Relief Chief: A Manifesto for Saving Lives in Dire Times

May 17, 2022


"A detailed, practical and humane agenda for saving lives and reducing suffering. Mark Lowcock's valuable new book based on his outstanding service as head of humanitarian relief at the United Nations is timely and topical in the face of ever-growing crises from Afghanistan to Yemen and the deepening impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the most vulnerable countries." Gordon Brown

“Mark Lowcock’s book is passionate, his insights credible, and his ideas important. He emerges as a champion of the world’s most vulnerable—and we need the world’s most powerful to take note.”David Miliband

"This book will make you angry about the senseless suffering caused by humanitarian crises around the world. But Mark Lowcock will also inspire you to believe there is a better way to take care of vulnerable people, especially women and girls, at the sharp end of conflict. A compelling read." Minouche Shafik

“A scrupulously honest, thoughtful testimony on what it takes to fight for effective humanitarian relief by one of the most distinguished international civil servants. Never preaching, avoiding jargon, alert to politics, nuance, and practicality, Lowcock draws strong, impressive, and wise conclusions on how the world could improve its response to the mounting tragedies which surround us.” Rory Stewart

“A fine memoir, a call to action, and a practical yet innovative action blueprint for helping hundreds of millions of people heroically fighting to survive and rebuild in the midst of growing humanitarian crises around the world.” Anthony Lake

Relief Chief: A Manifesto for Saving Lives in Dire Times is Mark Lowcock's behind-the-scenes account of his experience as the world's most senior humanitarian official—the UN Relief Chief. In his four years on the job, Lowcock coordinated the work of UN agencies, the Red Cross, and countless national and international humanitarian groups to save lives and protect the most vulnerable.

Appointed in 2017, Lowcock was witness to the biggest explosion in humanitarian need in modern history. Wars, droughts, floods, storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, and then the COVID-19 global pandemic put humanitarian agencies under unprecedented strain. Long-standing crises like those in Syria, Yemen, and the Sahel got worse. New ones arose, in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Venezuela, and elsewhere. Over his tenure, Lowcock raised record amounts of money to tackle these problems, but this was not enough to prevent humanitarian agencies from being overwhelmed by the emergencies they were asked to deal with, as Lowcock documents from a personal, inside perspective.

Part memoir and part manifesto for reform, Relief Chief depicts the brutality, misery and inhumanity inflicted on innocent people in crises. Lowcock recounts what people he met in dozens of countries—especially women and children—shared with him about their plight and the help they needed. He warns that crises will continue to get worse without a renewed global effort to tackle their causes. But Relief Chief is also an uplifting story of lives saved and suffering reduced, and a detailed, practical agenda for solving crises faster and better in the future.

Relief Chief: A Manifesto for Saving Lives in Dire Times is available for purchase in hardback and ebook versions, including from Amazon, Eurospan, IPG and other booksellers. ISBN: 978-1-944691-09-7 / eISBN: 978-1-944691-10-3.

For review or desk copies, please email [email protected].

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