L3 Emergencies and High Priority Countries


Education Clusters function very differently from country to country. Some Clusters operate at a low level of activity and have adequate capacity to fulfil their responsibilities; others are under pressure to scale-up or oversee complex coordination processes and find their capacity over-stretched.  For a small group of countries at the extreme end of this latter group, more global support is needed.

Level 3 Emergencies

By designating a crisis a Humanitarian System Wide Emergency -  Level 3 (L3) emergency – the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), in coordination with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Principals, aims to mobilise the resources, leadership and capacity of the humanitarian system to respond to exceptional circumstances. A common misperception about L3 declarations is that it designates the degree of severity of humanitarian conditions. In fact, an L3 declaration means that the IASC affirm that those crises require a system-wide mobilization to significantly increase the scale of the response and improve the overall effectiveness of assistance. But, obviously, all of the countries with L3 designations suffer grave humanitarian consequences.

The decision to designate an L3 emergency is based on five criteria: the scale, urgency and complexity of the needs, as well as the lack of domestic capacity to respond and the reputational risk for the humanitarian system. In 2013, there were three L3 designations: for the responses to the conflicts in Syria and Central African Republic (CAR, downgraded to L2 in May 2015) and to the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (the response was downgraded to L2 in February 2014). In 2014, there were two additional L3 declaration: South Sudan and Iraq. In July 2015, Yemen was declared a L3 emergency.

Click on the country name to get more information about the emergency context and Education Cluster work and contacts:

Previous L3 emergencies:

  • Philippines – typhoon Haiyan (November 2013-February 2014)
  • Central African Republic (December 2013 – May 2015).

High Priority Countries

Besides L3 emergencies, there are other countries in need of additional support from the Education Cluster Unit (ECU), the Global Co-Lead Agencies and global members of the Education Cluster. The main criteria used by the global Education Cluster to identify and assist those countries in need of additional support are:

  • Countries where there is an acute crisis, or sudden escalation of an ongoing crisis, that requires a concerted humanitarian response and recovery effort.  Likely triggers might include a newly activated Education Cluster or the launch of a Crisis/Strategic Response Plan within the last year.
  • Large-scale/regional or particularly complex operations.
  • Countries that are rated high priority with increased preparedness/response required by the IASC Early Warning/Early Action Report, or other indicators of impending crisis.

Beyond these criteria, regional UNICEF Advisors and Save the Children Focal Points for specific countries suggest additional/different countries for consideration.

Current high priority countries include:

Support from the global Education Cluster

L3 emergency and high priority country cluster staff communicate regularly with global staff. They receive remote technical guidance and are prioritized for additional staff deployments including Rapid Response Team support and ECU mission to provide surge capacity for specific tasks. For a detailed list of deployments in 2016, read our quarterly updates.

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