“Hundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees fled to seek safety in Iraq, but the world was unable to respond. It was extremely frustrating,” Jan Egeland says.
The Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) remembers well the severe humanitarian crisis at the border between Iraq and Turkey. It was 1991, and he was the State Secretary in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Overwhelmed by the large number of people in need and lacking resources to help, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, turned to Norway for assistance.
Establishing Norwegian emergency response
To support the humanitarian response, Egeland and the High Commissioner for refugees, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, agreed to establish a standby capacity of personnel ready to support the UN in emergencies.
Within a week, the first NORCAP personnel boarded the plane to Kurdistan.
“I have to admit that there was chaos surrounding the first batch of deployments to Kurdistan,” Egeland says.
One of them was Rolf Moi, a Norwegian agronomist and former missionary.
“The conditions that many of the displaced faced were horrible. Some lived in caves, tents, or in ruins. It was extremely cold, and people were grateful for the help we provided, however limited it was,” he says.
25 years has passed since that first mission and NORCAP has become one of the world’s leading expert deployment capacities. Today, we provide expertise to support humanitarian, peace and development sectors, to protect lives, rights and livelihoods of affected populations.
Conflict and insecurity, increasingly combined with climate change, disasters and state fragility have created complex crises with dire humanitarian consequences. And along, NORCAP has broadened its expertise to be able to provide the most needed, strategic and efficient support to its partners.
“NORCAP has been an excellent partner along the years, not just the number of staff they manage to deploy, but also our relationship and how easy it is to work together. Its flexibility, agility and responsiveness mean that it has always been very efficient and a great pleasure to cooperate with,” says Julien Temple, a former long-term employee with UNICEF.
“Over the years I have had the pleasure of meeting many of NORCAP’s experts in the field and have seen that they are professional, hard-working, creative, service minded and flexible. They have a good reputation in the UN system. I am proud to call myself NORCAP’s godfather,” says Jan Egeland.