New UN High Commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi takes office
Geneva (Xinhua + DIPLOMAT.SO) – The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Monday said Filippo Grandi began his five-year term as new UN High Commissioner for Refugees on Jan. 1, succeeding Antonio Guterres whose more than 10 years in office ended last week.
UNHCR said the new High Commissioner, a UN official who has worked in refugee and political affairs in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia arrived at UNHCR headquarters office in Geneva earlier Monday, takes up the position at a time of unprecedented displacement challenges.
UNHCR noted record numbers of people globally are forced to flee war and persecution, including more than one million refugees and migrants who crossed the Mediterranean to Europe during the past year.
“The combination of multiple conflicts and resulting mass displacement, fresh challenges to asylum, the funding gap between humanitarian needs and resources, and growing xenophobia is very dangerous,” Grandi said in a statement.
The new Commissioner hopes that “solutions to crises of displacement will be pursued with renewed determination by addressing their root causes and investing adequate political and material resources,” adding UNHCR stands ready to work with all those pursuing this goal.
The 58-year-old Italian has worked in international affairs for over 30 years. He was formerly head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), he worked prior to that for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as Deputy Special Representative, following a long career with UNHCR in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and at the organization’s Geneva headquarters.