Disaster Leadership Expert Commentary Available for Ukrainian Refugee Situation

February 25, 2022

Media seeking comment can reach Disaster Leadership and Refugee Expert Kent Annan at 630.752.7808 or kent.annan@wheaton.edu.

Kent AnnanAs hundreds of thousands refugees flee the Russian invasion of Ukraine, humanitarian leader and author Kent Annan offers his expertise on responding to humanitarian crises in the modern world.

An expert in refugee and forced migration, Annan is the director of Humanitarian and Disaster Leadership at Wheaton College, located in the western suburbs of Chicago, where he leads the M.A. program for the Humanitarian Disaster Institute (HDI), one of the nation’s leading programs of its kind.

“What catches the headlines and our attention in the Ukraine in these first days are the fighting, explosions, and the casualties and damage they cause,” Annan says of the latest Ukraine developments. “But we also have to keep our eyes on the humanitarian story that is also starting now. Ukrainians are and will be fleeing their homes by the thousands, hundreds of thousands, and potentially millions.”

Annan draws on his deep experience working with refugee communities around the world. He lived in Western Europe for two years working with refugees from Iran, the former Yugoslavia, and other locations. He has also worked with refugees in Albania and Kosovo. He and his wife, Shelly, lived in Haiti for two years, and Annan founded Haiti Partners, a program which supports robust education in Haiti. He's also on the board of Equitas Group, a foundation working to end the exploitation of children in Haiti and Southeast Asia.

“Ukrainians are potentially losing the independence of their country. Many of them are also being thrown onto the path of being internally displaced or becoming refugees, a process that often lasts for about fifteen years. They flee in fear, in the moment the invasion becomes a reality and starts getting close, and have to leave behind almost everything they had in their previous lives. As the violent conflict continues, a humanitarian crisis has started that the world’s governments, NGOs, and citizens will need to respond to.”

Annan has written for Christianity Today, Utne Reader, Natural Bridge, Sojourners, and Orion. His books include You Welcomed Me: Loving Refugees and Immigrants Because God First Loved Us (2018), Slow Kingdom Coming: Practices for Doing Justice, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly in the World (2016), After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World Is Shaken (2011), and Following Jesus Through the Eye of a Needle: Living Fully, Loving Dangerously (2009).