Head of Mission in Afghanistan: “An unforgettable experience”

Published on Thursday 18 January 2018

SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s mission in Afghanistan, with its diverse programmes and geographical distribution, fascinates as much as it moves. The post of Head of Mission requires experience and commitment.


Neutrality: the key to acceptance

SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has been present in Afghanistan since its creation in 1980. Programmes are taking place in Khost and Wardak provinces, with spontaneous interventions within a rapid response programme in several other provinces. The range of activities is wide, ranging from acute emergency to resilience and even development, allowing for longer-term perspectives.

The geographical diversity of actions concerns several ethnic groups, making neutrality one of the strong points and levers for action in such different areas, particularly from the point of view of acceptance by the population.


Priority to team security

Security management is an essential part of the job, explains Luis de Pinho Santos, who held the position for the past two years. This represents up to 50% of working time. We must analyse the risks on a daily basis in terms of benefits for the populations we support, in order to limit as much as possible the risks taken by our teams. It is also true that expatriates in Afghanistan may feel a sense of confinement because of the difficulty of circulating freely. That’s why I encouraged my team to travel regularly to Bamyan, where the safety conditions are more favourable, to unwind.




The best way to cope with confinement is to go to the field regularly. “It allowed me not only to meet the Afghan teams we work with and the people we help, but also to discover beautiful landscapes. I was pleasantly surprised by the hospitality of the Afghan people, with whom I had the opportunity to discuss many times. As discussion is an integral part of being a Head of Mission, it is important to like this. Basically, an unforgettable experience!



Every summit has its pathway, even the highest mountain

Afghan proverb


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  • 43 inhabitants
  • 180th out of 191 countries on the Human Development Index
  • 146,500 people helped