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The Secretariat supports the development and implementation of the Platform’s activities. Under the guidance of the Chair and the Steering Group, the Secretariat works with States, agencies and other stakeholders interested in implementing the recommendations of the Protection Agenda at national, regional and global levels. The Secretariat is funded by the generous contribution of Germany and is hosted by UNOPS in Geneva, Switzerland.

Meet the members of the Secretariat below and do not hesitate to get in touch!

Atle Solberg, Head of the Secretariat

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Atle is a political scientist from Norway and he was the Head of the Nansen Initiative Secretariat, the predecessor of the Platform on Disaster Displacement, from 2012 to 2015. His background is primarily from international humanitarian action and from working in the context of displacement (both in conflict and natural hazard situations). He has worked for the UNHCR and UN OCHA in Switzerland, the Balkans and in Central America, and for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in the Balkans, Indonesia and Colombia. He has research and teaching experience from the University of Bergen on humanitarian issues as well as on the protection of unaccompanied minors. Atle has also undertaken evaluation of humanitarian aid and worked as a consultant both with a focus on Norway as well as on the post-conflict recovery situation in the Balkans and Central America.

Atle is the Head of the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement.

Sarah Koeltzow, Policy Officer

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Sarah has a Bachelor Degree in Public Management and Governance from Zeppelin University, Germany, and a Master Degree in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute, Geneva. Prior to joining PDD, she has worked as Humanitarian Affairs Officer at the German Mission to the UN in Geneva, also covering DRR, Internet Governance, Climate Change/Environment and Human Rights portfolios. Sarah speaks German, English, French and Spanish. She is passionate about local public administration and thrives on good food, good reads and good friends. Each year, as winter approaches, she considers the possibility of ‘climate-induced migration’ to warmer places.

Sarah is the Policy Officer of the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement.

Timo Schmidt, Associate Policy Officer

Timo joined the PDD Secretariat in March 2021. Previously, he worked as Research Assistant with the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Europe, where he focused on European Union migration and asylum policies, migration forecasting, development finance and migration, and the linkages between human mobility and climate change. Timo has also worked in Jerusalem with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People as well as with various NGOs in both Europe and the Middle East. In his free time, he enjoys creatively exploring human mobility, both in writing and documentary filmmaking. He holds a Master’s degree in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Leiden University. Timo speaks German, English, some Arabic and increasingly French.

Timo is the Associate Policy Officer of the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement.

Chirine El Labbane, Communication Officer

Chirine is a Swiss-Egyptian communication enthusiast who has been in Geneva since 2014 when she started working with the Nansen Initiative, predecessor of the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD). She spent most of her career in the world of strategic and visual communication as well as media, both at UN Headquarters in New York, Geneva and in the field. She also worked in the private sector in Switzerland, the USA and the UK. Before joining the Nansen Initiative, she worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. This experience made her understand first-hand the realities of disaster displacement and its devastating effects on people. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Communication Management and a SAWI and ISRP Postgraduate Federal degree in public relations and events.

Chirine is the part time Communication Officer of the PDD Secretariat. When not at work, she can be found scuba diving underwater, taking a walk in the mountains, around a table enjoying good food, or having fun with her family.

Juan Carlos Méndez, PDD Regional Adviser in Costa Rica

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Juan Carlos holds a BA in International Relations, a postgraduate degree in Project Management and a MA in Human Rights from the National University of Costa Rica, where he has taught courses on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, among others. Before joining the Platform on Disaster Displacement, Juan Carlos worked for the Government of Costa Rica for several years. He has also been a Consultant for organizations such as the Inter American Institute of Human Rights.

Since 2014 Juan Carlos has been seconded by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to the Government of Costa Rica in the National Agency for Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergency Response (CNE) as a Regional Adviser to both, the former Nansen Initiative and the Platform on Disaster Displacement.

Alisi Pulini Vosalevu, PDD Regional Adviser in the Pacific

Alisi has a Bachelor Degree in Science from the University of the South Pacific, Fiji, and a Master Degree in Climate Change from the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia. Prior to joining PDD, she has worked as Climate Change Officer at the Climate Change Division of the Government of Fiji for several years, covering DRR, Climate Change and Environment portfolios. When not working, she loves reading, spending quality time with her family as well as being close to nature.

Alisi is the Regional Adviser of the Platform on Disaster Displacement in the Pacific.

Erick Mutshayani, Administration Officer


Erick Mutshayani graduated with a BA Honours in English and Communications from Midlands State University, Zimbabwe, and an MA in International Development from the University of Sheffield, UK. Prior to joining the Platform, Erick worked with several NGOs in communication, research, and administrative capacities in South Africa, Tanzania and the United Kingdom. Before joining the Platform as an Administrative Officer, Erick completed two internships with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Platform on Disaster Displacement in Geneva as a Humanitarian Affairs Intern and Policy and Communications Intern. Erick speaks English and a variety of local languages from Southern Africa (Shona, Ndebele, Nyanja, Tonga and Zulu), and he is currently learning French. He enjoys being in multi-cultural multi-lingual settings, travelling and has a strong interest in humanitarian affairs.

Hugo Brandam, Policy and Communications Intern

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Hugo joined the PDD in February 2022. He is a second-year Master’s Candidate in Development Studies at the Geneva Graduate Institute (IHEID) and in International Affairs at Sciences Po Lyon (IEP), specializing in environment, climate change and sustainability. In the past, he has interned with a non-governmental human rights organization to promote environmental justice at the HRC, and worked with UNEP and OCHA to analyze the UN response to the environmental dimensions of emergencies. Hugo speaks French, English and Spanish. In his spare time, when he is not tracking wolf footprints in the Alpes or breakdancing in Geneva, Hugo enjoys street photography (and he always asks for consent!).

Hugo is the Policy and Communications Intern of the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement.

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