Two young islanders to join UN in Bangladesh and Lebanon to assist with refugee crises
Two young islanders, Faye Coggins and Johnny Rebours, are being deployed to Bangladesh and Lebanon to take up much coveted roles as UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency) Junior Professional Officers (JPOs).
The appointments follow a recent visit of Jersey’s Minister for International Development and Chair of the JOA Commission, Deputy Carolyn Labey, to UN headquarters in Geneva to meet with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.
“Jersey focuses support for refugees and displaced persons near the places from which they’ve fled. My recent visit was incredibly productive and it was a great opportunity to hear first-hand how JOA’s funding is supporting the work of UNHCR. I am also immensely proud that Jersey is supporting two islanders through the UNHCR JPO scheme and that this is now an annual commitment. We already enjoy a close working relationship with UNHCR through supporting its humanitarian efforts in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Lebanon,” said Deputy Carolyn Labey.
Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA), the island’s publicly funded international development and humanitarian aid agency joined the United Nations’ JPO scheme earlier this year. The international programme provides young professionals, sponsored by their respective governments, an extraordinary opportunity to embark on a career within the UN system.
Faye Coggins, 31, will soon be flying out to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to take up her role of Associate Programme Officer. The Rohingya people have faced decades of systematic discrimination, statelessness and targeted violence in Myanmar. Such persecution has been forcing Rohingya women, girls, boys and men into Bangladesh for many years and today an estimated 1.2 million Rohingya reside in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.
Speaking ahead of her departure, Miss Coggins said: “I’m looking forward to the incredible learning experience of working in a multilateral organisation such as UNHCR. In a world of increasingly complex humanitarian crises, no one organisation or country can meet the challenges, and Cox’s Bazar is a setting in which many organisations are working collaboratively to address the refugee crisis.”
Johnny Rebours, 32, will be relocating to Lebanon to take up his role of Associate Protection Officer. Hosting around 850,000 registered Syrian refugees, Lebanon is temporary home to the highest number of refugees per capita anywhere in the world. In addition, Lebanon also hosts nearly 200,000 refugees from Palestine, and nearly 16,000 refugees from other countries of origin including Iraq, Sudan, and Ethiopia. As the number of refugees has been increasing since 2011, refugees face myriad protection challenges as a result of ever-reducing protection space. Today, the crisis has been compounded by the deterioration of the Lebanese economy coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of refugees in Lebanon live below the extreme poverty line and face specific risks including forced early marriage, child labour, and sexual exploitation.
Mr Rebours will join the UNHCR field office in Tyre to respond to the needs of refugees and asylum-seekers in the South and Nabatieh Governorate. “Having worked for a number of smaller organisations on refugee issues and human rights, I’m welcoming the challenge to work for the biggest organisation seeking to tackle the most pressing challenge for human rights of our time, protection of refugees and migration. I hope to learn a lot from this new perspective and to have a great impact.”
The international JPO scheme provides a unique opportunity for islanders to start an international aid career with the UN, and to contribute at the frontline of an ongoing humanitarian emergency.
“The JPO programme is a mutually beneficial recruitment stream bringing in new talent and ideas to the organisation, offering young professionals a unique opportunity to serve the most vulnerable, and strengthening partnerships between donor countries and the organisation. We are very excited to have Jersey join this flagship programme and sponsor two passionate and dedicated colleagues where they are needed most, in field locations and emergency operations,” said UNHCR’s Director of Human Resources, Catty Bennett Sattler.
In 2021 alone Jersey has donated £740,000 to support refugees in Afghanistan and Bangladesh, and £600,000 for Syrians and Yemenis affected and displaced by conflict.
The Government of Jersey becomes the 19th member of the UNHCR JPO scheme, alongside the likes of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.
Image: Volunteer carrying distribution items from distribution centre. (Photo credit: UNHCR / Santanu Sharma)