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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Policy Planning Staff > Secretary's Open Forum > Proceedings > 2004

Attaining Solutions for Africa's Refugees: Challenges and Opportunities

Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Remarks to the Secretary's Open Forum
Washington, DC
May 19, 2004

Opening Remarks and Introduction

MR. LUBBERS:  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Good to be with you.  UNHCR started in 1950 as a small organization for -- we had a three-year mandate to have solutions for refugees who are still homeless in the aftermath of the Second World War, the year it began.  Since then, the refugee protection has been globalized.  The international political environment today is very different from what it was like when UNHCR started its work -- many new challenges.  But on thing is the same as in the early days:  those days it was that this organization has to go for international protection of refugees, urging countries not to push out those who have to come through there.  And it was said already those days one has to work on permanent solutions either by repatriation or assimilation in other nationalities, including far abroad, in the great tradition of the United States of what we call resettlement.

 

We are stuck today -- that was already said -- we have to conclude there are still millions of refugees that continue to live in degrading conditions, very often in remote, economically marginalized and often insecure areas -- few opportunities for self-sufficiency. So we see these protracted refugee situations, in particular in Africa in many countries -- I will not give you the whole list.

 

Now, as I said, the 1951 Convention was very important to urge nations to give protection to refugees, and it broadened very much to Africa in 1967, when a protocol was made on that.  What we are trying to do is to add to this concept of the convention of 1951 the dimension of doing an additional mile.  This is very much the question of investing more in a multilateral approach in finding permanent solutions for people, and to do that in a concept of burden sharing.  So it's not only about the individual responsibility of states -- it's really a multilateral effort.  This is what we call these days the "Plus," in addition to the convention, the "Convention Plus."

 

We started to reflect on how you could come to durable solutions.  Traditionally one spoke about permanent solutions.  Now invoke the word "durable solutions" -- that is basically the same.

 

We work on that with a matrix of activities, if you like.  The matrix is partly about some generic components.  We conclude that we can do better in relation to the solutions when we do better when we start there with the resettlement.  That is a great example of the United States, and it's interesting to find here after September 11th not less appetite but more appetite for resettlement.

 

I was yesterday at the Homeland Security, and there I asked if you have to make public statements, is the number of refugees resettled in the United States something positive for the future of the United States, or do you in your capacity of Homeland Security think you should reduce it, to have a more secure United States?  And the answer was very interesting.  They said, Of course we will continue to check on all individuals who come here, but our ambition is to have more coming, because we think that the strengths, and even included the security of the United States is furthered by more people being resettled.  I found it a very interesting remark.  So this is one generic approach:  do more and do better in resettlement in the world.

 

There are two other things.  We do an effort to call on development assistance ministers.  And you since Monterrey one has expanded the concept once again of development assistance to use part of that money in good cooperation with the countries at the receiving end to find solutions, permanent solutions, for refugees.  So money spent in development assistance has double value when it is spent on solutions for refugees.  Why the double value?  Not only because these people are strong people -- they have an enormous capacity to rebuild their nations when they are repatriated, or become valuable citizens in neighboring countries, local integration, or in resettlement.  But on top of that the dimension of the predictive capacity of refugees -- there is the dimension that if you don't provide the solutions you run the risks that too many of them are attracted by armed groups.  We are always busy trying to convince young people who have no perspective to become members of those groups.  And there it is very related to (weaker ?) conflicts in Africa, and sometimes I allow myself to say for limited numbers even the risk that they enter terrorists groups.  So we will have a more secure world if we have a world which provides for solutions for refugees.  Development assistance therefore, after Monterrey, turned in this direction.

 

Third generating dimension is about irregular secondary flows, a dimension more known in Europe than in the United States.  But we have seen the tragedy in the world of human traffickers who give the illusion to people that if they are portrayed as refugees they will find a place in mature economies in Europe.  The consequence of this that people coming there are considered by populations and government to a large extent as phony refugees, as bogus -- as people who are not real refugees.  So I have to address the problem of irregular secondary flows.  And there in the European countries you find very much the interest to find more effective protection in the region -- effective so that there's quality protection in which PRM invests a lot and gives us the possibilities to do that.  Also effective in the context that they find these permanent solutions there.  So these are the generic dimensions of our work.

