Our Team in Eritrea


Nahla Valji

Resident Coordinator
Ms. Valji has more than 25 years of experience in sustainable development, peace and security, gender, and human rights in the United Nations and civil society, with expertise in leading institutional reform processes and start-up initiatives, including two UN funds and a Security Council mechanism on women, peace and security.

Prior to this appointment, she served as the Global Coordinator of the Spotlight Initiative to Eliminate Violence against Women and Girls, a 500 million euro flagship programme for the Sustainable Development Goals, and as a Senior Adviser in the Executive Office of the UN Secretary-General.

Before that, Ms. Valji was the Acting Chief/ Deputy of the Peace and Security Section of UN Women where she led the organization’s work on peacekeeping, peace negotiations and the rule of law, and focused on country programming support and policy analysis and development. In 2015, she headed the Secretariat for the Global Study on the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1325, a comprehensive review requested by the Security Council on women, peace and security.

Before the UN, Ms. Valji worked in South Africa on issues of development, human rights, and peacebuilding. During this time she led the Africa-wide work on transitional justice of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. This involved managing partnerships with civil society, academia, experts, governments and the African Union. She founded and was the managing editor of the International Journal of Transitional Justice, and is the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook on Gender and Conflict.

Ms. Valji has a Masters in Political Science and International Relations and a Joint Diploma in Forced Migration Studies from Canada’s York University.
Lusepani, Esther

Esther Lusepani

FAO representative in Eritrea
Ms. Lusepani, a national of Namibia, holds a Master of Public Policy and Administration from the University of Namibia, a Post Graduate Diploma in Land and Agrarian Studies from the University of Western Cape in South Africa, a Master of Forest Science, as well as a Bachelor of Forest Science from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Science in Botany and Zoology from the University of Namibia.
Prior to joining FAO, Ms. Lusepani served as Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, subsequently renamed in 2020 as Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare in Windhoek, Namibia since 2018.
Ms. Lusepani began her career in 1995 in Namibia as the National Tree Seed Centre Manager at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. She subsequently held positions of increasing responsibility within the ministry, including Officer-in-Charge of the National Forestry Research Centre and Chief Forester in Forestry Research. From 2002 to 2007, she served as Deputy Director of Forestry Research, Directorate of Forestry at the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, and Forestry in Windhoek. In 2007, she worked as Director of Planning and Development Services at the Caprivi Regional Council in Katima Mulilo, Namibia. Between 2010 and 2012, she held the role of Community Development Manager at GOPA Worldwide Consultants in Oshakati, Namibia. In 2012, she joined the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement as Deputy Permanent Secretary of Land Reform and Resettlement.

Ms. Lusepani has resumed on 01 September 2022 as the FAO representative in Eritrea including the following main duties.
• Programme Direction and Management: represent the Organization and manage the FAO Country Office and FAO activities.
• Play a crucial role of the Organization’s mandate, programmes, national priorities regarding food, crops, livestock, forestry, and fisheries including information on external aid in FAO’s corporate systems.
• Guide all units in FAO on country priorities and lead FAO’s response, ensuring focused and timely interventions.
• As a member of the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT), contribute with her expertise to the technical work of FAO in the relevant subregion.
• Responsible for the security, safety and welfare of FAO personnel and the protection of the Organization’s assets, property and any other material in the country.
Abdullahi Mohammed Yussuf

Abdullahi Mohammed Yussuf

UNICEF Country Representative in Eritrea
Abdullahi assumed his current position as the UNICEF Country Representative in Eritrea in August 2023; he provides overall leadership, management, and implementation of UNICEF's programs in the country. He is very committed and passionate about promoting and advancing the rights and wellbeing of children. Previously, Abdullahi served as Chief Field Office in Peshawar, KPK, Pakistan, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan (November 2018 - June 2019), and Kandahar, Afghanistan (May 2015 - October 2018). In these roles, he demonstrated exceptional leadership, contributing to the success of UNICEF's programs in the respective regions.
Before joining UNICEF, Abdullahi held influential positions in renowned organizations. As Country Director for CARE International based in Nairobi, Kenya (June 2011 - April 2015), he provided strategic leadership for CARE's program in Somalia, focusing on disaster preparedness, mitigation, management, and development programming.
Earlier in his career, Abdullahi served as Country Director for Oxfam GB in Nairobi, Kenya (December 2007 - June 2011), overseeing the management, strategic development, and partnerships of Oxfam's program in Somalia. His responsibilities included disaster preparedness, mitigation, management, development programming, policy, and advocacy work.
Abdullahi Mohammed Yussuf, an Ethiopian national, is a seasoned humanitarian and development professional with over 25 years of experience, whose career has been marked by impactful leadership and dedication to improving the well-being of communities, particularly children.
Abdullahi holds a Master of Science in Poverty Reduction and International Development Management from the University of Birmingham, UK (2007), and a bachelor’s in business administration from Washington International University, USA (2003).
Bucyana Kawira

