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Home »» Moroccan Of The Month

Ahmed Jabri  [ July, 2002 ]
Ahmed Jabri

I am a consultant in the fields of emergency, humanitarian operations, human rights, and public international law.

I was born in Rabat, November 23, 1958, and graduated from the Law School of Mohamed V University in Law and Political Science in 1980. I pursued graduate studies in Public Law at the same law school while undertaking my national civil service at the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Rabat. After brief stays in Europe, I went to the Middle East, Turkey and Egypt where I studied Islamic Banking and Economics, then to Saudi Arabia where I worked for a financial institution for a couple of years.

After traveling to the Far East, I came to the US in l986 and finally settled in San Diego, California. After several business ventures, I went to a business school, then took computer courses at a San Diego college. I also served for two years in the United States Army and was stationed in Germany.

In 1989, I was hired as a Market Research Analyst for Computer Intelligence, a subsidiary of Ziff Davis Publishing, the leading publisher of computer magazines in the US, while finishing my graduate business courses. I eventually received a Masterís in Business Administration in 1991. A few years later, I finished a second Masterís in Public International Law from the University of Leiden (near the Hague), the Netherlands.

While I have traveled extensively in Latin America and Africa, and lived in many parts of the developing world, including my country of origin, Morocco, my humanitarian career really began in 1994 during the Rwandan genocide, which was spreading to neighboring countries. I was recruited by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as a Field Officer coordinating emergency humanitarian operations to tens of thousands of Rwandan refugees who crossed the borders to Burundi, another country that was itself on the verge of genocide.

I later worked as a legal protection officer for UNHCR on the borders of Guinea/Liberia and Sierra Leone, then returned for more assignments in the Great Lakes region (Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Congo (ex-Zaire)) with various UN agencies such as the UN Development Program (UNDP), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and US-based non-governmental organizations (NGO) such as the Los Angeles-based International Medical Corps (IMC) and the New York- based International Rescue Committee (IRC) where I managed emergency operations between the two Congos (Kinshasa and Brazzaville) during the war in Congo Brazzaville. Some of my most vivid and cherished memories have come from my frequent crossings of the Congo River delivering medical supplies, goods and equipment.

After several months working with the UN in Rwanda setting up a disaster/emergency management agency for the government of Rwanda, I was later recruited by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as a Democracy and Governance Officer working on legal, judicial, political, and human rights issues. One of the most daunting tasks was to find a solution for more than a 125,000 detainees accused of genocide and awaiting trial in a country in shambles without the resources or the infrastructure to cope with this large number of detainees in the midst of other equally pressing priorities, particularly the countryís economy and Rwandaís security.

Other humanitarian programs Iíve been involved with include establishing emergency assistance and reconstruction programs in Kosovo after NATOís liberation of the ex-Yugoslav province, managing agriculture, food, and water sanitation projects in Southern Ethiopia for the American Red Cross. I also served as a legal consultant with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) based in Addis Ababa, providing legal advice on issues pertaining to international agreements.

The Red Cross later seconded me to the International Federation of the Red Cross/Crescent on the borders of Pakistan/Afghanistan. While there, I was responsible for the operation and logistics of supplies of goods and services to the Afghan refugees as part of the international humanitarian response.

Recently, I worked for Atlanta-based, CARE USA, one of the world largest relief and development organizations, as the Emergency Response Manager in the West Bank and Gaza. During the past couple of months, I coordinated medical and humanitarian supplies to Palestinian towns under military closure or curfew. I'm proud to say that as one of the first humanitarian workers to go inside Jenin during the siege and curfew, I was able, along with my colleagues, to supply medicine, water and food to the besieged population. I also started a water sanitation project to supply the population who urgently needed water. We also set up earth moving equipment to clean the streets of rubble and piled garbage. Both of these efforts helped the besieged people of Jenin, since the water pipes had been destroyed and most of the infrastructure was gone in the camp area of Jenin. We also continued to supply hospitals and clinics throughout the West Bank and Gaza with needed drugs, disposables and equipment.

One of the tangible gains of working in this field is that I see immediate benefits to the people we help - establishing projects for rebuilding housing and schools; implementing programs for basic human services and infrastructure; designing a mine awareness campaign project; assisting farmers; delivering water, medical supplies, food, and shelter. Advocating human rights, strengthening civil society and protecting the most vulnerable people - particularly women and children - in war zones and conflict areas has been the real impetus for staying in the field.

Now that Iím back in Atlanta, Iím continuing the type of work I enjoy, the kind of work where I can go into an area and make a difference by setting up programs and helping people in the direst of needs. My wife, a Palestinian-American who I met in Rwanda, also works in the same field, currently directing worldwide programs for HIV/AIDS.

My hobbies are mainly reading, running, and travel. My adventure travel includes exploring the Bolivian Amazon; climbing Kilimanjaro and other East African peaks; trekking the mountains of Peru; four wheeling in the African jungles and plains searching for wildlife; unwinding in Zanzibar and seafaring in the islands of the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean; or simply strolling through the backwater bazaars of New Delhi, Quetta, Antigua Guatemala, or BangkokÖ

Yet the more I have traveled, the more I appreciate where I came from. We go back to Morocco as often as we can to see my relatives and my momís olive groves around Marrakech.

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