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UN High Commissioner Gives Frontline Report on Protecting the World's Refugees

Posted March 10, 1999

Photo: Refugees

In Kosovo, 200 displaced people are trapped on a mountainside in make-shift plastic shelters, enduring sub-freezing temperatures while surrounded by hostile soldiers. Though the mission is dangerous, it is the job of the United Nations' High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to rescue and relocate the group to a safe haven.

Started in 1951, the commission is responsible for helping refugees, who now number more than 22 million across the globe -- from the former Yugoslavia to Vietnam and Rwanda.

Heading the commission since 1990 is Berkeley alumna Sadako Ogata, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who along with her 5,617-member staff leads and coordinates international actions to protect refugees.

"Refugee problems have expanded in many directions, not only in number, but in complexity," said Ogata. "The mandate of the high commissioner is to protect and assist refugees and also to solve their problems."

Since receiving her PhD in political science from Berkeley in 1963, Ogata, a professor of international relations at Sophia University in Tokyo, has served as Japan's representative to the UN Commission on Human Rights and as an independent expert on human rights in Myanmar (Burma).

Ogata will discuss "Humanitarian Frontlines: Refugee Problems Between Changing Wars and Fragile Peace," Wednesday, March 17 at 4 p.m. in Boalt Hall's Booth Auditorium.

The event is sponsored by the Institute of International Studies, the Human Rights Center and the International Human Rights Law Clinic.

For information call 642-2472.



March 10 - 16, 1999 (Volume 27, Number 26)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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