New York

18 March 2020

Mr. Philippe Lazzarini of Switzerland - Commissioner-General of UNRWA

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, following consultations with the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), today announced the appointment of Philippe Lazzarini of Switzerland as the Agency’s new Commissioner-General.  

The Secretary-General wishes to extend his appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Christian Saunders who will continue to serve as Acting Commissioner-General until Mr. Lazzarini assumes this position. 

Mr. Lazzarini brings to the position more than thirty years of experience in humanitarian assistance and international coordination in conflict and post-conflict areas in the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the private sector.

Since 2015, he has held the position of Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon in the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL).  Prior to this position, he was Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia (2013-2015). 

Mr. Lazzarini joined the United Nations in 2003 and has served the Organization in various capacities, including as Deputy Director, Coordination and Response Division of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Head of the OCHA Office for the occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia and Angola and as Area Coordinator for the OCHA Office in Iraq.  Prior to joining the United Nations, he worked as Head of Marketing for the Union Bancaire Privée, Geneva and served for ten years with the ICRC as the Deputy Head of Communication, Head of the ICRC Delegation in Rwanda, Angola and Sarajevo and as an ICRC delegate in Southern Sudan, Jordan, Gaza and Beirut. 

Mr. Lazzarini graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Neuchâtel and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Lausanne.  He is married and has four children.