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 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 5.4 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