Meet the Member: Anthony Kergosien

  • Home
  • News
  • Meet the Member: Anthony Kergosien

Newly-recruited RedR Member Anthony Kergosien is currently Head of Mission for Action Against Hunger in Iraq.

What inspired you to go into humanitarian work?  

Before entering the humanitarian sector, I used to work in the social economy sector. The projects I was involved in were linked to public policies and local development, meaning they had mid- and long-term impacts. I wanted to be more in line with concrete and short-term impacts, which drove me to the humanitarian sector. My way in was emergency response, combining solidarity, professionalism and concrete action. Having a concrete and sustainable impact is a difficult yet exciting challenge, all the more when involved with national staff, local NGOs and communities.

"I'm proud of my Red Cross roots"

You have quite extensive experience with the Red Cross movement.  Could you tell us a bit about your work there? What attracted you to work with them? 

I am proud that I began as a volunteer in the Red Cross movement. At first, I joined the French Red Cross Emergency Pool, being deployed in key operations as well as managing the pool. I was deployed as team leader, operations coordinator, relief coordinator, or field coordinator. Although my position varied, there was always a common, basic principle of solidarity shared among my colleagues and me. We could have managed the operation in full autonomy, but our focus was on supporting the national branch in an emergency context through coaching and capacity-building. We do the operations with them, but not instead of them. That was very interesting from my point of view.

From principles to practice

From your experience, what do you think is the most important thing about putting humanitarian principles into practice? 

It is challenging to make the humanitarian principles concrete in the field. Take an example of what my team and I went through in Iraq when working with the internally displaced population. Given the nature of the conflict, discrimination was common and the politicisation of humanitarian assistance was a daily challenge. Are INGOs supposed to intervene in such circumstances? It is a difficult question, and the decision must be made considering beneficiaries’ needs, first and foremost; having clear red lines; and combining intervention with advocacy and clear positioning. Balancing humanitarian principles and the humanitarian imperative is an eternal debate but a very timely topic. For me, as a humanitarian worker, it is very important not to give up these principles. It is our responsibility to make the principles effective, efficient and more in line with the ethical challenges we face and the complexity of the world today, so that we can provide the assistance we are supposed to provide. 


What other challenges do you face in emergency or crisis response? 

The most challenging aspect during deployment in an emergency is always the balance between time constraints, understanding the situation, identifying the needs and vulnerability of the beneficiaries and community, and understanding local actors’ capacity. In most emergencies, we only had about 10 days to go through assessment and launch an emergency response. As a coordinator, you are a decision-maker. You have to make decisions although you do not have all the elements in hand. That is often very difficult because you know that at the end you are dealing with life-saving assistance. For me it is the most challenging but also the most stimulating and exciting element of what I do. 

It is our responsibility to make the principles effective, efficient and more in line with the ethical challenges we face and the complexity of the world today, so that we can provide the assistance we are supposed to provide.

Anthony Kergosien

RedR Member and Country Director for Action Against Hunger in Iraq

"Be flexible, open-minded and curious"

Did this challenge happen in your work in the response to the Ebola outbreak too?

Yes, I did four rounds of the Ebola response. It was very new for everybody. Nobody knew how exactly to deal with this kind of outbreak at this scale. Besides what I just said on the usual challenges in emergency response, there was also a high level of risk for my team, for medical teams and obviously the population of the countries. We knew that we would improve our collective response, but at the same time, we were involved in an intervention with very high risk. What I saw was something amazing and very special - so many people in my team, the local NGOs, other NGOs and INGOs accepted to face this risk to be involved in and committed to the response. 


Do you have any advice for people who might be newer to this sector?

My advice would be to be flexible, open-minded and curious because the way to find solutions in a very chaotic situation sometimes is to have high level of creativity and flexibility as well as a solution-oriented outlook. 


Could you tell us why you want to be a RedR Member?

I find it very interesting that RedR has a strong position in supporting and training local humanitarian workers because coaching humanitarian workers already in the field is key to creating change in the humanitarian sector in the mid and long term. 

I also like the idea of being a part of a network of sharing lessons learned. Even when you have got experience, you should always be ready to learn, to be open and curious, and to change your point of view. I find RedR a flexible network which adds value to the sector in terms of technical expertise and management skills. 

Thank you for this opportunity to share my views.  I am super excited to enter this network. I am looking forward to meeting all the Members and to be involved in trainings, events or discussions. 

Join RedR's Global Membership

Humanitarians with five years of professional experience are eligible to become RedR Members, while aspiring aid workers can join our Affiliate Scheme.