Who: Filippo Grandi
What: Assumed office as UNHCR Chief
When: 1 January 2016
Filippo Grandi on 1 January 2016 took over as the new High Commissioner for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
Grandi succeeded Antonio Guterres, a former Portuguese Prime Minister, who retired on 31 December 2015 after heading the Refugee Agency for 10 years.
Grandi took over the position amid unprecedented displacement challenges, with worldwide forced displacement of people reaching a new post-World War-II high of 59.5 million.
Who is Filippo Grandi?
• Filippo Grandi is an Italian diplomat mainly active with the United Nations’ humanitarian operations.
• He started his career in the office of UNHCR in 1988.
• He headed a number of emergency operations including in Kenya, Benin, Ghana, Liberia, the Great Lakes Region of Central Africa, Yemen and Afghanistan.
• Between 1996 and 1997, he served as the Field Coordinator for UNHCR and United Nations humanitarian activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the civil war.
• From 1997 to 2001, he worked in the Executive Office of the UNHCR in Geneva, as Special Assistant and then Chief of Staff.
• From 2001 to 2004, he served as the UNHCR’s Chief of Mission.
• He also served as Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
• On 11 November 2015, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced his intention to appoint Grandi as the next United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to take office in 2016.
• He holds bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the State Universities of Venice and Milan, and from the Gregorian University in Rome.
About United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
• UNHCR is a United Nations agency mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself.
• The agency assists in refugees’ voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.
• Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland.
• It is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
• The agency has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, once in 1954 and again in 1981.