UNRWA Commissioner-General Sworn in at a Ceremony in New York

01 October 2021
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini (right) is officially sworn into office by UN Secretary-General António Guterres (left) during a ceremony at UN headquarters in New York on 30 September 2021. © 2021 UN Photo.

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarini has been officially sworn into office by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Mr. Lazzarini took his oath of office at a ceremony in New York on 30 September 2021, nearly 18 months after having officially assumed his position. The ceremony had been postponed due to restrictions imposed by COVID-19.

“I, Philippe Lazzarini, solemnly declare and promise to exercise in all loyalty, discretion and conscience the functions entrusted to me as an international civil servant of the United Nations,” said the Commissioner-General.

Mr. Lazzarini came to UNRWA with nearly thirty years of experience in humanitarian assistance and international coordination in conflict and post-conflict areas in the United Nations, including as Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon in the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL), head of delegations for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the private sector.

Since he took office in April 2021, Philippe Lazzarini has conducted numerous missions in the Agency’s fields of operations, engaging with Palestine refugees and stakeholders, has intensively engaged with Member States and addressed both the UN Security Council and 4th committee of the UN General Assembly. He is currently finalizing a strategy for a modern, efficient and resolutely principled UNRWA, in line with the mandate it receives from the General Assembly.

“It is imperative that UNRWA remains the strong UN Agency that it has been since it was created, an Agency that succeeded in promoting human development in the region,” said Mr. Lazzarini.  “UNRWA has rolled out one of the most cost-effective and highly successful education systems in the Middle East, significantly lowered maternal mortality rates, and addressed food insecurity stemming from protracted conflict. As the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, I will spare no effort to seek solutions that ensure both the short-term continuity of UNRWA services, as well long-term sustainable and predictable funding of the Agency.” 

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 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

For more information, please contact:

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