General Assembly extends term of UN High Commissioner for Refugees

6 October 2003

The United Nations General Assembly decided today to extend the term of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Ruud Lubbers, for two more years.

The decision prolongs Mr. Lubbers’ appointment until 31 December 2005.

Mr. Lubbers, a former Prime Minister of the Netherlands, was appointed High Commissioner in 2000 to a three-year term through this December.

In a statement released in Geneva, Mr. Lubbers thanked Secretary-General Kofi Annan for his support and said, "Our shared goal is to find solutions for the world's refugees and displaced. We are now in the process of implementing a very wide-ranging set of internal and external initiatives that I believe will help us toward that goal and enable UNHCR to meet the many new challenges that lie ahead."

UNHCR has some 6,000 staff in 250 offices in 115 countries, working with a budget of approximately $1 billion to care for more than 20 million people worldwide.

In response to a reporter's question in New York, a UN spokesman said that Mr. Lubbers had donated $300,000 to the UNHCR each year he has been High Commissioner, an amount roughly equivalent to the position's salary plus expenses. Mr. Lubbers had requested that his donations be anonymous.