H.E. Deborah Lyons took up her responsibilities as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA in April 2020. She is a diplomat with 21 years of professional experience in political affairs, international cooperation and economic development. Most recently she served as Ambassador of Canada to Israel and from 2013 until 2016 as Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
She has held several senior positions with Canada’s Department of Global Affairs, including as Deputy Ambassador at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, Assistant Deputy Minister for Strategic Policy and Planning and Chief Strategist, and directorships covering commercial relations, international finance and technology. She has also worked with Canada’s Department of Natural Resources and Privy Council Office. Before joining the Government of Canada, Ms Lyons owned and managed an environmental consulting firm. Ms. Lyons holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New Brunswick and completed studies at the Canadian National Defence College.
Before joining UNDP, Mr. Al Dardari served as Senior Advisor on Reconstruction at the World Bank MENA Vice Presidency, leading a large analytical program to design and pilot a new approach to reconstruction in MENA conflict countries. Before joining the World Bank, he served as Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). Mr. Al Dardari studied economics and international relations at Richmond College, the University of Southern California, and at the London School of Economics.
Dr. Aleksandar Sasha Bodiroza, MD brings to the position of UNFPA Representative in Afghanistan over 20 years of management, programmatic and technical experience.
Dr. Bodiroza served as the Head of Integrated Field Support Unit of the Arab States Regional Office of UNFPA and Senior Technical Advisor on Youth, His background spans the fields of strategic direction, planning, management, and partnership; peacebuilding, public health, including HIV prevention, youth health development, and protection and strategic communication for behavior change. Before joining Afghanistan CO, Dr. Bodiroza served as UNFPA Representative in Egypt.
Ms. Aleta Miller has been the UN Women Representative in Afghanistan since April 2018. Previous to this appointment, Ms Miller was the UN Women Representative of the Fiji Multi-Country, covering 14 Pacific Island nations. Ms Miller has extensive experience in Women’s Rights, Human Rights, Refugee Rights, Public Health and International Development gained through 25 years of professional experience, including for UN Women, UNFPA and UNAIDS, and a number of INGOs.
Ms. Miller is a Registered Clinical Psychologist (Australia) and holds a Master’s degree in International Public Health.
Mr. Candra Samekto has been the IFAD Country Director for Afghanistan since August 2019. Mr Samekto has specialized knowledge in public policy, international development, natural resources management as well as infrastructure management and financing. He has extensive experiences in public and private sectors for over 20 years including in China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia and Australia. Mr Samekto holds PhD degree in Natural Resources Management and Policy from University of Queensland, Australia and Master of Science in Water Service Management from UNESCO-IHE Delft, the Netherlands.
Ms. Caroline Van Buren joined UNHCR in 1993 in Geneva, Switzerland. She has held various positions with UNHCR in the USA (Washington), Bosnia, Liberia, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Hungary, Slovenia, Somalia and currently as the Representative in Afghanistan. In 1998 and from 2004 to 2009, she was on loan from UNHCR to the United Nations Department of Peace Keeping Operations in Sierra Leone and in Liberia, where she worked in the Rule of Law Division. Ms. Van Buren holds a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley (1988) and a Juris Doctor Degree from Boston University School of Law (1991).
Dr Luo Dapeng (China) was appointed as WHO Representative in Afghanistan in March 2020. He has been working in the field of international public health for over 20 years, with particular experience in communicable disease prevention and control, country capacity-building for health security, health system strengthening, particularly at the primary health care level, and providing leadership in managing complex emergencies and coordinating the humanitarian health response. Prior to joining WHO in Afghanistan, Dr Luo served as WHO Representative in Papua New Guinea for almost four years between 2017 and February 2021.
Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov
Deputy Special Representative, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator
Before joining as the UN Deputy Special Representative, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, Dr. Ramiz Alakbarov worked for UNFPA HQ, most recently serving as Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director (Management) ad interim.
Dr. Alakbarov has 25 years of service in the United Nations, including as the UNFPA Director of the Policy and Strategy Division, UNFPA’s representative on the UN System High-Level Committee on Programmes, and on the InterAgency Standing Committee on Humanitarian Affairs. He has actively contributed to the ongoing UN Reform process. Dr. Alakbarov has served in various positions in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia and the Caribbean, including in development, humanitarian and integrated peacekeeping missions settings.
Before joining UN-Habitat Afghanistan for the second time, he supported UN Transition and closure of the UN peace keeping mission and continuation of peace consolidation priorities in Liberia and was Resilience Advisor with UNDP Turkey and coordinated preparation of the integrated Humanitarian & Development Refugee response plan to the Syrian conflict’s refugee crises. He also has worked with UN-Habitat’s Regional Office for Africa and Arab States. Fernando has an MSc.in Public Policy from School of Oriental and African Studies.
Ms. Fiona Frazer has been the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Afghanistan since August 2019. She also serves as the Human Rights Chief within the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan. Prior to this appointment, Ms. Frazer was Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine from 2015 to 2019. She has also served as Deputy Representative for OHCHR in Central Asia and was Deputy Head of the OHCHR HQ based Europe and Central Asia Section. With her additional human rights work in Bosnia Herzegovina, Belarus, and the Philippines, Ms. Frazer has over 25 years of professional experience in conflict, humanitarian, and development settings.
