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November 06, 2015

Obituary: Robert DeVecchi, Former Leader of International Rescue Committee

Robert DeVecchi, the former chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, died Oct. 26 at age 85, The New York Times reports.

The charity, which helps resettle refugees, was founded in 1933 to support Jews fleeing Nazi Germany. Under Mr. DeVecchi's leadership, which included serving as director and president, the group established emergency relief programs in nearly 30 countries including Bosnia, Rwanda, and Afghanistan, and resettled more than 200,000 refugees in the United States. In addition, he oversaw the creation of a special commission for women and children refugees. 

While he led the organization from 1975 to 1997, the group's spending grew to more than $119 million annually, up from the 2015 equivalent of $36 million.

In his first role with the International Rescue Committee, Mr. DeVecchi spent four weeks working on a resettlement program at a refugee camp in Arkansas for about 35,000 South Vietnamese refugees who were transferred there after Saigon fell to North Vietnamese forces in 1975. Prior to joining the organization, Mr. DeVecchi was the director of inner-cities programs for the Save the Children Federation in New York.