BELINDA Allan, who helped establish the Refugee Studies Centre of the University of Oxford, has passed away, aged 77.

Born Belinda Keown on June 17, 1936 in Hampstead, London, she attended Benenden School in Kent.

From school she went straight into work as a secretary.

After a spell in New York, she was taken on by Norah Smallwood, managing director of the London publisher, Chatto and Windus.

Leaving Chatto in 1966 she moved to Greece and was appointed to the British Council in Athens.

In 1967 she witnessed the coup d’etat of the Greek Colonels and, with a group which included British historian Peter Calvocoressi and Jesuit priest Peter Levi, supported the families of jailed political detainees.

From Greece she crossed the Atlantic again to join the staff of the New York Review of Books.

In 1972 she married Donald Allan, a Unicef worker.

His career took her to Beirut, where she first encountered the horrors of forced migration, then on to Geneva and Kenya.

The couple later divorced and in the early 1980s Mrs Allan settled in Oxford, where she began her work at the Refugees Studies Centre.

Founded in 1982 as the Refugee Studies Programme, Mrs Allan joined the centre in 1984.

She worked briefly as a matron at the Dragon School, before accepting founder Barbara Harrell-Bond’s invitation to join the RSP as its development officer.

Professor Dawn Chatty, the centre current director, said: “You could say that she was the co-founder of the centre, for without her magnificent fundraising ability, her diplomacy and cool and collected temperament, Barbara Harrell-Bond would never have been able to establish it”.

Mrs Allan worked at the Refugee Studies Centre until her retirement in 1997.

In retirement she helped Mrs Harrell-Bond set up a forced migration programme at the American University in Cairo and worked with the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme.

Mrs Allan, who died of cancer at her home in Southmoor Road on June 28, leaves a daughter, Dr Diana Allan, 29, and granddaughters, Layla and Freya.

Diana is an anthropologist, specialising in the Middle East. Her book, Refugees of the Revolution: Experiences of Palestinian Exile, will be published shortly and is dedicated to her mother.

There will be a service to celebrate Mrs Allan’s life in St Barnabas Church, Jericho, at 2pm on July 28.