In 2019, over 1,500 UN Volunteers are assigned to peacekeeping operations worldwide, of which 1,317 are serving in Africa. In West and Central Africa specifically, they play an active role to protect the most vulnerable, through various assignments in Human Rights, Civil Affairs, Political Affairs and Logistics. In addition, a significant number of UN Volunteer Movement Control Officers and Air Operations Assistants provide technical support to facilitate and coordinate the movements of peacekeepers and civilian personnel of the missions.
Mariagiovanna Costa is a UN Volunteer of Italian nationality serving at the sub-office of the World Food Program (WFP) in the Mopti region. She visits the internally displaced families of the ‘CAN 2002 Socoura’ camp, named after the former training football stadium of the African Cup of Nations.
A food crisis is affecting the region of Mopti, and Mali as a whole, due to drought and conflict which have displaced more than 99,000 people across the country. In Mopti, nearly 180,000 people suffer from food insecurity and more than 46,000 are internally displaced.
In Mali, more than 200 UN Volunteers are advancing peace and development with the various United Nations entities, including more than 140 in MINUSMA.
'The Voices of Courage' photo exhibition paid special tribute to women volunteers in Mali: 10 women agreed to share their volunteer experience in this West African country. Their stories are illustrated by 10 portrait photos of women volunteers in action in their work environments.
Refugee children, the hope and future of Chad and the Central African Republic
Thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic fled to southern Chad since the end of 2017, many of whom lack food, shelter and access to medical care. They settled in more than 40 villages and four camps near the town of Goré – an area that already hosts around 43,000 refugees from the Central African Republic and 45,000 returnees from Chad, predominantly women and children.
During their assignments with peace keeping missions, UN Volunteers are known to demonstrate an exceptional level of professionalism, dedication and courage.
My name is Ouedraogo Mohamadi. I am an international UN Volunteer working as an information analyst at the Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC) of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). I started in Kidal but now work in Gao, Northern Mali. My role is to collect and analyse data as part of MINUSMA's mandate. I also assist the Head of the Mission in Gao. I help ensure that the mission's mandate is carried out.
Helena Pes (Italy) is an international UN Volunteer serving in the Mbera camp, Mauritania, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). "The situation in northern Mali remains unstable and in these conditions, influx of refugees is unpredictable," she explains. Since 2012, several populations fled from Northern Mali due to conflict and the fear of oppression. Most of the more than 51,000 refugees in the camp are Touareg, co-habiting with Arab, Fula, and Songhai refugees.
In Mali, the road to peace and reconciliation has been wrought by a 2012 military coup and insecure borders, combined with a proliferation of small arms illegally imported or stolen from unsecured stockpiles. This, however, has not stopped the Malian people from championing democracy—the country is in a period of transition geared towards the re-establishment of constitutional order and democratic governance. In 2013, Presidential and Parliamentary elections were held in the country, representing a milestone on the path to peace.
"Working with MINUSMA has allowed me to deal with many challenges and to learn a lot about the Malian culture. My experience is a commitment to the vision of UN Volunteers which is to be "l’inspiration en action" . All the work involved with heritage protection had to be invented and developed during the last three years."
My name is Anouk and I am part of the Governance, Peace and Security team of the UN Women Regional Office in Dakar, Senegal. I am passionate about questions regarding equality between men and women and have invested myself in this cause for many years. To find myself now a UN Volunteer in Dakar, serving with UN Women, is for me an opportunity de place my convictions at the service of women's rights in West and Central Africa.