© Anna Surinyach

Humanitarian Affairs Officer (HAO)

Humanitarian Affairs Officers (HAOs) help MSF to expose the impact that conflict and neglect have on the people we serve and to advocate for them. They also ensure maintained access to our patients. From carefully building a sensitive advocacy strategy to writing reports on the exclusion of certain communities from medical care, the role of an HAO is incredibly varied.

Responsibilities

As a humanitarian affairs officer with Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), you will help MSF expose and advocate about the impact conflict and neglect have on the communities we work with and people we assist. You will likely be based in the capital city with frequent travel to MSF projects and be responsible for gathering information from various stakeholders, including communities, patients and staff. You will provide strategic advice on how MSF can best communicate our voice and our principles to deliver critical humanitarian medical care. You will also advise on how MSF operates and communicates in situations where access to provide medical assistance to communities in need is threatened.

Your primary role will be to use the ‘witnessing’ component of MSF’s mandate to advocate with and for people MSF works with and assists. You will do this by gathering testimonies and stories, using them to document the human impact of disasters and conflicts. The information you gather will be collated, analyzed and used to draw up unbiased reports on a wide variety of issues. These may include: the efficacy of the response of humanitarian actors to a crisis, speaking out about war crimes committed against civilians by armed actors or collecting testimonies from women who have experienced sexual violence due to poor security in displacement camps.

From carefully building a sensitive advocacy strategy to writing reports on the exclusion of certain communities from medical care, the role of a humanitarian affairs officer is incredibly varied.

Requirements

  • Academic background to master’s level in one of the following fields: anthropology, social or political science, law, gender studies
  • Relevant work experience with data collection, qualitative research, human rights monitoring
  • Minimum one year experience in humanitarian advocacy based in a context similar to where MSF works (armed conflicts, disasters, public health emergencies or situations of healthcare exclusion)
  • Good understanding of current humanitarian debates and of the dilemma-compromise nature of modern humanitarian interventions
  • First-rate writing skills and excellent research and analytical skills
  • Experience in managing staff in a multicultural team (supervision and training)
  • Excellent command of English, as well as French (level B2) or another language (Arabic, Spanish). Refer to this evaluation grid
  • Available to work nine to 12 months

Assets

  • Previous experience with international nongovernmental organizations, UN agencies, human rights organizations or protection

MSF Core Competencies

  • Behaviour flexibility: Level 2
    • Adapts behaviour to the needs of the situation
  • Teamwork and cooperation: Level 2
    • Shares information and coordinates with team and others
  • Result and quality orientation: Level 2
    • Works towards objectives, preserving established standards
  • Commitment to MSF principles: Level 1
    • Demonstrates knowledge of and accepts MSF’s principles
  • People management: Level 2
    • Gives feedback and sets limits
  • Cross-cultural awareness: Level 3
    • Demonstrates an integrating attitude
  • Stress management: Level 2
    • Manages own stress
  • Understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI): Level 1
    • Familiarity with EDI concepts and their application in a humanitarian context

Familiarity with EDI concepts and their application in a humanitarian context

To find out more about MSF core competencies, please look here.

You can find a comprehensive view of MSF career paths here.

Before you apply

As you consider applying to undertake an MSF assignment, it is essential that you have a well-informed and realistic personal reflection. Assignments often mean long hours with a heavy workload, basic living conditions, and working and living in often chaotic and volatile environments.

Security and Safety

Because Doctors Without Borders’ purpose is to bring medical assistance to people in distress, the work may occur in settings of active conflict, or in post-conflict environments, in which there are inherent risks, potential danger and ongoing threats to safety and security. MSF acknowledges that it is impossible to exclude all risks, but it does its utmost as an organization to mitigate and manage these risks through strict and comprehensive security protocols.

Please watch this video for information on how MSF manages security.

International staff will be fully informed of the risk associated with a potential assignment before accepting a particular posting. Working for MSF is a deeply personal choice; individuals must determine for themselves the level of risk and the circumstances in which they feel comfortable, based on a full and transparent understanding of the possibilities they may face. Once in the assignment, all MSF staff must strictly observe security rules and regulations; failure to do so may result in dismissal.

Terms of Employment

MSF staff are employees with a salary and benefits. See more information on the terms of employment.

MSF favours at least 2 years of active commitment during which time international staff complete 2 to 4 assignments. There are many possibilities for professional growth within the organization, into the medical, non-medical and coordination streams. For more information on learning and development as well as career opportunities with MSF, see our FAQ.

To learn more about how MSF supports IMGs with EPIC service, free of cost, click here.

Final Thoughts

As you consider applying to undertake an MSF assignment, is it essential that you have a well-informed and realistic personal reflection. Assignments often mean long hours with a heavy workload, basic living conditions, and working and living in often chaotic and volatile environments.

Despite such challenges, thousands of people have worked with MSF over the years and found their experiences in the field to be deeply rewarding, even life-changing. More than anything else, being an MSF international worker means acting in solidarity with people facing unimaginable medical challenges. Your presence alongside people in times of need sends a profoundly meaningful and human message: “You are not forgotten.

Answer all our requirement questions below:

* Required