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With a heavy heart – Memories of Simon Russell (1967 – 2021)


We remember our wonderful friend and colleague Simon Russell who recently passed away in the UK. Simon worked with many organisations around the world including ICMC, Refugee Review Tribunal, ProCAP and most recently with UNHCR as the Coordinator of the Global Protection Cluster. We reflect on how lucky we were to know him.

For me (Christine) I met Simon when he joined ProCAP in the very early days of that programme, sharing the conviction that getting the right people in the right place at the right time could absolutely change protection outcomes. Over the years, his humour, intelligence and deep ethical grounding made every encounter one that shaped and left its mark.

For me (Kate) he brought delight and cheekiness to a tough working year in Herat, Afghanistan in 2002. He made everyday life more manageable with humour and work more meaningful with his wisdom and brilliant mind.

We had the pleasure of working with him on the revision of the Sphere standards in 2018. Working on the protection chapter, he showed mastery in managing all perspectives and yet staying true to a principled approach, speaking clearly when jargon tried to get the upper hand, and bringing the discussion back to people and their fundamental rights. Inimitable Simon. We will miss you.

Christine Knudsen (former Sphere Executive Director)
and Kate Sutton (co-lead, Protection chapter 2018)