UN appoints former Timor Leste chief as interim humanitarian coordinator

By OLIVER SLOW | FRONTIER

YANGON — The United Nations has announced that Norway’s Mr Knut Otsby will act as its interim Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Myanmar as of November 1, replacing outgoing Resident Coordinator Ms Renata Lok-Dessallien.

According to a statement published on Tuesday, Ostby has served as a United Nations RC for more than 11 years, including in Timor Leste, where he has held the post since 2013.

He previously held the resident coordinator role in Fiji and Iran, as well as other Pacific countries, and also held UN “leadership positions” in Afghanistan, Malaysia, Maldives, Kazakhstan and Pakistan, the statement said.

The statement said that Lok-Dessallien will take “another assignment” at UN headquarters and that the Secretary-General Mr Antonio Guttieres is “grateful for Ms Lok-Dessallien’s important contribution and service” to United Nation’s work in Myanmar.

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Lok-Dessllien took the UN’s top Myanmar post in Myanmar 2014, but her tenure was plagued by tensions within the UN. She was accused of prioritising building a close relationship with the Myanmar government over human rights concerns in Rakhine State.

A UN spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier this month, The Guardian reported that the UN commissioned and then suppressed a report published in May that was critical of its approach in Myanmar, with particular reference to the crisis in Rakhine State.

“It is recommended that, as a matter of urgency, UN headquarters identifies ways to improve overall coherence in the UN’s system approach,” the report said.

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