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Venezuela: UNHCR welcomes National Commission on Refugees

Briefing notes

Venezuela: UNHCR welcomes National Commission on Refugees

22 July 2003

UNHCR welcomes the Venezuelan government's decision to establish a National Commission on Refugees. The commission, which will be officially sworn in tomorrow (Wednesday), will oversee and direct the government's efforts in offering protection, legal aid and assistance to asylum seekers. It will also review individual applications for refugee status.

So far, Venezuela has received 1,474 formal requests for asylum, 99 percent of them from Colombians. The establishment of the commission should now enable these cases to be evaluated, providing greater protection and formal status for those in need of international protection.

The official inauguration of the commission comes almost two years after the approval of Venezuela's Law on Refugees and Asylum Seekers, which called for the establishment of such a body.

UNHCR sees the move as an important step forward in refugee protection in Venezuela and a signal of the government's commitment to its international obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol.

UNHCR's mission in Venezuela focuses on supporting host communities situated along the Venezuelan-Colombian border. We work together with non-governmental organizations such as Caritas of Venezuela, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Red Cross and the Human Rights Department at the University of Carlos Andrés Bello.