Our Team in Iraq

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert

UNAMI
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq
 
 
Ms. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of the Netherlands assumed her responsibilities as Special Representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on 17 December 2018.
Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert brings over 20 years of political and diplomatic experience, having served in several high-level Government and parliamentary positions. She was Minister for Defence of the Netherlands (2012-2017), the first woman to be appointed in that role. As Minister, she oversaw the Central Staff, Support Command, the Defence Material Organisation and the four Royal Netherlands Armed Forces: Army, Navy, Air Force and the Military and Border Police. In this role, she had oversight of Dutch involvement in military operations in Mali, Afghanistan and Iraq, building close collaboration with the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and United Nations partners.
Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert also served as a member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands (2010-2012) and a member of the European Parliament (2004-2010). She worked for the European Commission in Brussels and in Riga, Latvia, and for the City of Amsterdam.
Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir

Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir

UNAMI
Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance
 
 
Ms. Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir of Iceland assumed her responsibilities as Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) on 2 March 2021.
Ms. Gísladóttir brings a wealth of diplomatic and political experience to the position, including from her recent role as Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and most recently as the Head of its Election Observation Mission in Ukraine. She also served as UN Women’s Regional Director in Europe and Central Asia and its Country Representative in Turkey and Afghanistan. She was Iceland’s Foreign Affairs Minister from 2007 to 2009, member of Parliament for seven years, and Mayor of Reykjavík for nine years. She is a member of the Nordic Women’s Mediators Network.
Ms. Gísladóttir holds a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from the University of Iceland and did post-graduate studies in history at the University of Copenhagen.
Irena Vojackova-Sollorano

Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano

Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq
 
 
Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano assumed her responsibilities as Deputy Special Representative for Iraq, in the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), and Resident Coordinator on 4 August 2020. Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano of Germany will also serve as Humanitarian Coordinator.
Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano holds a Diploma in International Economic Relations from the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, a Master’s Degree in History, Geography and International Law from the University of Vienna, and a Bachelor’s degree in History, Sociology, Geography and Political Science from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano is proficient in English, German and Czech.
Ahmed Zouiten

Ahmed Zouiten

WHO
Representative
Dr. Ahmed ZOUITEN, a Medical Doctor and a Public Health Professional from Fes, Morocco, graduated from the School of Medicine in Mohamed V University in Rabat.
Passion for humanity and for contributing to the betterment of people’s lives and their health conditions, in particular, has been a propelling force in my career. Fighting HIV was my first endeavor which I pursued passionately when treating AIDS patients in many countries in Africa and southeast Asia as a member of Médecins Sans Frontières MSF
I sustained the same passion when I joined the World Health Organization in 2006 and assumed different responsibilities at the country level as well as in WHO headquarters with a focus on HIV in Humanitarian settings initially before converging into Health Emergencies. In 2010, I led the Global Health Cluster and had the privilege to coordinate the health response in several major emergencies (Haiti 2010, Somalia 2011, Syria 2012, Mali 2013, Iraq 2014, and Yemen 2017)
In 2018, appointed as WHO representative in Djibouti, I focused on assisting the country in improving the health system’s performance and achieving progress towards Universal Health Coverage and Health related Sustainable Development goals. I always believed in a world where Health is a fundamental human right and not merely a privilege for those who can afford it, and I’m proud to uphold this principle as I join the WHO Country Office in Iraq as WHO Representative and Head of Mission.
Ali Elbereir

Ali Elbereir

UNODC
Senior Programme Coordinator, Head of Office
 
Mr. Ali El-Bereir is the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Senior Programme Coordinator and Head of its Iraq Office in Baghdad. He brings to his role substantive and managerial experience in developing, negotiating, implementing and monitoring technical assistance programmes, as well as in building and maintaining close partnerships with relevant stakeholders in government, private sector and civil society organizations.
Mr. EL-Bereir joined UNODC in 2014 as Programme Coordinator & Head of the Sub-Regional Programme Office for the Maghreb Countries with ROMENA, based in Tripoli, Libya, and since then served in various capacities, including as UNODC Deputy Regional Representative for the UNODC Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA) a.i.
Before joining UNODC, Mr.El-Bereir worked as: Human Rights Officer with the United Nations Support Mission to Libya (UNSMIL); Human Rights Officer and Human Rights Officer (Investigator) with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva; Rule of Law/Judicial Affairs Officer with the United Nations Mission In Sudan (UNMIS); with the Judiciary in Sudan; in the private sector and with a Sudanese NGO. He earned a post graduate degree in Human Rights Law from the University of Khartoum, Sudan. He is fluent in Arabic and English.
Ally-Raza Qureshi

