The United Nations has confirmed that a Somali-born official who has been doing humanitarian work for 25 years will be the UNHCR’s director for global emergencies, staff security, safety and supply services effective next month.
Ahmed Warsame has been a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in South Sudan during the last three years. He worked in several hotbed humanitarian zones including Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Pakistan. During his time in Kenya, Warsame led UNHCR operations in Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world.
“I feel very much honored, to be asked to serve in this capacity, I have not asked for this,” he told VOA Somali.
Warsame will be covering three main components of UNHCR programs in emergencies, staff security and supply services.
In Pakistan, he led UNHCR assistance and protection programs for 1 million Afghan refugees and 1.5 million internally displaced Pakistanis. In Geneva he worked as UNHCR’s humanitarian coordinator for Horn of Africa countries.
“I was at the center of these emergencies in terms of preparedness and response and advocacy, and making sure that those who are affected by conflicted are respected and provided with security and safety,” says the 54-year-old aid worker.
“Covering Pakistan, South Sudan and Dadaab are basically major part of my strength.”
His appointment comes at a time when the world is dealing with global refugee crisis in Syria, Iraq, Kenya and elsewhere.
“I will be overseeing UNHCR’s timely and quality deliveries, making sure that UNHCR in partnership and in collaboration with international, national organizations and with governments to respond to emergencies and the needs of the displaced populations in their home countries as well as those who cross into other countries, international borders,” he said.
“Our priorities” he said are “to make sure those who are affected by conflict and by man-made crisis and those who are subjected to flee their homes for fear of prosecution are assisted in a timely manner.”
Somalis return home
Part of international crisis facing UNHCR is dealing with Somali refugees who are returning from Kenya after more than 25 years abroad as Kenya pushes for the closure of the Dadaab camps.
“Somalia is part of our priority countries, we know many people are now returning from Dadaab camps back to Somalia, and they need help, they need to be assisted to be able to integrate into the communities in Somalia, safely and with dignity,” he said.
Warsame will be based in Geneva and will take up his post January 15.