Associated Press
Wednesday, May 14, 2003; Page B06

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan; Humanitarian

Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, 70, a wealthy philanthropist who held a string of top U.N. humanitarian posts and was the uncle of the spiritual leader of the Ismaili sect of Shiite Islam, died May 12 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. No cause of death was reported.

Prince Sadruddin started his long career with the United Nations as an adviser to UNESCO for Afro-Asian projects. He was among the youngest and longest-serving U.N. high commissioners for refugees, taking over the post in 1965 at age 33 and staying for 12 years.

He spearheaded U.N. efforts to cope with 10 million refugees from the breakup of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh in 1971. He helped find homes for tens of thousands of Vietnamese who fled their communist homeland in the mid-1970s, and for Asians kicked out of Uganda by dictator Idi Amin.

After resigning as refugee chief in 1977, he held a series of senior U.N. roles, including coordinator for the humanitarian assistance programs for Afghanistan from 1988 to 1990 and special representative for humanitarian assistance for Iraq and Kuwait after the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and 1991.

He was born in Paris into a world of fabulous wealth as the son of Sultan Mohammed Shah, Aga Khan III -- spiritual leader of the world's Ismaili Muslims.

He held French, Iranian and Swiss passports and was educated at Harvard University.

He was married for five years to a model, Nina Dyer, and their divorce in 1962 was headline news. But he quickly shed his playboy image and managed overall to avoid the gossip that dogged many members of the dynasty.

Urbane and eloquent, he and his Greek-born second wife, Catherine Sursock, were familiar but discreet figures on the Geneva social scene. He was passionate about Islamic art and archaeology, as well as about bridging the understanding between cultures.

Survivors include his wife.