Tuesday 17 September 2019

From evading Isis to saving lives, no day is ordinary in this Irishman's job

Angus Lambkin has been working with the United Nations since 2012
Angus Lambkin has been working with the United Nations since 2012
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Angus Lambkin has seen some harrowing sights.

His role with the Irish Aid Rapid Response Corps recently took him to the heart of Iraq, where he was one of the first people to respond in towns and cities that had just been bombed to oblivion.

"You are looking at totally destroyed buildings, you are looking at people in the process of fleeing, and you are looking at people hiding in their homes who haven’t drank water or eaten for weeks," he says.

Mosul, where Isis were ousted from six months ago, was one of the worst hit cities the 36-year-old witnessed.

Only now have residents started to return to their homes.

Angus spent his time there treating people after buildings collapsed on them, assessing booby traps and coordinating with military troops to ensure the safety of those trying to help others in need.

"The destruction of Mosul was huge," he says.

"One day it would be controlled  by Isis and the next it would be controlled by Iraqi forces. There was a ring around the city and every day, this ring would get smaller, but what that meant the front line was always shifting.

"Just because Isis weren't in control doesn't meant there weren't members trying to blow up areas.

"We did a lot of work on people who were injured by explosions, or who had buildings collapse on them - that was probably the worst."

His most recent stint with the Response Corps was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where he is due to return to this month.

"You're not necessarily seeing the nicest parts of the world but every day there is something new.

"It suits my mentality, wanting to do something very simulating and equally, the way I describe it, there is risk involved but part of the expertise is managing the risk."

Originally from Belfast, Angus has worked with the United Nations in a variety of roles since 2012.

Why does he do it?

"The problem with the world is the problems are political and the solutions are political," he explains.

"People are willing to go and do their best to address the problems that happen in the less fortunate areas. But the more money we spend outside the country, the less we think we have to deal with problems on the door step and that's both in terms of migration and security threat. People need to be there, helping people on the ground."

"What we do isn't just about saving lives, it is an essential part of the global system."

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