Position: Head of Mission – NORTH EAST SYRIA

Location: North East Syria

Duration: 12 months (3-month probation period)

Closing date of the vacancy: 25th May 2022 (applications on a rolling basis)

Starting from: July 2022


Un Ponte Per (UPP) is an Italian NGO established in 1991. It started its activities as “Un ponte per Baghdad”, in the aftermath of the first Gulf war, with the aim of organizing solidarity initiatives in favor of the Iraqi population. Later on, the intervention of Un Ponte Per started including Serbia and other Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. The NGO aims at preventing armed conflicts, protecting human rights and supporting local civil society, especially in the Middle East, by promoting the nexus between its humanitarian, peacebuilding and development programs.

Since 2015, UPP has been one of the leading INGOs in the North East Syria (NES) response. Thanks to its close partnership with the Kurdish Red Crescent (KRC), UPP has been able to develop a comprehensive system of health services delivered in 26 facilities, including mobile units, hospitals, primary health care centers, and rural health posts. These function as the backbone of the basic health care system in the region, including an ambulances network managed by a centralized operational desk for emergency management and COVID-19 response.

Since 2017 UPP is also active in the Protection sector in NES, providing capacity building for local actors on Gender Based Violence (GBV) prevention and response, Child Protection (CP), Psycho-social Support (PSS) and protection mainstreaming in health programs. UPP developed a strong partnership with the Houses of Women, identified as key community stakeholders in GBV response, with the local youth organization DOZ and the Women Protection Department of Arab National Association, setting up a wider outreach network with a particular focus on awareness and campaigning against early and forced marriage. UPP also co-chairs the NES PSEA Network.

Since 2019 the UPP NES Mission built an Early-Recovery sector component focusing on capacity-building for Local Authorities and civil society, supporting municipalities in NES to establish links with corresponding public bodies in Europe. The intervention pivots on peer-to-peer trainings on waste management (with a strong focus on medical waste disposal), water infrastructure, urban planning and civil defense.

The team is mostly based in North East Syria (NES) with frequent visits to the project locations and is supported by an office based in Dohuk (Kurdistan Region of Iraq). Most of the medicines and equipment provided to UPP facilities are imported from Iraq, through the territory of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

For further information please refer to our website:


Un Ponte Per is looking for a Head of Mission North East Syria who will be responsible for the following major tasks:

Programmatic and Operational Supervision

  • Overseeing, supporting and coordinating the successful implementation of health, protection and early-recovery programmes through integrated sectorial development design and implementing value-added programming in the four governorates of North East Syria, including a comprehensive program on COVID-19 response
  • Proactively suggesting and planning for the development and continuation of current programmes and activities to ensure the sustainability of the mission with a strong localization approach
  • Contributing with the PMs to the relevant project developments in active coordination with local partners and with HQ-based Desk Officers, ensuring that the quality of implementation at country level is within UPP operational standards, procedures and code of conduct
  • Engage, communicate and support local partners through all stages of project development, implementation, reporting and audits; ensure sound methodologies are in place for knowledge exchange with partners, capacity building plans and strategies that ensure growth and development through mirroring approaches
  • Manage in coordination with Country Administrator the missions operational, financial, and administrative priorities; direct the planning and budgeting processes, monitoring the several operational requirements of the mission across KRI and NES to ensure a sound and robust support structure with contingencies for adjustment
  • Organizing weekly/monthly meetings individually and collectively with the Mission relevant staff, in order to harmonize the networking and external relation functions with the work on the field.
  • Identifying general shortfalls and bottlenecks that require immediate action and, accordingly, proposing corrective measures in agreement with the HoOs in Amuda and Dohuk
  • Liaising and reporting results of meetings to UPP HQ to timely elaborate efficient solutions.
  • Suggesting contacts, partnerships and networking leading to the success of the programs
  • Lead field teams to develop country-specific Terms of Reference, and tailored SOPs for field Policy implementation.

Security Supervision

  • Ensuring in-country security management and programmatic implementation is in line with UPP Security Plan and Standards
  • Liaising with Executive Director on structural issues related to safety and security, including strategic changes of posture
  • Developing and refining procedures in place to strengthen UPP preventative measures and risk mitigation strategies
  • Liaise with security officials of other humanitarian agencies, the local government, relief and development stakeholders concerning crucial events, periods of increased risk, incident reporting, and security policy changes.

