High Commissioner impressed by staff and premises of new Budapest Service Center

Friday 29, February 2008 Budapest, February 29 (UNHCR) – On Friday High Commissioner Antonio Guterres and the Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz signed an agreement on UNHCR’s new Global Service Centre in Budapest and officially inaugurated the building. Budapest was chosen because of the quality of staff and the excellent […]

Friday 29, February 2008

Budapest, February 29 (UNHCR) – On Friday High Commissioner Antonio Guterres and the Hungarian Foreign Minister Kinga Göncz signed an agreement on UNHCR’s new Global Service Centre in Budapest and officially inaugurated the building. Budapest was chosen because of the quality of staff and the excellent premises offered by the Government.

After the joint cutting of the ribbon the High Commissioner expressed his deep appreciation for the Hungarian Government which has proved extremely generous and cooperative. Guterres said that Budapest has been chosen among 20 competing locations worldwide for its favourable conditions.

“It was not only the wonderful premises but also the qualifications of the labour force available,” said the High Commissioner. “95 percent of staff recruited in Hungary hold one or more university degrees.”

In her short address the Hungarian Fore in Minister underlined how honoured and privileged her government felt because of UNHCR’s choice to establish the Global Service Centre in Budapest. On a more emotional note Ms Göncz said that “Ever since 1956 the ties between Hungarians and UNHCR were much stronger than those of working relations. “We are attached to the organisation that provided so much care, assistance and love to Hungarians who were then forced to flee their country,” said Ms Göncz.

In 2006, UNHCR decided last year to outpost a number of administrative units such as Finance, several services Personnel Administration services and Supply Management from its Headquarters in Geneva. This plan was fully backed by donor countries as a financially beneficial solution.

Budapest was chosen from a number of options because the Hungarian government generously offered UNCHR new top-class office premises in the centre of the capital. The premises are provided free of charge including office equipment, furnishing and maintenance.

During his six hours stay in Budapest the Guterres met with Hungary’s President Laszlo Solyom, and the Minister of Justice and Law Enforcement, Tibor Draskovics who is in charge of asylum matters.

Today, after only eight months of preparations the Centre is already fully operational. The actual move of the Geneva units took place in January.

There are 170 posts at the Budapest Service Centre, 102 locally recruited and 68 international staff. 75 percent of the locally recruited staff are Hungarian nationals. The new team is multilingual and highly educated.

Currently the Centre is simultaneously delivering its global administrative services to the organisation and introducing and training the new staff.

Melita H. Sunjic in Budapest, Hungary