Neil Buhne assumes duties as the new UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka

12 Jul 2007

Colombo, July 12, 2007 -  Neil Buhne assumed his duties as the new United Nations Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator in Sri Lanka and the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Sri Lanka  by presenting his credentials to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.

Mr. Buhne is no stranger to Sri Lanka. He began his career with the United Nations as a Junior Professional Officer with UNDP in Colombo in 1984.  Since then he has served in Sudan, Bhutan, Pakistan and Malaysia as the Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP. In Belarus and Bulgaria he served as the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Resident Representative.

His most recent assignment that ended in June 2007, was in Bulgaria where he led the largest programme for UNDP in Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States Region with more than 70 partnership projects with a value of US $150 million He spearheaded human development initiatives in Bulgaria through his work in a diverse range of areas, including employment generation, local government, good governance, environmental protection and information technology, all of which supported Bulgaria to obtain membership in the European Union.  With the UN team, Mr. Buhne also pioneered new modalities of UN agency cooperation. .

From 1999 to 2003, Mr. Buhne led a team (which doubled the size of the programme) in Belarus.  He facilitated the development of a new joint approach to deal with the continuing human consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, by working together with the UN country teams in Russia and Ukraine, the Office of UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Affairs, and the respective governments.

The United Nations in Sri Lanka has a long history of partnerships since the arrival of the first UN Resident Representative in 1952.  Today, the United Nations helps support Sri Lanka in a range of development activities that include poverty alleviation, good governance, post tsunami reconstruction, human rights, health, education, human settlements, and environment, energy and disaster risk management.  The United Nations has also extended its humanitarian assistance by supporting national efforts for relief and recovery of both people displaced by conflict and by the December 2004 tsunami. 

Mr Buhne is committed to help coordinate this task and the variety of work for the benefit of the people of Sri Lanka.