A Billion Lives by Jan Egeland
As the chief administrator of the United Nations emergency-relief agency from the summer of 2003 to the end of 2006, Jan Egeland had a full plate. Mass murder in Darfur, the 2004 Asian tsunami, the fallout of Israel’s 2006 war with Hizballah in Lebanon—these are just a few of the events he reflects upon in his memoir, A Billion Lives.
The role of Egeland’s agency—whose formal name is the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)—is to mobilize and coordinate civilian aid in the event of such natural or man-made calamities. The work is enormously important, largely unheralded, and often dispiriting. On average, OCHA responds to no fewer than fifteen major emergencies every year. Thus, the recollections of the man who directed it ought to tell us a great deal about the challenges of mobilizing the money, the rescue supplies, and the international will to mount rescues of tormented populations.
About the Author