Our Team in Pacific

Resident Coordinator

Sanaka Samarasinha

RCO
Resident Coordinator of Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Sanaka Samarasinha commenced his appointment as the United Nations Resident Coordinator for the Republic of Fiji in 2018, with multi-country coverage of nine other Pacific Island Countries. Sanaka had served as the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative (RC/RR) in Minsk and UNFPA Representative in Belarus (2013-2018). Before this appointment, Sanaka served in various offices of the UN and UNDP. Before joining the UN, he worked in the legal profession and in journalism, with government, civil society and the private sector in several different countries including the USA, South Africa and India.
UNDRR Head of Pacific Sub-Regional Office

Andrew Mcelroy

UNDRR
Head of Pacific Sub-Regional Office
Andy McElroy has worked with UNDRR for 8 years. He has been Head of UNDRR’s Pacific Sub-Regional Office since September 2017. Previously, he worked with the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for 12 years and as a newspaper journalist of 14 years. He holds a B.A in Economics and Politics from the University of Manchester and a M.A. in Post-war Reconstruction and Development from the University of York.
Annika Whythes

Annika Whythes

UNODC
UNODC Regional Anti-Corruption Adviser
Annika joined UNODC in March 2009 and first came to the Pacific in June 2013, after being at UNODC Headquarters in Vienna. Together with UNDP, she manages the UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption Project in 14 Pacific Island countries. Previously, she worked for top-tier law firms in Australia and the Netherlands, and for the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation. Annika is German/ Australian.
UN Habitat

Bernhard Barth

UN-Habitat
Pacific Regional Coordinator
Bernhard Barth joined UN-Habitat in 2006 and oversees UN-Habitat’s Pacific Programme since 2013 after moving to the Regional Office in Japan from UN-Habitat’s Headquarters in Nairobi. Bernhard also oversees two other country programmes in the Asia Pacific Region and UN-Habitat’s climate change programme. Prior to joining UN-Habitat, he worked for ESCAP in Bangkok and various NGOs in Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and the UK and his native Germany. Bernhard holds Master’s degrees in Economics and in Environmental Policy.
Programme Manager

Bram Peters

UNCDF
Programme Manager
Bram Peters is the Regional Digital Lead for UNCDF in the Pacific and the Programme Manager of the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP). Prior to joining the UN, he worked with FINCA International in Zambia and Uganda. He holds three Masters in Arts in Social Science (VU University Amsterdam); MA, Management Consultancy (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University) and an MA in Microfinance from the Université libre de Bruxelles.
Brian Smith

Brian Smith

UNDSS
UN Regional Security Advisor Fiji and Samoa Multi Country Offices
 
Brian Smith joined the Fiji Samoa Multi Country Offices as Regional Security Adviser in November 2019. He came to Fiji from Phnom Penh where he was the Regional Security Adviser for Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao PDR. Prior to this Mr Smith served in Afghanistan where he was the UN Chief of Security Operations from July 2013 to July 2015, UN Security Adviser for Vietnam from 2011 to 2013, UN Regional Security Adviser for China, DPRK and ROK from 2008 – 2011, UN Security Adviser for India and Bhutan from 2005 – 2008, and UN Deputy Security Adviser Afghanistan from 2003 – 2005.
He started his security career in 1977 with the New Zealand Defence Force and served in Australia, Bougainville, Fiji, Egypt and Iran in a range of operational assignments. Mr Smith is a graduate of the Australian Command and Staff College and has a post graduate qualification in Management from ANU. Mr Smith served in a number of senior staff and diplomatic positions during his career namely as the Senior New Zealand Officer for the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai, NZ Defence Attache for the South Pacific located in Fiji, Chief of Staff of the NZ Ready Reaction Brigade, Commanding Officer of the Ready Reaction Battalion and as a Deputy Director in the NZ Defence Force HQ Development Branch. Mr Smith transitioned from the military in 2003 to take up a position in Afghanistan with the UN.
Dr. Corinne Capuano

Dr Corinne Capuano

WHO
WHO Representative/Director, Pacific Technical Support
 
Dr. Corinne Capuano was appointed Director, Pacific Technical Support and WHO Representative for the South Pacific in October 2016. Prior to this, she was the Director of the Office of the WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, based in Manila. Before joining WHO, Dr Corinne Capuano worked as a private practitioner and as a clinician in emergency departments. She also has a Master in Political Sciences, a Master in Medical Law and a Diploma in Tropical and Parasitic Diseases from the University of Paris.


