US names new special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues

Lise Grande takes over Washington's efforts to ease suffering in Gaza

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 09 DECEMBER 2018. UAE Security Forum 2018 at NUY Abu Dhabi. Lise Grande, Resident Coordinator in Yemen, United Nations. Session Two; Regional Approaches to Postconflict Stability and Reconstruction. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Sofia Barbarani. Section: National.
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President Joe Biden on Thursday appointed Lise Grande the new US special envoy for Middle East humanitarian issues, the State Department announced.

She replaces David Satterfield, a long-time diplomat with extensive experience working across the region.

Mr Biden created the role in the immediate aftermath of the Hamas-led October 7 attack on southern Israel, which prompted Israel's devastating military campaign in Gaza.

Ms Grande comes to the job after serving as the president and chief executive of the United States Institute of Peace in Washington.

She has spent much of her career working in Africa and the Middle East, serving as head of UN humanitarian and development operations in Yemen. She was also deputy head of the UN political mission in Iraq during the operation against ISIS.

“Lise’s unique experience overseeing similar endeavours in complex and dangerous circumstances will allow her to continue this round-the-clock effort,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Mr Satterfield spent most of the past seven months in the region trying to push for more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

More than 34,300 people have been killed in the enclave since Israeli launched its offensive, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

On Tuesday, Mr Satterfield warned of the risk of famine in Gaza.

“Now the risk of famine throughout Gaza is very high, especially in the north,” he said.

“We've been very clear, Israel must do everything possible to facilitate efforts to avert famine in Gaza.”

Mr Blinken praised Mr Satterfield for his contributions and said he would stay on as a senior adviser.

“His tireless contributions have been essential to the expansion of humanitarian aid efforts in Gaza,” Mr Blinken said.

Ms Grande takes over the role as Israel appears ready to launch its military offensive in Rafah, the southern Gaza city which has become home to more than one million displaced Palestinians.

The US has repeatedly told Israel not to launch an operation until it has established a plan to safeguard civilians.

Updated: April 25, 2024, 3:31 PM