Lancing aid worker risks life supporting war victims in Iraq

Andrew Wilson from Lancing is based in Northern Iraq
Andrew Wilson from Lancing is based in Northern Iraq

A 30-year-old from Lancing has spoken out about the rewards and challenges of his job working for the UK Government in war-torn countries.

Andrew Wilson has shared his experiences in celebration of World Humanitarian Day, which was observed on Saturday, August 19.

He said it was a ‘great feeling’ helping deliver assistance to people who have fled their homes and said: “Seeing the impact we are having on the lives of people who quite literally, have nothing, is by far the most satisfying part of my job.”

While growing up in Lancing, studying at college in Brighton and working weekend shifts on the shop floors of Debenhams and Burton, Andrew dreamed of being a foreign correspondent for the BBC.

Instead he landed a job with the Department for International Development and is now based in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Visiting camps for internally displaced people, he listens to their experiences to learn how UK assistance can better meet their needs.

Andrew said: “I will never forget arriving at a refugee camp in 48 degree heat and being immediately surrounded by children, who were wonderfully curious to find out who I was, what I was doing there and if I wanted to play with them.

“These children have faced three years living under ISIS control and faced untold trauma. Yet they could still manage a smile.”

However life can be hard, living somewhere that feels ‘a million miles away’ from his family, and Andrew said: “I miss going for a drink in the evening with friends, and walking along the seafront with my dog.”

It is especially hard considering the restrictive security in Iraq, where he said: “Popping out for a pint of milk requires a military-esque operation!”

But it is worth it, he said, adding: “It has been incredible to see how UK support is saving lives through the delivery of water, food and medicine, as well as psycho-social support.”