UNHCR- protecting the world’s vulnerable people
The protection of 19.2 million uprooted people is the core mandate of UNHCR. The agency does this in several ways. Using the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention as its major tool, it ensures the basic human rights of vulnerable persons and that refugees will not be returned involuntarily to a country where they face persecution. Longer term, the organization helps civilians repatriate to their homeland, integrate in countries of asylum or resettle in third countries. Using a world wide field network, it also seeks to provide at least a minimum of shelter, food, water and medical care in the immediate aftermath of any refugee exodus.
With whom ?
Placing a new Think Tank on the global map
Refugees, Internally displaced, Humanitarian emergencies
Strategic Communication, Strategic Partnerships
The Centre for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies was a newly established think tank. The challenge was how to establish linkages and partnerships with the well-established think tanks around the world on refugee and migration issues.
In 2000 UNHCR and the University Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Skopje jointly set up the Centre for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (CRFMS).
UNHCR commissioned me to develop the strategy for this Think Tank including a Communications Strategy.
Following the strategy a website, newsletter, brochures and flyers were developed for the Centre. Targeted dissemination of the outreach material resulted in high visibility of the Centre and its output.
We established a strategic partnership with the Brookings Institute and an international conference in Skopje on IDPs was organized.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
University of Skopje Ss. Cyril and Methodius
Institute for Sociological Juridical and Political Research
Helsinki Committee of Macedonia
Centre for Human Rights, Macedonia
Strategic partnerships were established with leading think tanks including the Brookings Institute and the European Centre for Minority Issues and an international conference in Skopje on IDPs was established.
“ Sunoor Verma has pioneered important and innovative methodologies in relation to project planning and delivery, has the capacity to ensure rapid and reliable project implementation according to agreed targets and possesses an amazing degree of strategic oversight and insight. ”
European Centre for Minority Issues, Germany
Setting up a Think Tank on refugees and forced migration studies
Refugees; Internally displaced; Humanitarian emergencies
Institution building; Confidence building; Fundraising; Think Tank set-up; Strategic planning; Strategic partnerships; Strategic communications
Within the first ten years of its existence, two major refugee influxes impacted the Republic of Macedonia. Support of the international community helped the country cope gracefully with these humanitarian emergencies. Acknowledging the inherent volatility of the region, it was vital that the know- how generated in the country in dealing with displaced populations is institutionalized and capacity be built systematically for emergency preparedness.
I conducted a needs assessment and a mapping of potential partners. I then developed the project proposal and fundraised with donors to set up the Center for Refugees and Forced Migration Studies (CRFMS) at the Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje. The aim of the Center is to become a leading regional resource center in its field; to foster a regional network of similar research centers and to promote standards of excellence in research on Refugee and Forced Migration related subjects. Set up with seed funding from UNHCR, I led vigorous fundraising andexpandedthe portfolio of donors. Ialso set up and mentored the project management team of the centre. The project was implemented from February 2000 to September 2001.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR
Skopje University Ss. Cyril & Methodius
Institute of Sociological Political and Juridical Research
BPRM USA Government
Royal Norwegian Foreign Ministry,
- Set up of an active, well functioning research centre on refugee and forced migration issues
- Established a wide portfolio of donors thus enhancing the sustainability of the centre
- Management staff was trained to take over the management of the centre
- Well functioning resource center with a specialized library
- Internationally networked program on refugee studies was established
“ Sunoor Verma always underlines the importance of local ownership. He may have a lot of knowledge and expertise, but he always ensures that his visions are closely connected to reality on the ground. ”
Adviser, Human Rights & Democracy
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida),
Department for Europe, Division for South Eastern Europe.
Kosovo Refugee Crisis
Refugees; Global Health
Humanitarian emergency; Dialogue Management; Needs Assessment; Stakeholder Consultations; Project development; Negotiations.
In 1999 during the Kosovo refugee crisis, following concerns of inter-ethnic instability, the Republic of Macedonia imposed a condition on the international community for admitting refugees from neighboring Kosovo. The number of refugees that are evacuated from Macedonia to NATO countries would be the number of newly admitted refugees into the country. In the race against time, while it was vital to evacuate as many refugees as possible, it was important to give priority to vulnerable cases. Prioritizing medical cases among an exhausted from difficult travels and traumatized population was one aspect of the challenge. The other- convincing reluctant host governments accept medical cases for evacuation and the associated costs to their health systems.
Sunoor Verma’s services were retained by the UNHCR to formulate priority criteria for the evacuation of refugee patients to NATO countries. Sunoor prioritized the cases from 7 geographically dispersed refugee camps, and negotiated with NATO country delegations transfer and treatment of emergency medical cases from among the refugees. He coordinated and monitored the facilities for evacuation of severely ill refugees. He played a key role in the initiation, planning and implementation of extending the medical evacuation program to approximately 200,000+ host family refugee cases. Sunoor monitored the standard of medical escorts during evacuation. He worked in partnership with local medical authorities, government authorities, donor community and NGOs to facilitate the patient evacuation process.
- Medical evacuation program extended to approximately 200,000+ refugees residing with host families.
- Significant increase in evacuation of patient to NATO countries for treatment.
( on the value that Sunoor Verma brings to project design/ innovation..) Good sense of “common sense”, no fear of criticism and trying to look into issues from all kinds of angles: in short the ability to make the project as likely to succeed as possible.
Adviser, Department for Europe
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency