Media Statement

05 November 2019

President Ramaphosa sends condolences to Japan following the passing of Sadako Ogata

President Cyril Ramaphosa has, on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, sent a message of condolences to the Government and the people of Japan following the passing away of Ms Sadako Ogata, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Ms Ogata was born on 16 September 1927 in Tokyo, Japan, and passed away recently at the age of 92.

President Ramaphosa said Ms Ogata was a devoted international citizen who took the reigns as UN High Commissioner for Refugees during one of the world’s most difficult periods, following the end of the Cold War, a period characterized by the displacement of large numbers of civilians.

Under Ms Ogata’s leadership between 1991 and 2000, the UN High Commission for Refugees played an important role not only in relation to the resettlement of displaced persons affected by conflicts but also in broadly shaping the UN’s approach to the question of the management of international migration.

President Ramaphosa recalled that the late Ms Ogata was the recipient of South Africa’s national award, the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo in Silver, awarded for “her achievement in the eradication of apartheid, negotiated settlement and contributing to the development of post-apartheid South Africa and the development of the African continent.”

Ms Ogata came to South Africa at the end of 1991 to head the UN delegation to the Codesa multiparty talks that enabled a peaceful and orderly democratic transition in South Africa and where she was a permanent observer. It was during this time that Ogata met Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the anti-apartheid struggle.

In the early 1990s, as the leader of the UN observer mission to Codesa, Ms Ogata assisted in repatriating African National Congress (ANC) cadres who were in exile. 

President Ramaphosa said the people of South Africa will remember Ms Ogata fondly for the role that she played in South Africa and other countries navigating challenges associated with conflict.

Enquiries: Ms Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to the President on 072 854 5707

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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