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Judy Cheng-Hopkins and Erika Feller named Assistant High Commissioners

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Judy Cheng-Hopkins and Erika Feller named Assistant High Commissioners

13 January 2006

Geneva, Friday 13 January 2006

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has announced the appointment of two new Assistant High Commissioners to oversee the agency's field operations and its international protection work for millions of refugees and others of concern.

Ms. Judy Cheng-Hopkins was named Assistant High Commissioner for Operations. She replaces Mr. Kamel Morjane, who left UNHCR in late 2005 to assume a government ministerial position in his native Tunisia. Ms. Erika Feller has been appointed to the new post of Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.

Both appointments were approved by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and will become effective on 15 February. Together with the High Commissioner and the Deputy High Commissioner, the two Assistant High Commissioner posts comprise the top four positions in UNHCR's senior management structure.

In announcing the appointments, Mr. Guterres noted that Judy Cheng-Hopkins, a Malaysian national, brings 27 years of diversified UN experience, including a decade in Africa with the UN Development Programme in Zambia (1982-88) and Kenya (1988-92). She has also held key headquarters positions as Special Assistant to the Administrator of UNDP, Mr. Bill Draper; as Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Capital Development Fund; and as Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa in UNDP.

Ms. Cheng-Hopkins served as the World Food Programme's (WFP) Director of the Bureau for Asia, the CIS and the Balkans from 1997 to 2000. In that position, she was responsible for large and complex WFP emergency operations such as Kosovo, North Korea and Afghanistan. Most recently, she served as Director of WFP's New York office, where, in addition to UN interagency matters, she was also responsible for setting up and managing WFP's private sector fundraising in the United States.

"I am sure that her wealth of experience will be of great benefit to UNHCR," the High Commissioner said of Ms. Cheng-Hopkins. "Her field experience, management experience and knowledge of UN operations across a wide spectrum of humanitarian and development activities will be particularly relevant."

Ms. Cheng-Hopkins received a BA degree in English Literature from Beloit College (1976) in the USA, and a Master's degree in Economic Development from Columbia University (1978), USA. She has also received diplomas from l'Université d'Haute Bretagne in France and Harvard University, USA.

She is married with two daughters.

Announcing the appointment of Ms. Feller, an Australian national, Mr. Guterres noted that she is well-known as head of UNHCR's Department of International Protection since 1999. She came to UNHCR in 1986 after 14 years as an Australian diplomat, including three overseas postings as well as senior appointments in Canberra.

"Erika Feller's extensive experience and knowledge of international protection will benefit enormously the newly-created post of Assistant High Commissioner for Protection," Mr. Guterres said. "This new position and Ms. Feller's appointment demonstrate our firm commitment to international protection as the core of all of UNHCR's work on behalf of the world's refugees and displaced people."

Ms. Feller has more than 33 years of experience in international human rights and refugee law, a field in which she is a widely acknowledged authority. She has published extensively in many major refugee and international law journals. In her 19 years at UNHCR, she has served in a variety of capacities in the Department of International Protection, but also as the High Commissioner's Regional Representative for Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, and regional coordinator for the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo Chinese refugees in South East Asia.

In addition to involvement in many of UNHCR's major field operations, she has closely followed developments in asylum policy and practice globally, including the European harmonisation process; regional protection initiatives in Africa, Asia and the Middle East; migration and asylum issues; sexual and gender violence problems; and policy and practice on internal displacement. She directly managed UNHCR's Global Consultations in 2001, which set the international protection agenda for the start of the new century. Ms Feller has also served as UNHCR's chief negotiator of protection agreements with governments, as well as of multilateral arrangements with agency partners.

She graduated from Melbourne University in 1971 with an honours degree in Law, coupled with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Ms. Feller is married, with two children.