Help wanted for refugee resettlement
Publisher: APA News Service, Austria
Story date: 17/11/2011
Language: English

Vienna – The UNHCR is hoping for Austria's help in a "resettlement program" to cope with huge streams of refugees from Libya to neighbouring states, and resettle them permanently in third countries, said a senior official visiting Vienna.

So far Austria had not offered cooperation, said head of international legal protection of the Geneva-based UNHCR, Volker Tuerk, in a lecture at the Austrian Society for Foreign Policy and the United Nations. In the case of people formerly working in Libya, 4,000 "resettlement" places were still needed.

"Due to the very exceptional situation in North Africa (civil war in Libya), we had hoped that there would be very strong signals of solidarity, above all on the past of the European countries."

With some countries, the UNHCR was "to a certain extent disappointed". Some had not even answered the "Global Resettlement Initiative" to find permanent places for particularly vulnerable refugees.

Others, including Norway, Sweden, Australia, the US, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, had reacted "very positively" and offered concrete places.

At present, there were several thousand refugees in a UNHCR camp in the Libyan-Tunisian border area. They were mostly from Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Kenya, who due to the crisis could no longer find work.

At present individual cases were being examined so they could then be presented to the European states "in the hope that they wil be accepted".

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