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SP Jain School of Global Management’s BBA cohort of September 2017 visited the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) office in Dubai on 25th September 2018. As business students learning about Operations Management, we got the opportunity to understand how the UNHCR operates efficiently with its limited resources to provide aid and relief to those around the world.
Ola Anan, Public Information & Communication Associate, UNHCR, explained how the agency ensures that the refugees meet their basic needs such as safety, shelter and nourishment through its efforts.
Ola said UNHCR’s main goal is to respond to chosen crisis around the world within 72 hours. Since the organisation runs on donations, its manpower and resources are limited. We learnt UNHCR prioritises calamities based on the severity and estimated effectiveness of the aid they will provide for the crisis in question. They begin relief efforts by contacting the concerned government and parties, where the crisis has taken place, to notify them about help being available. After getting the green light, they dispatch basic supplies and start setting up camps – all of it within 72 hours.
Having one of its main areas of operations in Dubai serves as a geographical advantage for UNHCR. They can respond to global emergencies within the Middle East and Asia easily because of UAE’s central location and ports.
The visit to UNHCR shed a lot of light into the inner workings of the agency, which involves leveraging highly skilled negotiators, private and government companies for procuring supplies, consultants and teams of supply chain and logistics experts, etc. Since its target is to provide welfare service on a massive scale, the agency keeps low-cost and durable supplies ready to be dispatched when a crisis hits.
The biggest challenge UNHCR faces is relocating refugees and helping them get their lives back on track. Unfortunately, that is usually not the case. For instance, after the Rohingya refugees had made it to the UN camps, they could not be sent back to their country due to the dangerous political situation for them in their homeland. The only option left for them is to seek asylum and start anew if any other country is willing to take them, which is something the UNHCR helps them in acquiring.
Aditya Sapam is a student of SP Jain School of Global Management’s BBA intake of September 2017. Before joining our program, he worked as a sub-editor at the Sangai Express and as a Marketing Executive for Sangai Continental (The Boutique Hotel). He is always looking forward to exploring new work cultures, industries, and management styles.