 

The other side of the matrix is that you have to practice this in concrete situations, so you have to go for certain populations where you do that.  Mr. Dewey gave the example of Afghanistan -- a great example -- but if we give the example of Sierra Leone and give it of Angola, give it of Eritrea and Sri Lanka.  Where are the opportunities that we can call on the international community to partner multilaterally together to create these solutions?  So these are the specific initiatives.  So we have started this process, and we are now in a phase of implementing that.  It's really giving a lot of (amplitude ?) to our work.  We had a very good meeting, an African dialogue on voluntary repatriation and sustainable reintegration in March this year, where we spoke about these things, boost the generic dimensions as to find a number of opportunities.  And indeed it's true, as you indicated.  We are going to reduce the number of refugees.  I think that World Refugee Day we will announce that in total -- it's not only refugees, but also number of IDPs and statelessness persons -- we probably will have come down from 20 million -- it was at some point even 21 -- back to 17 million.  And I see we for now three million persons in Africa solutions in the coming years. We will achieve that.  But for that of course we need more in terms of international support, and more cooperation between countries multilaterally.

 

There are sometimes challenges which are really exhausting us.  I give you the last year's refugee population at this moment, for which really the solution is not there -- these are the Somalis.  Yes, Afghanistan is moving -- Somalis not very much.  We have the Somaliland, and mainland Somalia doing their utmost to finding the solutions.  Here we go further also in this concept of addressing irregular secondary flows.  To what extent do we find all these Somalis there in that region who permanently have this tendency to go on the move, and very much make use of human traffickers, and then they end up some day in London or the Netherlands or whatever.  So we do that in a pretty systematic way.  This is exhausting.  Sometimes you need positive energy.  So I went to Monrovia.  For years I have to go to Monrovia to meet Charles Taylor.  That's not a very gratifying experience, but the gentleman -- not gentleman, okay -- the man left at some point the country, so I was now back in Monrovia, and indeed we are going to repatriate 350,000 Liberians in the neighboring countries.  They are taking care of 350,000 together with NGOs in Liberia.  We see their fantastic deployment of peacekeepers we have UNMIL by October 1st this year.  The deployment of UNMIL as well, the demobilization and disarmament campaign of former combatants will have produced a situation which makes it possible to return in safety and dignity in Liberia.  This is very positive, Liberia.  This is part of the Mano River region.  Sierra Leone was a smashing success.  We'll expand it to Liberia.  We are working in the Mano River.   Also in Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire.

 

When I started this job, Cote d'Ivoire was not considered to be Mano River.  Now we do, because we know there is a lot of transport of persons going on two sides of the border.  The influence of Taylor was effective even there in Cote d'Ivoire as part of the conflict.  Now we are trying to go to solution also with peacekeepers there in Cote d'Ivoire.  We think that the Mano River concept gives an excellent platform to indeed realize sustainable peace and permanent solutions for refugees.

 

 As you know that the World Bank published a study in which it's a fact that all conflicts for 50 percent recur after a number of years.  So it just goes on again.  This makes it so clear that the sustainable peace needs more attention.  What needs more attention?  It's not in speeches, addressing people -- no, it's just very practical to find alternatives for young people, really new development, new reintegration, rehabilitation, practice this for our problems, which we are doing.

 

Congo -- it's a bit too early.  We see there after the inter-Congolese dialogue possibilities-- still very difficult to define where the level of security is sufficient to inform people you can return, and then to support them.  But certainly we are preparing already for D.R.C.

