Born in London and brought up in the Midlands, I took a degree in economics & languages at Bristol University and went from there to UNHCR, Geneva (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) – taken on as a “shorthand-typist”! I had to get into UNHCR, created only ten years earlier, a small organisation then with fewer than three dozen professionals, a high proportion of them British – a fact that impeded for years any progression on my part to professional status.
However, I was given pretty responsible work in headquarters and in the first UNHCR Regional Office in Africa. Returning to UNHCR later as Finance and Admin. Officer of the new Regional Office for Indochina, after years working in the new University of Warwick and in a Midlands training centre, I once again had the privilege of fascinating work.
Then again I was sent to Africa, to DRC (Congo) as head of a sub-office, before finding myself documenting Chilean refugees in Mendoza, at the foot of the Andes. Involved in the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of Indochinese (Cambodians, Laos and “boat people” from Viet Nam), I subsequently became editorial assistant to Prince Sadruddin, helping prepare a report on abuses of human rights and mass exodus.
From the UN I moved to the International Red Cross for many years, with a focus on the sharing of experience between national Red Cross/Crescent Societies region by region, on training and on trauma.
On the personal front, I married a Swiss widower in 1983 and we have a daughter, Claudia who in 2010 married a man from Kosovo whom we all admired, Isa Krasniqi. Claudia took two degrees in Swiss universities and her work is principally with job-seekers and migrants.
Our family has many friends all over the world, and we love to welcome them at our two homes in the Gruyère region of French-speaking Switzerland. Naturally I retired long ago, but remain fairly active by trying to learn Russian, writing and taking part in certain village activities.
The arrows corresponded to refugee movements of the period