Field service staff are a unique category created by the United Nations to accelerate the deployment of peacekeeping operations and special political missions. From just 300 people in 1949, the category grew to over 4,000 staff who work in support areas such as administration and finance, logistics, information technology and security.
I’m based in Nairobi as an Air Operations Assistant where I work with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), via the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA). My team and I work around the clock to fly people and equipment in and out of the mission, which is tasked with stabilizing the security situation in Somalia and carrying out humanitarian activities.
The United Nations needs its own air teams because there are usually no commercial airlines flying to the places we work. Our tasks range from medical evacuations, to troop rotations, search and rescue operations, the scheduled movement of peacekeeping troops and civilian staff and even the movement of VIPs, like politicians and philanthropic celebrity supporters.
My team and I are very results-driven, because everything we do has to happen on a tight schedule, and an even tighter budget. For example, when a contingent of 1,000 troops is deployed in the theatre of operation, we have the choose the best type of aircraft for the job, figure out how many of those aircraft we’ll need, check up on the aviation regulations we need to comply with in the destination country, map a flight path, and then get security clearance for the whole operation. It takes meticulous planning, as we must execute everything in the safest and most cost effective way possible. My unit was recently acknowledged by the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support following our efforts to implement a faster, and more budget-efficient aviation programme. Building this new programme demanded maximum effort from each team member, and it was the dedication and expertise of everyone of us that led to its success.
I love my job because of my team, and because the management supports us to be creative and original in tailoring the best possible services for this mission. Another reason I enjoy my work is that I am part of a wider network of dedicated aviation professionals sharing knowledge and best practice from around the world, and from other parts of the United Nations System.
I have always loved flying and many people in my family including my cousin and late husband were pilots. I was working for a commercial airline in my home city of Entebbe, Uganda, when I saw the United Nations team that came to set up a logistical base for the peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo. I was attracted by the professional nature of their staff, all of whom were charged to deliver humanitarian services with rare order and efficiency. So in 2003 I decided to apply for a position at the United Nations, and over the next eight years I progressed from a national staff member, to an international staff here at UNSOA. Today, with a team to support me and an administration to guide me, working for the United Nations has been the most rewarding way imaginable use my love of flying for a greater cause.