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Awake At Night

English, News, 9 seasons, 107 episodes, 2 days, 12 hours, 55 minutes
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Extraordinary personal stories from people who have put themselves in harm’s way to help refugees.
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Racing to prevent famine in Gaza - Matthew Hollingworth - World Food Programme (WFP)

Matthew Hollingworth has worked in conflict zones around the world, from Ukraine to South Sudan and Syria. Previously in charge of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) emergency operations in the West Bank and Gaza, Matthew was responsible for delivering life-saving aid to desperate people. “People ask me every single day when I'm in Gaza: “When will the bombs stop? When will the fighting stop? When will they stop blowing things up? When can I go home?” We don't have the answers. But we do know that that is what's needed.” WFP delivers food relief to more than 120 countries across the world suffering the impacts of conflicts, disasters and climate change. In this episode (recorded on 21 June 2024), Matthew Hollingworth reflects on his daily struggle to prevent famine in Gaza, on the apocalyptic scale of the destruction there, and on the morale boost he gets from working with extraordinary colleagues on the ground.  
7/19/202438 minutes, 4 seconds
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To fight global hunger, farmers know best - Beth Bechdol - Deputy Director-General - UN Food & Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Growing up on a farm, Beth Bechdol never dreamed of following in her agricultural family’s footsteps. Now Deputy Director-General of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), she has not only returned to her roots, but is now fighting the corner of farmers the world over. “I know what it takes to grow a crop and to provide enough support for your animals. And if you don't have access to any of that, it's crushing. These are the things that on a regular basis keep me up at night.” The United Nations works to defeat hunger and achieve food security around the world, providing emergency agricultural aid to help mitigate food crises. In this episode, Beth Bechdol reflects on the perils of donor fatigue, on the devastation wrought on agriculture by war and climate change, and on what the world can learn from the wisdom of farmers.
7/3/202435 minutes, 40 seconds
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Breaking Barriers to Progress - Achim Steiner - Head of United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

Born in Brazil to German parents, Achim Steiner knows first hand the power of cultural exchange to drive international cooperation. Now head of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), he leads global efforts to secure a better future for our planet and its people. “The clearest lesson from 50 years of modern development thinking is don't try and just pick one aspect and put all your eggs in that basket. Society is complex, development is about choices. And you will either get them right and succeed or you will fall apart.” Across the world, the UN supports efforts to end poverty, tackle climate change, and break barriers to progress and development. Yet brutal conflicts can reverse decades of progress in a few short months. In this episode, Achim Steiner reflects on the thorniest challenges facing humanity, on his hopes for a fairer, cleaner future, and on the vital lessons he learned in rural Pakistan. “How, in our age, do we overcome this competition between ecology and economy, which is leading us to so many destructive and ultimately, increasingly catastrophic realities around the world?”
6/27/202429 minutes, 52 seconds
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Human rights is our strongest tool - Volker Türk - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Volker Türk has the greatest respect for those able to hold onto hope when all appears to be lost. As United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, he has devoted his life and career to helping the world’s most vulnerable people. “What has always struck me was encounters with people who are extremely resilient … who actually see hope, including in the most atrocious circumstances, and who just keep doing the right thing.” The Office he leads works around the world to uphold human rights, speaking out against all abuses and empowering people to claim their rights. In this episode, Volker Türk reflects on holding rulebreakers to account, the strength displayed by refugees, and why the best ideas often arrive in the dead of night. “Human rights … is the strongest tool that we have in our hands to be a voice of those who don't have power and to speak truth to those who have the power and to make sure that they understand that yes, that there are limits to power.”
6/20/202440 minutes, 28 seconds
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Everybody has Purpose - Amy Pope - Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Amy Pope has always championed humane and orderly migration as an opportunity for societies, not a problem. Now the first female Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) she is campaigning for a fundamental shift in attitudes towards newcomers. “You just give somebody a little space. Everybody has purpose. Everybody has dreams, everybody wants to be seen.” Human migration is likely to rise over the coming decades, with the IOM predicting that hundreds of millions of people could be displaced due to climate change alone. In this episode, Amy Pope reflects on how better to prepare communities and why celebrating the contributions of migrants is a win-win for societies around the world.  “The evidence is pretty overwhelming that it doesn't even take very long for migration to actually pay out pretty significantly for the communities who host the migrants, and definitely for the communities that migrants are coming from.”
6/13/202438 minutes, 44 seconds
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A Privilege to Serve Humanity - Joyce Msuya - OCHA - Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Big or small, Joyce Msuya has always found ways to give back. Now Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, she oversees the global response to the world’s worst crises. “For me, personally, it's a privilege to serve humanity. I wake up every morning and think about how I can shift the needle in someone's life.” From Gaza to Ukraine, Haiti to Sudan, the UN estimates 300 million people around the world are in need of life-saving assistance and protection. In this episode, Joyce Msuya reflects on keeping hope alive despite waking to fresh crises every day, on the shocking impacts of climate-related extreme weather, and on the long-term benefits of a strict boarding school. “A peaceful world would be a gift for all humanity. There's just too much suffering everywhere. If we can live a better and more peaceful world for our children than what we are currently living with, then humanity will be well served.”
6/7/202437 minutes, 41 seconds
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With AI, We’re Building the Plane Mid-Flight - Doreen Bogdan-Martin - International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General

