Remembering our colleagues Nadia, Jessica and Jackson
Our co-workers paid the ultimate price striving to protect people in some of the most challenging places where UNHCR works. Read about their lives here.
Nadia Adam Abaker Ali
Love, compassion and a big smile are among the qualities that Nadia Adam Abaker Ali, 40, brought to her work keeping refugees displaced by war – particularly children and women – safe in Darfur, Sudan.
“Nadia was one of the most hard working and dedicated colleagues,” recalls Jyldyz Moldalieva, a protection officer who worked with her in Nyala, Sudan.
“She was a true humanitarian with a loving and a compassionate heart who worked hard to make a difference in the lives of refugees, especially refugee women and children.”
Nadia joined UNHCR in 2010 in Nyala, as a Community Services Assistant, helping Sudanese who fled the war in Darfur. From 2012, she was on the frontline receiving an influx of thousands of refugees, most of them women and children, from the crises that erupted in neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.
“She was a true humanitarian with a loving and a compassionate heart."
She had responsibility for making sure that refugees were safe from sexual and gender-based violence and received proper, quality basic services. She ensured that child refugees from CAR enrolled in primary and secondary schools where they could get recognized qualifications and, crucially, a chance to build a future.
“Nadia was more than just a colleague. She was a sister to everyone and a dear friend,” says Moldalieva. “She always cared for the people around her, and was always willing to provide any support needed and comfort.”
With a degree in health sciences, Nadia also used her expertise to strengthen the medical referral system for refugees, making sure each received timely and quality attention and were treated with dignity and fairness.
The daily challenges she faced in Darfur left her undaunted. She was recognized for her good judgement, exceptional performance and professionalism, and for always coming up with recommendations for actions for those in her care. Last October, she was promoted to Assistant Protection Officer.
Proficient in Arabic, Nadia worked as a health specialist in Nyala and Khartoum before joining UNHCR. She leaves behind a husband and a daughter, aged six.
“Nadia touched the hearts of everyone she worked with,” says Moldalieva. “She will be remembered as a positive and a cheerful person with a big smile that would not leave others indifferent.”
Generous, dedicated and utterly committed to helping those in greatest need, Canadian Jessica Hyba, 43, had been working as Senior External Relations Officer with UNHCR in Mogadishu since February.
Seeking an assignment in one of the toughest countries where UNHCR is engaged was typical of Jessica, say colleagues, who remember her energy, tenacity and sheer dedication to helping the most vulnerable.
“Jessica wanted to go into the deep field and difficult duty stations and high-risk duty stations,” recalls Julia Schtivelman-Watt, head of service for assignments and talent mobilization at UNHCR. “She definitely liked a challenge, but most of all she wanted to go closer to the beneficiaries, where the work really matters.”
Assigned to Somalia at a time when the country is striving to overcome nearly three decades of civil war and displacement, Jessica was tasked with managing relationships with donors, reporting the needs and impact of UNHCR’s operations there and encouraging support.
She joined UNHCR in Iraq in 2013, where she gained plaudits for her exceptional contribution to helping Syrian refugees, and internally displaced Iraqis, during an intense period of rolling emergencies. Jessica later moved to UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, where she continued to work on the Middle East and North Africa. She subsequently transferred to human resources, where she is remembered for her conscientiousness, her ability to always see the positive, and for championing interns.
“What the world needs are more people like Jess ... We must all aspire to act as she did."
“She felt very deeply about their conditions of service,” Schtivelman-Watt recalls, noting how Jessica initiated a dialogue that led to a new policy which enables UNHCR to offset some of the costs incurred by interns. “She certainly did not give up on anything … She was always able to step in and make sure that everything was done.”
Jessica’s dedication to humanitarian work reached back years. She earned a master’s degree in public policy from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Prior to joining UNHCR, Jessica had a long and distinguished service with Care Canada, Care International and UNICEF. She leaves behind close family, including two daughters, aged nine and 12, for whom she had immeasurable love.
“Jess's greatest happiness and achievement was her two daughters,” recalls her friend and colleague George Ghikas. “They meant everything to her. She always put them first. Smothering them with hugs and love.”
He and other friends remember Jessica as a “force of nature, the glue that bonded her friends together and the life and soul of any social gathering.” They list other qualities that included empathy, organizational and leadership skills, a sense of humour and zest for life. They remember how she loved exploring the outdoors with her girls, on nature and camping trips, especially in Canada and France.
“Jess discovered the world by helping people, helping refugees. She was generous, an organizer, a giver, and that came across in what she chose to do with her life. We are so proud of her.
“What the world needs are more people like Jess. Losing Jess in such a tragic way reminds us of that. We must all aspire to act as she did. She will be deeply missed.”
Jovial, fun, down to earth, and always ready to go the extra mile to help those in a time of great need were qualities that defined Rwandan Jackson Musoni, 31.
He joined UNHCR in 2014, in Butare, Rwanda. Colleagues at the field office in Huye, in the south of the country, remember him as passionate about his work and always ready to go above and beyond, particularly to help children.
“One time he came across an unaccompanied minor and took on that case, taking the child’s hand and going to the office to make sure colleagues prioritized the registration,” recalls Marie Claire Umutoniwase, a programme associate who worked with Jackson three years ago.
“He was very down to earth and he talked to everyone, from the most senior officials to the support staff. He interacted with everyone in a fun and jovial way,” she says, noting that he was also “very ambitious, trying to learn as much as possible from everyone.”
Working in Rwanda as a Senior Protection Assistant, Jackson received and counselled Congolese refugees arriving at Kigeme camp, where he identified and supported those who were especially vulnerable, among them children and survivors of sexual violence. He was recognized for his high level of integrity, respect and professionalism.
"Jackson was a genuine humanitarian ... whose footprints will remain forever."
Since late 2017, Jackson had been working as Associate Field Coordinator in Sudan’s East Darfur, where his colleagues recall how he started each day greeting everyone from the security guards at the gate up to staff and visitors throughout the field office.
“Every single person in East Darfur operation believes that the sudden and unexpected death of Jackson has left a vacuum that can never be filled,” his colleague Mohamed Ali says.
“Every agency considers that Jackson was part of their team and Jackson, by and large, was a genuine humanitarian worker, whose footprints will remain forever in the East Darfur operation.”
From 2011 to 2014, Jackson worked for the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
A graduate in international relations from the University of Johannesburg, in South Africa, Jackson also had a Master’s degree in law and political science from Mount Kenya University in Kigali, Rwanda.
His friend and colleague Steve Nzaramba remembers his warmth and enthusiasm, and his skill on the basketball court in Rwanda.
“He was an energetic and vibrant person … who almost always had a smile on his face and just a wonderful human being,” he says. “He will be greatly missed. The court will never be the same without him.”
The close family he leaves behind include three children, aged eight, five and four.