Director, UNFPA Pacific

Dr Jennifer Butler

UNFPA
Director, Pacific Subregional Office
Dr Jennifer Butler has worked with UNFPA for fourteen years in various capacities, including at headquarters, the regional office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia; and as Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. Most recently, she was the Global Coordinator of the Nairobi Summit on ICPD 25, and UNFPA@50. She joined the UNFPA Pacific Subregional Office as Director on the 6th of April 2020, and will be telecommuting from New York until the lifting of travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gerard Gomez

Gerard Gomez

OCHA
Head of Office a.i.
Gerard Gomez has 30 years of Humanitarian Crisis Experience. He has worked for Médecins Sans Frontières programs in Latin America and the Caribbean, East Africa, Asia and Europe, working as a Logistics Coordinator and later as a Training Coordinator on Emergency Preparedness and Response and Logistics in Emergencies. Mr. Gomez has spent the last 18 years working within the UN system. He began his career with the United Nations as the Senior Regional Disaster Advisor for the Caribbean, based in Ecuador and Panama. He went on to Head the Regional OCHA office for Latin America and the Caribbean, before becoming Head of Office for OCHA in Colombia. Mr. Gomez was the IOM Deputy Chief of Mission before joining UN OCHA in the Pacific.
Mr. Gomez holds a Master's Degree in Logistic Administration.
OHCHR

Heike Alefsen

OHCHR
Regional Representative OHCHR Regional Office for the Pacific (ROP)
Heike Alefsen has almost 30 years of human rights, legal, political and development work experience with the United Nations, the Council of Europe and civil society. Until 2020, she was Senior Human Rights Adviser to the UN Country Team in Bangladesh and to the UN Development Group Asia-Pacific in Bangkok. As Deputy Head of the OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia, she established a country programme for Myanmar and coordinated policy and information of the Human Rights Council’s special procedures at OHCHR Geneva. She also served with the UN Division for the Advancement of Women and the UN Development Fund for Women in New York, as Council of Europe Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and with Amnesty International’s Legal Office in London.
Portrait Picture of Iosefa Maiava

Iosefa Maiava

UN ESCAP
Head - Pacific Office
Iosefa currently heads the UN ESCAP Pacific Office located in Suva Fiji. He played a key role in the mid-term review of the SAMOA Pathway in the Pacific and was a member of the Reference Group for the Multi Country Office (MCO) Review. Prior to joining UN ESCAP, he was the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Nauru and Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat before that.
Regional Coordinator

Jayvee Santos

UNCTAD
Regional Coordinator for the Pacific for ASYCUDA
Jayvee is the Regional Coordinator for the Pacific for ASYCUDA, the largest UNCTAD technical cooperation programme. He has 20+ years experience in customs automation and modernization working in 20 country projects in Asia-Pacific. Jayvee’s office currently supports 12 Pacific countries and territory.
UNDP RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE

Levan Bouadze

UNDP
Resident Representative
Levan assumed functions of Resident Representative for the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji in July 2019. The Office in Fiji covers 10 countries including Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. His prior two assignments were at UNDP headquarters in New York: most recently as Chief, Planning and Operations Support, Regional Bureau for Europe and Central Asia. He started in the United Nations in his native Georgia in 1996.
Portrait Picture

Louise Aubin

UNHCR
Regional Representative to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific
 
Louise is the Regional Representative of UNHCR in Canberra, with geographical responsibility for the region, which includes Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Since joining UNHCR, she has served in a number of refugee and internal displacement operations including Central African Republic, Rwanda, Guinea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Bangladesh, in addition to legal and advocacy work in Canada and in France. Before moving to Australia, she was Deputy Director in the Division of International Protection at UNHCR’s Headquarters in Geneva. Ms Aubin is a Canadian lawyer.
Director ILO

Matin Karimli

ILO
Director
As Director for Pacific Island Countries, based in Suva, Fiji, Matin is responsible for supporting eleven ILO member States (Fiji, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, Tonga, and Cook Islands). In addition, the Office also provides technical support to non-member Pacific Island States. Originally from the Republic of Azerbaijan, Matin was the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Protection for 6 years prior to joining the office in Fiji.
Director UNESCO Pacific

Nisha

UNESCO
Director UNESCO Office for the Pacific
Nisha brings over 30 years of experiences in multi-sector development and humanitarian response to her current role. Nisha has worked internationally with Oxfam GB, Christian Aid, UNDP, UNIFEM and ILO in East and Horn of Africa, Arab States and South Asia, and with CSOs in India.
Head of Agency

Par Liljert

IOM
Chief of Mission
As the Coordinator and Advisor for Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific, Pär coordinates IOM’s activities in the Pacific. He has 20 years’ experience in migration management and capacity-building of regional organizations. He has held various positions, including IOM functions as Special Envoy & Chief of Mission in P.R. China and Mongolia, Chief of Mission in Tanzania, and Chief of Mission in Zambia.
UNAIDS