Doreen Bogdan-Martin’s fascinating career handed her a front row seat for the digital revolution. Now Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), she’s among those leading global efforts to set guardrails on the use of Artificial Intelligence. “I think we've never seen anything like this before … the plane is in flight and we're building it while we're flying - it's tremendous.” AI presents huge opportunities for humanity, but also poses great risks. In this episode, Doreen Bogdan-Martin reflects on working to ensure the humane and sustainable use of AI, on connecting the billions around the world who are not yet online, and on juggling a career with four children. “2.6 billion people don't have access to the internet … if you're not part of the digital revolution, you're not going to be part of the AI revolution – we’ve got to close that gap.”
5/30/202436 minutes, 43 seconds
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Unlocking the Power of Youth - Jayathma Wickramanayake - Sr. policy advisor, UN Women

Appointed to a senior UN role aged just 26, Jayathma Wickramanayake’s career trajectory testifies to the power of education. Now senior policy advisor at UN Women, she is working to empower all women and girls to fulfill their potential – whatever their background. “I was never told that because I was a girl, I couldn't do X, Y or Z. [My parents] always encouraged us to explore our passions … as long as we put education first, because that was non-negotiable.” Despite significant progress on gender parity, too many girls and women still miss out on quality education, with women making up about two-thirds of the world’s 776 million illiterate adults. In this episode, Jayathma Wickramanayake reflects on the global hunger for learning, her beginnings in conflict-ridden Sri-Lanka, and her hopes for her own baby son. “I would always say, don't wait for advice. Don't wait for invitations. Just look around, you will find ways to contribute to change in your own family, in your own community, in your college, in your university and in your country.”
5/24/202438 minutes, 32 seconds
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No Place Like Home - Mohamed Yahya - UN Resident Coordinator, Pakistan

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 United Nations have involved helping displaced people return to their towns years after they fled a brutal conflict. “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.” Until recently working with internally displaced communities in northern Nigeria, the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Pakistan is a life-long champion of community-led development. In this episode, Mohamed Yahya reflects on the challenge of rebuilding scattered communities, on his experiences of being a refugee twice, and on the lasting allure of home. “Somebody who lived in an IDP camp … [is] suddenly back home, in dignity, self-reliant and thinking, ‘I want to reimagine what life means for me’ … Yes, I'm very proud.”
5/16/202439 minutes, 7 seconds
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The Human Cost of War - Philippe Lazzarini - Head of UNRWA

Philippe Lazzarini holds one of the most challenging positions in the whole of the United Nations. As head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he is leading the backbone of the humanitarian operation in Gaza. “Ceasefire, ceasefire, ceasefire. If we have a ceasefire and the opening of the crossing, and we can flood assistance to the Gaza Strip, we would be able to prevent this catastrophe.” Following the devastating terror attacks by Hamas and others on 7 October, Israel’s military operations in Gaza have brought unspeakable death and destruction.  2.2 million Palestinians are in the midst of an epic humanitarian catastrophe. The world’s leading experts on food insecurity have clearly documented that famine in the northern part of Gaza is imminent. The healthcare system is collapsing. Desperation and scarcity have led to a near-total breakdown in law and order. In this episode**, Philippe Lazzarini reflects on the trauma of the past months and the human cost of war. ** Episode recorded on 22 April 2024
5/10/202432 minutes, 5 seconds
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Season 9

Conflict, humanitarian disasters, climate change. Our world and its people are facing huge challenges. Wherever and whenever crisis hits, the United Nations staff are both on the ground saving lives and negotiating at the highest levels to alleviate suffering. This work is only possible due to the personal sacrifices made every day by UN staff around the world. So, what motivates someone to lead the global fight for human rights, equality, or justice? Join UN chief communicator Melissa Fleming as she gets to know the extraordinary people behind the organisation. Coming soon from the United Nations, Season 9 of Awake at Night.
5/3/20241 minute, 7 seconds