World Humanitarian Day with UNHCR staff

Every year, on 19 August, we commemorate the World Humanitarian Day. Today, on this very special occasion UNHCR Ukraine is proud to introduce some of its colleagues, who have served in the areas of emergency.

Despite all the hardships and uncertainty in new places, our colleagues are solely devoted to serving those in run from violence, persecution and other danger both coming from human and nature. South Sudan, Iraq, Chad, DRC, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Jordan, Djibouti, Myanmar, Libya is just a small list of locations where UNHCR staff provides life-saving assistance, safeguards the rights and well-being of refugees as well as seeks ways to reduce situations of forced displacement. By these stories, we want to bring you closer to our work, celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the world, and to support global call for action to protect humanitarian workers, as they are #NotATarget. Please, get to know some of our colleagues:

Hanifa Karimi, worked in Iraq and has been based in Amman, Jordan, since 2014 as an Associate Resettlement Officer. Hanifa is a Head or Pre-Resettlement Section and manages a team, which is responsible for assessment and screening of identified cases for resettlement. Mainly her team works on resettlement of Syrian and refugees of other nationalities from Urban and Camp settlements in Jordan. When asked about most memorable moments for her, Hanifa tells about the time when she was conducting resettlement and refugee status determination interviews with Syrian refugees. Listening to the stories and experiences of refugees from their own perspective is very special even though not easy. Often the experiences refugees go through are extremely painful and saddening. However, seeing the courage and strength of a refugee sharing his/her pain and story with a smile is very exceptional. “It makes me feel blessed and more encouraged for having the opportunity of working for refugees and being able to bring at least some smallest positive change in the lives of some of them”. On this photo Hanifa counseling a refugee in Registration center in Amman office, year 2018.

Oksana Olifirovych, now working for UNHCR in Kigali, Rwanda, reflects on her time in Chad from January 2013 until April 2015 working on the resettlement of Central African refugees to the US and Europe. Working in Spartan conditions out of a remote field office Oksana faced many challenges, including not having an office in the camp and conducting resettlement assessments in the open air or using local refugee accommodation. UNHCR realized there was little chance to safely repatriate the CAR refugees who had fled conflicts as far back as 2002 or for them to successfully integrate into Chadian society and that the only possible and durable solution was third country resettlement. Oksana worked on establishing strong cases for resettlement and facilitation of departures and capacity building with local partners. Oksana spoke of the emotional scenes on departure days as refugees left loved on es for a  new life in very different countries. Despite the challenges, Oksana spoke of her excitement about her work, her love of Chad and her fond memories of life in the “village charmant de Belom”. On the photo: Oksana waiting for the counselling to start under the “resettlement tree” in the middle of the Belom refugee camp in Chad, 2013-2015

Sergii Lavrukhin, finished his assignment in Jordan several weeks ago and is expecting a new one, in Kabul, to start in the beginning of September. He was serving in Jordan for 2.5 years at Sub-Office Mafraq, specifically covering Za’atari Refugee Camp. He was a Protection focal point for the camp, running case management, CP/SGBV and field protection response along with a team of 15 national colleagues. The most memorable experience throughout all his time in Za’atari Sergii recalls the amazing resilience of Syrian refugees, their unbeatable desire to return home, the dignity and perseverance they showed on the daily basis in exile living in very difficult conditions at the camp for refugees and their families. Another feature that Sergii names among things he will remember is how welcoming and supportive the Jordanian people and the government are towards the refugees. On the photo: Back in 2014 in South Sudan, on the way to Adong area in Upper Nile to assess the needs of IDPs and returnees there. Yet sometimes all the team had to work collectively to push vehicles through!

Tetiana Burkat, has worked with the UNHCR mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo since December 2017 facing a varietyof challenges in one of the most complex and challenging humanitarian crises in the world. The UNHCR at the place ensures international protection and provides multi sectoral assistance to IDPs, returnees and refugees from neighbouring countries. Tetiana has performed varied tasks since her arrival, starting with preparing detailed Supplementary Budget Appeals including for IDP Emergency Response, developing project partnerships in Bukavu and managing a Sub-office in Kanaga. Tetiana then took up a permanent position at the Head Office in Kinshasa coordinating and supervising the work of other staff. Reflecting on her time in DRC Tetiana outlined the challenges facing many expatriate UNHCR staff and the importance of mutual support, community and friendship to help dealing with difficult environments, not least having to communicate mainly in French, said Tetiana with a smile.

This is Olena Turchyn, she was as a Team Leader at the Attica Field Office in Greece, working with refugees in the Eleonas camp, which accommodated over 2,000 asylum seekers. The team supported Greek authorities who managed the camp. UNHCR provided cash based interventions, individual counselling, registration and ensured arriving refugees reached the camps safely. Olena has many memorable experiences from her staying in Greece, but highlights the following: “I was generally impressed at how humane and well organized local communities in Greece are. Their openness, compassion, self-organization and ability to mobilize themselves during crisis is truly impressive”.

These are only five stories from the many similar ones shared by the UNHCR staff worldwide, which we publish to highlight the commitment of UNHCR to helping refugees and other people at risk of displacement all over the world as well as to acknowledge the selfless contribution of all our colleagues, UNHCR partners, other humanitarian actors focused at easing the plight of the world’s most vulnerable citizens.