 

Where we are one step further is in Burundi.  In Burundi, we come out of a time of long time of fighting.  There's still one opposition group.  But we think proactive.  Now we have to start in Burundi.  Why?  For the people of course, but also because the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa -- this is Tanzania -- simply cannot accept that they hang on to stay in Tanzania.  Earlier they moved out the Rwandese -- it was not always a pleasant process.  We better be active -- proactive -- and start now the repatriation in Burundi:  35,000 went back since the beginning of this year. It will increase to the first 100,000 this year, and it will go on.  I'm not saying all 800,000 Burundis will go back or have to go back. It would be quite a challenge.  But a large part of them should go, although this is a heavily populated country.  So to do it there in an effective way requires what I would like to mention as integrated missions.  This is sufficient peacekeeping and demobilization.  It's now the whole concept of MYNUP (ph) is developing, it's still not totally in place, but there is a perspective to do that.  So this is in Burundi.  The areas that I mention of course of the returning farmers -- is there acreage enough?  How can you prevent that there are conflicts in the villages?  So at this stage our first activity was to lower the levels of security as defined in the UN system to such a level that we can be there all over the country with partners.  Then we realized systematic, that they could be brought there, and then the third, which is logistically the repatriation is in a way the easy thing -- is how do you have then an infrastructure, basically social infrastructure that doesn't explode in conflicts, but that the people are accepted going home?  I think we are going to make it in Burundi.  Here we have a typical problem more often the international community -- after many years you become skeptical, so often return programs to Burundi are desired, but not possible.  Let's not allow ourselves to be optimistic this time.  But I cannot allow myself to be cynical.  So I have to go on.  Burundi is a challenge but a possibility.

 

Sudan -- especially in this capital, Washington, one is speaking already years about the peace agreement coming in Sudan, and it will come.  It will come.  Maybe at the moment we don't believe anymore that the North-South dialogue produced peace agreements will be there.  And we are anticipating on that.  We are preparing for the South.  We have presence to organize that return process.

 

But at the very same time that we are talking about Sudan and this potential there, I have to be very frank on Darfur.  For me as High Commissioner for Refugees the misery which we see now that the spare capacity -- because of an effective cease-fire in the (South ?) -- use to bomb -- bombard the Darfurians, and to work together in a classic operation also like you say with -- (inaudible) -- to cleanse the villages and drive the people out.  It is such a tragedy that I cannot imagine that you could have a credible peace agreement which produces international support to rehabilitate and reconstruct the Sudan if there is not the beginning and a perspective of peace and ending of the misery in Darfur.  We know that misery -- not only because we participated in the recent mission going there, but because we are there in Chad, the neighboring country where we have seen so many coming out of Darfur with their horrible stories.  And in Chad we bring the people now -- we're 60 kilometers from the border where we have a -- (inaudible) -- organized camps -- between 60,- and 65,000 are accommodated.  We have about 100,000 across the border.  It's not an easy condition there neither in terms of the water problem, but also the security itself, increasing information that this isn't becoming a real area of violence -- not only in Darfur, where this action was going on I just described, but of course you see now the conflicts on two sides of the border.  I will not bother you too much on details on that.   But we think that HCR cannot escape this responsibility -- not only to assist the people in Chad -- it's cynical, but I have to say the safest place for Darfurians today is in the refugee camps of UNHCR in Chad, and that of course is a unacceptable tragedy.

 

So while we are doing that, at a more political level we are really fulfilling the role of advocacy to go for peace in Darfur.  And we participate in an effort of protection and assistance.  We open up a few offices in Darfur.  We cannot do much, but we can partner with others like ICRC, Red Cross families, which is very present, many NGOs, including Doctors Without Borders.  So that is what we are doing.  And if we can succeed, then I think there is a good basis, a good foundation for the repatriation campaign in the Sudan.  So this is this, a very important area in Africa where we will be judged I think by the international community.  Do we still live in a world where you not only reduce the number of refugees, but finding solutions, but where you produce new outflows. And this is a big humanitarian emergency today.

 

I have to come to a close. It's tempting to speak about Angola, yes?  Many are going back.  And the country itself is still an enormous problem, but that's basically for the government itself there to address it with their oil revenues, and to find a way forward.  But the international community cannot escape to work with them together, and certainly we will do that, and we speak with others, like the World Food Programme, about the food problem there.  This is an acute one.

