13.09.2011 - Article
Emergency mission in Dolo Ado, on Ethiopia’s border with Somalia
Olivier Siegenthaler began working for the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) in 1999. As a member of its Construction Group, Olivier has been involved in a succession of missions, first in Kosovo, then with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Guinea, as well as in Sierra Leona. Following a secondment to the World Food Programme (WFP), he worked for Helvetas in Burkina Faso before returning to UNHCR headquarters in Geneva. He eventually returned to East Africa, where he took up a post in the Kenya Regional Office. What follows is a photo journal of his humanitarian work.
Olivier Siegenthaler currently lives in Nairobi. Originally from the canton of Jura in Switzerland, in 2008 the 49-year-old embarked on a four-year UNHCR mission, based in the Kenyan capital. A bricklayer and works’ foreman by trade, Olivier oversees the planning of refugee camps and shelters, and is also the technical coordinator for the entire East Africa region. A large part of his work involves organising technical training courses for the UNHCR’s operational partners and government agencies.
His work in Nairobi has taken him to Southern Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and, of course, Kenya. He has been dispatched on emergency missions outside the region too, including the Central African Republic in response to the influx of refugees from Darfur, and flood-hit Burkina Faso (2009). More recently, political turmoil has led him to travel to the Côte d’Ivoire, as well as to Liberia.
Through a series of pictures, Olivier Siegenthaler explains what the job of a humanitarian aid worker entails, describes his most recent mission in July 2011 to the Ethiopian town of Dolo Ado, and reminisces about earlier missions.
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