Ally-Raza Qureshi

WFP
Representative and Country Director
 
Ally-Raza Qureshi joins the WFP Iraq team following a long career in humanitarian and emergency response, development and also the private sector. He is a national of Pakistan and began his career as a Chartered Accountant. Ally has worked with WFP for 20 years, starting with the Oversight Department as an internal auditor, subsequently Head of Area Office in El-Fasher, Darfur, Sudan; WFP Bangladesh Deputy Representative; and at HQ the Deputy Director for Resource Management and Programming, Deputy Director for WFP’s corporate transformative project- the Integrated Road Map and acting Director of Corporate Planning and Performance Management. Ally was recently WFP Deputy Representative in Yemen, where he successfully led the expansion of the programme to support over 13 million Yemenis. Ally is passionate about helping communities through resilience and livelihood programmes, and social protection systems addressing their needs. He is an advocate for green energy and for combating climate change.
Danielle Bell

Danielle Bell

OHCHR
Representative and Chief of UNAMI Human Rights Office
Ms. Danielle Bell has served as the Chief of the Human Rights Office, United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Representative in Iraq of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) since 2018. She has spent more than two decades promoting human rights globally, leading human rights teams in conflict and post-conflict contexts, including Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq, South Sudan, Sudan and Timor-Leste. In her current role, Ms. Bell leads a team of 50 national and international human rights staff to implement human rights activities mandated by the UN Security Council Resolution 2522 (2020).
This includes strategic development and leadership on the human rights and protection priority areas in Iraq, including: early warning, prevention and protection of human rights in situations of conflict and insecurity; strengthening rule of law and accountability for human rights violations; child protection; conflict related sexual violence; enhancing equality and countering discrimination; enhancing and Protecting Civic Space and People’s Participation. Ms. Bell holds a MSt. in International Human Rights Law from the University of Oxford and MA and BA degrees (distinction) from the University of Victoria.
Dina Zorba

Dina Zorba

UN Women
Representative
Dina Zorba, UN Women Iraq and Yemen Country Representative, has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of human and women’s rights, gender equality, communication and media.
Ms. Zorba has been serving as UN Women Iraq Country representative since February 2017, and as Head of Office/Representative in Yemen since December 2014. Before that, between 2005-2014, she served in leading positions with UNIFEM, UNFPA and UNESCO.
Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Zorba had a successful career as a media practitioner, trainer and defender of press freedom, acting as editor-in-chief and publisher of Sharqiyat magazine, published in Jordan. She has also worked with several regional and international UN and other non-profit organizations offering technical support and training to journalists and human rights defenders around the world.
Ms. Zorba holds an MA degree in Business Administration and Management from the American InterContinental University, Illinois, and a BA degree in Economics from the American University of Cairo.
Eric Buchot

Eric Buchot

ITC
Representative - Head of Programme
Eric Buchot leads ITC’s operations in Iraq which primarily focuses on strengthening agribusiness value chain and improving trade policy. With two decades of experience in the public and private sectors supporting trade competitiveness and development, he has worked on projects in more than 40 countries and across a range of economic sectors. Mr. Buchot has led some of ITC’s largest trade-related technical assistance (TRTA) initiatives, including in complex and post-conflict environments. Most recently, these have included the national trade strategies for Iran and Afghanistan.
Prior to joining ITC in 2006, Eric Buchot worked at UNCTAD’s Advisory Services on Investment and as a business unit manager for a global trading corporation. Mr. Buchot is also an Associate Professor at Grenoble Alps University, Faculty of Economy, European and International Studies.
Gazi Shbaikat

Gazi Shbaikat

IMF
Resident Representative
 
 
 
