Gillian Mckay’s first report on IOM Somalia Mission


It’s hard to believe that I’ve been interning for almost three months now! Time really is flying!

I’m interning with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). It’s also known as the United Nations (UN) Migration Agency. More specifically, I am working with the Somalia mission which is made up of around 400 staff. The main offices are in Nairobi and Mogadishu. In addition, there is a field and satellite presence in each region of Somalia.

Life in Nairobi

Despite the traffic (!) Nairobi is an amazing city to live in. I’ve found it very easy to settle in and connect with locals and expats alike. Although I arrived in the winter, I hadn’t expected it to be quite so cold. I (perhaps naively) assumed my Scottish blood would cope! It’s beginning to warm up now though, which is nice. Aside from the standard touristy things (e.g., the Giraffe Centre and the Elephant Orphanage), the arts/music scene here is eclectic and there are always things to see or markets to visit!

I also recently went to see the Lion King at the cinema. It was emotional given the film setting was inspired by Kenya and it’s been a good while since I watched the original!

Office Life

I’m also thoroughly enjoying the work, though the 9.5 hour working days are somewhat an adjustment! After the initial introductions, I was given a lot of work to do and was able to get stuck right in! I’m based in the Programme Support Unit (PSU) which is a fantastic introduction to the organization and to the UN family more generally. PSU oversees reporting and communications for the mission, so I am liaising with field staff in each unit on a daily basis (e.g., preparedness and response division; recovery and durable solutions; migrant health division; labour and human development; immigration and border management; migrant protection and assistance; and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration).

So far, I’ve been introduced to proposal development and concept notes, and reviewing and submitting interim/final evaluation reports to donors in the context of the UN family. Furthermore, I’ve attended regional meetings and forums held by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Additionally, in developing a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework for the mission, I have met with the Independent Expert on the situation of Human Rights in Somalia from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). In line with this human rights-focus, I am currently preparing a training workshop on Rights-Based Approach (RBA) to Programming to be delivered to colleagues at IOM.

What’s next?

In the next few months, I will be launching the M&E framework and delivering the complementary training on RBA. Additionally, I am starting to think about my future within the organization. At the moment, I am particularly interested in the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) unit which tracks and monitors displacement during crises – so hopefully I have some good news to follow up in my next report!


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