Preparations for UNHCR’s Global Service Centre in Budapest are well under way

Thursday 4, October 2007 Budapest, October 4 (UNHCR) – In a modern yellow stone and glass building in Ipoly Street in downtown Budapest all signs are on Go. It is here that UNHCR’s new Global Service Centre is being established, an administrative and support service centre for UNHCR’s Geneva Headquarters. […]

Thursday 4, October 2007

Budapest, October 4 (UNHCR) – In a modern yellow stone and glass building in Ipoly Street in downtown Budapest all signs are on Go. It is here that UNHCR’s new Global Service Centre is being established, an administrative and support service centre for UNHCR’s Geneva Headquarters. Enda Savage, leader of a five-person advance team manages the whole process.

Savage and his team are constantly meeting government, architects, builders, telecom companies, negotiating contracts and agreements with suppliers and keeping contractors on their toes. “This is a brand new office building and UNHCR will occupy four of the six floors,” says Savage. So far the Advance Team uses one large office room.

The most high-ranking visitor at the Budapest Support Centre (BSC) so far was Deputy High Commissioner L. Craig Johnstone who inspected the new premises during a one-day mission on 27 September.

The team is proceeding fast. “A Government Decree was signed on 29 August. Now we are working on the agreement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and UNHCR which will detail the exact responsibilities for both sides. The agreement is almost finalised and is expected to be signed soon,” says Savage.

Currently, the advance team is busy with ensuring the necessary connectivity is established. Telephone and computer lines have to be installed and the building equipped to meet the demanding standards of a globally connected Service Centre.

Government supplied furniture has already been agreed and Savage expects one floor to be fully furnished by early October with the remaining offices being completed before Christmas.

Meanwhile the recruitment of local staff is in full swing. “Our vacancies have already been announced through Profipower, a local recruitment company. They keep receiving interesting applications from all over the world on a daily basis and have already started with assessment centres to identify suitably qualified candidates. After each of these assessments, a number of posts is filled.

Recruitment for the Global Service Centre in Budapest is a staggered process, explains Savage. Until the end of 2007 U NHCR plans to recruit 50 staff and in the first months of 2008 an additional 116. “This figure includes 23 people who will train and instruct the new staff members. Once the introduction period is over in 2009, the Centre will have a total number of 143 staff members,” says Savage.

For reasons of cost effectiveness UNHCR decided to outpost several services from Geneva to Budapest. Those include Human Resources, Finance, Supply Management Service and the Division of Information, Systems and Telecoms. Budapest has been selected for several reasons, one of them being the Hungarian Government’s generous offer to provide top quality premises, equipment, furnishing and office maintenance free of charge for a ten year period.

The advance team will soon move to the new premises. “Currently we are still enjoying ‘asylum’ at UNHCR’s Regional Representation which is located at the other side of the Danube,” Savage says with a laugh before answering yet another urgent call on his mobile phone.

Melita H. Sunjic in Budapest, Hungary