 

Mr. Dewey spoke to you already about Afghanistan.  I cannot deny that I am proud from what was done by our people.  We're still doing that.  We have crossed more than two million going home. We are on the way to the three million.  We will achieve.  A difficult climate -- allows me to say that more skeptical people will see the world of Iraq today as if this is the whole world.  Afghanistan is nearby, you know, Muslim countries.  Is Afghanistan safe all over Afghanistan?  No, it's not.  It's not.  It's difficult.  There are areas of insecurity.  We have to be very alert.  We lost a very valuable officer while he was in Afghanistan.  But having said all that, we are there in Afghanistan, all over the country.  We are speaking with the local population.  We are building confidence.  We work together -- yes, we work together with the military in integrated missions.  We are not just thinking, Oh, it's only refugees and returnees.  We see ourselves as part of the efforts of the Karzai administration, and we are proving it's possible you can build a new Afghanistan, and that's what is happening.  And we are preparing there for the next step.  That means that not all Afghans in Iran and Pakistan -- and there are still big numbers there -- will have to go home.  We hope to add an additional million to the two we already did, and then gradually we have started discussions, both in Iran and Pakistan.  Is it not possible that others temporarily are accepted as migrant workers, and go with their remittances back to Afghanistan?  This could be a win-win situation for the free countries there.

 

You see I'm really falling in love with this job, so I could go on and on, but I have to come to an end.

 

Colombia -- Colombia I used to watch.  This is part of the world has really come into enormous problems and numbers of IDPs. We are there.  But more recently we see increase in outflow of Colombians, particularly to Ecuador.  So it's becoming not only an IDP but also a refugee situation.  We are trying to resettle Colombians who had to flee to Ecuador, because we think it's too optimistic that the Colombian conflict will be solved shortly from now.  So we have to think in terms of resettlement.

 

And then my very last non-African example are the Bhutanese in Nepal.  Imagine we are there in these model camps -- I say "model camps," but we are already 12 years there.  They are so good, these camps -- high level of education, well organized with the camp management -- very good positive things.  But what's not acceptable is that young people there are hanging on year after year, and we don't know what to do.  So we worked for years on the possibility of going home, and still we hope that the Bhutanese authorities allow that, but we have to become a little bit realistic on therefore looking to other permanent solutions.  So local integration, hopefully in Nepal -- the international community makes that possible, attractive I mean for the Nepalese authorities.  And you never know some resettlement -- maybe even in the United States.  Some day you will see some of them, the Bhutanese from Nepal, successfully integrating in your society.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

 

MR. KEPPLER:  Mr. Lubbers has a few minutes left, so we'll be very glad to take your questions.  I'd like to ask those who would like to ask questions if you wouldn't mind coming to the microphones located down front . That way we can include your comments in the transcript.  You're free to identify yourself or be as anonymous as you'd like.   Who would like to go first?  While we're waiting for everyone to overcome their shyness, I'd like to ask a question.  As conflicts get resolved, as governments become stable again, is there any situations you're running into in Africa where the new government or the newly-stabilized government is not recognizing the right of returned refugees?  And, if so, how are you dealing with that?

 

MR. LUBBERS:  Governments tend to promote people to return, because they consider that as part of their success story.  So there is not an attitude to say that people should stay out.  On the contrary, the point is the other way around:  can we inform people it's possible to return in safety and dignity?  And therefore there sometimes we have to say it's too difficult.  I give you the example of President Kabila.  A few years ago he was still called Young Kabila, but leave these days the word "the young" -- he's just President Kabila now.  He urged me already two years ago:  I really have to start the process of repatriation.  He had the Inter-Congolese dialogue.  It's going better.  But that's in a situation where we have that.  Burundi is another example.  I don't think the authorities in Burundi are saying keep the people out, no.  In general, those were countries who want their people to return, to answer your question.

 

Q:     My name is Sherry Sykes (ph), and I'm currently posted in Addis Ababa, home of the African Union, and I just wanted to see if there were any prospects in the development of the African Union for more work with refugees in resolving some of the long-standing problems.  Thank you.

 

MR. LUBBERS:  Ma'am, certainly.  The phenomenon let's say of the African Union gives new opportunities for HCR, so we are also in Addis Ababa to talk about this and see what we can do.

 

Point two.  I find it very positive that the African Union has developed a policy trying to implement that to have peacekeeping capacity -- African peacekeeping capacity in regional clusters all over Africa, because I think to consolidate peace, the peacekeeping is a relevant dimension.  So it is positive that is happening.

