Secretary General Appoints New Commissioner-General

21 January 2010

The Secretary-General is pleased to announce the appointment of Filippo Grandi as Commissioner-General of UNRWA. This appointment takes effect on 20 January 2010.

Mr Grandi, a national of Italy, born in 1957, has been UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner-General since September 2005. A strong advocate for the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees and an excellent manager, he has been instrumental in the success of UNRWA’s comprehensive and far-reaching management reforms.

Mr Grandi has worked for the United Nations for almost 22 years. Prior to joining UNRWA, he distinguished him

self in a variety of headquarters and field functions encompassing refugee assistance, protection, emergency management, donor relations and humanitarian and political affairs. He was responsible for political affairs at the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), where he served as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative. With UNHCR, his roles included Chief of Mission in Afghanistan and Chief of Staff in the High Commissioner’s Executive Office. Mr Grandi’s vast field experience includes various positions in Sudan, Syria, Turkey and Iraq, the latter during and in the aftermath of the first Gulf war. He also led emergency operations in Kenya, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, the Great Lakes region of Central Africa, Congo, Yemen and Afghanistan.

Mr Grandi’s record is one of outstanding service under the banner of the United Nations. With his appointment as Commissioner-General, his energy, leadership and understanding of humanitarian issues will remain at the service of UNRWA and Palestine refugees.

Please join me in warmly congratulating Mr. Grandi on his appointment as UNRWA’s next Commissioner-General and in wishing him every success in leading UNRWA’s work.

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at more than US$ 106  million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications & Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)2 589 0724