The UNHCR Montenegro welcomes new Head of the Office

Ms. Brita Helleland has been appointed the UNHCR Representative in Montenegro since 1st of May 2011. Prior to her appointment in Montenegro, she served as UNHCR Representative in Turkmenistan. She also served as Head of Field Offices in Sudan and Sri Lanka, External Relations Officer in UNHCR HQ Geneva and Skopje, FYRoM, Field Officer in Urosevac, Serbia and Liaison Officer in the Regional UNHCR Representation in Stockholm, Sweden. During the nineties, she worked with Norwegian People’s Aid in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and with the Ministry of Local Government and Labor in Norway.

“I worked for many years with tasks related to the refugee situation in the region and also spent several years in the region (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia). It feels good to be back and I am in particular happy to work in Montenegro in a very interesting and challenging period, when the Government and UNHCR are working together to find solutions to the protracted displacement situation in the country. Legislative changes enable some 16,000 refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo to apply for the new legal status of foreigner with permanent or temporary residence. This status will give refugees access to services and rights that will facilitate full integration and help them build a future in the country. Another interesting activity is the joint effort by the Government, EU and the UN to address the critical living conditions of some 1,500 Roma, Ashkalia, Egyptian refugees living in Konik camps in Podgorica”, said Ms. Helelland upon stepping up into a new duty.

I come from a relatively small UN environment in Turkmenistan where we worked actively to enhance the cooperation between UN sister agencies. The UN Country Team in Montenegro appears to have more experience from the Delivering as One process than many other teams and I look forward to join this work. I am hopeful that the process will provide opportunities for UNHCR to work closely and systematically with development actors, particularly in the context of local integration and return assistance to refugees“, she added.

Ms. Helleland studied Journalism and Media at Norwegian Volda University College and earned a Master’s Degree in Nordic Language, Literature and History at the Bergen University in Norway in 1978. She subsequently graduated in Pedagogy (Educational Theory and Practice) from the same university.