Sadako Ogata

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The end of the Cold War unleashed waves of brutal ethnic, tribal and regional conflict. Without that familiar balance of American and Soviet power, old grievances came to the fore with deadly results. The 90’s brought us the breakup of Yugoslavia, genocide in Rwanda and refugee marches across Africa.

All during that decade, Sadako Ogata was the high commissioner in charge of refugees for the United Nations. Her job was to help bring food, and shelter and find a way out for those who had lost everything. She stirred controversy by saying that humanitarian problems deserve more than humanitarian solutions and that politics, not aid, is the answer.

Now, Ogata is looking back on that turbulent time. We’ll talk with her, and test some of her conclusions. Looking back and at the future for refugees.


Sadako Ogata, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees

David Rieff, journalist and author of “A Bed for The Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis.”