UN refugee agency signs cooperation deal with Organization of American States

UN refugee agency signs cooperation deal with Organization of American States

UNHCR's Lavanchy and OAS Secretary-General Insulza (right)
The United Nations refugee agency today signed a cooperation agreement with the 35-member Organization of American States (OAS) so that it can strengthen its programmes across the region to assist refugees, asylum-seekers, the stateless and internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a media statement today that the accord, which was signed in Washington, formalizes an already long-standing relationship of cooperation between the two organizations.

Philippe Lavanchy, UNHCR’s Director for the Americas, said the signing of the agreement reflected the region’s importance in the protection of refugees.

“Our cooperation with the OAS will enhance our work to promote international refugee law and the implementation of the Mexico Plan of Action,” Mr. Lavanchy said, referring to a 2004 agreement endorsed by 20 Latin American nations to promote protection and more durable solutions for refugees and IDPs.

The main focus of UNHCR’s activities in the Americas remains the massive displacement in Colombia as a result of the violence across the country, which has endured one of the world’s longest-running internal armed conflicts.

More than two million Colombians are now listed on the national registration system for displaced people, according to UNHCR, and each month an average of between 18,000 and 20,000 are forced to flee their homes.