About Us

Douglas Higgins

Doug is originally from the rural Waimea Plains south of Nelson and his career with the United Nations began in the Gaza Strip in 1991. As an UNRWA Refugee Affairs Officer, and in the context of the volatile first intifada, Doug joined a team to support the protection of refugees living in poverty, and also to ensure the neutrality of UN installations. Humanitarian assignments in conflict and post- conflict settings continued with various UN Agencies and Organisations until 1992. These took him to Somalia, Rwanda, Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Afghanistan.

With an increasing interest in addressing the impact of war on women and children, Doug joined UNICEF in Afghanistan in 2002. Until retirement in 2018, the focus of his work shifted to management of both humanitarian and development interventions. During this time, he had oversight of poverty reduction initiatives, and programmes to address multiple overlapping child deprivations at both policy and project implementation levels.

Following UNICEF assignments in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan, Doug was appointed UNICEF’s Deputy Special Representative in Palestine. While based in Jerusalem he led the establishment of the interagency working group on social protection with a mandate to promote programmes addressing multiple dimensions of child poverty within the State of Palestine.

In 2014 he returned to Afghanistan to head UNICEF’s team within the multi-agency Polio Eradication Initiative. His final assignment was as head of UNICEF’s Lahore Office in the Punjab Province of Pakistan to work with the provincial government on the child development and protection aspects of decentralising the social sectors.

In November 2018, Doug retired back to Nelson after 37 years abroad. Still passionate about appropriate interventions to address child poverty and deprivations, he enjoys working on post-graduate papers at the University of Auckland to draw on experiences from abroad and to better understand the factors contributing to child poverty in New Zealand.

Doug holds a Bachelor of Theology from Point University, Atlanta, and a post-graduate degree in Islam and Political Development from the University of South Africa.