World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

UN Refugee Agency Chief Wraps Up Tour, West Africa

UN Refugee Agency Chief Wraps Up Tour Of West Africa

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers wrapped up his tour of the West Africa region with a visit over the weekend to Côte d’Ivoire, which, until conflict broke out in 2002, had had a tradition of generosity towards asylum seekers.

Looking at the regional dimensions of the war in Côte d'Ivoire and the wars that have ended in Liberia, Sierra Leone and, to a lesser extent, Guinea, Mr. Lubbers called for a regional approach to disarmament to stabilize the Mano River Union’s three members – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“It is important that the Mano River Union countries, extended to Côte d'Ivoire, uphold common principles, one of them being that only state forces can carry arms and that it is illegal for any other groups to do so, irrespective of the names these irregular elements are given," he said.

In the post-conflict period, Mr. Lubbers’ agency completed its repatriation programme for Sierra Leoneans last July and started a return operation last October for the 340,000 Liberian refugees in West Africa, of whom 100,000 have gone home on their own.

With the UN refugee agency having repatriated some 7,000 Liberian refugees by sea, air and land, Mr. Lubbers said it was time to quicken the pace of return.

In Côte d'Ivoire, the last stop on Mr. Lubbers' six-day, four-nation trip, civil war broke out in September 2002, ending a generous asylum tradition that had allowed refugees to settle in villages instead of being confined to camps.

Anti-refugee sentiments emerged for the first time, and the involvement of some Liberian nationals in the ranks of fighters in western Côte d’Ivoire cast suspicion on all refugees in the minds of many Ivorians. That prompted the UN refugee agency to carry out a massive campaign on the theme, “Your tolerance can make a difference,” which the High Commissioner launched in May 2003 in the country’s economic capital, Abidjan.

Côte d’Ivoire now hosts some 70,000 Liberian refugees and less than 2,000 non-Liberian refugees.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: Zimbabwe - Meet The New Bosses

At 75, Mnangagwa is not exactly what you’d call a new broom. As many observers have pointed out, his track record has been one of unswerving dedication to Mugabe ever since the days of anti-colonial insurgency... To these guys, things had to change in Zimbabwe, so that things could remain the same. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: Is This Guy The World’s Most Dangerous Thirtysomething?

Saudi Arabia has long been regarded as a pillar of stability in the Middle East, and is the essential caterer to the West’s fossil fuel needs. It is also the country that gave us Osama Bin Laden, al Qaeda, and 15 of the 19 terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks... More>>

ALSO:

Non-Binding Postal Vote: Australia Says Yes To Same Sex Marriage

Binoy Kampmark: Out of 150 federal seats, 133 registered affirmative totals in returning their response to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. More>>

ALSO:

Bonn Climate Change Conference: Protecting Health In Small Island States

The vision is that, by 2030, all Small Island Developing States will have health systems that are resilient to climate change and countries around the world will be reducing their carbon emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks and deliver large health benefits in carbon-emitting countries. More>>

ALSO: