Identity, to me, is what we share when we introduce ourselves to others. It includes the traditions of our country of origin or the language we speak, our religious practices, family customs, hometown festivals and more. Now, imagine if your very identity was continuously challenged – only because you were forced to flee your place of origin due to precarious circumstances like war, political unrest or climate change. This is the reality that asylum seekers, refugees and anyone unwillingly displaced from home, face every day.
National UN Volunteer Iryna Koval has been supporting OCHA as a Humanitarian Affairs Specialist since March 2019. Soon, she will start her new position as a coordination and monitoring consultant with the World Health Organization (WHO), a key partner in addressingÂ COVID-19.
At the onset of the pandemic, OCHA and its partners re-oriented their work in eastern Ukraine to address the health emergency and the current need for humanitarian aid.
My role in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is an interesting one. I lead the Media Relations Team for the mission’s Communications and Public Information section. My day begins bright and early at 5:45am, when I compile the day’s media monitoring report, highlighting key political, economic and social issues, both in South Sudan and internationally.
My work as UN staff member has been incredibly important in helping me develop new skills and qualities through peacekeeping missions, but the most valuable learning experiences came from my time as a UN Volunteer. This was challenging, inspiring, rewarding and demanding all at the same time and I’m sure will continue to influence my work for the rest of my life.
Currently, 40 UN Volunteers are deployed with the UN Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS) and 12 UN Volunteers with the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). They serve from different locations in Somalia and Kenya. This is a significant increase over the years from 18 UN Volunteers in 2015.
With an average age of 42 years and a gender ratio of 30 per cent women, UNSOS is making significant progress towards achieving gender parity among UN Volunteers.