledge, resources, and skills to ensure that they can create value for people forced to flee with novel ideas. UNHCR Innovation incentivizes innovation through funding and providing technical support by creating an enabling environment for experimentation to take place across the organization. For this reason, the Innovation Service is committed to trigger future-oriented thinking and provide sets of options for the organization to accelerate its efficiency in delivering its mandate, improve its organizational efficiency and to be better prepared for the future.

The ASD Section in UNHCR works in collaboration with the UNHCR Innovation Service under the UNHCR Data Innovation Fund to conduct data science-based research on internal datasets under their scope of oversight to enhance the efficiency of RSD procedures.

  • Occupational Safety and Health Considerations

To view occupational safety and health considerations for specific duty stations, please visit this link:

Specific Occupational Safety and Health Considerations to this assignment (if applicable):

The individual contractor will be solely responsible for taking out and for maintaining adequate insurance required to meet any of his/her obligations under the ccontract, as well as for arranging, at his/her sole expense, such life, health and other forms of as the individual contractor may consider to be appropriate to cover the period during which the individual consultant provides services under the contract. The individual contractor acknowledges and agrees that none of the insurance arrangements the individual consultant may make shall, in any way, be construed to limit the individual consultant’s liability arising under or relating to the contract.

Obtaining proof of mandatory medical evacuation insurance is a precondition for the issuance of a contract. The individual contractor’s health insurance must be valid for the duty station and any other duty station(s) to which the contractor is expected to travel during the engagement. It must provide adequate coverage. The individual contractor must submit an attestation to UNHCR prior to the signature of the contract, certifying that this insurance covers travel related illnesses, injuries and medical evacuation.

UNHCR has no responsibility for any costs connected to insurance or medical care of the individual contractor. As of 01 March 2022, it is mandatory for all UNHCR personnel to be FULLY vaccinated against COVID-19 before recruitment.

  • Overall Purpose and Scope of Assignment:

Concise and detailed description of activities, including measurable outputs and delivery dates, impact indicators (what qualitative and quantitative results would be achieved upon completion of individual contract), performance indicators (time lines, value of the service rendered in relation to the cost, timeliness) and work plan:


Literature Review: Review and documentation of experiences in the use of data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning for identification of roadblocks in government asylum systems or UNHCR-led asylum procedures; and/or anomalies detection, with an ethical and human rights-based approach.

Use UNHCR RSD procedural standards as benchmark to compare all processes steps against literature review.

Documentation of methodology for statistical analysis: together and through initial working meetings with the UNHCR team, develop a proposal for statistical analysis based on data science techniques. Develop methodologies to control other variables (caseloads, RSD cases processing strategies, staffing and material resources etc.) taking into consideration internal data systems, such as:

Additional Data collection: ProGres (via DataPort) extraction and mining of data from different databases assigned or shared by the UNHCR team.

Mapping of RSD processes and variables.

Interviews with key stakeholders to understand process flow and identify variables that alter the RSD processing timelines.

Considering the data collection and methodology developed, define the pilot countries for the implementation project.


  • Deliver the literature review report in Word.doc or PDF on the main findings, no more than 10 pages.
  • Examples of literature review reports related to ASD are:
  • Case Study Canada
  • Case Germany and this article
  • AFAR research
  • Comparison matrix of methodology chosen, similar to this one (Peru CBI)
  • Deliver a report in Word.doc or PDF, no more than 5 pages, similar to this one (Peru CBI)
  • Scripts for parsing/mining different datasets (Code: Python, or R or any SQL, etc. parsing scripts)
  • Raw data collection
  • Data catalogue & dictionary in excel


Data cleaning: Development of imputation measures for the treatment of missing data, and elimination of duplicates. As well as establishing measures to highlight outliers and ensure reliable statistical sampling. Determine if there are data quality issues that prevent the analysis being undertaken and make proposals as to how this could be addressed.


  • All databases' files compiled during the data cleaning and collection process for Spreadsheet format (e.g., .csv, .xlsx)
  • Cleaning scripts.


Exploratory Data Analysis: (EDA) graphical visualization of 1) univariate numerical analysis (e.g., histograms), bivariate (e.g., boxplots, scatterplots, pairplots, etc) and multivariate (e.g., correlation matrices) and 2) categorical text analysis and processing and visualization of other categorical variables. Identify meaningful trends are identified in the analysis: 3) outline potential tools that could be provided because of the analysis for RSD managers/staff in Operations/Bureaux/HQ and their processing timelines.

Profiling roadblocks: Propose statistical techniques to assess whether the data points available in UNHCR case management systems, in combination with other data points coming from other UNHCR systems, as available (i.e., scheduling tools), are sufficient to identify bottlenecks in process. For example, what are the most important variables or characteristics to determine roadblocks


  • Open-source notebook and repository: send the .Rmd file (for R files) or .ipynb (for Python Jupyter) and publication of notebooks in UNHCR repository (e.g., UNHCR DevOps repository). Similar to this one: Peru Livelihood team Python Juptyer notebook
  • Both in EDA notebook scripts and a narrative report stating the outliers and block roads. Report format must be similar to this one, outliers per topic. (e.g. Peru Livelihoods report)
  • And narrative within analytical report attached to it (as seen in the link above)


Draft: Final Analytical Report: summary of the most important discoveries and variable analysis for feedback for UNHCR teams and validation workshop.

Presentation: slide presentation (e.g., PowerPoint) detailing the analytical report extensively, including all report annexes, all graphics, and all models. No slide limit.


findings of the relationship between variables and the model(s). Concise and brief report. Must include annexes and the most outstanding graphs.

  • Presentation slide deck (e.g., PowerPoint) detailing the analytical report extensively, including all report annexes, all graphics, and all models. No slide limit.
  • Presentation of results: presentation of results and the entire process followed (activities 1 to 7) in a webinar with the UNHCR team


Data Visualization: (e.g. Dashboard and/or scripts)


  • Elaboration and Presentation of data dashboard (ideal PowerBI, as is UNHCR official dashboard tool) but also acceptable in any software/open source preferred language: Example Peru CBI PowerBI
  • Dashboard file/scripts


Final version: analytical report plus, Feasibility analysis: adapt analytical report with feedback provided by UNHCR and carry out a feasibility and feasibility analysis on interoperability recommendations for data engineer. Must include implementation recommendations for the UNHCR team and a data engineer to connect datasets on back end in a smoother way.


  • Final analytical report adapted with feedback provided by UNHCR teams. As extensive as needed but with summary and preliminary results. recommendations in first pages.
  • Final recommendations on feasibility and interoperability: Report in Word.doc or PDF on the main recommendations (2-5 pages max

In order to meet the demand for this new stream of work, the team requires a data scientist to support the above activities to and work together with a data-engineer to develop the needed data pipeline. The successful candidate will assume responsibility for the streaming of relevant data, as well as structuring the research and documenting the full process, justifying the design choices and coordinating with the data engineer while iterating through the project implementation. We look for candidates who have a proven track record and passion for solving real-world problems with data, and are confident in their ability to collaborate and orchestrate data science research, working independently and willingly to learn and understand UNHCR’s refugee status determination procedures.

  • Required level, qualifications and work experience:

Level of responsibilities required (mark as appropriate) for individual contractors and fellows:

0 Entry Level Support 0 Mid-Level Support 0 Senior Level Support 0 Local Professional Level 0 Junior Level Professional 0 Senior Level Professional


1 The assignment is for an Individual Consultant

Qualification and experience required (degree required, years of work experience, field of expertise, language required):

  • Minimum 4 years’ experience working on similar projects (data science research). Ideal candidate will have also experience in humanitarian, development and/or refugee settings data analytics.
  • Ideal candidate: Experience in working for UN organizations / International organizations / NGOs /Data Public Sector.
  • MSc degree in social sciences (e.g. economics, international relations, political science or similar discipline) with data science background and/or engineering/computer science background: Information systems, computational social science, computational Linguistics, applied statistics or similar.
  • OR equivalent experience in theoretical and applied data science in humanitarian settings and/or UNHCR.
  • Foundational knowledge of data science methodologies
  • Some experience with data engineering.
  • Experience working with data science and machine learning techniques for quantitative and qualitative data analysis, data structures and modelling.
  • Advance knowledge in R and Python notebooks.
  • Experience working with data engineering teams.
  • Experience using GitHub, Microsoft Azure DevOps or other version control code repository.
  • Experience working with virtual machines and cloud computing 
  • Experience in relational databases (e.g. Postgres/SQL)
  • Experience in text analytics and basic text-based analytics (unstructured data analytics)
  • A solid understanding of data anonymization best-practices
  • Experience of independently driving a project from idea to research and documentation
  • A track record of having worked in cross functional collaboration or in client-facing project.
  • Experience in using project management software (e.g. MS project management, Asana, Trello) online or any other ticketing system (e.g. JIRA, ServiceNow)
  • Excellent communication, presentation, facilitation and interpersonal skills.
  • Experience implementing data science analysis in the humanitarian sector is a plus.
  • Monitoring and Progress Controls (report requirements, periodicity, format, deadlines):
  • The final product (e.g. survey completed, data collected, workshop conducted, research documents produced specify):

The data scientist is expected to work in close collaboration with a focal point for monitoring an evaluation of the project and the activities implemented.

The final product (e.g. survey completed, data collected, workshop conducted, research documents produced specify): Based on the deliverables detailed in section 3 above.

  • Work on the basis of time employed: Yes 1 No 0 per deliverable
  • If it is to result in a written product specify:
  • Number of pages: As stated in deliverables table under section 3

ii. Language(s): English

iii. Number of copies: 1

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Other Information

This position doesn't require a functional clearance



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