|Meeting the Humanitarian Challenge - UNV's Work Between Conflict and Development (United Nations Volunteers, 44 p.)|
|UNV humanitarian action in the field: Effort and impact|
The capacity of local NGOs in war zones is often almost completely eroded. The work done progressively and with total dedication by supportive UNVs such as Annette O'Gorman from Ireland, with UNHCR in Sarajevo at the height of the siege, was a rare glimmer of hope and an important factor in rebuilding local confidence and endurance. Restoring confidence in social institutions and overcoming the paralytic despondency of Sarajevo's war trauma was a large part of her empowerment strategy. She built up a network of inter-agency/NGO support for the Collective Centres of Sarajevo. Daily she ran the gauntlet of Sniper Alley, checking that relief supplies were reaching the 29 Centres that shelter thousands of the displacees and refugees in Sarajevo. Annette helped gather together over 30 Bosnian professionals from different disciplines to be trained as volunteers for community social work. Much of her work focused on unaccompanied minors and preparations for family reunification.
A special programme, awaiting funding, is being drawn up to support community-based rehabilitation and development in Liberia, with a special focus on communities receiving demobilised soldiers. The signing of the peace accords in July 1993 prepared the ground for the demobilisation, electoral, and rehabilitation process. Although the elections have been indefinitely suspended due to the continuing conflict in the country, some 34 UNV Specialists continue to work in Liberia. Many are involved in peace-keeping activities and confidence-and capacity-building at community level. Others serve as camp supervisors with UNOMIL; four serve as mechanics and there are also food aid monitors, logistics officers and one veterinarian.
Whatever the field of the UNV specialist's work, there is always a conscious decision to integrate into it an element of confidence -and capacity-building, be it through the sharing of skills with the local communities or helping to establish structures which will endure long after the volunteer has completed the assignment. That commitment is present in the mind of the volunteer, in his or her daily work with local communities, returnees and the internally displaced. UNV specialists help strengthen local coping mechanisms in such a way as not only to facilitate the reinsertion of returnees and the internally displaced but build a bridge from relief/rehabilitation to self- sustaining development.