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UN Agencies Rely on Thirdera and ServiceNow to Support the Ukrainian Aid Response

With over 50 years of experience as a strategic partner for the United Nations (UN) system, the United Nations International Computing Centre (UNICC) provides digital business solutions to UN agencies and related organisations around the world.  


Adhering to a shared services model, UNICC generates economies of scale in an effort to serve and support over 90 global clients. This goal is rooted in highly flexible digital business and technology solutions—and multiple strategic partnerships. 

When Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, UNICC rushed into action. To better respond to the quickly deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground, the organisation sought to build an innovative and reliable digital contact centre. 

Behind-the-scenes communication solutions are critical for effective emergency response in places like Ukraine. With no time to waste, UNHCR and UNICC turned to Thirdera and ServiceNow for a rapid digital transformation. Contractual and legal flexibility with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), cloud-based implementation options, and expert assistance contributed to a successful project that provided lifesaving, tangible human impacts.  


Company Profile

Size: 500+ employees  |  Industry: Government  |  Location: Switzerland


Key Challenges

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The Russian invasion of neighbouring Ukraine led to a significant deterioration in the humanitarian situation, seemingly overnight. In the fog of a new war, emergency personnel rushed to find solutions and strategies to support and protect Ukrainians, while keeping communication pathways open.  

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In the days following the initial military attacks, large numbers of refugees travelled toward neighbouring countries—often without ample supplies, personal belongings, or established plans for safety. At international borders, the surging refugee populations required supplies and support (physical, mental, and emotional).  

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There was also large-scale internal displacement within Ukraine, putting incredible pressure on the country’s internal communication lines and critical infrastructure. Typically, reliable systems were pushed to the brink as hundreds of thousands of people required help and accommodations at one point. 

Although it is rare to be in a position where business services are required to manage and respond to the consequences of full-scale war, technology, and innovation can be the backbone of an effective crisis response. As Maristelli Capelli​, Senior Service Delivery Manager at the UN, says, “Technology is essential for IT and for business, but it has a different value when it is applied to support human life.” 


Our Solution

For the contact centre project in Ukraine, the UN wanted to achieve a streamlined and consistent user experience. As displaced individuals searched for support channels, it was crucial to funnel those touchpoints appropriately within the broader humanitarian response. To bring urgency and efficiency to the refugee response, UNHCR and UNICC turned to Thirdera and ServiceNow to implement ServiceNow Customer Service Management (CSM)

Using the CSM solution as the foundation of UNHCR’s regional call centre (RCC), call centre operators provide information about education, employment, healthcare, housing, and legal support to displaced individuals. They also have the capability to identify or refer vulnerable refugees for follow-up care. Trained personnel can leverage multiple languages in the process, including Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, and Hungarian. 

For UNHCR, RCCs are effective, cloud-based advancements that serve to safeguard the human rights and well-being of refugees. Plus, the contact platform goes beyond simply meeting the immediate physical needs of its end users. With the capacity to process the feedback directly from refugees, it’s possible to continuously improve for future international needs. 

As Mohammed Ghafour, community-based protection officer at UNHCR points out, “The call centre allows us to better understand the needs of the refugees from their own language—based on real-time calls. This communication data helps us better understand specific needs that must be reflected in our programming.”  

The Result

Contact accuracy
Thirdera and ServiceNow helped ensure getting the right information and assistance to refugees and displaced individuals was easy and straightforward. UNHCR facilitated access to services to help people make more informed decisions related to their legal status and potential onward movement in war and peace zones.

Vulnerability identification

Enhanced call centre capabilities can flag vulnerabilities and refer qualifying individuals to essential assistance and support networks.​ There’s greater two-way communication about available options, and all calls are free of charge for those in need. 

More reliable infrastructure
Now, calling infrastructure is more reliable and less prone to technical issues than the previous communication tool. In the past, dropped calls and wireless connection issues made staying in touch with those seeking help difficult.

Flexibility to accommodate physical movements
Under the ServiceNow design, information is available from all countries—not only where calls originate. This is vital given the continued fluidity in movements among refugees and resources. 

Growth potential
The scalable solution implemented by Thirdera and ServiceNow can quickly expand to other countries​ or regions. 

The contact centre processes nearly 400 calls daily, mostly from refugees in Poland and Hungary (where the first helpline originated). As availability in other countries expands, the capacity to help those in desperate need also increases. 

During an unprecedented time in history, the longevity of Ukraine depends on forward motion. The speed of humanitarian aid after a crisis often depends on the infrastructure in place, and with Thirdera’s, ServiceNow’s, and UNICC’s support, UNHCR was able to launch the RCC in only 12 weeks. During that deployment time, Thirdera was able to integrate BT phone systems, develop a comprehensive knowledge base, and establish robust contractual agreements. 

“Partnering with UNICC and the private sector allowed us to launch the Regional Contact Centre, the first of its kind. The development enables us to communicate with people we serve and to refer vulnerable citizens to the services they need,” adds Ghafour. 

As a result of partnering with ServiceNow and Thirdera, UNHCR remains accountable to affected populations. The new contact centre introduces innovation and flexibility to citizens whose lives have been upended, establishing a worthwhile precedent for future global response efforts. 

If you’d like to help the Ukrainian people and aid UNHCR’s response efforts, you can donate to UNHCR here


About Thirdera

As the largest global pure-play ServiceNow partner, Thirdera is a trusted Elite ServiceNow partner focused solely on improving and innovating the way our customers leverage the ServiceNow platform. Our experts possess authoritative capabilities and skillsets spanning the entire Now Platform. This extensive platform expertise allows us to understand our customers’ needs and deliver tailored solutions that solve business challenges.

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David Hildbrand

David is the EMEA Customer Advisory Director at Thirdera. He helps organisations to define their digital transformation strategies through consulting for over 25 years. Pragmatic, very focused on delivering tangible results and bridging the gap between business objectives and the actual transformation needed within organisations.
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