UN refugee chief confers with US on Afghanistan, West Africa and Iraq

UN refugee chief confers with US on Afghanistan, West Africa and Iraq

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ruud Lubbers, on a three-day visit to the United States ending today, has discussed humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, West Africa and Iraq with senior US officials.

In talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell, Mr. Lubbers reiterated his hope that refugees be included in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), a project targeting democracy-building, poverty-reduction and development in Africa being drawn up by African leaders, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said in Geneva today.

Mr. Lubbers recently visited Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa.

The two also discussed the conditions necessary for a potential repatriation of refugees to Iraq.

Mr. Powell ended the meeting with an announcement of an $85 million contribution by the US to UNHCR for 2003. Of this amount, $10 million will go specifically towards the Afghanistan programme. The additional funding will be distributed throughout UNHCR's worldwide annual programme activities, including: $34 million for Africa, $13.5 for Europe, and $15.2 million for South Asia. This contribution brings the total US contribution to UNHCR to $258 million for 2003.

Mr. Lubbers held meetings at the State Department and on Capitol Hill yesterday and today was conferring with nongovernmental organizations in Washington, D.C.