Do you ever think about refugees and displaced persons - especially those in Africa And Asia? Put yourself in their shoes for a second! How did that feel? ASK ME ANYTHING!

Gitonga Lawrence Mwongera
Mar 11, 2018

From Africa to Asia and in the last few years Europe, the number of displaced persons has risen exponentially due to various reasons least of which is not War - both internal and external, terrorism, human trafficking, political persecution and economic reasons. Though there has been a lot of discussion about this issue at various forums and in international space rarely has the discussion been from the point of view of the displaced persons.

As a HUMANITARIAN RISK MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST specializing in supporting humanitarian organizations support this disadvantaged human population I have had an opportunity to interact extensively with them on two continents. From Bangladesh, Nigeria, Uganda, South Sudan, The Congo, Somalia and Kenya they have an interesting story to tell.

They need a voice. They need YOUR voice!

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Conversation (67)

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What is the most difficult thing in getting a refugee set up in a new country?
May 27, 3:53AM EDT0
Do you plan to be in humanitarian field in your whole life?
May 3, 2:30AM EDT0
Did you choose to work with cases in Africa and Asia? And why?
Mar 19, 8:26PM EDT0

Hi Ashley,

No I did not! Usually Humanitarian organizations respond to crisis as a matter of mandate. When they deploy they need critical response personnel and that is how people like me come in! The scale of refugee crisis means that a lot of resources are required to make a difference! The international community responds through organizations which deploy people like me! Anywhere I have been has been through an organisation. I am humbled and honored by that!

Mar 20, 7:01AM EDT0
What is your take on Kenyan government on the issue of wanting to close down Dadaab refugee camp?
Mar 18, 4:59PM EDT0

Hi Beth,

This is a complex situation that touches on not only the the refugees who stant to be affected by the closure of the Dadaab Complex but also touches on issues affecting the host community, the host country, the host government, the young government in Somalia that is still trying to find its footing, UN agencies and the international community at large. My take however is that i wish the issue raised by the host government could be addressed by both the government in Somalia and the international community so that the refugees do not have to be pushed back into what many of them consider an ongoing active conflict and are not comfortable going back.

But what are your thoughts on the same?

Mar 22, 11:26PM EDT0
What does a humanitarian risk management specialist do exactly?
Mar 18, 2:31PM EDT0

Hi Jaime,

My field has evolved over the years from just simple security management the state we are in today where our main concern as proffesionals is to support organizations to gain access to people who need humanitarian access most and also to deploy their support programmes as securely as is practically possible. We also support organizations and their staff to work in sometimes extremely difficult conditions where their services are most needed by analysing operationals risks and putting in place effective mitigation measures. You can also say we are the guys who are called in to remove staff when it gets too difficult to operate - of cause acting together with many other actors including host governments who bear the resposnibility of securing international humanitarian interests operating in their areas.

Mar 22, 11:32PM EDT0
What are some of the challenge you face as an organization?
Mar 18, 11:10AM EDT0
What organization do you work for?
Mar 16, 3:43AM EDT1

I work for a UK based Risk Management that specializes in supporting humanitarian organization deploy securely in conflict and post conflict environments.

Mar 18, 2:03PM EDT0
What was your field of study at college that enabled you to get the position you are in right now?
Mar 15, 6:57PM EDT0

Hi Karolina,

My Bachelors degree is actually computer science. My career in risk management / Security and safety however took off when i joined the National Intelligence Service in my country in 2001. I vebtured into the humanitarian sector in 2008.

Mar 18, 2:05PM EDT0

This is going to be an odd question but here it goes. I rarely have the time for decent holiday and I can’t actually survive more than a day, two max not working so not really a loss there *but* I’ve been thinking recently I’d like to use that time usually used for annual leave to volunteer somewhere, abroad or locally. So question is, how complicated is that as a process? And what organisation/s would you recommend to turn to? And can one do that with a limited time per year?

Mar 15, 6:30PM EDT0

Hey Tatiana,

Sorry for my tardy reply. I have been in the field for a bit! Various organizations including the UN and other sometimes use volunteers. My advise would be to look at websites of humanitarian organizations and apply. Several I know like the NRC and DRC maintain a roster of rapid deployment response staff and I believe that would be a good fit for you! But anyone on this forum with suggestions about that is very welcome to share!

Mar 20, 7:06AM EDT0
Why was the Ebola response in West Africa the most interesting project for you? What happened during then?
Mar 13, 1:50AM EDT0

Hi Anna,

Mainly humanitarian organizations respond to crises that are either occasioned by armed conflict - say South Sudan - or by natural calamity - say Haiti after the earthquake. The Ebola response was unique at least for me because it was of a medical nature! Normally the security teams would support the responding team in managing the risk so as to deploy there operations as securely as possible. On this one we were confronted with a risk that we were not really equipped to handle and had to rely on our medical colleagues for that. You may be aware that many of the response staff including medical personnel ended up contracting the virus. Some succumbed to it.

This was quite an experience.

On a light touch maybe its easier to deal with a gun toting Al Shabaab insurgent than it is to deal with an unseen virus, right?

Mar 13, 11:22AM EDT0
What story do you have to tell from The Congo? What issues are they facing there?
Mar 12, 2:22PM EDT0

Hi Biljana,

With Congo what comes to mind is extreme insecurity for humanitarian staff. This is one frontier where staff of international organizations are targeted directly just because of what they do and stand for. Incidentally I am going into the Congo on a short assignment shortly. It would be interesting to revisit this around the beginning of June when I am back! 

Mar 20, 7:09AM EDT0
Having worked with displaced persons from both Asia and Africa, how do they differ between these two continents?
Mar 12, 12:04PM EDT0

Frankly there is not much difference. When you take away all the trappings of comfort we put around ourselves a human being is just a human being. The sense of desperation does not know color race or creed.

Mar 13, 11:29AM EDT0
You mentioned being attacked by Boko Haram. Did you get PTSD from that? How do you cope with such emotional stress?
Mar 12, 9:26AM EDT0

Hey Van,

You will be amazed that actually this is not really such a rare occurence in this line of work. Neither was it my first and i am sure it may not be my last. In the last few years cases of humanitarian workers being attacked just because they are humanitarian workers have been on the increase. Another interesting one is when i was held hostage in South Sudan in exchange for several other members of staff. Eventually i was released.

Anyway it is a disturbing experience when it happens but i would not go as far as categorizing it as PTSD. With the right support structures you deal with it. Mine is my family.

Organizations operating in such conditions have put in place measures to enable their staff deal with such including regular counselling, peer support mechanisms and regular R & R leave to spend time with family.

Mar 13, 11:28AM EDT0
Have you always worked as a humanitarian? If not, what were you doing before?
Mar 12, 7:10AM EDT0

Hey Danijela,

No i have not always worked as a humanitarian. Like many in the field especially in the thematic area of security i started out working for my country and government.

Mar 13, 11:31AM EDT0
What is the vetting process for refugees going into a specific country?
Mar 11, 5:49PM EDT0
What is temporary protection and in what ways is it detrimental to the refugee?
Mar 11, 4:27PM EDT0
What are some of the specific laws or rights you would like to see changed with regard to refugees and immigrants and what, from your personal experience has convinced you that these laws are ineffectual?
Mar 11, 4:25PM EDT0
Who are the institutions and people that assist the internally displaced and how do they go about doing so?
Mar 11, 1:37PM EDT0
How does UNHCR distinguish between a refugee and an economic migrant?
Mar 11, 12:33PM EDT0
What are some of the governmental laws in place to protect refugees?
Mar 11, 3:42AM EDT0
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