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Wednesday 28 February 2001


GENEVA – Ms. Mary Ann Wyrsch, the acting U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service commissioner, has been appointed the new U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.

Announcing the appointment Wednesday, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers said Ms. Wyrsch brings to UNHCR "very broad and rich management experience as a particularly valuable asset." Mr. Lubbers, who took over as High Commissioner on January 1, said Secretary-General Kofi Annan fully supported the choice of Ms. Wyrsch, who assumes her new post on April 1.

Ms. Wyrsch, who was born in Kansas City, is a career U.S. government employee. She was named Deputy Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in March 1998 and has served as the acting INS Commissioner since last November, following the resignation of Ms. Doris Meissner. Ms. Wyrsch managed the day-to-day operations of more than 30,000 INS employees worldwide.

Mr. Lubbers said Ms. Wyrsch’s specific responsibilities will include the function of controller; responsibility for information systems and technology; management of human and financial resources; and the supervision of communication and information. She will also represent the High Commissioner whenever necessary.

Ms. Wyrsch holds a Master of Arts Degree from Georgetown University as well as an MA in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She received her BA degree from Webster College in St. Louis in 1965.

She began her government career in the Office of Economic Opportunity and later joined the Department of Labor, where she served in several senior positions prior to joining the INS. Those posts at the Department of Labor included director of budget; director of the Unemployment Insurance Service; and chief of operations for the Employment and Training Administration.

Ms. Wyrsch succeeds Mr. Frederick Barton, who was appointed deputy by previous High Commissioner Sadako Ogata in July 1999.

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