132 UNHCR staff to be posted in Budapest in 2008

Wednesday 13, June 2007 Budapest, June 13 (UNHCR) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has decided to outpost a number of administrative and support functions from its Headquarters in Geneva to Budapest. In all, UNHCR will move 132 posts (41 international and 91 locally recruited staff) to […]

Wednesday 13, June 2007

Budapest, June 13 (UNHCR) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has decided to outpost a number of administrative and support functions from its Headquarters in Geneva to Budapest. In all, UNHCR will move 132 posts (41 international and 91 locally recruited staff) to the Hungarian capital. The process will start in September 2007.

Currently, Budapest hosts the Refugee Agency’s Regional Representation for Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia with 15 staff members (9 locally recruited and six international). UNHCR first established an office in Budapest in October 1989. It was the first UN organisation to open an office in Hungary.

The High Commissioner, António Guterres, had to choose between four short-listed locations, Bucharest, Chennai, Kuala Lumpur and Budapest. Those cities were selected in a months long evaluation process that involved two external consultancies, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, intense internal discussions and negotiations with governments. Donors fully support the outposting plan.

Budapest turned out to be the best option for a number of reasons: costs of transition, accessibility, convenience of time zone, availability of languages other than English, privileges and immunities as well as government support.

The Hungarian Government has offered UNHCR top class premises in the centre of Budapest. They are provided free of charge and include the equipment, furnishing and maintenance of those offices. These conditions significantly increase the financial benefits foreseen in the PricewaterhouseCoopers study.

An implementation team in Budapest will start preparations for outposting in September 2007. Between January and June 2008, functions will be relocated unit by unit. The following UNHCR services are involved: Personal Administration and Payroll Section, Recruitment and Postings Section, Finance Section, Treasury, and the Supply Management Service.

International staff members will be reassigned to Budapest, while support staff will be recruited locally.

For staff members at UNHCR’s Geneva Headquarters who are affected by post reductions, UNHCR offers automatic eligibility for voluntary separation programmes, increased indemnity payments, career and transition counselling and assistance with identifying and securing alternative job opportunities.

Melita Sunjic in Budapest, Hungary