Young Islander heads to Kyiv as part of UN scheme

Ukraine. Destroyed homes after missile attack – © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell (37788612)

A JERSEY aid worker is due to join the United Nations Refugee Agency in Ukraine this week through a Jersey Overseas Aid programme aimed at young Islanders.

The Junior Professional Officers scheme, which Jersey joined in 2021, creates an opportunity for someone to work in a UNHCR office for two years.

JOA has so far sent JPOs to Lebanon, Egypt and Bangladesh, and is now recruiting for a fifth Islander to join the scheme next year.

The fourth participant, Leila Osman (29), is due to move to Kyiv this week.

Leila Osman (29), is due to move to Kyiv this week.

“I’m going after two months of back-and-forth; it’s quite a long process,” Miss Osman said.

A diplomatic passport had to be arranged and paperwork filled before her departure.

The JPO scheme, she said, had provided her “a really good opportunity to get into the UN system”.

Junior professional officers are typically aged 25 to 35 and in the early-to-mid stages of their career.

They are sponsored by their individual governments to join the UNHCR on a two-to-three year assignment. Around 60 JPOs are normally part of the UNHCR. Jersey joined the scheme in 2021, with the Island’s first JPOs just finished their assignments.

Faye Coggins was in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh for two years and is currently working in the UNCHR’s Dhaka office, while Johnny Rebours worked in Tyre, Lebanon, and went on to work for the International Organisation for Migration in Beirut.

Miss Osman is due to join the reporting team in the agency’s Kyiv office, one of the agency’s seven teams in the country. She will be “compiling publications on what’s happening around Ukraine, where UNHCR funds are being spent, and telling the stories of those caught up in the conflict”.

“I’m really excited to go,” she said.

With a background in marketing – most recently working as a communications officer for the States Greffe – Miss Osman saw the opportunity advertised and thought she would “give it a go and see what happens”.

Before being offered the role, the application was seen by JOA and by the UNHCR, with several rounds of interviews. Still, Miss Osman said she got the offer “unexpectedly”.

Now preparing for the move, Miss Osman said she had spoken to colleagues who were currently in Kyiv to prepare.

“The risk is relatively low,” she explained. “Apart from regular airstrikes, there are modern solutions for everything.”

Miss Osman described apps and Telegram channels that warn citizens of an airstrike in addition to old-school air strike sirens telling them where the strike is coming from, and where it is likely to hit.

But overall, she said, her future colleagues on-site “deal with it quite well”.

Managing sleep could be a challenge, she said, with airstrikes disrupting the sleep of aid workers who have to go to work the next day.

“I think it’s going to be one of those cases of managing it when you get there,” said Miss Osman.

Despite the risks, she said her family had been supportive.

She said: “I first told my mum; she was quite supportive. She’s obviously a bit worried. Then I told the family. My dad is from Sudan, so he was really supportive as well.”

Jersey Overseas Aid is accepting applications until Monday 6 May.

The next JPO will be working at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, where the world’s largest refugee camp is located.

To apply, visit the JOA website.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –