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Former Dutch Deputy PM Sigrid Kaag Takes Helm as UN's Gaza Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator

Sigrid Kaag with UN Secretary General - UN Photos Archieve

By: ATN News

UNHQ, New York — United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres made a significant announcement today, revealing the appointment of Ms. Sigrid Kaag of the Netherlands to the position of Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza. This appointment, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2720 (2023), entrusts Ms. Kaag with the vital responsibilities of facilitating, coordinating, monitoring, and verifying humanitarian relief consignments destined for Gaza.

In her new role, Ms. Kaag will play a pivotal role in establishing a United Nations mechanism aimed at expediting the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza through States not directly involved in the conflict. The UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) will provide crucial support to Ms. Kaag as she undertakes these responsibilities. Her official assignment is set to commence on January 8, 2024.

Ms. Kaag, a seasoned professional with extensive experience in political, humanitarian, and development affairs, as well as diplomacy, brings a wealth of expertise to this crucial position. Prior to her appointment, she held the distinction of being the first Deputy Prime Minister and first female Minister of Finance in the Dutch government since January 2022. Ms. Kaag's previous roles include serving as the Dutch Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation from October 2017 to May 2021 and as Minister for Foreign Affairs until September 2021. Notably, she led the social liberal party D66 to victory in the elections of March 2021, having been elected party leader in September 2020.

Ms. Kaag's extensive involvement with the United Nations system further underscores her qualifications for this appointment. She served as the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon from 2015 to 2017 and as the Special Coordinator of the Joint Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations Mission in Syria from 2013 to 2015. Her previous roles also include Assistant Secretary‑General with the United Nations Development Program from 2010 to 2013 and Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Jordan from 2007 to 2010. Prior to these roles, Ms. Kaag held senior positions with UNICEF, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

Ms. Kaag, a distinguished academic, holds a Master’s of Art in Middle East Studies from the University of Exeter, a Master of Philosophy in International Relations from Oxford University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo. Fluent in Dutch, German, French, English, Spanish, and Arabic, she brings a multilingual dimension to her role.

In response to a question posed by ATN directed to the UN Secretary-General Spokesperson Stephan Dujarric, concerning Ms. Kaag's marriage to her husband, Anis al-Qaq, a dentist and Palestinian national from Jerusalem, who previously served as a deputy minister under Yasser Arafat in the 1990s and as the Palestinian representative to Switzerland, the Secretary-General addressed the current backdrop of heightened aggression and diplomatic tensions. In the face of unprecedented diplomatic behavior by Israel's Permanent Representative to the U.N., Guterres emphasized the expectation for all concerned member states to collaborate with Ms. Kaag in a spirit of cooperation and efficiency. The Secretary-General remains committed to navigating this challenging terrain with diplomacy and international cooperation as guiding principles.



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