Mr. Henry Kerali joined the Bank in 2003 as Senior Highway Engineer in the Infrastructure & Energy Department in ECA. He has since held various positions, including as Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone for Africa Region. Before joining the Bank, he was a Professor at the University of Birmingham, England, specializing in the development of transport infrastructure. He led the research of developed economic cost-benefit models for assessing the feasibility of infrastructure investments. He holds a BSc (Eng.) from Makerere University, and MSc and PhD from the University of Birmingham, UK.
Mr. Hervé Ludovic de Lys joined the UNICEF Afghanistan family as Representative in March 2021. Prior to that, he served the children of Venezuela as UNICEF Representative there. With more than 30 years of professional experience, Mr. Ludovic de Lys has worked in complex socio-political, development, and security environments. His areas of expertise in humanitarian affairs and development include humanitarian diplomacy, capacity building, community development, peace and security, strategic planning, and managing change for the benefit of children. Originally from Mali and France, he has a Master’s degree in international economics from the Aix-Marseille University in France.
Mr. Ian Ridley has led OCHA Afghanistan since October 2018, bringing 25 years’ experience in complex humanitarian environments to the position. He began his international career as Country Director for ADRA Azerbaijan, and later joined World Vision International (WVI) in Haiti.
Ian was also WVI’s representative to the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) and Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR). He joined the United Nations in June 2016 and was OCHA Head of Office in South Sudan before moving to Afghanistan.
Mr. Jordan Naidoo is currently the Director of the UNESCO Kabul Office and Country Representative to Afghanistan. From 2015 to 2019, he was the Director of the Division of Education 2030 Support and Coordination in at the HQ in Paris, leading UNESCO’s global coordination of the SDG4-Education 2030 Agenda. Before that, he was a Senior Education Advisor at UNICEF in New York, responsible for strategy and research on equity and innovation in education. Mr. Naidoo received his M. Ed. from the University of Natal, South Africa and Doctor of Education (D. Ed.) from Harvard University. Among other publications, he was the editor of the Springer publication, Community Schools in Africa - Reaching the Unreached.
Mary Ellen Mc Groarty is the Representative and Country Director for WFP in Afghanistan. Before her appointment to Afghanistan, Mary Ellen served as WFP’s Deputy Country Director in South Sudan, where she steered WFP’s emergency and resilience operations and contributed to designing programmes linking peace and food security. Previously, she served as WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Chad, overseeing emergency and resilience programmes in response to multi-crises, including in Lake Chad and the Sahel.
Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (Political)
Mette Knudsen was appointed today by the Secretary-General as his new Deputy Special Representative (Political) for Afghanistan in the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
She has held several senior positions with Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including as Ambassador of Denmark to Kenya, Seychelles, Eritrea and Somalia (2015 – 2020), Greece (2012-2015) and Cyprus (2014-2015), Ethiopia (2004-2007), and as the Deputy Head of Mission in Zambia (2002-2004). She also served as the Ministry’s Head of Africa Department (2007-2012) and as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Nairobi (2015-2020) and to the African Union and ECOWAS (2004-2007).
Ms. Knudsen holds a Master’s degree in Political Science from Aarhus University in Denmark and has a supplementary degree in Modern Greek language. She is fluent in Danish, English, and Greek.
Mr. Mohammad Hasnain has over 20 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector, working mostly on issues of environmental sustainability, and particularly with mountain communities in the South Asian Hindu Kush Himalayas. Before joining UNEP, he worked as the Afghanistan Country Director of GERES, a France based NGO working on issues of Climate Change and Clean Energy. He holds a Master’s of International Affairs (MIA) degree from Columbia University and a Post Graduate Diploma in Forest Management from the Indian Institute of Forest Management.
Mr. Paul Cruickshank comes from a military background, having served with the British Army for 20 years, during which time he saw service in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
Mr Cruickshank joined the UN in late 2002 and has subsequently served in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iraq, Kosovo, and South Sudan.
Mr. Cruickshank holds a Master’s degree from Cranfield University, and is a PRINCE2, MSP and P3O practitioner.
Mr. Paul Heslop joined UNMAS Afghanistan as Head of Mission and Chief Technical Advisor in January 2021. Prior to this appointment, he served as the Chief of Programmes of UNMAS HQ since 2011. Throughout his 27-year long career in mine action, he has obtained wide-ranging technical, programmatic, and managerial experience by delivering demining projects in over 25 mine-affected countries. Mr. Heslop is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the Defense Academy of the United Kingdom and holds an MBA from the London Business School.
Mr Rajendra Aryal has 24 years of experience in all facets of food security, sustainable livelihoods, resilience building, operations, communication and advocacy. Before joining FAO Afghanistan, he has worked in nearly 30 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, including FAO Headquarters in Rome. Mr. Aryal holds a Master's degree (MSc) in Civil and Infrastructure Engineering from Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany, and a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli in India.
Mr. Mohammadi is a program and project management professional with a master's degree focused on Management Information Systems with long term experience in program management at post-conflict countries and regional development & connectivity. He has more than 25 years of work experience in development processes, accompanied by extensive knowledge of the entire project/program cycle. Before joining UNCTAD, Reza has experience working with UNOPS and government experience as a civil servant.
Chief of Mission
Mr. Stuart Simpson joined IOM Afghanistan in 2020. Before that, he worked with IOM in Timor Leste. He also was the IOM Head-of-Office in Nias Island in 2006 and Padang in 2007.
From 2008-2015 he was Chief of Mission to Mozambique, chaired the HCT and the UN Development Results Group on Governance. In 2015 Mr. Simpson took up regional duties in the North Pacific /Micronesia IOM Mission, covering migration issues in Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshal Islands.