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In Memoriam -
In remembrance of those members of the UN Family who lost their lives
in the earthquake in Haiti, 12 January 2010

Mr. Philippe Dewez, 1947 - 2010

Special Adviser (Belgium)

Mr. Philippe Dewez

Philippe Dewez, a national of Belgium, was a Special Counsel and Advisor to the President of Haiti under the aegis of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

Originally from the town of Namur, Philippe, an engineer by training, attended the Université Catholique de Louvain from 1965 to 1971 where he earned both his undergraduate degree in civil engineering and his Master’s in industrial management.

His early career included positions with the Belgian Technical Cooperation, the Société Namuroise de diversification and Oxfam. Philippe spoke fluent English, French and Spanish.

Prior to working with the UN which he joined in December 2009, he was with the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) where he traveled extensively, with assignments in the United States, Bolivia, El Salvador and Guatemala as well as three different projects in Haiti during his 20- year career.

IADB President Luis Alberto said, “Philippe had an extraordinary bond with Haiti and devoted the greater part of his professional life to Haitian development.”

Mr. Alberto went on to say that “Philippe earned the respect and affection of his colleagues and of hundreds of individuals he worked with throughout the region. He was a dedicated professional who on several occasions chose to take on tough assignments in difficult settings.”

Philippe retired as a Representative from the IADB in November 2009.

A friend said, “Sometimes he told me that he didn’t want to be a banker and a bureaucrat, he really wanted to work closer to the people, to help with more direct actions on behalf of the poorest, to help them surpass their lacks, to protect their health and life conditions and to work to make human rights a reality. I believe these were some of the reasons why he left [IADB] and went to work with the Mission in Haiti, to undertake the most important challenge of his life.”

Philippe’s wife, Nieves Alvarez, a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) staff member who survived the earthquake, described her husband as follows: “Philippe was a wonderful person; modest, loving, always smiling and willing to help others. He was a person who identified with those in need without wanting to be in the spotlight. Philippe was there and supervising, but he promoted everyone’s aptitude for acting responsibly and independently.”

A former colleague and friend said, “Philippe had a huge range of qualities as a person: a family man, a husband and a humanitarian worker. He was determined and committed and he never ‘retired’ from humanitarian work. [He] strongly wished to continue work for Haiti, the country he has dedicated his life to.”

Philippe enjoyed spending time with his wife who said both of them shared “a taste for Sudoku, tennis, traveling and walking, which allowed them to discover wonderful places in the countries they lived in together.”

Philippe, who had a large family, is remembered as a good father and someone who was proud of and close to his children despite long distances. “In short Philippe was fully satisfied with his life. He died doing what he loved, in the country he loved,” his wife said.

Phillipe is survived by his wife and their six children.

UN Web Services Section, Department of Public Information, United Nations © 2009