Our Team in Lebanon

Joanna Wronecka

Joanna Wronecka

Special Coordinator for Lebanon
Joanna Wronecka of Poland is the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Lebanon. She has over 25 years of experience in diplomacy, international security and Middle East affairs. Ms. Wronecka holds a Ph.D. in Arabic philosophy and a master’s degree in Arabic philology from the University of Warsaw and is fluent in Arabic, English, French and Polish.
Imran Riza

Imran Riza

Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator
Imran Riza is the current UN Deputy Special Coordinator, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon since the 1st of November 2022. Mr. Riza brings over 35 years of international experience across the United Nations System, mainly in field settings, including through his latest assignment as United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator. Mr. Riza holds a master’s degree in Social-Cultural Anthropology from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from McGill University. He is a national of Pakistan and is fluent in English, French, and Urdu.
 Jean-Christophe Carret

Jean-Christophe Carret

World Bank
Country Director, Middle East Department
Jean-Christophe Carret is the World Bank Country Director for the Middle East Department (Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria). Before his appointment, Mr. Carret was Country Director for the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Burundi and Sao Tome & Principe, and before that the Country Manager for Laos. Before joining the World Bank Group in 2005, Mr. Carret worked at the Center for Industrial Economics at MINES ParisTech (formerly known as École des Mines) as a research economist specialized in environmental economics. Mr. Carret is a French national, and holds a PhD in economics from MINES ParisTech.
Abdallah Alwardat (WFP)

Abdallah Alwardat

Country director
Mr Abdallah Alwardat is the Country Director and Representative of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) office in Lebanon. Abdallah has worked with WFP for 21 years. He has a long-standing and diverse experience working most recently on a regional level, as well as in emergency and development contexts in some of WFP’s most challenging operations including Iraq, Algeria, South Sudan, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
Asma Kurdahi (UNFPA)

Asma Kurdahi

Head of UNFPA's Office in Lebanon
Asma Kurdahi, a Lebanese national, is UNFPA’s Head of Office in Lebanon. Since 1995, Asma has been advocating for UNFPA’s mandate with a wide range of stakeholders for advancing the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, namely promoting access to reproductive and sexual health services and information with focus on young people, gender equality and empowerment of women, prevention and response to gender-based violence and supporting the integration of population dimensions in development.
Costanza Farina

Costanza Farina

Ms. Costanza Farina is the Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau in Beirut and Representative of UNESCO to Lebanon and Syria as of March 18, 2021. Prior to this, Farina was the UNESCO Representative in Jordan and performed as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Jordan as well as in Libya. She has over 30 years of experience with the UN, occupying different senior positions in Qatar, Geneva and Palestine. Farina holds a master’s degree in Oriental Languages and Cultures from the Istituto Universitario Orientale in Italy.
Cynthia Darrous Khoury

Cynthia Darrous Khoury

Officer-In-Charge, UNIC Beirut
Cynthia Darrous Khoury, a Lebanese national, is currently UNIC Beirut’s Officer-in-Charge. She has 20 years of experience in public information and communications, 16 of which with the UN Information Centre in Beirut, where she has led multiple campaigns while also developing and implementing strategies for communicating key UN messages in Lebanon and the region. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications from the Lebanese University.

Dorothée Klaus

Dorothée Klaus

Dorothée Klaus is the Director of UNRWA Affairs in Lebanon since February 2023. She first joined UNRWA in 2014 as Deputy Director (Programmes) for the Jordan Field and acted as Director of the Relief and Social Services Programme from 2017 till 2022. Dorothée is a German national and holds a M.A. in ethnology and philosophy, a master’s degree in humanitarian assistance and obtained a PhD in geography. Her doctoral thesis has been published in 2003 (Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon – where to belong?). From 1996-1999 she has carried out anthropological studies among the Palestine refugee community in Lebanon as associate researcher with the German Orient Institute in Beirut and the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches en Moyen-Orient.
Dr. Abdinasir Abubakar

Dr. Abdinasir Abubakar

Acting Representative
Dr. Abdinasir Abubakar is currently the acting WHO Representative in Lebanon. He is also the Programme Area Manager for the Infectious Hazard Prevention and Preparedness unit in the Health Emergencies Programme of WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean in Cairo, Egypt.

