Thu 27/01/2022 - 12:30

Switzerland for UNHCR is pleased to announce Daisy Dell as a new member of the Foundation Board. We took the opportunity of her appointment to find out more about her and her motivation to support the refugee cause.

Daisy Dell 

Tell us about your background

After completing my studies as a lawyer in Luxembourg, I joined UNHCR and worked there for over 30 years until I retired last year. I held various positions at headquarters here in Geneva and in many field operations.   

Throughout my career, I have learned a great deal from direct contact with refugees and displaced populations, and I have admired the courage of the many women, men and children who, after losing everything and fleeing their country, have tried to rebuild their lives in host countries or, for the lucky ones, after returning to their country of origin.   

My various assignments led me to work in Sri Lanka with Tamil returnees, in Hong Kong with Vietnamese refugees, in Prague with people from ex-Yugoslavia and the ex-USSR, in West Africa, based in Abidjan, with Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees and in Nepal with Bhutanese refugees. These different stays were interspersed with several posts at headquarters in Geneva and I carried out numerous long-term missions in support of emergency humanitarian operations in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.  

From 2009, I became a member of the UNHCR Executive Committee, first as Director of External Relations, then from 2013 to 2017 I was appointed Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Oceania, and then Director of Change Management in charge of UNHCR's regionalization and decentralization, until my retirement in early 2021. While regularly visiting Luxembourg, I have decided to live in Switzerland. 

What motivated you to join Switzerland for UNHCR ? 

It is difficult to stop such a long commitment to vulnerable populations from one day to the next, because humanitarian work is more than a job. While on the one hand I was relieved to realise that as a retiree I no longer have the same day-to-day responsibilities in a very complex world, on the other hand I have not lost my commitment to helping these people. So when I was offered the opportunity to help Switzerland for UNHCR on the Board of Trustees, I immediately accepted. The team is young and dynamic, and the Foundation Board is very committed to their work. I am delighted to be able to support them in their efforts to mobilise resources and the general public in favour of refugees. 

What role can Switzerland play in mobilising resources and public opinion for UNHCR's mission and programmes ? 

I have often regretted that there is not a greater connection between the work of the Geneva-based UNHCR, its officials, and the local population in the host country. I think that the work that has been started by Switzerland for UNHCR to better inform the Swiss population has a lot of potential to gain more support for the refugee cause worldwide. Certainly, the Swiss population has always shown great generosity for humanitarian causes, and this generosity will only increase in view of the urgent needs of a growing number of refugees and displaced persons.

Where do you see Switzerland for UNHCR in 5 years ? 

The comparison with other donor countries is extremely favourable for Switzerland. I am impressed by what the young team of Switzerland for UNHCR has been able to achieve in record time. The expansion of our activities in German-speaking Switzerland and Ticino this year will also help to raise awareness of UNHCR's work across Switzerland. Switzerland for UNHCR's goals are very ambitious, but I am confident that we have every chance to achieve them.