Filippo Grandi takes helm as UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Baku, January 5, AZERTAC

Filippo Grandi of Italy began his five-year term as UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN Center of News reported. He succeeded António Guterres (Portugal) who was in office more than 10 years.

High Commissioner Grandi, who arrived at UNHCR's headquarters office in Geneva earlier on Monday (January 4), takes up the position at a time of unprecedented displacement challenges. 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.

Grandi, 58, who is from Italy, has worked in international affairs for over 30 years, 27 of them with the United Nations. 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 first with NGOs and later with UNHCR in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and at the organization's Geneva headquarters.

Filippo Grandi has been elected for the five-year period that begins on January 1, 2016 to come an end on December 31, 2020.

UNHCR works worldwide to protect, assist and find solutions for refugees, internally displaced people and stateless populations. It has some 9,700 staff across 126 countries, many of them working in humanitarian emergencies and in close proximity to regions of conflict. In June 2015 it reported that worldwide forced displacement had reached a new post-World War II high of 59.5 million people. Displacement levels have continued to rise since, most visibly with the situation of more than one million refugees and migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe during 2015.

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