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Former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Auguste R. Lindt dies

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Former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Auguste R. Lindt dies

17 April 2000

Auguste R. Lindt, the former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees who led a massive assistance effort for Hungarians fleeing a Soviet invasion in 1956, has died in his sleep, his family announced on Monday. He was 94.

High Commissioner Sadako Ogata said she learned with great sorrow of Lindt's death over the weekend. She said the years he served as UNHCR's second High Commissioner, from 1957-1960, were "marked by his dynamic and forceful leadership, shaping and broadening the scope of UNHCR's mission on behalf of refugees."

The UN General Assembly elected the Swiss diplomat on December 10, 1956 as head of the UN refugee agency. Days later he began to mobilize an assistance programme for some 200,000 Hungarians in Austria and Yugoslavia who fled the Soviet repression in Hungary in one of the defining moments of the Cold War era.

Lindt's previous experience as a representative of a neutral country, Switzerland, placed him in a strong position to meet the challenge of political repression that in the years to come was the major cause of mass displacement. His work in the Hungarian crisis enhanced UNHCR's prestige.

Even as UNHCR was providing assistance and finding solutions to Hungarian refugees, Lindt was overseeing UNHCR's involvement in 1957 in another major crisis, helping more than 260,000 Algerians in Morocco and Tunisia who fled the conflict in Algeria.

After his law studies at universities in Geneva and Berne, Lindt served as special correspondent of several European newspapers in Asia, Europe and Africa. He was in the Swiss Army from 1940-45, then became a special delegate of the International Red Cross at Berlin in 1945.

Lindt was permanent observer for Switzerland at the UN from 1953-56. From UNHCR, Lindt went to Washington as Swiss ambassador. He later served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Mongolia, India and Nepal.