Bucyana Kawira

the UNIDO Representative a.i. to Kenya, Seychelles, Comoros, Eritrea, and South Sudan
Bucyana Kawira is the UNIDO Representative a.i. to Kenya, Seychelles, Comoros, Eritrea, and South Sudan since (2019). She previously served as Industrial Development Officer with UNIDO in the HQ Offices in Vienna, Austria. She has over 20 years’ experience in Agro -Industry development. She holds a master’s degree in Food Safety and Quality Assurance from University of Guelph, Ontario Canada and speaks English and Swahili.
Gijzen Hubert (Professor)

Gijzen Hubert (Professor)

UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa in Nairobi, and as UNESCO Representative to Kenya, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia and Uganda
Prof. Hubert Gijzen holds a PhD in Biotechnology and has an established career of over 38 years in both academics and international cooperation for sustainable development. Throughout his career, he has lived and worked in various countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe, in a range of senior functions as Full Professor and Chair in Universities, as a Diplomat, Team Leader, Regional Representative, and currently as UNESCO Regional Director and Representative.
Besides his current work for UNESCO, he holds academic positions as full Professor of Environmental Biotechnology at IHE Delft Institute for Water Education (since 1995) and as Visiting Professor in other institutions. He has published over 400 articles and books and presented numerous keynotes in the fields of water management, microbiology, environmental sciences, biotechnology, and sanitary and environmental engineering. He also covered topics on international cooperation, sustainable development, the MDGs, SDGs, big data and climate change. He served in various international advisory functions and on Boards of prestigious Institutes and programmes.

Hubert Gijzen joined the UN in 2006 as the Director of the UNESCO Regional Science Bureau for Asia and the Pacific based in Jakarta, Indonesia. In 2015, he was appointed as the Regional Director of the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa in Harare, Zimbabwe. As per July 2021 he serves as UNESCO Regional Director for Eastern Africa in Nairobi, and as UNESCO Representative to Kenya, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia and Uganda. He is the UNESCO Representative to SADC and COMESA, serves on the UN Regional Directors Team and is member of the UN Regional Coordination Platform for Africa.
Ohashi Ohashi

Keita Ohashi

Representative UNFPA Eritrea
Keita has more than 20 years working in the area of population and development with UNFPA. He worked for country offices in Senegal, Chad, and DRC. Keita also worked for NY HQ with Africa Division at the time. His most recent post was Representative in Gabon country office.

Keita has also working experiences with the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and private sector. Keita is a national of Japan. He holds a Bachelor in Geography, a Master in Economics and has recently resumed Ph.D in Demography (Universite de Montreal).
Maitumbi Ishaku

Maitumbi Ishaku

Senior Advisor in the Regional Officer for Africa, UN-HABITAT covering Eastern and Horn of Africa Region.
Ishaku Maitumbi is the Senior Advisor in the Regional Officer for Africa, UN-HABITAT covering Eastern and Horn of Africa Region. He is a chartered urban planner (MRTPI) with over 20 years' professional experience in the sector, including more than 12 years with the United Nations. He previously served in Somalia, Iraq, Kosovo, Ethiopia and Nigeria, amongst other places. Prior to joining the United Nations, he was a United Kingdom civil servant in local and regional/central government. Ishaku specialises in urbanization, displacement and local government systems strengthening, unban resilience, especially in post-conflict and developing environments. This varied experience is backed up with an MSc in Urban Planning and International Development (Oxford Brookes, UK).

Margaret Oduk

Margaret Oduk

Head of Liaison Office to AUC & ECA and Representative to Ethiopia /Eritrea OiC
Ms. Margaret Oduk, an environment policy expert has been with UN Environment Programme for over 15 years in different capacities. Prior to her current post, she was UNEP’s Focal Point for global Biodiversity - Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) managing several high profile projects. Ms. Oduk is an Alumni of the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies. A Kenyan national, Ms. Oduk has a Masters and Ph. D in Resource and Environmental Management from the Australian National University in Canberra Australia.

Martins Ovberedjo

Martins Ovberedjo

Dr Martins Ovberedjo (Nigeria) is the Country Representative of the World Health Organization in the State of Eritrea since August 2019. Previously, he served as the Country Representative of the World Health Organization in Botswana. He has over 30 years of experience in health systems and service delivery at both the national and international levels.
Dr Ovberedjo is a medical doctor by training. He holds a Master's in Public Health and Business Administration.
Mama Keita

Ms. Mama Keita

Director of the sub-regional office for Eastern Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
Ms. Mama Keita is the Director of the sub-regional office for Eastern Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) based in Kigali. She has worked in the field of development economics for over 20 years. Prior to her employment at ECA Ms. Keita held positions as Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Guinea and Poverty Economist at the World Bank in Burkina Faso. She has assumed various academic roles, conducted various international consultancies, and carried out several research studies and publications. She holds a Masters in Statistics and Applied Economics from ENSEA in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and a PhD. in economics from the University of Montreal, Canada.
Neil Walsh

