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Change at the Helm of UNHCR Budapest: Köfner follows Dakin as Regional Representative
Friday 16, January 2009
16 January 2009, Budapest - January 2009 is bringing about a change at the helm of UNHCR's Regional office for Central Europe in Budapest. As of the beginning of January, Dr. Gottfried Köfner took the post of the Regional Representative. Lloyd Dakin who was the Regional Representative since 2005 is leaving for UNHCR's Geneva Headquarters to as Officer-in-Charge of the Division for External Relations. This is a short assignment before his retirement.
From Budapest, the Regional Office for Central Europe covers Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and, since 1 January 2009, the Czech Republic.
Köfner (56) is coming from Berlin where he has already served as regional Representative for Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. He is an Austrian national and has worked for UNHCR since 1982, holding various positions in Austria, Germany, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Indonesia and Yugoslavia as well as at the Agency's Headquarters in Geneva.
"While the national asylum laws in the region look very good on paper, there is still much to be done regarding their implementation in practice", says Köfner. For this reason he is very happy about the Quality Initiative, a large project currently carried out across the region. For eighteen months, a team of eight UNHCR asylum experts is evaluating first and second instance decisions of asylum procedures in the participating Member States. The EU-funded project also encompasses the training of decision makers and improvement of processes.
"At the end of this Quality Initiative we will be able to increase the fairness and efficiency of asylum procedures in Central Europe, for the benefit of refugees as well as the authorities involved", says Köfner.
Dakin, the outgoing Regional Representative, arrived in Budapest in May 2004 and set up the Regional Representation in 2005. Under his leadership the entire structure of UNHCR in Central Europe has been revamped. The UN Refugee Agency introduced a new regional structure in order to optimise its response to the challenges of an ongoing harmonisation process within the new EU Member States of the region.