In light of the launch of the Selection Mission Experience Exchange Programme, we had a few words with Erika Löfgren (E.L.) and Tim Sparla (T.S.), who are the coordinators behind this initiative
Erika and Tim have been working with EU-FRANK pilots since late 2018 – Erika focusing on how to coordinate and simplify states planning of resettlement activities, and Tim on possible joint ventures between states. As it became clear that both areas have a lot of overlap, they started working closer together.
How did you become a pilot coordinator in EU-FRANK?
E.L. – I had worked for UNHCR before coming to the Migration Agency in 2006, so resettlement is an area that lies very close to my heart. I think that providing protection to those most in need is very important, giving a possibility to the ones that cannot make the journey here themselves to apply for asylum. When I saw that the project was looking for persons to engage in developing pilots in resettlement, I thought it would be exciting, having seen the UN-side before, to be on the side of the State now!
T.S. – Unlike Erika, who came in to work with the pilots, I had been involved in EU-FRANK’s work before. When these focused assignments started taking shape, they approached me with the idea of leading this one on Mission Support. It was for me a new opportunity to be part of an international cooperation initiative, which I think is great. I had experienced the power of cooperation before when I [as a case officer - Ed.] interviewed for family reunification and we had international meetings where we could share issues and challenges. These meetings were so helpful that it made me realise how important a network can be to the resettlement community.
"At the end of the day, it is so important to know who people are and get people talking. What we want is for there to be a structure that makes this possible!" - Erika Löfgren
What did you work with before taking on this assignment?
T.S. – I come from the resettlement unit of the Netherlands, and in the years before EU-FRANK I acted as a head of mission, which means being responsible for organizing and coordinating resettlement missions, from submission of a case for consideration to the actual arrival of the individual or family on Dutch ground. I have occasionally acted as a resettlement officer doing interviews, mostly to Turkey but also Lebanon, Jordan and Uganda and have also worked with relocation from Greece and Italy.
E.L. – I have been working as a team leader in one of the asylum units here in Sweden for a few years, and before that worked in the agency’s 24h-on-call unit at Arlanda airport for several years. Coming to EU-FRANK has been great in order to bring back international cooperation to my work.
What has been the most exciting aspect of your assignment?
E.L. – The most exciting for me has been the change! I have worked on the operational side for so long, with a very clear assignment within our organization, and then suddenly I have this possibility to test new things and find new ways for people to work together . At the same time, this freedom is also challenging! I also believe everything is better with cooperation, so I am very happy to see that countries can work together and how much we can achieve through that.
T.S. – I second that – the moments when we are working together, when resettlement officers meet are always exciting . It can be a meeting or an exchange like the one we organized in Amman early 2019, but any occasion when we meet and get to talk to each other and learn from one another is great. With all that, being a part of this Network within EU-FRANK has been incredible.
"Although we come from such different backgrounds and cultures, it is clear that despite the differences there are so many similarities as to how we do things." - Tim Sparla
To conclude, what is happening in your assignments now that the project is in its final stages?
T.S. – There will be a second meeting in this exchange program concept that we are testing now and we hope to provide specific exchange opportunities for the the States in between both workshops.
E.L. – It feels like things are really coming together now! In this exchange program we are bringing together different aspects of the project and are talking about several parts of the resettlement process.
Author: Gabriela Prado
Last modified: 2019-12-20