|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|
UNV specialists sometimes live among communities at risk or in situations of rising tension. Serving as UNV Protection Officers with UNHCR, or as Human Rights Monitors, they both monitor human rights observance and report on factors of latent strife or processes of alienation between groups.
A Dutch UNV Specialist in the Yemen has just completed an assignment as a UNHCR Protection Officer assisting both Somali and Ethiopian refugees who are resident in the El-Koud Refugee camp in Abian, which hosts over 7,000 refugees. His primary responsibility was to disseminate information to refugees on legal aspects of the following matters: resettlement; emigration; UNHCR documents; legal assistance for those refugees who have had charges brought against them arising from fights between refugees themselves or refugees and others.
In addition to being involved in the preparation and implementation of repatriation programmes for the Ethiopian refugees, the UNV Specialist had a strong input to the development of the UNHCR Social Service programme which provides sports and cultural facilities for the disabled and for women. He was also instrumental in setting up (with the financial backing of the German DAFI fund), educational programmes for the refugees related to the UNHCR University programme.
Persistent constraints, restricted access and local hostility to UN personnel made it extremely difficult for Hiromasa Nakai (Japan) to operate effectively and deal with an overwhelming case-load of human rights abuses (ethnic cleansing) against minorities in the Banja Luka area of Bosnia. Nonetheless his work with UNHCR as a Social Services Officer served to reveal widespread abuses. UNV Protection Officer Benny Ben Otim from Uganda faced the same difficulties, yet managed to retrieve some families from imminent "ethnic cleansing" and arranged their rescue to safe havens.
Presently the UNV programme in Geneva is working closely with the UN Centre for Human Rights to assign further UNVs to work as Human Rights monitors in Kigali and along the border areas of neighbouring asylum countries. And another 72 Human Rights promoters are currently assigned to the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala (MINUGUA).