NGO Forum Director - North East Syria

Programming Erbil, Iraq


About Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible.

In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.

Now, and for the future.


Program / Department Summary

Mercy Corps works in places of transition, where conflict, disaster, political upheaval, or economic collapse present opportunities to build more secure, productive, and just communities. Providing emergency relief in times of crisis, we move quickly to help communities recover and build resilience to future shocks, and promote sustainable change by supporting community-led and market-driven initiatives. Recognizing both the great potential and the complex challenges faced by the Middle East, since 1989 Mercy Corps has been implementing a range of humanitarian assistance and development programs tailored to the specific needs of the region and of those communities where we work.


Specific to the Syria Response, Mercy Corps has been exceptionally committed to the formal and informal humanitarian coordination structures. Within North East Syria (NES) due to unique coordination arrangements, the NGO Forum is the core coordination body for the humanitarian response, taking the lead on operational coordination, inter-sector coordination, policy and advocacy, liaison and negotiations with local authorities and external representation through the Syria coordination architecture as well as with donors and other key stakeholders. Mercy Corps has been supporting the NGO Forum in NES for several years and is now looking for a NES NGO Forum Director. Until October 2019, the position was based in Amuda, Syria, however, with recent contextual developments expatriate forum staff have relocated to Erbil Iraq, providing remote management support to the national liaison and coordination team within Syria. The post will be expected to travel to Syria regularly to coordinate with local authorities and stakeholders, and be flexible to relocate back into Syria when the context allows, and as determined to be in the best interest of humanitarian coordination. The coverage for the NES NGO forum, currently encompasses all of NES (Hassakeh, Deir Ez Zour, Aleppo and Raqqa Governorates)..


The NGO Forum team has grown in the past 3 years from two people to nine people, both as the geographical scope of the response has increased as well as due to the increasing functions and tasks the forum performs for the members in NES – for example, over the last year the NGO Forum has expanded its scope to engage more closely with local NGOs. While the forum has over 30 members, in practice, there are an additional 150 local NGOs in the area which the forum strives to represent, while there are a large number of actors, including the UN and stabilization partners which the Forum ensures close linkages with to improve the overall coherence of the response. As the context continues to increase in complexity, the need for a strong forum to strategize, have independent dialogue and engage with local authorities and other stakeholders to maintain a permissive environment is of outmost importance. The position strives to enhance field coordination as well as provide for systematic linkages to the Whole of Syria coordination structure.






General Position Summary

The successful candidate will serve as the focal point for coordination needs of NGOs operating in the North East Syria. S/he will act in their interest in sharing information and advocating for populations needs. The position will support day-to-day coordination between NGO Team Leaders based in North East Syria; Liaise with Country Directors overseeing North East Syria operations; Coordinate with the Whole of Syria structure to ensure North East Syria needs are accounted for and addressed. The NGO Forum Director will work towards: 1) ensuring greater implementation coherence among NGOs, 2) identifying needs, highlighting gaps and advocating to improve the response, 3) articulate the sensitivities and challenges of the operating environment to internal and external stakeholders 4) strengthening information sharing between NGOs and between NGO community and other Syria Response Coordination structures (Whole of Syria, Hub/Clusters, NGO Forums, etc.)


The NES NGO Forum Director will have overall oversight of the coordination structure for North-East Syria and adjust it as required, taking into consideration the operational complexities. S/he will act as the main focal point for any new NGOs planning on expanding into the area. The successful candidate will work impartially with all partners active in North-East Syria inclusive of the United Nations. S/he will work closely with Cluster co-leads.


Essential Job Responsibilities


  • Lead a coordination unit that provides appropriate, effective and efficient coordination between partners in North East Syria, including monthly coordination meetings with all team leads, ad hoc thematic meetings as required e.g. to update on contextual shifts or to develop common positions to respond to impediments imposed by authorities.
  • Ensure partners work collectively, towards complementarity, coherence and harmonization of assistance delivery, including through facilitation of area-based workshops e.g. dedicated workshops on response to key areas such as Deir Ez Zor and Raqaa
  • Convene and facilitate regular field level coordination meetings and ensure they are well-managed, action and results-oriented and documented such as specific response focused meetings about camps or priority areas.
  • Ensure coordination structure is supported by a data-sharing infrastructure, through oversight of Information Management Unit and in close coordination with the NES Forum Inter-Sector Working Group Coordinator and NES Forum Analyst. Support increased linkages and coordination with Local NGOs, in line with Forum commitments to enhance coordination with local actors.
  • Establish/maintain appropriate coordination mechanisms between field level and Country
  • Ensure effective information sharing both within the North East Syria partners with regional Syria Response coordination forums such as Whole of Syria clusters, hubs and NGO
  • Assess coordination/communication gaps and priorities, gather lessons learned/feedback from other Syria Response coordination structures to enhance the North East Syria coordination