Renata Ram

UNAIDS
Country Director
Renata Ram is the Country Director for the UNAIDS Pacific Office based in Fiji. Her role is to promote, support and provide guidance to national partners, civil society and the UN system in reaching Global AIDS targets by 2030 with a community-centred and human rights approach to rapidly scale up HIV services in Fiji & 13 Pacific Island Countries. Before joining UNAIDS, Renata worked as a Programme Management Officer for the World Health Organization, working with the Ministry of Health in Fiji on the coordination of Fiji’s Zika-virus response. Renata has over 10 years’ experience of working in public health within the Pacific region for government, commercial, not-for profit, academic and international organizations. She is a holder of a Master of Health Policy from the University of Sydney, post-graduate qualifications in Public Health, Health Services Management, Dental Therapy from the Fiji School of Medicine and Development Studies from the University of the South Pacific.
Ruci Mafi Botei

Ruci Mafi Botei

UNV
Multi-Country Coordinator (Pacific)
Ruci was appointed Multi-Country Coordinator for UNV in the Pacific in June 2020. UNV covers 14 Member Countries and under the portfolio the mobilization of volunteers and to promote volunteerism in the region is important. She worked in Thailand, Samoa and extensively in the region in conservation, climate change, international development, media and communications, and in government. UNV has a growing portfolio adding value to the work of UN entities, governments and partners.
Sakiusa Tubuna

Sakiusa Tubuna

IFAD
Sub-regional Coordinator (Pacific)
Sakiusa Tubuna is the Sub-regional Coordinator for the Pacific, for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, based in Suva, Fiji. Mr. Tubuna brings with him a wealth of experience, working for the Fijian Government for 24 years, spending 2 years in the Ministry of Strategic Planning, National Development and Statistics and 22 years with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Mr. Tubuna holds a Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of New England and Post Graduate Diplomas in Commerce (Economics), Development Economics and International Development from the University of the South Pacific.
UN Women Rep

Sandra Bernklau

UN Women
Representative
Sandra was appointed Representative for UN Women Fiji Multi-Country Office in March 2019. The office covers 14 Pacific Island countries, and provides technical advice and support in advancing gender equality through four priority programmatic areas in the Pacific region. Prior to her appointment as Representative, Sandra was Officer-in-Charge under her role as Regional Technical Specialist. She has over 25 years of experience in the field of gender and human rights development work. Sandra has worked in Lesotho, India and Nepal, with the majority of her working career in the Pacific. Sandra has a Masters in International Development Education.
UNEP Head

Sefanaia Nawadra

UNEP
Head UN Environment Programme – Sub-regional office for the Pacific .
Mr Sefanaia Nawadra assumed his responsibilities as the Head of the UNEP Sub-regional office for the Pacific in 2015. With over 20 years of experience in the regional environment sector, Mr. Nawadra represents and facilitates the work of UNEP in 14 Pacific Island countries.
A national of Fiji, Mr. Nawadra previously worked at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme for 10 years initially as a Marine Pollution Adviser then Director for the Environment Monitoring and Governance Division, He has also worked as Conservation International’s Fiji Country Director; Environment Director (Pacific) of Sinclair Knight Merz Engineering Consultants; Health Safety and Environment Manager for Shell Pacific Islands Limited; and several senior technical positions within the Fiji Government’s Environment and Agriculture Departments. He was Chief Technical and Scientific representative on Fiji’s delegations to the 1st and 2nd UNFCCC and UN Convention on Biodiversity COPs.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Canberra and a Masters of Environmental Management from the Imperial College, University of London.
UNICEF Pacific Rep

Sheldon Yett

UNICEF
UNICEF Pacific Representative
Sheldon was appointed to the position of UNICEF Pacific Representative in August 2016. Prior to his current appointment, he served as the UNICEF Country Representative to Liberia from July 2013- 2016, UNICEF Representative to Macedonia from 2008 to 2013, and UNICEF Representative to Armenia from 2005 to 2008. He has also served with UNICEF in Burundi, Somalia, Kosovo and New York, as well as other duty stations, and has also worked for the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs. Sheldon holds an MA in international relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

FAO

Xiangjun Yao

FAO
FAO Representative and Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands
Ms Xiangjun Yao assumed her role as the FAO Sub Regional Coordinator for the Pacific in 2020. She oversees FAO’s work in providing policy advisory and technical assistance to its 14 Member Countries to improve food security, income-earning opportunities in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and increasing resilience of small farmers and producers in the Pacific. She joined FAO Headquarters in June 2011 and has held leading roles in several technical divisions/offices within FAO.