The government has appointed Patricia Danzi as director general of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
Danzi has been working at the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross since 1996 and was ICRC regional director for Africa over the past four years.
She will take up her new post next May, succeeding Manuel Sager who headed the development agency for five years and taking retirement.
The 50-year old Danzi, who has Swiss and Nigerian citizenship, is the first woman at the helm of the SDC.
“She possesses the abilities necessary to develop international cooperation and to lead the SDC into the future,” Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis told a news conferenceexternal link on Friday.
The SDC is the largest unitexternal link of the foreign ministry and has a staff of about 700, and an annual expenditure of CHF2 billion ($2 billion) in 2018.
Danzi said she wanted help promote Switzerland’s humanitarian tradition, the respect of human rights, poverty reduction and the preservation of natural resources.
“My hope is that all Swiss citizens are proud of the country’s international cooperation. This is something valuable and I want them to understand what it means so they can cherish it,” she said.
Her nomination comes as the government reviews its strategy on international cooperation amid criticism of Cassis and his planned policy shift of his ministry towards trade.