  • In agreement with NGOs and with inputs from NGOs on key positions, maintain a healthy relationship with the local governance structure in North East Syria and act as the focal point for all NGOs when required and agreed
  • In agreement with NGOs, maintain a healthy relationship with the donors providing them with regular updates as
  • In agreement with NGOs, attend regional level cluster/ sector coordination meetings to advocate for North East Syria. Network and conduct outreach to regional coordination structure
  • Act as entry/focal point for any new NGOs planning expansion for the
  • Represent NES NGOs with the UN, WoS Architecture and sit on the WoS ISG



  • Coordinate emergency preparedness and contingency planning among NGOs, with the overall lead of the NES Inter-Sector Working Group Coordinator
  • Promote and support training of humanitarian personnel and capacity building of humanitarian partners. Advise on training
  • Deliver training on humanitarian principles and joint operating principles, in close coordination with the local NGO Coordinator and Liaison focal point, to both authorities as well as local NGOs.



  • Structure and lead the NES Forum Secretariat team for effective and efficient coordination in North East Syria including the Information Management Unit, the Local NGO Coordination and Liaison Unit and the Coordination Unit.
  • Create and sustain a work environment of mutual respect where team members strive to achieve excellence.
  • Promote accountability, communicate expectations and provide constructive feedback via regular performance reviews
  • Hire, orient and supervise new team members as necessary.
  • Provide team members with information, tools and other resources to improve performance and

reach objectives.



  • Oversee all NES Forum grants, and work with finance, Ops, and Mercy Corps NES support services team to ensure the forum meets all objectives in accordance with Mercy Corps Program Management guidelines
  • Liaise with donors on active NES forum grants to ensure they are updated and abreast of all developments
  • Contribute to reporting and proposal development for all NES Forum grants and activities
  • Manage Forum budget and allocation of resources



  • Ensure compliance with security procedures and policies as determined by country leadership.
  • Proactively ensure that team members operate in a secure environment and are aware of policies




  • As part of our commitment to organizational learning and in support of our understanding that learning organizations are more effective, efficient and relevant to the communities they serve, we expect all team members to commit 5% of their time to learning activities that benefit Mercy Corps as well as themselves.




  • Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our beneficiaries and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging beneficiary communities as equal partners in the design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects.



Supervisory Responsibility

  • NES NGO Forum Inter-Sector Coordinator, NES Forum Analyst, NES Forum NGO Coordinator and Liaison focal point and NES Forum Area-Based Coordinator (West NES),



  • Reports Directly to: Syria Deputy Country Director
  • Accountable to: NES Forum members and NES Forum Steering Committee (comprised of 7 representatives from NGOs)
  • Works Directly with: North East Syria Team Leaders; North East Syria Country Directors; Whole of Syria Coordination Forums; United Nations.


Knowledge and Experience

  • BA/S or equivalent in relevant field required; MA desired
  • 5-7 years of field experience in international relief and development, preference for previous North East Syria or Syria experience.
  • Demonstrated success working effectively and respectfully with host country government, private
  • sector, INGO, NGO partners and other stakeholders in complex environments.
  • Experience with remote management contexts
  • Proven understanding of the international humanitarian response architecture, including
  • coordination mechanisms, humanitarian reform and action, and funding mechanisms (e.g.
  • Consolidated Appeals Process, Central Emergency Response Fund and Flash Appeals).
  • Knowledge of and adherence to humanitarian principles.
  • Demonstrated experience in coordination roles, preferably within formal coordination structures.
  • Successful and proven negotiation, communication and organization skills.
  • Excellent oral and written English skills required; proficiency in Arabic is a plus.
  • Ability to work effectively with an ethnically diverse stakeholder base in a sensitive environment.


Success Factors

  • The successful candidate will have the ability to network effectively and influence and inspire others.
  • S/he will have excellent communication and interpersonal skills, will be highly motivated and possess ability to work independently. Will have the ability to undertake strategic analysis and translate thinking into practice.
  • The candidate should have strong negotiation skills to liaise with authorities and support in maintaining humanitarian space for partners
  • S/He will work with sensitive issues in a multi-cultural environment and with virtual or/and dispersed teams and will have the ability to build confidence and to find creative and constructive solutions to difficult issues. The successful candidate will be build trust and alliances and will empower others.
  • S/he should like traveling, possess a good dose of humor, must be fond of coordination and understand its critical role for the more efficient humanitarian response.


Living Conditions / Environmental Conditions


The position is currently based in Erbil, Iraq and it requires up to 70% travel to other locations, including various locations within North East Syria, context permitting. This position is unaccompanied. Living conditions are in group housing: water, electricity and internet are present with some cuts


Mercy Corps Team members represent the agency both during and outside of work hours when deployed in a field posting or on a visit to a field posting. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and Mercy Corps' policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.