Main takeaways:  

  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), headquartered in New York, and currently active in twenty countries, coordinates the global emergency response to save lives and protect people in crisis areas.
  • OCHA cannot deliver its mandate without the support of its donors and therefore receives voluntary contributions from a diverse set of donors. Their generous donations and constant active support allow OCHA to deliver its services and develop innovative ways to meet or address the global humanitarian community’s challenges.
  • Working at the UN is diverse and challenging. Graduates are strongly encouraged to apply to the UN internship, volunteer, and fellowship programs or gain experience working in the humanitarian and human rights field through NGOs.

On April 21, 2022, YPFP hosted another unique Young Leader Series Event on ‘Humanitarian Affairs and Coordination in International Organizations’. The event was moderated by Programmes Officer Lina Stahl, who was joined by Ms. Patricia Senge, a humanitarian affairs officer at the OCHA in New York.

OCHA coordinates humanitarian response to expand the reach of humanitarian action and ensure that assistance and protection reach the people who need it most.
Disasters can affect anyone at any time with or without warning. This is where OCHA comes in. OCHA not only aims to mobilize and engage the full range of financing instruments, mechanisms, and partners to ensure that growing humanitarian needs are met but also provides information management services to the humanitarian community to inform a rapid and effective response.

Starting the event with a brief presentation by Ms. Senge on her career path and her motivation to become a humanitarian affairs officer, the discussion revealed how fascinating and diverse the work environment at the UN is and what is seen differently now, working in New York.
The Q&A session mainly focused on the challenges during Ms. Senge’s career path and personal insights on how she assesses the ‘distance’ between the headquarters in NY and local offices and the actual situation on the ground. Besides, she shared exclusive insights on how she deals with occupational stress regarding extreme poverty and the sorrow of families and children at work. Finally, concluding the event with a vivid discussion regarding the future career opportunities of young professionals, Ms. Senge gave some tips for graduates and students to get a foot in the door through the UN volunteer or fellowship programs or former work in NGOs in the field.

Written by Lina Stahl, Programmes Officer, YPFP Brussels.