Dr. Abubakar has more than 25 years of experience in public health leadership, and epidemiological research, working with national and international institutions, and providing technical support to Member States and partners on improving the national emergency and public health security capacities. Dr. Abubakar has a degree in Medicine from the Faculty of Medicine of the Somali National University in Mogadishu and a Master’s Degree in Public Health in Epidemiology and International Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, United States of America.
Edouard Beigbeder

Edouard Beigbeder

UNICEF Representative in Lebanon
Edouard Beigbeder is the UNICEF Representative in Lebanon. For more than 20 years, Edouard Beigbeder has worked to improve the rights of children and women across the world. Prior to his appointment in Lebanon in 2022, Beigbeder served as UNICEF Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2019-2022), in Bangladesh (2014-2019) and Haiti (2012-2014). From 2009 to 2012, he managed the 13 field offices of UNICEF India. Edouard Beigbeder has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Organization and Management of Production. He is a dual national of Serbia and France.
Emmanuel Kalenzi

Emmanuel Kalenzi

Representative and Head of Regional Office for Jordan, Lebanon and Syria
Emmanuel Kalenzi is the UNIDO Representative and Head of Regional Office for Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. He has over 20 years of experience in development work, both in the public and private sectors as well as in international cooperation, and over 15 years with UNIDO. Mr. Kalenzi holds a Master of Business Administration from Wageningen University, a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Makerere University and is currently working on his PhD research.
Frederico Lima

Frederico Lima

Resident Representative for Lebanon
Frederico Lima is the IMF Resident Representative for Lebanon. Prior to his appointment, he held positions in the African and Fiscal Affairs Departments of the IMF, working on a range of policy issues in emerging markets and developing economies. A national of Portugal, Mr. Lima holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. in Law from the University of Coimbra.
Gielan Elmessiri

Gielan Elmessiri

UN Women
Representative a.i., UN Women Lebanon
Gielan Elmessiri was appointed as Representative a.i. for UN Women Lebanon in April 2023, joining the Country Team from UN Women’s Egypt country office where she served as Deputy Country Representative and Country Representative ai since 2014. Elmessiri has over 25 years of professional experience in gender equality, women’s empowerment, and sustainable development with a focus on advocacy and partnerships, policy analysis and coordination, programme design, and implementation. She has managed various UN Women flagship programmes, including in the areas of women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment, eliminating violence against women, and access to justice.
Ivo Freijsen

Ivo Freijsen

Ivo Freijsen is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative in Lebanon. He previously served as the UNHCR Representative in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ivo brings with him over 30 years of experience in the humanitarian field at the country, regional and HQ levels, including with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), CARE International, the Directorate-General for the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), working across a wide range of situations, including Rwanda, Sudan, Eritrea, Iraq, Egypt and Syria. Ivo Freijsen holds a Master’s degree in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies, and a graduate diploma in International Relations. He speaks Dutch, Arabic, English and French.

Kristen Knutson

Kristen Knutson

Acting Head of Office
Ms. Kristen Knutson has been the acting Head of Office for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Beirut, Lebanon since 29 January 2024. Kristen has more than 20 years of experience with the United Nations in the fields of humanitarian affairs and communications and has supported emergency response in many crises around the globe. Kristen holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of Minnesota, and she is a national of the United States of America.
Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Kearns

Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Kearns

Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Kearns CSC, Chief Liaison Office Beirut UNTSO ILMAC-LOB, represents the UNTSO Head of Mission in Beirut, Lebanon. He has over two decades of experience in the Australian Defense Force as an Infantry Officer. In addition to his military experience and qualifications, he has a Masters in Military and Defense Studies, Masters in Business, and Bachelor’s degree.
Major General Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz

Major General Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz

Head of Mission and Force Commander
Major General Aroldo Lázaro has a long and distinguished career in the Spanish Army since 1986 and has held multiple command positions. He also has extensive international experience, with UNPROFOR, SFOR and EUFOR. He served three times with UNIFIL in 2011, 2013 and 2016. His military education includes Armored Units Command course, Airborne/Paratroopers Units Command course and Spanish Army and Joint Staff course. He has academic training in the field of diplomacy, peace and security.
Mathieu Luciano (IOM)

Mathieu Luciano

Head of Office
Mathieu Luciano is IOM’s Head of Office in Lebanon since March 2021. He was previously in charge of IOM's global migrant protection policy and programming based in Geneva, with a focus on vulnerable migrants. Mathieu has held other policy and programme positions for IOM in the Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa based in Egypt, as well as Indonesia and Belgium. He holds a Master's degree in Corporate Social Development and Employment Policies from Sciences Po Paris.
 Mazen Shaqoura

Mazen Shaqoura

Regional Representative
Mr. Mazen Shaqoura is currently the Regional Representative for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He has over 25 years of experience with the United Nations in human rights, rule of law, democratic development, good governance and program management.
In his previous incarnations, Mr. Shaqoura was deployed in Tunis, Bahrain, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon and Sudan.
Mr. Shaqoura is fluent in Arabic, English and French and holds a Master of Arts in Diplomacy.
Mohamed Khafagi (UNDSS)

Mohamed Khafagi

Mr. Mohamed Khafagi worked in different capacities during his former job with the Government of Egypt in the area of national and state security for more than 20 years. He has a vast experience in crisis management and particularly in the area of hostage negotiation that helped him in few critical cases in the UN, of which resulted in the safe release of the UN staff members in a very complex hostage-taken incidents. He has graduated for the Egyptian Police Academy in 1988 with bachelor’s in law, and has a Master’s degree in crisis management.
Mohammed Salih