Neil Walsh

Regional Representative for UNODC in Eastern Africa based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Neil Walsh joined the United Nations in January 2016 and, since December 2021, is the Regional Representative for UNODC in Eastern Africa based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the Head of Mission for 13 countries in the East Africa and Western Indian Ocean Region. He and his staff deliver the UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s Strategic Vision for Africa's response to crime, terrorism, security, and health threats. From 2016-2021, Neil led UNODC's global Cybercrime, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism Department in Vienna. Prior to joining UNDOC, Neil served for over 15 years within the UK National Crime Agency countering international serious organised crime and terrorism including long-term postings to Europol HQ in The Hague and the British High Commission in Malta. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Psychology & Criminology and an M.Sc. in Criminal Investigation. He is also an experienced Emergency Medical Technician. In his spare time, Neil advocates for bowel cancer (colorectal cancer), brain haemorrhage, sepsis, pulmonary embolism, and Crohn’s disease awareness (having survived all of these conditions).You can follow him on social media (@NeilWalsh_UN) and listen to his podcast with Under Secretary-General Melissa Fleming here: https://www.un.org/en/awake-at-night/S3-E2-how-do-we-get-better-after-this
Oechslin Eric

Oechslin Eric

Director of ILO Country Office for Egypt and Eritrea.
Eric Oechslin is a French economist holding a postgraduate certificate in mathematical economy and econometrics from the Pantheon-Assas University (Paris). Before joining the ILO, he had worked for more than 13 years as Senior Adviser for Europe at the International Organization of Employers (IOE) which is the largest business organization dealing with labour and social issues. He had, inter alia, managed two specific projects for the Western Balkans respectively on social dialogue and on employment. He was also the organizer of the IOE European Meeting which brings together, each year in a different country, national European employers’ organizations to discuss the main issues for business in Europe. He was also the IOE specialist on the administration, programme and finance of the ILO at its Governing Body and was also responsible for activities related to social security (including the social protection floor), human resources, and the fight against human trafficking and corruption. He was the IOE Sherpa for the G20 in France and participated in the G20 consultations and meetings on labour and employment issues.
In 2012, he joined the ILO as Senior Specialist for Employers’ Activities for the North African region. He has been in charge of providing technical and political support to employers’ organizations from 12 countries. Amongst the main achievements, human resources academies were established in Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and, soon, in Morocco as well the assessments of several business associations to guide them towards more members-oriented approach. In April 2019, he was appointed Director of the ILO Decent Work Team for North Africa and the ILO Country Office for Egypt and Eritrea.
Pa Lamin Beyal

Pa Lamin Beyai (Ph.D.)

Mr. Pa Lamin Beyai (The Gambia) has been appointed as UNDP Resident Representative in the State of Eritrea.

Pa Lamin has over 29 years of technical, development management and leadership experience, including over 24 years in the United Nations System.
He has demonstrated experience working with governments and partners in different contexts and country settings. He has substantive skills in programming, Operations, strategic policy & economic advisory, strategic partnerships, capacity development, governance, public and natural resource management, environment and climate change.
Before this appointment, he served as UNDP Resident Representative, Sierra Leone (2021 - 2023), and Liberia (2019 - 2021). He also served as UNDP Country Director in Liberia (2017-2019), UNDP Country Director in the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2013-2017); Economic Advisor & Team Leader, Inclusive Growth Cluster at the UNDP Ghana from (2009-2013); Health Economist at WHO Inter-Country Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa based in Zimbabwe; supporting 18 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa including Eritrea, in immunization programme planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and advising on Financial Sustainability of introducing new Vaccines in health systems; Health Economist at the World Health Organization (WHO) Office in The Gambia (1999 - 2006).

Before joining the UN, Pa Lamin held various positions of increasing responsibility at The Gambia Public Transport Corporation (GPTC) from (1994-1999), including as Senior Manager Administration & Human Resources (1997-1999), Manager Corporate Management Services (1995-1997), and Corporate Management Services Officer (1994-1995).

Pa Lamin holds a Ph.D. in Economics with a focus on Health Economics from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, University of London, United Kingdom; a Master of Science in Finance (Economic Policy) from the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London, United Kingdom; a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom; a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Economics from Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone; and a Postgraduate Diploma from Curtin University of Technology, Australia.

Pa Lamin took up his new assignment on 20 September 2023
Vincent Omuga

Vincent Omuga

Head of Office
Vincent Omuga has been the Head of Office of OCHA Eritrea since July 2021. He has 21 years of experience in the UN common system. Prior to his joining the Eritrea office, he worked as the Deputy Head of Office in OCHA Nigeria and the OCHA Regional Office for the Pacific Islands based in Fiji. Before this, he worked in OCHA Philippines and Zimbabwe Offices as the Head of Coordination. He has also served as the Head of Sub-Office in OCHA Nepal and as Humanitarian Affairs Officer for OCHA in Sudan and Geneva. Vincent’s further experience includes working with UNHCR in refugee settings in Kenya and Sudan.

He holds a Master’s degree in Law from the University of London and a second Post Graduate degree in Diplomacy and International Relations. He is married with four children.