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UNHCR launches new season of award-winning podcast on humanitarian workers

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UNHCR launches new season of award-winning podcast on humanitarian workers

24 May 2019
Switzerland. Melissa Fleming's Awake at Night pod cast season 2
Fabrizio Hochschild (right), UN Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination, sits down with Melissa Fleming, UNHCR's Head of Global Communications, for an interview for the second season of the podcast Awake at Night.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is launching today the second season of its award-winning podcast series Awake at Night, which centres around people dedicating their lives to helping those displaced by war.

Listeners join UNHCR’s Head of Global Communications, Melissa Fleming, in close-up conversations with remarkable humanitarian workers who offer unique insights into how their work has affected them personally and influenced their outlook on humanity. They disclose what drives them to often put themselves in harm’s way, what they have learned from the people they help, and which are the challenges and fears that keep them awake at night.

“These absorbing conversations disclose experiences that can be painful, even shocking, but also tremendously moving and inspiring. They reveal the triumph of humanity amid some of the darkest moments in recent history,” Fleming explains.

On 18 May, the first season of Awake at Night won the silver award in the “Best Branded Podcast” category of the British Podcast Awards. Season 1 features compelling interviews with UNHCR employees who have served in the Caucasus, East and West Africa, South Asia and the Middle East, among other regions. It also includes conversations with writer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Khaled Hosseini and acclaimed war photographer Giles Duley.

Season 2 begins with an in-depth discussion with UN Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination, Fabrizio Hochschild, who started his career at UNHCR. Exposed to conflict early on as a humanitarian worker, he felt invulnerable and impervious to danger. But the savagery he experienced in the 1990s during the Bosnian war stripped away his mental defences.

“Every minute we heard the shells going into Gorazde. And it was like clockwork. Minute after minute after minute, the whole night. We were all convinced that one side or the other was going to come and kill us in the night. I spent half the night praying that I would stay alive and the other half praying that I would suffer a quick death and that there wouldn’t be pain.”

Fearful, ashamed and lonely, he embarked on a years-long, arduous journey to overcome the debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Rising to the position of UN Assistant Secretary-General, he is now committed in helping others to fight the stigma of mental health problems.

The six-part Season 2 will conclude with an interview with actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett.

Awake at Night is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Acast. For more information, visit the webpage

Photos and graphics can be downloaded from Refugees Media: