Back in Georgia after 21 years
Dorte Broen, Denmark
I first visited Georgia in 1995, as part of a fact-finding mission for the Danish Refugee Council. I was even lucky enough to visit Sukhumi in Abkhazia at that time. Ever since I wished to come back! My dream was realized in April 2016 when I was seconded by Denmark to the EUMM in Georgia.
I have a mix of experience from NGOs and consultancy work, as well as from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I have lived in Africa, first working in Eritrea and later in Uganda. I have also done a few short-term OSCE election observer missions. When my 21-years old daughter flew the nest, I took the opportunity to go abroad again.
I joined the Field Office in Zugdidi as a monitor and continued as a Deputy Team Leader in the Human Security Team. Our task is to monitor the impact of the conflict on people on both sides of the Administrative Boundary Line. In addition to reporting about the situation, we also follow relevant legislative and policy developments. Meeting the people affected by the conflict as well as engaging with NGOs is the most valuable part of my job.
As one of our main priorities is Freedom of Movement for schoolchildren, I have met and talked to several pupils of different ages. Some of them have to struggle a lot every day to cross the boundary line to attend school. This makes them small heroes in my eyes.
As the Gender Focal Point in our Field Office, I also engaged a lot with schoolchildren when coordinating the activities for the ‘16 Days Campaign against Gender-Based Violence’, which theme this year was “safe education for all”. Besides the schoolchildren’s motivation to be educated, I was astonished by their love and affection towards their country, which is not always usual for such young people.
I have been very pleased to see that gender mainstreaming is highly prioritized in all EU-missions, including in this mission. Integrating the gender perspective in all levels of our work, without any doubt increases the EU’s crisis management efficiency and is also in line with the various UN Security Council Resolutions.
Georgia must be one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but the beauty of the people and their souls is even more amazing. Once I had the chance to meet an elderly lady, who literally lives on the boundary line between Abkhazia and the Tbilisi Administered Territory. She knew everyone in the neighborhood and was not afraid of anything. She was reluctant to her children’s offer to live with them in Tbilisi; she loves her own house, garden and the nature surrounding it. I will never forget this lady, she was strong, courageous and very powerful!
I believe EUMM makes a real difference. Monitoring closely the situation on the ground and facilitating information exchange among the parties are valuable efforts to ensure no return to hostilities. Contributing to local communities getting on with their lives as safely and normally as possible feels rewarding.