External Coordination and Donor Engagement

  • Monitoring and analysing Strategic and Response Plans released by Donors, UN/OCHA and Local Authorities and inform HQ accordingly. Taking the lead in assuring UPP presence and contribution in all relevant response plans
  • Representing UPP in coordination meetings and working groups related to ongoing activities and programmes
  • Leading UPP advocacy at country level with the support of the Director of Programs, flagging redlines, monitoring key narratives and regional developments in humanitarian action
  • Maintaining and widening relationships with institutions, international aid agencies, NGOs and individual donors
  • Assuring the visibility of the organization activities in the area.

Human Resource management

  • Providing effective supervision, leadership, coaching, mentoring and guidance to 100+ international and national staff located across the four governorates of operations for the development of human resources
  • Maintain a focus on the training and development needs of the teams and support HR to arrange capacity development exercises with a strong focus on the empowerment of local staff
  • Ensure personnel have successfully combined field, coordination, and remote management requiring innovative, impactful, creative and flexible approaches
  • Ensure that all UPP personnel understand and comply with UPP Policies including Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, Child Safeguarding, anti-terrorism, whistleblowing and Fraud


  • University degree in International Studies, Public Policy, Political Science, Law, Accounting or related fields
  • At least 5 years professional work experience in management position in NGOs
  • Experience in grant management with a range of external donors
  • Experience in reporting and monitoring with tight deadlines
  • Strong management and mentoring capacity, ability to plan, implement and solve problems effectively and efficiently
  • Ability to take initiative, be proactive and maintain a solution-oriented approach
  • Determination and commitment to high quality standards
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, including the ability to establish and maintain co-operative working relationships with all program staff in the Mission, with people of different cultural and religious backgrounds, different gender and diverse political views, while maintaining strict impartiality and objectivity
  • Ability to prioritize work, meet deadlines and work calmly under pressure, while maintaining flexibility and a positive approach
  • Fluency in spoken and written English is required, Arabic is an asset
  • Ability to cope with physical hardship and willingness to work extra hours and in an environment with limited infrastructure
  • Knowledge of regional political history and developments
  • Ability to navigate a complex multilateral diplomatic context and apply negotiation skills
  • Model and encourage active practice of the principles of neutrality, impartiality and fairness
  • Gender, age and diversity awareness and sensitivity, and an ability to integrate this approach into daily work and mission strategic objectives
  • Good command of Office package and windows applications, including word processing, spreadsheets and email.

UPP requires criminal background check certificate (released max 3 months before the date of job offer) to confirm a job offer. We are aware that in some countries the release of criminal background certificate by the competent authorities might require several weeks. However, UPP runs selections to deploy staff in emergency programs and time-lapse between job offer and field deployment is often very short. Thus, we kindly ask all candidates to get prepared on time and be able to submit their certificate promptly in case of success in the selection.


  • Work experience in the Middle East
  • Experience working in field operation/s, particularly in crisis areas with multinational and international organizations
  • Experience in results based management
  • Skills and certificates in security management
  • Working knowledge of Italian, Arabic and/or Kurdish


Un Ponte Per is an International NGO committed to diversity and inclusion within its teams, in line with the principle of non-discrimination. UPP encourages all candidates irrespective of gender, religion and ethnicity including persons with disabilities to apply and become part of the organization.

Ethical Conduct

UPP upholds all the minimum standards in terms of Ethical Conduct and strives to increase its standards over the minimum. Zero tolerance is reserved to Sexual Abuse and Exploitation and to Child Abuse, Violence, Harm, Injury and Negligence. By applying, any candidate assures that s/he has never breached any standard in terms of SEA and Child Safeguarding and that s/he will not in the future. For the protection of beneficiaries, communities and partners, UPP will conduct extensive reference check and vetting on shortlisted candidates, also over the contacts indicated by the candidate. Candidates are alerted that the required background check might compromise their privacy. Shortlisted candidates shall promptly provide an up-to-date criminal background check.

How to apply

Interested candidates are invited to submit a detailed CV (PDF format) with the authorization to use and process data on the base of the EU Regulation 2016/679 - GDPR and a brief cover letter (PDF format) that includes the contact information for three Professional References (relevant and recent) to: Please reference “HoM NES - Name Surname” in the subject line of your email application and name the files attached to your application as surname_name_CV, surname_name_CL, etc. Be informed that UPP screens prospective colleagues through anti-terrorism/anti-money-laundering/anti-corruption/anti-fraud sanctions lists before job offer. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted. Due to the urgency of this position Un Ponte Per reserves the right to screen applications on a rolling basis.