Press Release

UNIC - PRESS RELEASE : From Refugee to United Nations Chief in Pakistan

27 May 2024

Mohamed Yahya tells his story on ‘Awake at Night’

From Refugee to United Nations Chief in Pakistan

Mohamed Yahya tells his story on ‘Awake at Night’

Mohamed Yahya, the new United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Pakistan, is a refugee from Somalia; he and his family can't go home. He told Melissa Fleming, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, his story in this season’s second episode of ‘Awake At Night’, called “No place like home”.

Caption: From Refugee to United Nations Chief in Pakistan

Mohamed Yahya tells his story on ‘Awake at Night’

ISLAMABAD, May 22, 2024: A former child refugee, Mohamed Yahya knows the life-long pain of yearning for a lost home. That’s why some of his most emotional experiences with the UN have involved helping displaced people return to their towns years after they fled a brutal conflict. In his previous posting in Nigeria, he had the incredible privilege of helping whole communities return home to the north of the country, years after they had to flee from the militant group Boko Haram.

Mohamed Yahya, of Somalia, became Resident Coordinator in Pakistan in January this year; he also serves as the UN Humanitarian Coordinator. He has more than 20 years of experience in development and peacebuilding. Prior to Pakistan, he served as the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Nigeria.


 “I have been displaced from my own home at the age of three or four, when we left home in Somalia. A little bit of me was, I must say, envious of them, that they're able to go back home. I always imagine how I'll feel when I go back home without fear. As a refugee, there's always a sense of something missing. Because you're deprived of going back to where you were born.”

“We at the UN are in the business of hope and selling hope. Many things concern me, including climate risk. But we signed up to this job to work for the UN, to do what we do so that we can help the world. So it can be a better place for everybody, including my own daughter.”

“I'm really excited about this new job in Pakistan. I am tasked to work across the entire UN presence and be the Humanitarian Coordinator to support Pakistan's development ambition, its acceleration to meet the SDGs, but also its ability to deal with climate induced crises such as flooding and other forms of climate-related impacts. So exciting times, I'm looking forward to that. And the UN has a huge presence in Pakistan.”

Note to editors:

§  The audio podcast ( ‘No place like home’) can be watched here:

§  The video trailer and photos can be downloaded here:

§  Full transcript of the podcast and more information:

For more information, please contact:

United Nations Information Centre in Pakistan (UNIC)
Catherine Weibel,, +92 300 854 0058
Mahvash Haider Ali,, +92 319 071 2828

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