17 Mar 2015
Vincent Cochetel was held hostage for 317 days in 1998, while working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Chechnya. For the first time, he recounts the experience - from what it was like to live in a dark, underground chamber, chained to his bed, to the unexpected conversations he had with his captors. With lyricism and power, he explains why he continues his work today. Since 2000, attacks on humanitarian aid workers have tripled - and he wonders what that rise may signal to the world.
Cochetel is currently Director of the UNHCR's European Bureau. There he focuses on the specific challenges of the region - maintaining quality in asylum-seeking procedures, ensuring access to protection for those fleeing the conflict in Syria, combatting a rise in xenophobia, and allocating resources for those affected by conflicts of the past.