Sir Brian Barder, who has died aged 83, was a career diplomat who served as ambassador to Ethiopia and Poland, and as high commissioner to Nigeria and Australia; he did not fit the conventional mould of his generation, and was regarded by some as too confrontational, yet he was widely liked and respected.
Barder’s most high-profile job came in his first ambassadorial posting in Ethiopia, from 1982 to 1986, when the country was governed by the Soviet-backed dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam.
As he recalled in an interview in 1997, friends in the Foreign Office had predicted he would go mad with boredom, but soon after his arrival, it became clear that a serious famine was brewing, beginning in 1983 and reaching full intensity in 1984-5 when it became headline news all over the world. An international relief effort, coordinated by the UN, began to show results, but it rapidly became clear…
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