First on the Ground09 July 2010
With early retirement looming, the opportunity to head out for one last mission must seem idyllic. An opportunity to end a career the way it was built, on the ground and in the field. For Kennet Blixt though, one last trip turned into one last emergency.
On Friday the 11th of June, in the mists of a Logistics Capacity Assessment mission in Central Asia, as a response to the Logistics Cluster forecasting the potential for a breakout in violence in the region, Blixt found himself in a restaurant with Mr. Rasmus Egendal – WFP’s Country Director - in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It was at this lunch time meeting that Rasmus made a rather stomach churning statement. Apparently, the previous time he had been in the restaurant, the last revolution broke out...
Three hours later reports of violence began coming in; Saturday Mr. Blixt was confined to his hotel room for security reasons and by Sunday, June 13th, through a series of meetings and teleconferences, a rather vivid portrait of the current situation outside was taking shape and a response urgently needed.
Knowing that Rasmus or the Global Logistics Cluster was likely going to ask him to stay in the country to offer his support during the initial stages of the response , all fleeting hope for ending his trip with a few days in the Caucuses Mountains, before heading home to spend some real time with his newborn son were...unceremoniously squashed.
However, the opportunity to start the emergency response the way you want is unique and through the LCA process Blixt had already been in the region and as such was already familiar with the complex socio-political situation, as well as the many constraints that he would be charged with addressing.
As one expects from a seasoned veteran, the first step in responding to the massive displacement became engaging with local staff. To not only acknowledge the importance of the local staff, but their deep commitment to the work that we do, often in the face of life threatening danger to not only themselves, but to family and friends. There role is something for another discussion, but sufficient to say that they are the foundation for what we do.
Through the various tools supplied by the Logistics Cluster, participants were able to hit the ground running. Though the initial fear surrounding the magnitude of the situation in Kyrgyzstan has been put to rest, our reaction was timely and accurate and in due in no small part to dedication of the local staff, as well as the “know how” of a veteran “Loggie”.