AFRICA - Tragic conditions of 2 million refugees and millions of displaced persons in Africa focal point of Geneva Conference organised by UNHCR

Saturday, 6 March 2004

Rome (Fides Service)- “Dialogue on Voluntary Repatriation and Sustainable Re-integration in Africa ”, is the title of a Conference organised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees UNHCR on 8 March in the Hall 19 of the Palace of Nations in Geneva.
The meeting will be attended by representatives of 60 countries, including at least 13 ministers from African countries, high ranking donor government officials and other partners, who will discuss peace processes and positive developments which in the coming years will offer new opportunities for solving the prolonged crisis of refugees in Africa. These positive developments could help the return of millions of Internally Displaced Persons.
The meeting was planned in the conviction that the urgent problem of refugees and internally displaced persons is already being solved. In fact there are numerous possibilities for the repatriation of 2 million people in many African countries, a process which has already started in part, is in the state of preparation or awaiting ulterior political developments to allow the conditions for a large scale voluntary return. The participants will consider positive evolution registered in 9 African countries (Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda and Democratic Congo), which have a total of 5 million refugees and displaced persons. “UNHCR says the International Community must take this important opportunity to pursue a long term solution for so many people and take a regional approach in order to guarantee repatriation and sustainable reintegration in Africa” the UNHCR says in a statement sent to Fides. “UNHCR is particularly committed to ensuring that the delegates of home and hosting countries, humanitarian agency officials, donor countries and other partners recognise the important stage being prepared in the continent of Africa and will create necessary conditions to allow this flow of returnees to be successful and sustainable ”.
High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers will open the meeting and he will be followed by interventions by Poul Nielson European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid; Julia D. Joiner Commissioner for African Union Political Affairs; and Julia Taft Assistant Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme UNDP. UNHCR Assistant Kamel Morjane will close the meeting. Many countries, UN agencies and other partners will take part in the Conference. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 6/3//2004, righe 35 parole 442)