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What became of......

by Killian Forde

In the first of a series of "What became of...", we will try to inform you as to the whereabouts of people, places or things, connected with the aid or relief business. They will have made headlines, been in the public eye and then dropped right out of it, leaving us all wondering. For instance what became of George Alligayah or' War on Want' or Bob Geldof. In this issue we asked what became of the UN man in Bosnia who looked like Father Christmas. Remember him, he was on our television screens every day saying how they only had enough food for 3 days - this went on for 2 years. We proceeded to find out, what became of.... Larry Hollingworth.

Larry Hollingworth, 58, married with two grown children, is a good humoured but tough former British soldier who has worked for UNHCR for the past ten years. He started his career working in Cyprus, followed by overseas assignments in Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea. He came into the public eye in 1992 when appointed UNHCR Chief of Operations in Sarajevo. Hollingworth spent a year in Sarajevo and organised the humanitarian airlift and distribution of aid to the besieged city. With his individual appearance, affable manner, and vociferous nature he was unwittingly thrust into the position of de-facto spokesman for the UN in Bosnia. From Sarajevo he took charge of the near impossible and thankless task of dispatching Intemational aid to encircled eastem Bosnian towns. He personally lead the first intemational relief convoys to Gorazade, Zepa, and Srebrenica and highlighted to the watching world the limitations of the intemational relief effort, which was regularly obstructed by the local Bosnian Serb authorities. Although the United Nations often came under media criticism when relief convoys failed to reach target populations, Larry Hollingworth became a symbol of hope to the Bosnians people.

He retumed to Britain, and out of the headlines in April 1994.

Field Exchange tracked down Larry Hollingworth to the safer plains of Salisbury, England. Over the phone Hollingworth explained that he had just retumed from Dagestan where he was UNHCR Head of Office for the territory.

We asked this congenial man what he had been up to since leaving Bosnia. "Well, I was only back a few weeks when the Rwandan crisis occurred and I went out with Granada television for their World in Action programme to report on the conflict". World in Action is an award winning and highly respected British documentary. Larry told us "It was a new experience, challenging and enjoyable". After this Hollingworth went to the Caucasus as a UNHCR representative. The first project was working with refugees displaced due to the conflict in Georgia and Abkhazia and then Larry moved to Dagestan to help with the repatriation of refugees displaced from the Chechen conflict. So does Larry think that he is seen by UNHCR as their travelling trouble-shooter? He laughs this suggestion off by replying, "No, not at all I suppose I just happen to be in the right place at the right time".
Larry likes to unwind with a good book. At his Wiltshire home he has a library of books and currently lying on his bedside table is 'A Hero of our Time' by Lermontov. Obviously Hollingworth does not agree that 'a man's hobby should never become his job', finding time to write a book about his experiences in Bosnia. The book entitled 'Merry Christmas Mr Larry' was published in November 1996 and became a hardback non-fiction bestseller. Larry tells us "The book went really well, it sold out of its print run and we hope to go to paperback this year, I really hope it does as I haven't even got a copy of the book myself, as I kept having to give my own personal copy away!".

Since retuming from Dagestan in March Larry has been busy lecturing. In June 1997 a new course, of which Hollingworth is Project Co-ordinator, starts. The Intemational Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance is a multi-disciplinary, intensive, month long course to be taught at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin. Larry says "the objective of the course is to provide a forum where experienced aid workers can bounce ideas off and leam from one another". Larry recognises that although it is near impossible to have a qualification in "Aid Work" it is important that aid workers should possess some "licence to operate".

So what does the future hold for Mr Larry Hollingworth. "Now that I have been bitten by the aid bug I hope to work in a couple of more crises before I get too old".

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Reference this page

Killian Forde (1997). What became of....... Field Exchange 1, May 1997. p18. www.ennonline.net/fex/1/what