Johnny Rebours is an Associate Protection Officer with UNHCR (the UN refugee agency), deployed to Tyre, Lebanon
Why did you apply for the JPO role?
I applied for the JPO role as this sort of opportunity just doesn’t come up very often! I thought my skills and experience would be a good match, and I’m really chuffed to have been accepted for the role.
What relevant experience do you have?
I have lived in Lebanon before, teaching and doing voluntary work with refugees in 2014-2015. I have also worked for a number of national and international human rights organisations and have even been to the Tyre region whilst working with one such charity. I volunteered with the Jersey Calais Refugee Aid Group, organising teams of volunteers in Paris and Calais to support people on the move. I’m keen to build on such previous experience whilst working at UNHCR.
What are you most excited about / looking forward to?
I am really excited to return to Lebanon, a country that is close to my heart. I have never seen such incredible scenery and with it being such a small country, so much is instantly accessible, whether it’s beaches, mountains, valleys, or nightlife. My fiancée will come out in the new year as well, and I’m looking forward to showing her this amazing place. I am, of course, really excited about the work too. It is a new challenge for me as I have spent the past few years focusing on fundraising so I’m excited to get involved directly with human rights work once more, and also to work directly with people on the move again Lastly, I am looking forward to meeting lots of interesting people.
What are your aspirations for the next year and what do you hope to get out of this amazing experience?
I hope to learn a lot, become a part of a great team, and support my colleagues. I hope that we’re able to make a positive impact, and that our work will support people through the heightened difficulties people in Lebanon are currently facing.
Tell us a little about yourself…
I went to school at De La Salle College in Jersey, then studied English and Politics at Kingston University, where I became more interested in human rights and challenging injustice. After university I had no idea what to do and so became a wandering English teacher living in both Vietnam and Japan. I did some volunteering and fundraising in which piqued my interest and thought that this could become a job. I then volunteered in Ghana for a few months, before moving to Lebanon where I saw the Syrian crisis first-hand, as the country had taken in more than 1,000,000 refugees. A Jersey Trust then supported me to do a Masters degree in Human Rights, and that was that, I then started working in London and that has brought me to where I am now!
What advice would you give to any youngsters who may be interested in a career in the sector?
Keep pursuing it and get as much experience as possible, however small. It took a long time from wanting to get into this field to being able to do it, but it’s been so worth it so don’t lose heart. Get involved in things locally, volunteer, and go to JOA and other events – you don’t know who you might meet who can help you on your way!
(Images: “Dire conditions for Syrian refugees during winter’ – Jan 2021”. Credit: UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sanchez)