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LENI STENSETH APPOINTED DEPUTY COMMISSIONER-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES IN THE NEAR EAST
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced on 18 June 2020 the appointment of Leni Stenseth of Norway as Deputy Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) at the level of Assistant Secretary-General.
Currently Norwegian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ms. Stenseth brings to the position nearly twenty years of experience in international politics, humanitarian action and crisis management, fifteen of which were in leadership positions with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Red Cross.
Prior to her role as Norwegian Ambassador to Lebanon, Ms. Stenseth held the post of Director of Humanitarian Affairs with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2016 to 2019, during which time she also served first as a Member, then as Chair of United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) Advisory Group. From 2013 to 2016 she was the Director of United Nations Affairs with overall responsibility for Norway’s United Nations policy related to peace and security and sustainable development, as well as policy on Gender equality, while also managing Norway’s financial support to the United Nations Funds and Programmes.
From 2008 to 2013, she held a number of senior roles with the Norwegian Red Cross. Prior to that, she served as a diplomat at the Norwegian Embassies in Amman and Washington D.C. She also worked as a researcher with FAFO Institute for Applied International Studies in 2000.
Ms. Stenseth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Political Science and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Oslo, Norway. She is married and has two children.
Photo caption: UNRWA Deputy Commissioner-General Ms. Leni Stenseth of Norway. © Royal Norwegian Embassy in Beirut photo
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.6 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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