Read caption Secretary General Jan Egeland visits a kindergarden in the Abu Nuwar Bedouin community on the West Bank, close to Maale Adumim settlement. The community is threatened with displacement and there is a demolition order on the kindergarden Photo: Tiril Skarstein, NRC

Secretary General Jan Egeland

At nineteen, he volunteered in Colombia as an aid worker. Since then, NRC's Secretary General Jan Egeland hasn’t stopped working for people affected by war, hardships and persecution.

A life in humanitarian service

As UN Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC) between 2003-2006, Jan Egeland led international efforts to streamline relief in large-scale, acute crises. In this role he developed the 2005 UN reform of the humanitarian system.

Egeland later became Director of the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), before assuming the position of European Director at Human Rights Watch. From here, he came to NRC in 2013.

From 1990 to 1997, Egeland was State Secretary of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During the 1990s, he also served as the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Colombia. Egeland has been Secretary General of the Norwegian Red Cross, has held leading positions at Amnesty International, and is currently a board member of the International Crisis Group.

Egeland began his work as NRC’s Secretary General on 12 August 2013.

Protection of civilians in Syria

In September 2015, the UN Secretary-General appointed Egeland as facilitator of the UN working group on the safety and protection of Syrian civilians.

Time for hope

More than 60 million people are fleeing war and repression. Disasters have displaced millions more. We haven't seen this many people fleeing their homes since World War Two.

I feel privileged to lead the Norwegian Refugee Council. When needs are at an all-time high, we continue to save lives and help people create a dignified, independent future.

 When I travel to the conflict areas where NRC provides assistance, I meet people who recount the most terrible experiences. But almost always, they tell me of the hope that glimmers within. Of how they keep fighting for a better future. Of their dreams and plans, if only they had the chance. Every day, NRC strives to give them this opportunity.

 Of the 5,000 men and women who work for NRC, most live and work in conflict areas. Leading this effort is an immense responsibility. Many of our staff in the field work around the clock, against backdrops of danger. Most are hired locally, and many have themselves been forced to flee. Time after time, we see how they use their life experience to help those in need.

We also have others standing with us. I am truly thankful for the individuals and businesses raising money for our work. It’s warming to see such dedication around the world for people forced to flee. That gives hope to us all.

We must stand up for our values, even in extraordinary times. Only then can we ensure that these values will live on in our children’s world.

Jan Egeland,

Secretary General of NRC