Gazi Shbaikat is the IMF Resident Representative for Iraq and Yemen since January 2021. Previously, Mr. Shbaikat worked in several countries in the Middle East and Central Asia Department in the IMF since 2010. Between 2006-2009, he worked in the Government of the Heshemite Kingdom of Jordan as Head of the National Statistics Office and Minister of Labour. Mr. Shbaikat holds Ph.D. in Economics.
Team

Ghaliah Faraj

UNIDO
Programme Officer
 
Ghaliah Faraj is a Programme Officer at Arab Bureau of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). She is from Kuwait where she was born and raised and holds an advanced degree in Global Management from the University of San Francisco. She joined UNIDO headquarters in Vienna as a JPO from Kuwait in 2015 in the Donor Relations department and moved on to the Arab Bureau in 2018.
Maha Katta

Maha Katta

ILO
Country Coordinator
Dr. Maha Kattaa is the ILO Country Coordinator in Iraq, overseeing a portfolio of projects and the implementation of the Iraq Decent Work Country Programme. Dr. Kattaa is also the Senior Resilience and Crisis Response Specialist for the ILO Regional Office for Arab States supporting Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria, in addition to Iraq.
Between 2013 and 2018, Dr. Kattaa was leading the ILO Response to the Refugee Crisis in Jordan, which is a development-focused and employment-driven response aimed at facilitating equal access to the labour market and promoting decent work for all.
Dr. Maha Kattaa joined the ILO in 2009, following 12 years of experience in academic and governmental fields, including four years at the Syrian State Planning Commission and eight years in managing short and long-term projects with the EU and UNDP. She holds a PhD in International Law and a Master Degree in International Economic Relations and was an associate professor at Aleppo University and Damascus University between 2004-2013.
Mounir Tabet

Mounir Tabet

UN ESCWA
Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
 
Mr. Mounir Tabet (Canada) took up his official functions as Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nation Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) on the 7th of September 2018.
Prior to this, Mr. Tabet served as the UNDP Country Director for Iraq (2016-2018) where he oversaw the program on stabilization and transition.
From 2013 to 2016, Mr. Tabet served as the UN & UNDP Resident Coordinator in Tunisia, providing support to the transition including on electoral support, constitution making, parliamentary effectiveness and anti-corruption.
Previously, Mr. Tabet was the Country Director of UNDP Egypt (2007-2013) where he led support to development efforts. From 2004-2007 he was the Senior Program Advisor in the Regional Bureau for Arab States in UNDP HQ in New York.
Previously, Mr. Tabet was Edward S. Mason fellow at Harvard University – the Kennedy School of Government. There, he completed a Masters degree in Public Administration. He also holds a Masters degree in Economics from the University of Ottawa.
Between 1989 and 2003, Mr Tabet served in a variety of country and HQ positions with UNDP. Prior to joining UNDP, Mr. Tabet worked with the North South Institute and the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa and the University of Ottowa.
Team

Muhammad Usman Akram

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

Othman Belbeisi

IOM
IOM Representative
 
 
Othman Belbeisi joined the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in 2003.
His 18-year career with IOM career has taken him across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with assignments in several countries including Syria, Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, and Libya; he has also represented the organization in numerous locations across Europe and Africa. Mr. Belbeisi has been a spokesperson for IOM in media across the years, highlighting IOM's position in relation to the Mediterranean Migration crisis. He has served as IOM Senior Crisis Coordinator and, most recently, the Director General’s Senior Regional Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region
Mr. Belbeisi's experiences have afforded him opportunities to contribute to migration research and policies. These include publications relating to socioeconomic indicators for vulnerable populations and policy frameworks for the protection of foreign workers in the Arab region. He completed an undergraduate degree in business administration started his career in the private sector; he also holds a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA).
Paolo Fontani

Paolo Fontani

UNESCO
Director and Representative
 
Paolo Fontani has rich experience working with UNESCO, including roles as Director of the UNESCO Office in Afghanistan and Director of the Liaison Office in Brussels and Representative to the European Institutions. Paolo has been building on UNESCO’s longstanding cooperation with Iraq in order to successfully manage one of UNESCO’s most ambitious country programmes in terms of its global portfolio, supported by significant funding commitments from the donor community.
Pehr Lodhammar

