THE TURBULENT DECADE: Confronting the Refugee Crises of the 1990s

Sadako Ogata, Author, Kofi A. Annan, Foreword by . Norton $27.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-393-05773-7

As United Nations high commissioner for refugees during the 1990s, Ogata faced multiple instances of protracted civil war, with refugee groups often remaining politically embroiled in the conflicts they fled. This memoir of four refugee crises during her tenure—in Iraqi Kurdistan after the first Gulf War, in the Balkans, in the countries surrounding Rwanda and in Afghanistan—details the frustrating limitations of humanitarian action in situations where the safety of refugees and U.N. staffers is threatened, and ongoing turmoil stymies repatriation. The African tragedy in the wake of the Rwandan genocide was the most extreme: Rwandan refugee camps in Zaire, dominated by Hutu military leaders plotting an invasion of their homeland, became the flash point for a much wider war. Only in northern Iraq, where an American military umbrella allowed the Kurds to return home, does Ogata think that a satisfactory outcome was achieved. Ogata's advocacy of military intervention to help settle the conflicts underlying humanitarian crises has been controversial, but she makes a compelling case for it. Her stiffly written book reads like what it is: a report to the international relief and diplomatic communities. But anyone with an interest in how those communities serve the world will find it compelling. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/17/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 402 pages - 978-0-393-92922-5
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