From Yemen to Syria
The more you travel the more you feel like a citizen of the world. Everywhere becomes home.
Christophe Morard has an infectious energy. On the phone, his smiling voice immediately puts you at ease. Christophe speaks fast, laughs easily and is more than happy to share his experience as a Logistics Cluster Coordinator for two of the largest humanitarian crises in the world: Yemen and Syria.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to the Logistics Cluster?
I think it goes back to my teenage years when I became a volunteer firefighter. As I grew up, I moved to Paris and became professional. So, I guess that I have always been driven by a will to help as well as a fondness for adrenaline. All of which led me to work with the Logistics Cluster. That is probably also the reason I keep going from one emergency operation to the other!
You have worked in two of the largest humanitarian crises in the world, what is your favourite thing about the job?
Actually, it is a set of elements rather than one specific thing. There are so many aspects of the job that motivate me. I love the pressure; I love having to run against the clock to find solutions. Cargo delays, administrative issues, bottlenecks, road damages... So much is happening at the same time, it keeps you alert and resourceful.
But at the end of the day, what makes the job rewarding is the drive to help others. Of course, with the Logistics Cluster you do not see the direct impact of your work on the beneficiaries; however, you are part of a group that enables the humanitarian aid to reach the most vulnerable populations. And it is worthwhile! There is a saying that, if you do your dream job, you never work a day in your life. It is true for me. The only problem is that it is addictive. I have difficulties to imagine going back to a quieter, more “normal’ job.
Interview with France Inter in the UNESCO office, 2016 Photo: WFP/Logistics Cluster
If you could travel back in time, what tips would you give to your younger self who discovers field work?
My first mission on the field was my favourite. 1994, Kyrgyz Republic, with Atlas Logistique; I was a greenhorn and full of dreams.
If there is one thing that I could share with myself, it would be this: always remember why you are doing this job. It might sound cheesy but what we aim to achieve is to make the world a better place. Of course, you must be realistic: the world won’t change overnight. However, it is with this drive, with this ambition that we can build a better future. I always say: “Keep your feet on the ground but your head flirting with the clouds.”
How has COVID-19 impacted the current response?
I strongly believe in the yin and yang concept that for each bad there is a good.
The downside of the COVID-19 is evident: it is a worldwide crisis which greatly affects the most vulnerable populations. Also, the organisation of the response has been – and still is – very challenging.
However, and because COVID-19 is a global crisis, we note a greater interest from the humanitarian organisations to coordinate and work together, there is an eagerness to share which is quite unique.
We also engage more closely with our partners from the Health Sector and we try to help them as much as we can where we can; it pushes us to reinvent and adapt the way we work while remaining within the Logistics Cluster’s mandate.
Do you feel like your experience in Yemen directly influences your work in Syria?
You always walk away from a mission with new knowledge and a new set of skills packed in your bags. Each mission teaches you things about yourself. Yemen taught me how to multi-task, how to manage stress and meet deadlines in a highly demanding environment.
Yet, at the start of every mission it feels like the very first time. And that’s a good thing. You cannot respond to different cultures, peoples and contexts the same way. The operation in Yemen and the operation in Syria are two very different games. For instance, in Syria I am much more service-provision and relation-with-NGOs oriented. To be honest, after the complexity of Yemen, Syria almost feels straightforward. But both are experiences which made me stronger. As you work seven days a week, you build a great resilience.
To sum-up on your question, I would say that each experience influences the next: the more you travel the more you feel like a citizen of the world. Everywhere becomes home.
The Logistics Cluster was activated in Syria in January 2013. Seven years on, the Syrian context remains one of the most complex humanitarian crises worldwide. Based on gaps and needs identified with partners, the Logistics Cluster supports approximately 100 humanitarian organisations with coordination, information management and facilitation of common logistics services. This includes cross-border transhipment services, inter-agency convoys, warehousing, common transport and contingency fuel provision, helping humanitarian organisations reach affected populations with lifesaving supplies in hard-to-access locations.
Read more on our website: https://logcluster.org/ops/syr12a