Pehr Lodhammar

UNMAS
Senior Programme Manager
Mr. Pehr Lodhammar is the Senior Programme Manager of UNMAS in Iraq, managing all international and national staff in the program, in addition to donor relations and resource mobilization. As a key advocate for the mine action sector in Iraq, he is often involved with coordination with the highest levels of the Iraqi government, and represents UNMAS at international venues and conferences. Mr. Lodhammar holds a Master’s Degree in International Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, and has more than 31 years of military and humanitarian mine action experience.
Philippa Candler

Philippa Candler

UNHCR
Acting Representative
 
Philippa Candler – Acting Representative, UNHCR Iraq
(Deputy Representative, Baghdad, Iraq from October – December 2019)
Ms. Candler joined UNHCR over 25 years ago in Canberra, Australia. She has since worked for UNHCR mainly in field locations such as Mozambique, Indonesia, Eritrea, Kenya, Sudan and Angola but also at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva and Brussels. Ms. Candler has held a number of different functions most of which were in the area of refugee protection, although she has also worked with UNHCR’s Inspector-General’s Office. Ms. Candler’s function before moving to Iraq was as UNHCR Representative in Angola. Ms. Candler graduated with an LLB from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and subsequently completed an LLM in Law and Development.
Rita Columbia UNFPA

Rita Columbia

UNFPA
Representative
Dr Rita Columbia assumed her responsibilities as UNFPA Representative to Iraq on 1 July 2020. She has more than 20 years of experience in the area of public health, sexual and reproductive health as well as programme management and advocacy.
She managed regional and global programmes while working with several governments, development agencies and NGOs.
Prior to joining UNFPA in Iraq, she served as UNFPA Representative to Moldova and Country Director for Albania and was part of UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia’s Senior Management team.
She holds a medical degree a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Master’s degree in Health Management.
Salah Elhajjhassan

Salah Elhajjhassan

FAO
Representative
 
Mr Hajj Hassan, a national of Lebanon, holds a Ph.D. in Plant Production from the University of Agriculture, Damascus, Syria; a Master of Science degree in Plant Production and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Engineering, both from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
He started his career in 1984, as Senior Research Assistant in the Agricultural Research and Education Centre (AREC), American University of Beirut. From 1987 to 1991, he was Coordinator of the Student Training Programme, and also Agriculture and Horticultural Teacher for the Faculty of Agriculture, at the Lebanese University.
From 1991 to 1995, he worked as Agricultural Engineer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Bekaa Regional Office, Zahlah and was then assigned to the Agricultural Research Institute in the Tal Amara station, first as Head of the Crop Production Department and subsequently in charge of the Plant Protection Laboratory. From 2002 to 2006, he was Director of the Kfardane Research Station (Agricultural Research Institute). In 2008, he became Visiting Scientist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and Coordinator of a project with the International Centre for Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.
In 2010, he served as Advisor to the Minister for Agriculture of Lebanon. In 2011, he became President of the Pesticide Scientific Committee, Head of the Phytoplasma Committee and Director of the Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (ARDP) (EU-funded project). From 2010 to 2013, he represented Lebanon in negotiations with EU, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. During his career, Mr Hajj Hassan also carried out a number of other functions. He represented the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) in several research programmes with the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and the American University of Beirut. He was Coordinator of the Mashreq/Maghreb project with ICARDA, representing Lebanon in the Steering Committee, as well as being the Head of the Sugar-beet Delivery and of the Wheat Delivery Committees. For a number of years, Mr Hajj Hassan worked for the preparation of FAO TCP projects and served as the National Director of a TCP project. He joined FAO in January 2014 as FAO Representative in Yemen. Mr Hajj Hassan succeeds Mr El Zubi as FAO Representative in Iraq.
Sami Dimassi

Sami Dimassi

UNEP
Director and Regional Representative of UNEP Regional Office for West Asia
 
“With over 20 years of experience in management, Mr. Dimassi has extensive experience in multi-lateral and international relations, corporate and policy reform, intergovernmental affairs, strategy design and private sector engagement. Mr. Sami Dimassi joined the UNEP Regional Office for West Asia as Director and Regional Representative in 2017. 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.”
Sheema Sen Gupta