Mohammed Salih

Resident Representative a.i. in Lebanon
Mohammed Salih of Eritrea has extensive work experience in development, crisis prevention, early recovery, stabilization, livelihoods, and governance programs in different countries including countries in crises.
Before his appointment as Deputy Resident Representative to UNDP Lebanon, Mr. Salih served as Head of Programmes in Libya. Prior to this, he served for the United Nations Office in Eritrea as Communications and Human Rights officer for over 8 years. He also worked for the government-autonomous institution-Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission as the Head of the Communications and Information unit.
Mr. Salih holds MA in Public Policy and Management with a Bachelor of Science in Economics. He is fluent in both English and Arabic.
Muhammad Usman Akram

Muhammad Usman Akram

Mr. Muhammad Usman Akram holds a Master degree in Economics and has over 20 years of experience in the UN system and non-governmental organizations in the humanitarian and development sector. Prior to joining UNOPS, Mr. Akram fulfilled different positions, acting Head of the RCO for Iraq and Regional Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor for UNDP, serving the Arab States Region and the Europe. Mr. Akram has been the Head of Programme at UNOPS and since January 2019, he has been the Director for the Operational Hub in Amman.
Natalie Sarafian photo

Natalie Sarafian

Team Leader
Natalie joined the Resident Coordinator’s Office as the Team Leader in March 2020. Prior to that, Natalie worked with IMMAP on supporting the provision of information management services to humanitarian and development organizations. She has also worked with the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator’s Office for Lebanon (UNSCOL). Natalie’s other relevant experience includes working in UN Headquarters on policy matters related to the Protection of Civilians; in Peacekeeping Operations in the Central African Republic and Côte d’Ivoire; as well as with UNICEF. She also worked in communications with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Canada. Natalie holds an MSc in Global Politics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Nora Ourabah Haddad

Nora Ourabah Haddad

FAO Representative in Lebanon
Nora is currently the Representative of FAO in Lebanon. She joined FAO in June 2022 and has several years of experience in the areas of food, agriculture, and rural development. She joined FAO as Rural Institutions Officer and soon became Team leader of rural institutions and people’s empowerment at FAO Headquarters in Rome. Prior to her current position, she was appointed as FAO Representative to the Sultanate of Oman. Previously, she worked with the International Federation of Agricultural Producers and the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policies (NCFAP).
Nora has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the High Business School of Grenoble in France and an MBA in International Management from Laval University in Canada.
Renée Sabbagh (UNODC)

Renee Sabbagh

Head of UNODC Office in Lebanon
Since October 2020, Renée Sabbagh is the Head of UNODC Lebanon. She's also the National Programme Officer and has been working with UNODC since 1999. Her expertise revolves around providing technical assistance on criminal justice and prison reform to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior within the framework of the Regional Programme for the Arab States (2016 to 2021). Renée holds a Master’s degree in social work from the “Université Saint Joseph” in Beirut.
Ruba Jaradat (ILO)

Ruba Jaradat

Regional Director
Ruba Jaradat is the ILO Assistant Director-General and Regional Director for Arab States. Since she assumed her current post at the ILO in November 2015, the Regional Office has seen over an 8-fold increase in its Development Cooperation portfolio budget, as well as the development and signing-into-force of six Decent Work Country Programmes and the expansion of its policy-related support to constituents across the region. She holds a PhD in Management and International Development from the UK.
Sami Dimassi (UNEP)

Sami Dimassi

Director and Regional Representative
Mr. Sami Dimassi joined UNEP Regional Office for West Asia as Director and Regional Representative in 2018. He held several senior positions in the UN System, such as Senior ICT Advisor, Head of the Innovation Branch, Deputy Director of the Science division, Director of Private Sector Engagement, and Acting Director of Corporate Services all within UNEP. A Lebanese-Canadian national, he holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from Ottawa University and a master’s in Management from Waterloo University in Canada.
Taina Christiansen

Taina Christiansen

Head of UN-Habitat Office in Lebanon
Taina Christiansen assumed leadership of UN-Habitat’s Country Programme in September 2019. She previously served at UN-Habitat’s Headquarters in Nairobi, where she worked in the Office of the Executive Director and later in External Relations, as well as peacekeeping missions in Mali and DR Congo, and UNAIDS and ITC in Geneva. She has a BA in Politics and International Relations and a MA in International Peace Studies. She has one daughter.
Yeran Kejijian (UNV)

Yeran Kejijian

Country Coordinator
Yeran Kejijian (Lebanon) took up her appointment as the Country Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Lebanon in 2017. She has contributed to the gradual expansion of the programme in Lebanon making it one of the largest in the Arab States and the MENA region in terms of number of mobilised UN Volunteers. She holds a Master's degree in Business Administration from Edinburgh Business School of Heriot-Watt University, Scotland. She completed her undergraduate degree in Business Administration at Université Saint Joseph (Beirut).