Monaco keen to strengthen ties with UNHCR
MONTE CARLO, Monaco, March 20 (UNHCR) - Monaco's Prince Albert II has said he is very interested in developing stronger political and humanitarian ties between his small, but wealthy principality and the UN refugee agency. He also announced that Monaco, a constitutional monarchy, would be donating 100,000 euros towards UNHCR programme for refugees and internally displaced people in Sudan and Chad this year.
The prince's comments came during a meeting on Wednesday with UNHCR Representative Francisco Galindo-Velez, who was also in Monaco to attend a photo exhibition being staged as part of the prince's 50th birthday celebrations.
Galindo-Velez saluted Monaco's engagement in humanitarian affairs and thanked its people for supporting UNHCR's work through the charitable fund-raising organization, Amitié Sans Frontières (Friendship Without Borders), the refugee agency's key partner in the Mediterranean enclave.
Prince Albert said he was delighted that UNHCR was featured in the exhibition, "Monaco and Humanitarian Aid 1958-2008," while recalling his visit last year to camps for displaced people in Sudan's Darfur region and announcing the donation. Monaco also gave 100,000 euros last year for UNHCR's Sudan and Chad operations.
The UN refugee agency is among 17 humanitarian organizations represented in the exhibition, which was formally opened on Wednesday evening by Prince Albert and his younger sister, Princess Stéphanie.
Also on Wednesday, Galindo-Velez and representatives of the other organizations discussed their work during a workshop run by the Monaco government's department of international cooperation. Monaco plans this year to assist around 85 humanitarian aid projects in 20 countries, mostly around the Mediterranean and in Africa.
Monaco is strengthening its involvement in humanitarian aid projects, including stepped up support for local non-governmental organizations and formation of a body of young Monegasque international volunteers who will be trained and then seconded to international cooperation programmes.
The Principality of Monaco, situated on the French Riviera, is the world's second smallest independent nation. It has a surface area of 196 hectares (485 acres) and is home to around 32,000 people, making it one of the most densely populated countries on earth. The tax-free haven is a major banking and tourism centre.
By Marie-Ange Lescure in Monte Carlo, Monaco