Richard Dictus, 52, new head of the U.N. Volunteers program, visited Japan in early March to express his gratitude to Japanese who volunteered to work for the organization.
“We have been very, very appreciative of the incredible work that Japanese volunteers have done within the U.N. and the overall contribution of Japan,” Dictus said.
Dictus became executive coordinator for the UNV program in January after serving as resident representative of the U.N. Development Program in Malawi since January 2009.
During his trip to Japan from March 4 to 9, Dictus asked for continuing support from the Japanese government, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and other volunteer organizations.
The Bonn-based organization, which aims to contribute to peace and development through volunteerism across the globe, mobilizes about 7,500 experts in such fields as agriculture and medicine to volunteer in about 130 countries every year.
Dictus said each year, an average of about 80 Japanese join forces with the organization.
A native of the Netherlands, Dictus joined the U.N. Industrial Development Organization in 1987 and was posted to the former South Yemen, where he was a junior professional officer.
He subsequently served in various positions at the UNDP and provided assistance in the fields of rural development and disaster management in Sudan, Lesotho and Bangladesh.
As the UNDP’s deputy resident representative, Dictus also coordinated humanitarian aid from 1998 to 2000 in Pakistan, a country struggling with floods, cyclones and other disasters.
He said that even though people in the South Asian country experience terrible earthquakes and floods, once they “get a little bit of help, they generally put themselves back on their feet again, and they start building again, they start living their lives again.”