June 05, 2007 17:15 ET

UN Secretary General Appoints Omar Abdi of Canada as UNICEF Deputy Executive Director

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 5, 2007) -

Editors Note: A photo for this release will be available on the CP picture wire via CCNMatthews.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has named Canadian Omar Abdi as Deputy Executive Director of the United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF).

An Ottawa resident, Mr. Abdi currently serves as Director of UNICEF's regional office for the Middle East and North Africa in Amman Jordan.

Mr. Abdi is a native of Somalia and served for seven years in the Government of Somalia before joining UNICEF in 1992. He has served as UNICEF Representative in Liberia, Ghana and in Pakistan, and in other positions prior to becoming the Regional Director.

As UNICEF Representative in Pakistan, Mr. Abdi led the organization's response to the October 2005 South Asia earthquake, which saw more than three-million people - half of whom were children - displaced in the northern regions of Pakistan. UNICEF led the UN's initial response in the areas of water and sanitation, education, nutrition and protection, and launched a US$150 million "build-back-better" recovery plan.

"We are delighted to have a Canadian with such extraordinary experience serve in the highest levels of UNICEF," UNICEF Canada President & CEO Nigel Fisher said from New York, where he is attending a two-day meeting of the UNICEF Executive Board. "Time and again Omar Abdi has demonstrated his unwavering commitment to providing the best possible results for children."

Mr. Abdi succeeds Mr. Toshi Niwa, who was appointed in March 2004. The post has responsibility for the overall direction of Finance and Management, Human Resources, Management, and Information Technology. Mr. Abdi will also oversee UNICEF's inter-governmental work and UN relations, as well as UNICEF's office in Tokyo. This is the highest ranking position achieved by a Canadian in UNICEF. Stephen Lewis also served as UNICEF Deputy Executive Director from 1995 to 1999.


UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 156 countries and territories to save protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of insecticide-treated bed nets and vaccines for developing nations. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

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