 

Then the next step, of course -- and that is still more primitive -- African Union is committed together with us and others to work on using part of the received development assistance to find permanent solutions for returnees, both the refugees and the IDPs.  Indeed we can do that with the African Union, but that's still in the beginning of a process, because African Union is a bit like European Union:  one needs to work together, but even when working together there's an enormous tendency to say, Let's decide ourselves in our own capitals.  So what is Addis Ababa and African Union saying there?  Like Europeans say, What is Brussels saying to us?  But I think there is a challenge of the African Union in a similar way, because I said once there will be no future for Africa if it does not find the solutions for the millions of uprooted people.  Put the other way around:  There will be real development, peace and democracy in Africa the day we can reintegrate the uprooted people.  Thank you.

 

MR. KEPPLER:  The gentleman over here, please.

 

Q:  Thank you.  My name -- (inaudible) -- with the Trafficking in Persons Offices.  I was interested if you would comment, sir, on the response of the African leadership that you referred to a meeting earlier this year on the concept of durable solutions in the receiving countries, because certainly as one looks at the events of recent weeks in Nigeria, and of past years in Ivory Coast and many other countries, the problem of so-called non-indigents and the conflicts that those spawn suggest to me that there might have been some resistance to the notion of permanent resettlement in the receiving country.  Thank you.

 

MR. LUBBERS:  Reporting out of that meeting, and follow-up meetings, a point I have to make that in African countries today, and the meet European countries -- certain concern that European Union countries have started a process not of burden-sharing, but of burden-shifting.  European Union countries indicate as it were you have too much burden out of Africans coming to us -- let's try to find solutions in Africa.  So that is a negative.

 

I think it can be turned into a positive if we say in a protective capacity it is so important that indeed protection in the region and finding durable solutions in the region is something that is absolutely not negative can be done to conditions, one is that there is sufficient development assistance coming from the European countries to make these projects possible.  And the second is the European countries of course have to accept that not all can find their place there, and like the United States you need an ongoing resettlement effort.  You need to give opportunities for those who really need that to find solutions also in Europe.

 

The second point that you made is as important.  I think we can play a role by promoting in African countries the good tradition that when an African lives for a certain time in another African country that he can get citizen rights.  I'll give you a practical example.  In Guinea it's in the constitution you get a citizen right after 10 years.  In Sierra Leone this is five years, and in Liberia too it's five years. Where it is not in the constitution at all is in Cote d'Ivoire.  It would be an enormous contribution to peace in Cote d'Ivoire if the Mano River countries together could agree, yes, we practice together as Mano River region reach this good tradition.  If you have lived in a country a certain number of years -- let's say 10 years to be on the safe side -- then you can acquire citizen rights, then you would get rid of this idea which is there going around in Cote d'Ivoire -- we only want to see here the people which we consider as original people from Cote d'Ivoire, and not those who came here a generation ago.  So that is the second answer.  How it's going to work we have to see.  But I don't make a secret of that.  That was a main point of my agenda traveling in the Mano River last time.  Thank you.

 

MR. KEPPLER:  We have time for two more questions -- the two people standing here, please.

 

Q: Thank you.  My name is Frank Gaffney.  I'm from the legal adviser's office of Human Rights and Refugees.  And my question for you -- we've spoken about the ideal example I guess is Darfur, what is going on there, the humanitarian tragedy in Darfur, and it raises the very complicated and difficult international legal question of humanitarian intervention as a last resort.  And I'd just like to ask you what is UNHCR's view on this concept.

 

MR. LUBBERS:  Humanitarian intervention is a political concept.  This is the idea that there are situations in the world where the international community has to intervene.  You know, we know together, that the whole concept of intervention exists in the tradition of the United Nations and its Security Council.  But traditionally it was reserved for security considerations -- if a conflict or a situation is developing in such a way that it becomes affecting the security in that region, then there might be a conclusion of the international community to have a intervention.  But it's much more recent.  It started very much in the Kosovo crisis is the idea that -- the conviction that there might be situations in which a humanitarian intervention is needed.

