It is with great sadness that we at Finn Church Aid received the information of the passing of Margaret Vogt. Margaret will always be remembered from her unparalleled dedication to the cause she was working on.
FCA had the privilege of cooperating with Margaret mostly on Somalia, when she was serving as the DSRSG to Somalia.
Back in 2010, Margaret was quick to realize that the UN was lacking a reach to legitimate grassroots actors, notably the traditional leaders. Humble yet decisive; visionary yet with exceptional strength in turning plan into concrete action. These personal qualities not just facilitated the cooperation with various stakeholders, but also helped to transform the face of UNPOS from foreign intervention into indispensable partner of the Somali people.
Margaret visited FCA offices in the margins of the Somali diaspora conference that was organized in Helsinki in August 2010. The meeting brought together Somalis from Puntland and from the diaspora and FCA’s management of various departments.
The level of substantial discussion was extraordinary in its depth, and it was so easy to see how Margaret’s passion for supporting a better future for the Somali people ranged not only to statebuilding and mediation but crucially to humanitarian aid too. Her compassion for the decades long plight of the Somali people and readiness to do all in her powers to change that situation left an enduring mark to all in the meeting.
As the SRSG for CAR, Margaret was continuously asking FCA to step up its operations in the country. Margaret’s long-sighted analysis about the looming crisis in the country proved to be painfully accurate.
The last event where FCA staff had the joy of witnessing Margaret’s drive for positive change in the world was in May 2014 in Helsinki.
She had been invited as a speaker on fragile states by Finland’s Minister of Development Pekka Haavisto. After speaking in her usual razor sharp way about key solutions in overcoming state fragility, Margaret announced that she is putting her “UN hat” aside and speaking as private person Margaret Vogt.
In the presence of distinguished audience, including Ministers and even higher ranking officer than herself from the UN, she blasted the way her home country, Nigeria, is handling burning issues including inequality and Boko Haram, and how the international community is playing a sub-standard role in supporting Nigeria. Both the Nigerian Government and the international community including civil society should do better.
Margaret was not afraid. It is with great sorrow that we have to depart from Margaret but so thankful for all the wisdom that she shared.
Senior Peace Adviser