Sadako Ogata obituary

Independent-minded head of the UN agency for refugees, who expanded its role to help millions more displaced people

Sadako Ogata, the first female head of the United Nations refugee agency, who has died aged 92, was frequently underestimated by those meeting her for the first time. It was a mistake few of them made a second time.

When Ogata took up the post at the headquarters of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva in February 1991, staff knew almost nothing about her. First impressions were that she was too quiet, too self-effacing, too timid. There were doubts about whether she was up to the challenge of running one of the world’s biggest humanitarian organisations.

She understood immediately she had to get off the pedestal and into the battle

Continue reading...