The world is in the midst of a refugee crisis. More than four million Syrians have fled the country since the start of the civil war in that country and more than a million migrants from Africa and the Middle East crossed into Europe in 2015. This is one of the largest movements of people since the end of World War II. Against this backdrop, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has appointed a Tutu Fellow, Victor Ochen, as their global advisor on Gender, Forced Displacement and Protection. The appointment of the Nobel Peace Prize nominee was made by the UNHCR in February 2016.
Ochen said that as a Tutu Fellow, he was proud to serve in this role and that he hoped his experience of growing up in war-torn Uganda could be put to good use in helping the agency reduce the suffering experienced by those in regions impacted by conflict and violence.
The patron of the African Leadership Institute, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, offered his heartiest congratulations. "We are proud of you and look for greater things. God bless you."
Peter Wilson, the co-founder and CEO of the African Leadership Institute, said he was very proud of Ochen. "We congratulate him on this well deserved appointment. Victor embodies the selfless, servant leadership values that underpin the Tutu Leadership Fellowship, and he is a role model for young leaders across Africa who seek to transform the continent through positive action."
Ochen heads AYINET, an organisation he founded as a result of his personal experiences surviving the conflict between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army. Millions of people were detrimentally affected, including Ochen, who was a childhood victim of the war. AYINET is short for the African Youth Initiative, and it is based in Lira, Uganda. It works in two critical areas: medical rehabilitation of those who have suffered burnings, mutilations of all kinds, rape, and psychological torture, and the building and promoting of youth leadership.
The UNHCR was established in 1950 by the UN General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It tries to help people seeking asylum and find safe refuge in another state and it also has a mandate to help stateless people. With conflicts in the Middle East and in Africa creating migrations of people not seen since World War II, the agency has its hands full.
Since it was founded, the agency has helped tens of millions of people and it has a staff of more than 9,300 people in 123 countries.