 

I also might add to that intervention because of the risk of weapons of mass destruction.  So keep it a bit abstract.  There might be reasons, in my opinion, that in balancing arguments the sovereignty of states is not the convincing argument anymore to do nothing.  However, at my age, I'm a big older, I would say be very careful -- be very careful -- interventions of this kind should be rather exceptional.  It's more the pressure on nation to change their behavior, and I think it is an example, Darfur, Sudan.  It must be possible to make it absolutely crystal clear that a generous international community funding a successful reconstruction of Sudan will be only practiced when there is an end -- coming to an end of the atrocities in Darfur.  So I am not here to make a plea for what you might call spectacle humanitarian intervention -- send peace enforcers in, et cetera.  So there is the other.

 

But I would have said the same when it comes to the weapons of mass destruction.  By the way, in a certain other forum these days here, sometimes the United Nations is considered as not an effective institution.  We are not always effective, to be frank. Sometimes we are a bit bureaucratic.  Sometimes we are not delivering.  But it's interesting that we know now, after what happened in Iraq, that the weapons inspectors there -- I mean Hans Blix and his team -- was very effective.  Nobody denies that Saddam Hussein had the political will to develop weapons of mass destruction, and nobody denies that he had the capacity to do so.  So it was a scary situation.  So something had to be done.  Something happened.  Inspector teams went there, and then there was a difference in a judgment call:  Were they effective?  I think what's proven by today, they were pretty effective.  So this is another example where the international community and the UN as a system cannot afford to stand aside and say this is not our problem -- these are very real problems.  So I am not against interventions, but there are of course interventions in situations of different levels. And here I come back that the original concept of a United Nations base of a community of nations which are respected in the sovereignty was a good concept.  But it is not to be said that there is an absolute right of countries to say "I'm sovereign, so I do what I want to do." If they go for weapons of mass destruction, it's unacceptable.  If they go for ethnic cleansing, it's unacceptable.  So then you have to define effective policies to improve the situation.   Thank you.

 

MR. KEPPLER:  The lady here.  And then, Mr. Robinson, you get the last word.

 

Q:     Roberta Cohen from the Brookings Institution.  Intermingled with refugees in Africa and other places are often internally displaced persons -- persons displaced within their own countries.  And I was wondering if you could comment on UNHCR's involvement at this time with IDPs in Africa, and whether you envisage any expansion of that role.  The numbers of refugees may be declining, but the numbers of IDPs unfortunately seem to be increasing in all areas.  Thank you.

 

MR. LUBBERS:  When I came into office, ma'am, the secretary general, Kofi Annan, explained to me that it was very risky to be available for claims to take care of the IDPs.  He said it's too much -- too many, you don't have the funding for it.

 

Now I recently approached him and said I have to revise my vision a little bit.  We will still be very careful taking care of IDPs, but there are situations where we cannot escape that.  There are sometimes incidentally situations where we have capacity, where we know the problem, where we should not bluntly say no.  If there is a request as yours, as secretary general to me, and we can convince the donor community that it's worthwhile, we'll do that, but in a selective way.  An example of that is what we're going to do now in Darfur in the IDP situation.

 

There is a second category in which I have a more fundamental structural availability, and this is IDPs at the moment they return, in the process of repatriation, when refugees return to their villages, and to the same villages or that region, returned IDPs, UNHCR has to be available to do the return process for those, as we are doing in Afghanistan -- as we can do now in Liberia.  That requires of course a situation where you have many refugees going, you define the areas of return, and then you can say the IDPs returning to the same area we can facilitate as well, and together with others, partnering with others, have effective programs of reintegration and rehabilitation.  So there I have changed my opinion.

 

Now, for formal reasons, institutional reasons, we are not going to do that.  We simply say to the humanitarian coordinator in the different countries, and their boss -- that is the emergency relief coordinators -- today Mr. -- (inaudible) -- we signal the availability, and it's his choice then. If he says, This is a good idea, he can call us in to do this return process.  So in that sense we have a big shift.

 

If you see then the whole map, then I think there are today maybe four million, max five million where we have IDPs to our concerns, according to these definitions which I gave to you.  That means that there are very big numbers out.  Most of them are also related to natural disasters.  I don't think it's a good idea to involve UNHCR in natural disasters -- some victims sometimes it's mixed of course.  When you have violence and you have a drought, it's difficult to say there's a natural disaster or is it a violence problem.

