GENEVA/NEW YORK/PANAMA CITY, 3 September 2003 – UNICEF today announced the appointment of Mr Nils Kastberg as its new Regional Director for Latin America and the Carribean.
Mr Kastberg takes over from Mr Per Engebak.
Speaking from New York, Kastberg said that he welcomes the new assignment because of his familiarity with the region, and for the vast challenges to child well-being that the countries of Latin America face.
“The region’s inherent beauty and vitality exists side-by-side with terrible poverty and complex social problems, characterised by discrimination against children of indigenous and African descent,” said Kastberg. “In recent years acute malnutrition emerged in Argentina because of the collapse of that country’s finances, while in Colombia the use of children as soldiers is a part of military culture.”
Kastberg, who will be based in Panama, added that he hopes to see South America declare itself the first region of the world free of the use of landmines.
A native of Sweden, Kastberg was the Director of Emergency Operations for UNICEF for nearly six years. He oversaw all of UNICEF’s critical emergency operations during that time, including operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan and, most recently, Iraq and Liberia.
Kastberg began his international career in 1980 with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Zimbabwe, and went on to serve in other international posts in Sudan, Thailand, Switzerland, Bosnia, Rome, and Costa Rica.
UNICEF works in 36 countries in the region. Its programmes cover education, health, water and sanitation, and the protection of children. It also advocates with governments for inclusive policies, budgets, and programmes to protect and promote the rights of children, and to ensure that children have a voice in their own futures.