Sheema Sen Gupta

UNICEF
UNICEF Representative in Iraq
 
 
 
Ms. Sheema Sen Gupta has been appointed as the UNICEF Representative in Iraq on 23 January 2021. She has a long UNICEF career, spanning both development and complex humanitarian contexts.
Prior to her appointment to Iraq, Ms. Sen Gupta was the Deputy Representative of UNICEF Afghanistan since February 2019 and has assumed the role of Representative a.i. from November 2020 until April 2021. Prior to this, she was the Deputy Representative of UNICEF Bangladesh where she led the development programme as well as the Humanitarian response to the Rohingya refugee crisis with over 60% of the refugees were children and women.
Between 2011 and 2016, Ms. Sen Gupta was the Chief of Child Protection Programme in UNICEF Somalia – one of UNICEF’s largest and most complex Child Protection Programmes. Ms. Sen Gupta is well experienced in human rights in complex emergencies, in particular, negotiating children’s and women’s rights in crisis and fragile situations.
Ms. Sen Gupta’s career with UNICEF began in Child Protection, with a focus on developing Psychosocial Support Programmes for UNICEF’s emergency response, and this took her mostly to countries in crisis. In the last 19 years, she worked in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Ghana, Somalia, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Ms. Sheema Sen Gupta, a Malaysian national, received her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Calcutta University and a senior leadership certificate from Judge Business School, Cambridge University, United Kingdom.
Sheri Ritsema-Anderson

Sheri Ritsema-Anderson

OCHA
Head of Office
Sheri Ritsema-Anderson has been serving as the Head of Office for OCHA Iraq since July 2020. Previous to her current posting, she was Chief of Section in the Operations and Advocacy Division of OCHA in New York, where she led the OCHA Corporate Emergency Response to the Ebola outbreak in DRC, supported the scale-up of OCHA operations in Venezuela, and spearheaded the Division's effort to expand and strengthen use of operational data and analysis during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was also present in Iraq during the ISIL invasion and helped the HC to coordinated the response as a Senior Humanitarian Advisor. Sheri has also served as the Deputy Head of Office in for OCHA in the occupied Palestinian territory and South Sudan, and in other roles with UNRWA, UNICEF and IRC.
Wael Al-Ashhab

Wael Al-Ashhab

UN-Habitat
Head of Iraq Country Programme
Mr. Wael Al-Ashhab, a Jordanian/Canadian National, holds an engineering degree with more than 30 years of experience on policy development and programme management including 15 years in the private sector, in different capacities, inter alia including; project/programme management pertaining to urban and regional planning, and design and implementation of a wide range of infrastructure projects with distinguished international consulting engineering companies in Jordan, Kuwait and Lesotho.
Mr. Al-Ashhab joined UN-Habitat Iraq Programme in March 2007 as the Manager of Infrastructure and Basic Services Pillar until May 2011 when he was assigned as the Head of Country Programme for Sudan until June 2018, then he was assigned as the Head of Country Programme for Yemen, and was reassigned as the Head of Country Programme in Iraq in January 2020. He acquired extensive experience on leading country programmes in these countries, inter alia, includes policy and strategy formulation on urbanization and housing, and community-based intervention linking humanitarian, peace building and recovery/development interventions.
Zena ali-Ahmad

Zena ali-Ahmad

UNDP
Resident Representative
Zena Ali-Ahmad is currently the Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme in Iraq. Before joining UNDP-Iraq, Zena was the Regional Director for UN-HABITAT Regional Office for Arab States.
Zena has been working with the United Nations for the last twenty years, where she assumed key technical and management positions, including UNDP Deputy Director for the Regional Hub for Arab States in Amman (2016-2017), UNDP Country Director in Jordan (2013-2016) and Syria (2008-2012), UNDP Regional Advisor on Local Governance for Arab States (2005-2008), and Assistant Representative in Lebanon (1997-2004).
Zena holds a Post Graduate degree in Management of Social Change from the University of London and a Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics and Development from the American University of Beirut. She is a co-author of several studies on poverty, gender, socio economic rehabilitation, and post-conflict reconstruction and recovery.