NGO Forum Director – North East Syria 161 views

About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps works in places of transition, where conflict, disaster, political upheaval, or economic collapse present opportunities to build more secure, productive, and just communities. Providing emergency relief in times of crisis, we move quickly to help communities recover and build resilience to future shocks, and promote sustainable change by supporting community-led and market-driven initiatives. Recognizing both the great potential and the complex challenges faced by the Middle East, since 1989 Mercy Corps has been implementing a range of humanitarian assistance and development programs tailored to the specific needs of the region and of those communities where we work.

Specific to the Syria Response, Mercy Corps has been exceptionally committed to the formal and informal humanitarian coordination structures. Within North East Syria (NES) due to unique coordination arrangements, the NES NGO Forum is the core coordination body for the humanitarian response, taking the lead on operational coordination, inter-sector coordination, policy and advocacy, liaison and negotiations with local authorities and external representation through the Syria coordination architecture as well as with donors and other key stakeholders. The Forum is the main body to advocate on behalf of NGOs in NES on bureaucratic impediments, operational documents required by authorities (e.g. registration procedures), relocations of IDPs, COVID restriction and other issues impacting the response. The forum has replicated a UN-style coordination system for NES actors and is leading the Inter Sector Working Group consisting of sector coordinators seconded from NGOs (Health, nutrition, WASH, S/NFI, FSL, education, protection, child protection, mine action, early recovery and livelihoods, sites and settlements, cash, MHPSS). ISWG is a part of WoS architecture and contributes to the WoS HPC products and reporting. The NES Forum is currently working on an advocacy strategy and actively contributes to advocacy products on the regional and global level through engagements with other actors such as SIRF and InterAction. Mercy Corps has been supporting and hosting the NGO Forum in NES for several years and is now looking for a NES NGO Forum Director.

The NGO Forum team has grown in the past 3 years from two people to nine people, both as the geographical scope of the response has increased as well as due to the increasing functions and tasks the forum performs for the members in NES – for example, over the last year the NGO Forum has expanded its scope to engage more closely with local NGOs. While the forum has over 40 members, in practice, there are an additional 150 local NGOs in the area which the forum strives to represent, while there are a large number of actors, including the UN and stabilization partners which the Forum ensures close linkages with to improve the overall coherence of the response. As the context continues to increase in complexity, the need for a strong forum to strategize, have independent dialogue and engage with local authorities and other stakeholders to maintain a permissive environment is of utmost importance. The position strives to enhance field coordination as well as provide for systematic linkages to the Whole of Syria coordination structure.

The successful candidate will serve as the focal point for coordination needs of NGOs operating in the North East Syria. They will act in their interest in sharing information and advocating for populations needs. The position will support day-to-day coordination between NGO Team Leaders based in North East Syria; Liaise with Country Directors overseeing North East Syria operations; Coordinate with the Whole of Syria structure to ensure North East Syria needs are accounted for and addressed. The NGO Forum Director will work towards: 1) ensuring greater implementation coherence among NGOs, 2) identifying needs, highlighting gaps and advocating to improve the response, 3) articulate the sensitivities and challenges of the operating environment to internal and external stakeholders 4) strengthening information sharing between NGOs and between NGO community and other Syria Response Coordination structures (Whole of Syria, Hub/Clusters, NGO Forums, etc.)

The NES NGO Forum Director will have overall oversight of the coordination structure for North East Syria and adjust it as required, taking into consideration the operational complexities and strategic guidance of the NES Forum steering Committee. They will act as the main focal point for any new NGOs planning on expanding into the area. The successful candidate will work impartially with all partners active in North East Syria inclusive of the United Nations.

Essential Job Responsibilities


● Lead a coordination unit that provides appropriate, effective and efficient coordination between partners in North East Syria, including monthly coordination meetings with all team leads, ad hoc thematic meetings as required e.g. to update on contextual shifts or to develop common positions to respond to impediments imposed by authorities.

● Ensure partners work collectively, towards complementarity, coherence and harmonization of assistance delivery, including through facilitation of area-based workshops e.g. dedicated workshops on response to key areas such as Deir Ez Zor and Raqaa

● Convene and facilitate regular field level coordination meetings and ensure they are well-managed, action and results-oriented and documented such as specific response focused meetings about camps or priority areas.

● Ensure coordination structure is supported by a data-sharing infrastructure, through oversight of the Information Management Unit and in close coordination with the NES Forum Inter-Sector Working Group Coordinator and NES Forum Analyst. Support increased linkages and coordination with Local NGOs, in line with Forum commitments to enhance coordination with local actors.

● Establish/maintain appropriate coordination mechanisms between field level and Country Directors.

● Ensure effective information sharing both within the North East Syria partners with regional Syria Response coordination forums such as Whole of Syria clusters, hubs and NGO Forums.

● Assess coordination/communication gaps and priorities, gather lessons learned/feedback from other Syria Response coordination structures to enhance the North East Syria coordination model.


● In agreement with NGOs and with inputs from NGOs on key positions, maintain a healthy relationship with the local governance structure in North East Syria and act as the focal point for all NGOs when required and agreed upon.

● In agreement with NGOs, maintain a healthy relationship with the donors providing them with regular updates as required.

● In agreement with NGOs, attend regional level cluster/ sector coordination meetings to advocate for North East Syria. Network and conduct outreach to regional coordination structure representatives.

● Act as entry/focal point for any new NGOs planning expansion for the area.

● Represent NES NGOs with the UN, WoS Architecture, including SSG and support the ISWG Coordinator on the WoS ISG


● Oversee Coordination of emergency preparedness and contingency planning among NGOs, with the overall lead of the NES Inter-Sector Working Group Coordinator

● Promote and support training of humanitarian personnel and capacity building of humanitarian partners. Advise on training opportunities.

