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Founder of Bangladesh development organization BRAC dies

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, the world’s largest nongovernmental development organization, has died. He was 83.

Abed, who was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor at Apollo Hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital, died Friday evening, said BRAC executive director Asif Saleh.

The head of BRAC'S International board, Ameerah Haq, mentioned Abed's honesty, modesty and humanity.

“His dedication, diligence and strong ethical stance made him ‘Abed Bhai’ to every member of the BRAC family,” Haq said in a statement, referring to the Bengali word for brother.

Abed founded BRAC in 1972 at age 36 as a small relief and rehabilitation project in northeastern Bangladesh to assist refugees returning to the country after its war of independence from Pakistan.

Over the years, BRAC grew to be the world’s largest development organization, operating in 11 countries across Africa and Asia. The organization served around 130 million people and employed a work force of 100,000 in projects ranging from education to extreme poverty alleviation to socially minded startups and massive microcredit operations.

Abed studied accounting in London and worked as a senior corporate executive for the Shell Pakistan oil company before a devastating cyclone hit Bangladesh in 1970.

The cyclone and Bangladesh’s war of independence dramatically changed the direction of his life.

Returning to independent Bangladesh in 1972, Abed dedicated himself to providing emergency relief to refugees returning from Bangladesh and their rehabilitation, eventually leading to the founding of BRAC.

Abed was honored with numerous national and international awards for his work.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II knighted him in 2010 in recognition of his work toward reducing poverty in Bangladesh and internationally.

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