Christophe Vavasseur: “The current migrant crisis forces us to look beyond the traditional framework”

Published on Monday 15 February 2016

Christophe Vavasseur is the Asia Desk Manager at SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL. Alongside the countries he usually works on, Christophe has been given new contexts to manage, such as Ukraine in the middle of the year, or the migrant crisis in Europe since September. Portrait.

What is your background?

After studies in chemistry and physics, I chose to study humanitarian action at university. It enabled me to join Doctors Without Borders, where I stayed for 8 years. After a little time off in the Cévennes (southern France), I reconnected with humanitarian aid via a small organization working in Afghanistan and since August 2012, at SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL as the Asia Desk Manager.

Christophe Vavasseur

What are the countries at your desk?

The core of my portfolio remains Asian countries, whether those in which we already intervene (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Thailand) or where we could intervene or deploy in the case of new crises (Pakistan, Philippines…). When possible with my workload, I am given new contexts to manage, such as Ukraine in the middle of the year and the migrant crisis in Europe (Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece) since September.

A mission in Europe regarding migrants?

This crisis is forcing us to look beyond the traditional framework. The mobility that these people are seeking, and the fluctuating political decisions of the states, require calls for geographic flexibility and innovation in our approach to aid. As traditional financial funding is not always adapted to the specificities of this crisis, the duration of our presence regarding these populations remains uncertain. But we hope that our ability to think “out of the box” will enable us to find financial partners and to remain close to the most vulnerable of the migrants as long as necessary.

What are the challenges your desk is facing in 2016?

The most important challenges for our desk (6 people) will remain those that our missions are facing. Work with our missions covers three areas: direct support, help in taking some distance from the situation and providing the overall framework. The main challenges that I think about will probably remain those regarding security management to access populations in Afghanistan, the continuation of our presence with the Rohingyas in Bangladesh, the denunciation of the situation of the Rohingyas in Myanmar and the quality of services that we can provide them and finally, the support of voluntary returns in the Karen State of Burmese refugees of Thailand. In addition, the reception of refugees in Europe and all that will happen that we cannot foresee and that constitute the core of our humanitarian work.

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