● Oversee the delivery of training on humanitarian principles and joint operating principles, delivered by the local NGO Coordinator and Liaison focal point, to both authorities as well as local NGOs.


● Structure and lead the NES Forum Secretariat team for effective and efficient coordination in North East Syria that is: the ISWG Unit including Information Management Team, the Local NGO Coordination and Liaison Unit and the Advocacy and Access Unit.

● Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.

● Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback via regular performance reviews

● Hire, orient and supervise new team members as necessary.

● Provide team members with information, tools and other resources to improve performance and reach objectives.


● Oversee all NES Forum grants, and work with finance, Ops, and Mercy Corps NES support services team to ensure the forum meets all objectives in accordance with Mercy Corps Program Management guidelines

● Liaise with donors on active NES forum grants to ensure they are updated and abreast of all developments

● Contribute to reporting and proposal development for all NES Forum grants and activities Manage Forum budget and allocation of resources


● Ensure compliance with security procedures and policies as determined by country leadership.

● Proactively ensure that team members operate in a secure environment and are aware of policies.

● Regularly liaise with, and coordinate with, MC Syria Safety and Security Director.

Supervisory Responsibility

NES NGO Forum Inter-Sector Coordinator, NES Forum Analyst, NES Forum NGO Coordinator and Liaison focal point and NES Forum Area-Based Coordinator (West NES),


Reports Directly to: Director of Field Programs, NES Forum Steering Committee

Accountable to: NES Forum members and NES Forum Steering Committee (comprised of 7 representatives from NGOs)

Works Directly with: North East Syria Team Leaders; North East Syria Country Directors; Whole of Syria Coordination Forums; United Nations; Local Authorities; Erbil-based stakeholders.


Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.

Knowledge and Experience

● BA/S or equivalent in a relevant field required; MA preferred.

● 5-7 years of field experience in international relief and development, preference for previous NES, Syria or Middle East experience.

● Demonstrated success working effectively and respectfully with host country government, INGO, NGO partners and other stakeholders in complex, ongoing, chronic and acute conflict environments.

● Experience with remote management contexts.

● Proven understanding of the international humanitarian response architecture, including coordination mechanisms, humanitarian reform and action, and funding mechanisms (e.g.

● Consolidated Appeals Process, Central Emergency Response Fund and Flash Appeals).

● Dedication to the core humanitarian standard and humanitarian principles..

● Knowledge of, and experience interpreting/explaining international humanitarian law to non-humanitarian partners.

● Demonstrated experience in coordination and/or lead advocacy roles, preferably within formal coordination structures and/or advocacy consortia.

● Successful and proven negotiation, communication and organization skills.

● Successful track record of leading medium-sized teams to success, effective budget management, and success working with dual supervisory groups.

● Ability to work effectively with an ethnically diverse stakeholder base in a sensitive environment.

● HEAT training or similar is an advantage..

● Understanding of International Humanitarian Law will be an asset.

● Accomplished with speaking and writing in English; knowledge of Kurdish an asset, knowledge of Arabic an advantage.

Success Factors

The successful candidate will have the ability to network effectively and influence and inspire others. They will have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, will be highly motivated and possess ability to work independently. They will have the ability to undertake strategic analysis and translate thinking into practice. They will be an excellent advocate and influencer of principled humanitarian action in complex environments. The candidate should have strong negotiation skills to liaise with authorities and support in maintaining humanitarian space for partners, advocating for principled humanitarian action, and ensuring the rights of program participants and beneficiaries. They will work with sensitive issues in a multi-cultural environment and with virtual or/and dispersed teams and will have the ability to build confidence and to find creative and constructive solutions to difficult issues. The successful candidate will build trust and alliances and will empower others. They should like traveling, possess a good sense of humor, must be fond of coordination and understand its critical role for efficient and effective principled humanitarian response. Preferably you are intensely passionate about advocating for those who have been displaced by conflict and have a solid grasp of IHL.

Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions

This role is currently based in Derik with regular travel to other locations inside NES and KRI, context and security permitting. This position is unaccompanied and eligible for hardship, R&R, and home leave allowances as well as regular employment benefits. Living conditions are in group housing: water, electricity and internet are present with occasional cuts.

A Note on Recruitment Timeline

The post holder is expected to arrive in Erbil, Iraq on or around the first week of January, 2021. It is expected that a two week mandatory COVID quarantine will be required on arrival though this may change depending on guidance from the authorities in KRI. Following quarantine, the post holder will have a one-month handover period with the outgoing Forum Director – two weeks for meetings in Erbil, followed by two weeks for meetings inside NES.

Ongoing Learning

In support of our belief that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities we serve, we empower all team members to dedicate 5% of their time to learning activities that further their personal and/or professional growth and development

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity

Mercy Corps is an equal opportunity employer that does not tolerate discrimination on any basis. We actively seek out diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and skills so that we can be collectively stronger and have sustained global impact. **

We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics

Mercy Corps is committed to ensuring that all individuals we come into contact with through our work, whether team members, community members, program participants or others, are treated with respect and dignity. We are committed to the core principles regarding prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse laid out by the UN Secretary General and IASC. We will not tolerate child abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse, or harassment by or of our team members. As part of our commitment to a safe and inclusive work environment, team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, respect local laws and customs, and to adhere to Mercy Corps Code of Conduct Policies and values at all times. Team members are required to complete mandatory Code of Conduct elearning courses upon hire and on an annual basis.

How to Apply

  • Apply here.
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Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within. Now, and for the future.

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