UNHCR’s new centre in Budapest ready for official inauguration

Thursday 28, February 2008 Budapest, February 28 (UNHCR) – What used to be a construction site only a few weeks ago is a buzzing centre of activities now. With 102 national and 68 international staff UNHCR’s Global Service Centre in Budapest is reaching its full staffing level for 2008 by […]

Thursday 28, February 2008

Budapest, February 28 (UNHCR) – What used to be a construction site only a few weeks ago is a buzzing centre of activities now. With 102 national and 68 international staff UNHCR’s Global Service Centre in Budapest is reaching its full staffing level for 2008 by the end of May.

“UNHCR’s Global Service Centre in Budapest is simultaneously working in two modes: preparatory and full delivery” says Centre Manager Mohamed Boukry. “We have 87 newly recruited staff member who are being trained and prepared for their jobs. At the same time this Centre performs core functions for UNHCR and has to deliver fully even in this transition period.”

The Budapest Service Centre comprises the administrative backbone of UNHCR: Finance, Personnel Administration and Payroll, Recruitment & Posting and Supply Management Units as well as those who support the Support Centre: Telecommunications and Building Management.

Mohamed Boukry is proud of the international young and highly educated team in Budapest: The average age is 32 years with the majority of staff between 25 and 35 years of age. Practically all locally recruited staff members hold academic degrees. 63 % of staff members are female. The majority has work experience in large international companies.

Young and well educated team

“They are dynamic, creative and fast learners”, says Boukry. He is fascinated with the creativity and openness of the staff. “All of them speak English and the second most spoken language, apart from Hungarian, is French.

Although the recruitment was done in Hungary, the BSC has an international team. 75 percent of the newcomers are Hungarian nationals. There are also staff members from other EU countries and Western Balkans. But there are also staff members from Eritrea, Malawi and Venezuela.

Orientation programmes and training activities started well in advance in order to ensure a smooth transition even through the period of move from Geneva. After a general orientation about the mandate and operations of UNHCR and its working environment, the new recruits received job focused training.

“Colleagues from Headquarters are contributing to the successful knowledge transfer. They help filling the gaps by continuous coaching, mentoring and ad-hoc training secession,” says Boukry.

Future training sessions will be organised in different areas of basic knowledge such as UNHCR’s Code of Conduct, international protection, security, staff rules and regulations, career management etc.

All ready in eight months

The official inauguration of the new UNCHR building will take place on 29 February in the presence of High Commissioner Antonio Guterres and Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz after only eight months of preparations.

In June 2007 UNHCR decided to outpost these units to Budapest, following a generous offer of new office building in downtown Budapest by the Hungarian Government. A small advance team arrived in July to prepare the premises and start recruiting and training new staff. The move of the concerned units started in January.

Melita H. Sunjic in Budapest, Hungary