Ogata expresses condolences over the death of former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Poul Hartling
High Commissioner Sadako Ogata today paid tribute to Poul Hartling, Denmark's former Prime Minister and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees who died on Sunday. He was 85.
"He was a champion for the refugee cause," said Mrs. Ogata in a statement expressing condolences after learning of Hartling's death in Copenhagen.
"He came to UNHCR at the height of the cold war. His remarkable humanitarian spirit and innovation led the Office through major refugee crises in Viet Nam and Afghanistan, in the Horn of Africa and in Central America. With steadfast courage and commitment, he helped ease the suffering of milions uprooted from their homes."
Hartling, who was High Commissioner from 1978 to 1985, received on behalf of UNHCR its second Nobel Prize for Peace in 1981 for dealing with a "veritable flood of human catastrophe." Hartling called the award "a statement to the world's refugees that you are not forgotten."
Born in Copenhagen on 14 August 1914, Hartling graduated from the University of Copenhagen with a degree in Theology and became the Lutheran curate of Frederiksberg Church from 1941 to 1945.
Hartling was elected to Parliament in 1957, served as Foreign Minister from 1968 to 1971 and was Prime Minister from 1973 to 1975. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Danish Inter-Church Aid and one of the founders of the Danish Refugee Council.
He is survived by his wife Elsebeth Kirkemann and four children.