Secretary-General Appoints Pierre Krähenbühl of Switzerland Commissioner-General of UNRWA

21 November 2013

New York

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, following consultations with the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), announced today the appointment of Pierre Krähenbühl of Switzerland as the Agency’s new Commissioner-General. He will replace Filippo Grandi.

The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude for the outgoing Commissioner-General’s leadership in the implementation of UNRWA’s mandate and outstanding dedication and commitment to the Palestinian people.

Mr. Krähenbühl brings to the position a wealth of experience and dedicated passion in humanitarian, development and human-rights action, coupled with strategic leadership experience in politically sensitive and high-risk environments.

Since 2002, he has held the position of Director of Operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), overseeing 12,000 staff in 80 countries. Prior to    this, Mr. Krähenbühl served as personal advisor to the President of the ICRC (2000-2002) and carried out various field assignments in El Salvador, Peru, Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina (1991-1998). He served as Head of Operations for Central and South-Eastern Europe in Geneva (1998-2000). Prior to joining the ICRC in 1991, he worked   as a Communication and Reporting Officer for the Lutheran World Federation in Venezuela, Haiti and Ethiopia.

Mr. Krähenbühl holds a BA in Political Sciences and International Relations from the University of Geneva (1991).

Born in 1966 in Geneva, he is married and has three children.

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
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+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