 

But to keep this a bit shortly, selectively we are doing more. I would be in favor that there is a little bit more attention given to the IDPs in this world.  There seems to be a tendency to totally focus on the victims of violence and persecutions, and to underestimate a little bit the human problems of disenfranchised people because of natural disasters.  Thank you.

 

MR. KEPPLER:  Our last question.

 

Q:  Leonard Robinson from the Africa Society.  Mr. Lubbers, your reference to Somalia triggered a question:  Given the large numbers of refugees in Africa, combined with the rising threat of terrorism, what proactive thinking is UNHCR doing with respect to ensuring that refugee camps do not become recruiting grounds for terrorists and terrorism?

 

MR. LUBBERS:  A few dimensions.  First, the site of the camps -- we have developed a policy, and we are very strict on that, to make choices for refugee camps at places, the sites that we have less risk -- and I gave you the example of Chad, but there are many other examples.  This is one.

 

The second, we have become during the years more strict, more robust if you like, in checking on our refugee camps that they are arms-free.  So that is an effort of course.  In that related a bit we have developed a strategy of policy of keeping out armed elements.  So if you want an example, when from Liberia, both from Taylor's army as from LRT (ph) -- there were people deserting.  Then we said, okay, you deserted, but you're still not a refugee for us.  So they are in a separate camp.

 

In Zambia -- in Zambia the government partnered with us, and then the people came out of Angola in the times of war still. They were demobilized and sent much farther away in a separate camp for former Soviets.  So we have improved these practices.  But now comes my last remark.  It's an illusion to think that nothing can go wrong if you have done this separation.  If young people hang around in these camps, and there is not a perspective, you run the risk that they are available to become partners in crime, you might say, to start to belong, or to belong again, to armed groups.  And there is the connection with my plea, with my battle you might say, to find solutions for protected situations.  Every year you continue with such a camp you run a risk that a certain percentage walks out in the wrong direction.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

 

MR. KEPPLER:  I want to thank our distinguished guest speaker, and Assistant Secretary Dewey.  I think it was a great program that shed a light on a very important part of the world.

 

This is the third program that I've done on Africa since taking over as chairman the Open Forum.  And most of the programs have focused on problems and challenges within Africa, and the question comes up often:  Does Africa matter?  And I think with a resounding yes that it the answer. 

 

(Short audio break for tape flip.)  In the Secretary's Open Forum, along with the Africa Society and the World Affairs Council of Washington, DC, we are going to do a full-day program, a full immersion on Africa.  We're going to involve about 800 students from the Washington metropolitan area as well as educators.  And, as I said, we'll have a full day immersion.  All the ambassadors from the diplomatic missions here in Washington, DC, will be invited to set up an exhibit in our exhibit hall to explain and project their own country in their own terms, and to respond to the questions of the students.  The cornerstone of the program to which members of the State Department or employees of the State Department USAID can attend, it's going to do an "It's Academic" program, and we're going to focus the entire program on questions about Africa, taking the leading students from Washington, Virginia and the District, and the program is going to be the regular TV program -- it will be shown again on Saturday morning.  So please stay tuned for that program.  That will be on September 17.

 

In the meantime, next week, next Tuesday, May 25, I'll be hosting Ms. Angelina Jolie, UNHCR good-will ambassador.  In addition to being a well renowned and award-winning movie star, she also is a very committed humanitarian, and Tuesday's program will be called "Trading Women," and it will focus on the trafficking in persons and the sexual exploitation of people.  Because of the unusual demand to attend that program, State Department employees also have to fill out a registration form so we can keep control of the numbers.  Seating will be on a first-come-first-serve basis.

 

And then, lastly, on June 25, I'll be hosting the president of the Inter-American Development Bank, Mr. Enrique Iglesias, and we'll be talking about economic development and the ancillary political issues that arise out of the economic and political situation in Latin America.  So I hope you'll circle your calendar.  I hope you'll join us for a program that will be just as interesting and as mentally invigorating as today's.   And once again I want to thank our guests.


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