UN agency welcomes new Venezuelan commission for refugee assistance

22 July 2003

The United Nations refugee agency today lauded the Venezuelan government's decision to establish a National Commission to oversee and direct efforts to provide protection, legal aid and assistance to asylum seekers.

Tomorrow’s official inauguration of the National Commission on Refugees comes almost two years after the approval of a Venezuelan law calling for the establishment of such a body, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

UNHCR sees the move as an important step forward in refugee protection in Venezuela and a signal of the government's commitment to its international obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol,” an agency spokesman, Kris Janowski, said in Geneva.

The Commission will also review individual applications for refugee status, currently totaling 1,474, with 99 per cent of them being from Colombian asylum seekers. Mr. Janowski said the establishment of the commission would “enable these cases to be evaluated, providing greater protection and formal status for those in need of international protection.”


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