Folke Bernadotte Academy – Swedish agency for peace, security and development

Tomas Sevén

Patrol hub leader in Ukraine

Tomas Sevén is on secondment from the FBA to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. He is patrol hub leader at the Sievierodonetsk forward patrol base in the eastern part of the country.

The OSCE SMM was deployed in 2014 following a request to the OSCE by Ukraine’s government. The mission aims to contribute to reducing tensions and fostering peace, stability and security. The head office is in Kyiv but the OSCE SMM is deployed throughout Ukraine, and has a large presence through field offices in various locations, both in government-controlled areas and in areas not controlled by the government.

Tomas, how would you describe a regular day at work?

 – I manage 125 employees at my office. Most of them are international monitors from different OSCE participating states. They work in teams who patrol along the contact line where fighting is the most intense. Their task is to report on ceasefire violations and the humanitarian situation, and to facilitate dialogue. I gather the daily reports, which are sent by our monitoring team to the SMM head office in Kyiv. Sometimes I go on patrol as well, and I stay in close contact with patrol hub leaders in other OSCE SMM field offices. My office is in the government-controlled part of eastern Ukraine, and I am in touch daily with the SMM staff working in areas not controlled by the government.

How would you describe the situation?

– We monitor the compliance of the sides with the Minsk agreement and report any violation observed on a daily basis. We also observe heavy weapons in the security zone, where they should not be according to the Minsk agreement. The ongoing fighting also affects the civilian population living and working close to the contact line. Though we are not a humanitarian mission, our observations help to identify places where people are most in need, and to refer this information to the relevant organizations.

What challenges do you face in your role as patrol hub leader?

– It is a huge challenge not to expose my co-workers to security risks. The SMM philosophy is that our monitor’s security is our highest priority. I trust my staff, they are all incredibly qualified. When the OSCE mission in Ukraine was deployed there was a heated debate, but now the local population expresses gratitude to us for being here. I believe that presence of the OSCE SMM monitors reduces violence. We actually make a difference – that is a nice feeling to have!

Photo: Ivan Bandura, Evgeniy Maloletka

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