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Top Swiss diplomat to head migration and asylum agency

Christine Schraner Burgener, the United Nations special envoy to Myanmar, has been appointed the new head of the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

“Mrs Schraner Burgener is the ideal person for this job,” Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.

The career diplomat was ambassador in Germany during the migrant crisis of 2015, pointed out Keller-Sutter. She has dealt with migration issues as an ambassador in Thailand and as part of her UN special envoy job, she added. Schraner Burgener has also held a number of posts at the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs in the capital Bern.


Schraner Burgener will be in charge of almost 1,000 people at the SEM, which deals with migration and asylum issues. “Hardly any topic is as polarising as migration,” noted Keller-Sutter.

Schraner Burgener will take up her post on January 1, 2022, replacing Mario Gattiker, who is retiring. The diplomat said she was looking forward to tackling the job. “Migration and its origins affect everyone in some way or another. It keeps increasing, due to persecutions, wars, famines, climate change and also pandemics,” she said.

Earlier this month, as UN special envoy, Schraner Burgener warned that Myanmar risked sliding back into prolonged crisis after the coup in the country.

Schraner Burgener said she was not abandoning her post during a difficult time. “I hope to be able get some things in motion in the next few months. The objective is to reinstate the previous government,” she said. This is why she is only starting her new job in 2022.