Veteran Red Cross official to head UN agency for Palestinian refugees

20 November 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment today of a veteran Red Cross official to head the main United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees.

Pierre Krähenbühl of Switzerland, currently Director of Operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), overseeing 12,000 staff in 80 countries, succeeds Filippo Grandi of Italy as Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Prior to his current Red Cross post, he served as personal advisor to the President of the ICRC (2000-2002), carrying out various field assignments in El Salvador, Peru, Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and before that he was Head of Operations for Central and South-Eastern Europe.

“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,” spokesperson Farhan Haq said.

Mr. Ban lauded Mr. Grandi’s “outstanding dedication and commitment to the Palestinian people.”

Established by the UN General Assembly in 1949 after the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees, UNRWA currently provides services including education, health, social safety net assistance and micro-financing to some 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants in the West Ban and Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Funding deficit of over $40 million threatens UN assistance to Palestinian refugees

Related Stories





In-depth Interviews