Management Team

Fathiaa Abdalla

UNHCR Representative in Kenya

Ms. Fathiaa Abdalla comes with three decades of experience having held senior leadership positions in UNHCR, UNICEF, Save the Children, OXFAM and MSF, in HQ, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Ms. Abdalla was appointed as Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kenya on 13 February 2019. Prior to this she served as the UNHCR Representative to Afghanistan. Other senior positions she has held in UNHCR include: Deputy Representative for UNHCR in Iran and Yemen, and Head of Operations in Western Sahara.

Having served UNHCR since the year 2000 in various capacities both in Headquarters and the field Ms. Abdalla has managed diverse portfolios, provided able leadership and a practical, results- oriented approach in complex and demanding operations. She has built strong relationships with government interlocutors and others; consistently pursuing solutions in periods of political uncertainty and volatile security environments.

Ms. Abdalla was educated in Khartoum, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. She holds a M.Sc from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London University, United Kingdom.



Walpurga Englbrecht 

Deputy UNHCR Representative in Kenya

Ms Walpurga Englbrecht, an Austrian national, took up her appointment as Deputy Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya on 1 April 2018.  She joined UNHCR in 1991 and held various positions in different country operations, including Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jordan/Iraq, Papua New Guinea and Israel.  In addition, Ms Englbrecht  worked for four years at Headquarters within the Department of International Protection where she handled refugee issues from a global perspective (including involvement in the Third Track of the Global Consultations on International Protection).

Throughout her tenure with UNHCR, Ms Englbrecht has worked intensively with Governments, NGOs and civil society in a bid to improve the lives of  UNHCR’s persons of concern (i.e. refugees, internally displaced persons, stateless persons and returnees) by ensuring their access and enjoyment of basic refugee and human rights.


Ivana Unluova

Assistant Representative (Programme)

Ms. Ivana Unluova took up the position as the Assistant Representative (Programme) with UNHCR Kenya in December 2016, following five years with the operation in the capacity of Senior Programme Officer. Between 2008 and 2011, she was the Manager of the Common Humanitarian Fund with UN OCHA Somalia. In her other assignments with UNHCR since 1997, she served in programme management capacity with UNHCR Somalia and Tanzania, as well as in External Relations function with UNHCR Europe Bureau, including in the Kosovo operation.

Prior to joining UNHCR, Ms. Unluova had worked with the Government of Norway, Directorate for Immigration, as Senior Executive for local integration and also voluntary return programming for refugees.


Halimo Hussein Obsiye

Assistant Representative (Administration)

Ms. Halimo Hussein Obsiye, joined UNHCR in September 1993 as a national staff, bringing with her 15 years of banking experience at managerial level. In 2001, she transited to an international professional staff with key roles in management and coordination of UNHCR activities.

Ms. Obsiye was appointed as Assistant Representative (Administration) of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR in Kenya on 01 March 2018.  Prior to this, she served at a managerial level in different field operations: Liberia, Afghanistan, Uganda and Kenya.

Ms. Obsiye has worked as Head of Field Office in Adjumani, Uganda coordinating UNHCR operations in West Nile during the South Sudanese emergency in 2016 and leading processes in an effective and efficient manner to make use of the limited resources available for the emergency operation.  Later she was in Mbarara, Uganda as Head of Sub Office covering operations in Mid-west, Uganda. Her portfolio in the operation include the UN Area Coordinator for the Mid-west region.

Prior to working in different field operations in East Africa, Ms. Obsiye held senior positons in UNHCR that include: UNHCR Regional Office for Central Europe (RRCE) in Budapest, Hungary covering eight countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Slovakia, as Senior Regional Admin/Finance Officer managing several portfolios that include Administration, Human Resources, Supply, Finance and ICT for five years. She has built strong relations with Governments interlocutors of the different countries, leading processes in effective and efficient manner.

Ignazio Matteini

Head of Sub-Office, Kakuma

Mr. Ignazio Matteini took up the position of Head of Sub-Office, Kakuma, in September 2019. Prior to this, Mr. Matteini was the Head of Policy and Field Support Unit of Bureau for Europe with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva.

Previously, Mr. Matteini was Assistant Regional Representative (Ops) in the Regional Representation for South Europe in Rome in 2016 and also served as Deputy Head of Private Fundraising Service from 2012 to 2015. In earlier postings, Mr. Matteini served as Senior Desk Officer in Asia Bureau and Senior Local Integration Officer in the Regional Representation in Kyiv and previously he was assigned in various field positions in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo during and after the Balkan conflicts.

An Italian national, he graduated from the University of Florence “Cesare Alfieri.” He is married and has two children.


Edward Benson 

Head of the Risk Management, Compliance and Quality Unit

Mr. Edward Benson became Head of the Risk Management, Compliance and Quality Unit in UNHCR Kenya 5 August 2019. In this function, Mr. Benson is responsible for strengthening the operations’ systems, structures, procedures and personnel capacities to manage enterprise and operational risks including, amongst other things, the risk of fraud, corruption and exploitation.

Mr. Benson comes with over 16 years of experience with UNHCR, having served across Asia, Africa and Europe. Many of his posts have involved leadership and coordination of field operations in conflict and natural disaster settings, some high risk. He’s also held various liaison functions with State & non-state actors and his previous designation covered South-East Asia. Further details on these roles can be found at

Outside the UN, he’s consulted for the Red Cross & was a Visiting Fellow at Oxford when he needed a break from frontline humanitarian work, plus time and distance to think critically about the international community’s efforts to achieve meaningful impact for affected populations. His years of work and research have shown him that while alleviation of immediate suffering is often by necessity at the forefront of our efforts, the vision must, however challenging, remain focused on solutions that allow the displaced to feel a sense of dignity, achieve self-reliance and rebuild their lives. Equally it is frequently social, political and economic factors that drive migration flows and without a collective understanding and willingness to address these will efforts to deliver viable solutions fall short of the mark.