UN Secretary-General Appoints Sandra Mitchell as new Deputy Commissioner-General of UNRWA

06 January 2015

East Jerusalem   

UNRWA welcomes the appointment by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of Sandra Mitchell as Assistant Secretary-General to serve as Deputy Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). She will replace Margot Ellis.

The Secretary-General and UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl expressed their gratitude for Ms. Ellis’ dedicated service to the Palestine refugees over the past five years, in particular for her leadership in implementing the UNRWA mandate in Syria.

Ms. Mitchell brings to the position a wealth of senior-level experience, as well as previous experience with UNRWA. Currently the Vice-President of International Programs of the International Rescue Committee, she looks back at nearly 20 years of experience in international peacekeeping, human rights, humanitarian and electoral field missions, including seven years within the United Nations system. She also held senior management roles at UNRWA from 2011 to 2013; first as the Director of UNRWA Operations in Jordan and later as Chief of Staff. Previously she spent four years as Director of Elections with UNAMI in Iraq.

Welcoming the Secretary-General’s appointment, Commissioner-General Krähenbühl stated, “Ms. Mitchell’s long-year experience in the humanitarian field, including four years with UNRWA, will be invaluable in the challenging times that lie ahead. As a team, we very much look forward to drawing on this experience and welcome her to the UNRWA family.” Reacting to her appointment, Ms. Mitchell said, “I am very excited at the prospect of returning to work for UNRWA as Deputy Commissioner-General and am grateful to be given the chance to contribute to the very important and rewarding work of the Agency at this time.”

Ms. Mitchell holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Washington State University and a Juris Doctorate from Oklahoma City University School of Law.

Born in 1962, she is married.

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
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)258 90724