Awake at Night podcast

What does it take to be a 香港六合彩开奖 Nations worker in some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous locations?

How are UN humanitarians, human rights advocates, prosecutors, development experts, climate leaders and peacekeepers improving our world?
Stationed in all reaches of the world and witness to suffering and atrocities, how are they helping people and coping themselves?
To find out, Melissa Fleming meets them.

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"Rebuilding Lives in Ukraine" with guest Karolina Lindholm Billing, UNHCR Representative in Ukraine

Full podcast available here




Season Eight

Karolina stands in the snowy outdoors next to a woman carrying a child and a young man in a blue UNHCR vest

"Volunteers from all areas of society have helped people who have been directly impacted by the war. They're cooking meals, giving clothing, giving money, opening their homes."

Karolina Lindholm Billing was posted to Ukraine less than a year before the full-scale Russian invasion. As the UNHCR Representative in the country, she draws hope from witnessing the power of community volunteer networks in supporting displaced people in their hour of need.

War has forced around one-third of Ukrainians from their homes, in what is currently one of the world’s largest human displacement crises. UNHCR is assisting them with housing, cash, and legal assistance. Karolina reflects on Ukrainian resilience, the drive to rebuild, and why people long to stay in their own homes, even in a war zone.

Karolina Lindholm Billing :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Cindy walks with several others infront of a helicopter marked with the acronym WFP

“Our job is to give hope and help by giving food to those who really need it most. And that's what we do.”

WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain has many pressing reasons to lie awake at night. As Head of WFP, it is her job to make sure the millions of vulnerable people around the world who are relying on UN food assistance – from Gaza to Sudan to Afghanistan – don’t starve.

In this episode, recorded four weeks into the war in Gaza, Cindy McCain reflects on finding hope in desperate situations, and raising her voice for the world’s forgotten millions.

“[Donation gaps mean] I'm taking food from hungry people and giving it to starving people. That's a heck of a decision to have to make.”

Cindy Hensley McCain :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Christian poses for a photo with Nadia Murad

“Justice gives relief not only to the victims, but to a prosecutor as well. That is what keeps you upright and keeps you going on and says it is meaningful what you're doing.”

Christian Ritscher’s work brings him into contact with some of humanity’s worst outrages. As head of the UN investigative team to promote accountability for the crimes committed by ISIL in Iraq, he seeks justice for victims of the notoriously violent terror group.

The Islamic State, or ISIL, stands accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Iraq’s Yazidi community were among those worst hit. Christian Ritscher reflects on the impact on survivors, the difficulty of gathering testimony and on keeping faith in humanity when faced with its darkest acts.

Christian Ritscher :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Gordon Brown is seen sitting at a table with his name plate. He is smiling in a relaxed happy mood.

“There is talent, there is potential, there is brilliance in all parts of the world. There's a new Einstein, there's a new Malala, you name the brilliant people around the world [...] if 260 million school aged children are not going to school today, or any day, what a waste.”

A committed public servant, Gordon Brown has a strong sense of social responsibility. Now UN Special Envoy for Global Education, the former Prime Minister of the UK is working towards a powerful vision: giving every child the chance to go to school.

“The lesson for me of all the recent crises is [that] cooperation is an essential element of the new world we're in… we waste our resources by everybody doing their own thing.”

Gordon Brown :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Alice sits at a table holding a notebook and listening with a concerned expression on her face

"There is an increase in the use of torture worldwide. It's partly correlated to the fact that [...] we have more wars going on in this world since 1945. The International Committee of the Red Cross says there are 100 armed conflicts currently going on. And regrettably, with armed conflict comes an uptick in the use of torture and other forms of inhuman treatment."

Dr. Alice Jill Edwards spends many of her days listening to the testimonies of torture victims. Now the UN’s Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, she works towards a world in which torture is finally a thing of the past.

"I rebuke the argument that it's a natural coalescence because I think disciplined troops do not torture."

Alice Jill Edwards :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Catherine Marchi-Uhel speaks to a microphone in the Security Council Chamber

“In Syria, I was really struck by this lack of revenge. I haven't seen many people wanting revenge. They want justice. And that's really a very powerful attitude.”

A former judge, Catherine Marchi-Uhel spent a lifetime pursuing justice. Now leading the quest for accountability for atrocities and war crimes committed in the Syrian civil war, she finds comfort in survivors’ resilience and their determination to move on with their lives.

Catherine Marchi-Uhel reflects on the painstaking job of documenting brutality, the importance of preserving evidence, and how she keeps faith in the face of humanity’s darkest crimes.

Catherine Marchi-Uhel :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Lewis Pugh swimming in the Hudson river

“I believe fundamentally that nations have to work together to solve these big environmental crises, you cannot solve them on your own.”

Lewis Pugh was never afraid to take the plunge. Now ocean advocate for the 香港六合彩开奖 Nations Environment Programme, the record-breaking cold-water swimmer has completed long distance swims at both of the Earth’s Poles, in the Red Sea, and along the length of the Hudson River, to spread a message of habitat renewal and conservation.

Healthy oceans, seas and rivers are essential to supporting life on Earth - providing food, medicine, and acting as the world’s largest carbon sink. In this episode, Lewis Pugh reflects on his love for the water, on his breathtaking swims, and  onbreaking the diplomatic ice to create the world’s largest marine park.

Lewis Pugh :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Erasmia Roumana on the shore.

“I think it's a healthy feeling in such situations to get angry, and not to tolerate or accept the loss of so many lives at sea.”

Erasmia Roumana’s job requires extraordinary strength. Working in Greece as a protection associate with UNHCR, she interviews refugees who have survived devastating shipwrecks at sea after embarking on desperate journeys in search of a better life.

One tragic story stood out over the years. In 2014, Syrian refugee Doaa survived three days at sea following a shipwreck which killed 500 people, including her fiancé. Erasmia shares the latest fateful twist in Doaa’s story and reflects on the courage and resilience of the survivors she meets.

Erasmia Roumana :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Stephen Jackson is seen seated at a youth event.

“I have no doubt that Kenya is on an upward curve. I want the UN to contribute to that. I'm sure we all in the UN want that. And it keeps me awake at night.”

Stephen Jackson fell hard for Africa three decades ago, and never looked back. 

Africa is a continent set on rapid development, with many observers pointing to Kenya’s maturing democracy and green transition as a model for other nations.

In this episode, the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya reflects on Africa’s fascinating diversity, as well as its invigorating self-confidence, resilience and ambition.

Stephen Jackson :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Reena sits in the midst of african women all wearing colorful clothes and looking happy

“You expect children to cry if they're suffering, but they don't even have the energy to cry. And the other thing is, I found that the mothers or the fathers are also silent. You know, luckily, many children survive when they get treatment, they are able to keep living.”

Reena Ghelani knows all too well the jarring silence of a crowded malnutrition ward. Now UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator, she spends every day working on the frontlines of the global fight against hunger. A deadly cocktail of conflict, climate change, and economic shocks have driven record numbers of people around the world to the brink of starvation. Reena reflects on the horrific impacts of hunger, on the lengths parents will go to feed a child and shares her advice for women pursuing a career as a humanitarian.

Reena Ghelani :: interviewed by Melissa Fleming