George Micheni, UN Volunteer Associate Refugee Status Determination Officer, Liberia
George (Kenya) gained professional experience as a staff assistant in refugee status determination in Egypt. In Liberia, he is now in charge of ensuring that refugee status claims are handled according to UNHCR and government standards.
Despite facing challenges in protecting refugees, he collaborates with local and government authorities onrefugee status approvals. In 2019, he succeeded for 14 out of 46 claimants in Liberia, 50 per cent of these women. Since the beginning of 2020, he has facilitated the approval of nine new refugee claims.
George has supported establishing standard operating procedures for file management, registration and refugee status determination, as well as the establishment of the government asylum committee. He was also an integral part of training staff to improve interviews and assessments, while providing excellent support to the office in resettlement issues, including legal solutions. --Lisa Quarshie, Senior Durable Solutions Officer with UNHCR, Liberia
Jean Henri Ngom, UN Volunteer Associate Protection Officer, Central African Republic
In his assignment, Jean (Cameroon) supports the protection of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons. He also assists with relocation and repatriation, as well as integration of those who decide to settle in their host communities. His first duty is to make sure that all human rights are respected and minimum living conditions respected.
Jean was assigned in Paoua, 500 km from Bangui in the northwest of the country, during the security crisis in the country from December 2017 to June 2018. He supported 3,000 families to find home thanks to strong collaboration with the International Organization for Migration aand the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). In 2018, 76,000 people benefitted from humanitarian aid delivered through UNHCR and other UN entities.
Currently, Jean serves in Birao, 1,087 km from Bangui, where he provides support to almost 10,000 refugees on the Chadian and Sudanese borders, despite rainy weather conditions.
Gneneba Camara Kone, UN Volunteer Community Services Assistant, Mali
Gneneba has been serving communities with UNHCR since 2017, supporting beneficiaries through situations like the current COVID-19 pandemic. She is currently in charge of raising awareness towards refugee communities, and distributing protection and handwashing kits within the camps located in Bamako.
In April 2020, after a fire broke out in the camp of Faladié, south of Bamako, Gneneba used the opportunity to ensure the protection of refugees and displaced persons, but also provide food and COVID-19 awareness kits.
As part of World Refugee Day activities, she visited some refugees, including an Ivoirian tailor producing protection masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gneneba is also monitoring the Ivoirian refugee community to ensure that awareness raising of COVID-19 is still ongoing and restrictive measures are being respected.
Gneneba's primary duties are to make sure that refugee voices are heard in designing health, education and food distribution projects, and to help refugee students keep up with schooling, while informing parents about the importance of education for their children.
She ensures that health is prioritized in caring for refugees, especially the most vulnerable. She also participated in an event against gender-based violence, and held awareness sessions during the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation (6 February), International Women's Day (8 March), and during the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence.
Thanks to Gneneba's contribution, a climate of trust has grown between refugees and UNHCR.
Ayda Labassi, UN Volunteer External Relations Officer, and Aissata Kone, Public Information Assistant, Mali
To publicize refugee issues for donors and partners, UNHCR also works with UN Volunteers to inform about results delivered in the field. Ayda (Tunisia) and Aissata (Mali, in photo) provide news to colleagues and partners, in addition to donors, to ensure they are well-informed. Ayda also drafts reports and was organizing events with donors before the COVID-19 outbreak. With Aissata and other colleagues, they enrich their information feed with pictures, articles and social media coverage from activities, and provide press reviews and reports.
Ayda and Aissata have particularly informed about the distribution of sanitary kits in communities – 150 handwashing kits, 67 packs of soap, 690 masks and 164 bottles of hydroalcoholic gel – to the Malian Refugee Union to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
They provided food and living support kits to 91 households after the fire in the Faladjé refugee camp, in collaboration with the Islamic Relief non-governmental organization. In addition, the volunteers held 10 awareness-raising sessions about COVID-19, including two sessions for people with special needs, and eight about livelihoods.
Currently, 285 UN Volunteers are deployed with the UN Refugee Agency in West and Central Africa, including 154 international and 131 nationals. Of these volunteers, 55 per cent are female.