Philippe Lazzarini of Switzerland appointed as Commissioner-General of UNRWA

19 March 2020
© 2020 UNRWA Photo

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is pleased to announce that, following official communication by the office of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and consultations with the Agency’s Advisory Commission, Mr. Philippe Lazzarini has been appointed as its new Commissioner-General (CG).

Mr. Lazzarini will assume the position that Mr. Christian Saunders has been acting in since November 2019, when the former UNRWA Commissioner-General resigned.

Mr. Lazzarini brings to the position more than thirty years of experience in humanitarian assistance and international coordination in conflict and post-conflict areas, including in Gaza and East Jerusalem, in the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the private sector.

Mr. Lazzarini joined the United Nations in 2003 and has served the organization in various capacities. The last post he held prior to his appointment as UNRWA CG was the position of Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon in the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL)

UNRWA would like to express its deep appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Saunders for having lead the Agency through some of the most challenging months of its 70 years of existence, politically, financially and managerially.

Background Information: 

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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140