Thursday, May 23, 2024
 
 

New U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues named

News.UN.Org
Lise Grand during her service as UN Humanitarian Coordination for Iraq, 2016.

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Although currently traveling in China, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a reshuffling of the position of Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues, relieving Ambassador David Satterfield who had assumed the position on a temporary basis when asked last October and was forced to manage a long period of strained relations with senior Israeli officials over humanitarian issues involving Gaza.

Incoming Special Envoy Lise Grande, announced on April 25, is one of scores of highly qualified Americans who have occupied high level UN and NGO positions connected with international affairs and post conflict stabilization operations, without ever formally serving in the U.S. diplomatic establishment, but in many cases supported by U.S. government when nominated.

Grande assumed her role as president and CEO of the U.S. Institute of Peace on December 1, 2020. While Secretary Blinken’s enthusiastic announcement of her nomination lists some of Grande’s recent career achievements, mostly Iraq and Yemen, she has also served in various UN postings in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, East Timor, the Palestinian Territories, India, Tajikistan, Armenia, Sudan and Haiti.

Finally, the difficulty of finding qualified political level personnel for tough assignments in the final months of any American presidential administration should not be underestimated.

Secretary Blinken’s announcement follows:

“Today (April 25), President Biden appointed Lise Grande as the new Special Envoy for Middle East Humanitarian Issues.  Lise’s decades of humanitarian experience will build on the foundation built by Ambassador David Satterfield and his team to urgently address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

President Biden created this position in the immediate aftermath of the horrific October 7th terrorist attacks to lead U.S. regional diplomacy to surge humanitarian aid to Gaza. For the past seven months David Satterfield – one of our most senior and experienced diplomats – has been leading this effort. His tireless contributions have been essential to the expansion of humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza. I want to thank David for his service as Special Envoy. I’ll continue to benefit from David’s experience, wisdom and counsel on these issues as he’ll keep serving the Department of State as a Senior Advisor.

We look forward to Lise leading on this important work. Lise recently served as President and CEO of the U.S. Institute of Peace. She brings nearly three decades of overseas experience leading, managing, and coordinating large-scale, complex operations for the United Nations on some of the most difficult crises. She has an extensive background working in Africa and the Middle East including as the head of UN humanitarian and development operations in Yemen, where she coordinated one of the UN’s largest operations globally. Lise was also responsible for the UN’s humanitarian, stabilization, and development operations while serving as deputy head of the UN’s political mission in Iraq during the campaign against ISIS, where she led UN efforts to stabilize the more than twenty cities that had been liberated from ISIS control.

The provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance into Gaza needs to be increased and sustained. Lise’s unique experience overseeing similar endeavors in complex and dangerous circumstances will allow her to continue this round the clock effort. The United States will continue to pursue all possible avenues to ensure aid gets to the most vulnerable populations that need it, and that humanitarian workers operating in the region are protected. As Special Envoy, Lise will work closely with USAID, other colleagues across our government, regional partners and the Government of Israel to ensure this happens.

I want to thank Lise taking on this important role.”

 

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