Lubbers urges African leaders to find solutions to refugee problems
LUSAKA - UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers has urged African leaders to continue seeking solutions to the continent's many refugee crises.
In meetings during the summit of the Organization of African Unity in Lusaka, Zambia, the high commissioner also discussed possible local integration of refugees who cannot go home. Africa has 3.6 million refugees.
Lubbers called on Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi to work with UNHCR to improve security in and around Kenya's refugee camps, which have recently seen a surge of banditry and ethnic violence.
The high commissioner proposed to Sudanese President Oumar Ahmed Al-Bashir the repatriation of Ugandan refugees in Sudan and the integration of Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees who do not wish to go home. UNHCR has begun the voluntary repatriation of some 175,000 Eritrean refugees in Sudan.
During a meeting with donors, Lubbers praised Zambia's hospitality and its willingness to provide land to refugees who wish to settle in the country. Zambia, which has 260,000 mostly Angolan refugees, hosted the first refugee camp in Africa in the 1960s.
Lubbers, who arrived in Zambia on Thursday on his third trip to Africa since becoming head of the UN refugee agency, also had a meeting with Zambian President Frederick Chiluba.
On Friday, the high commissioner visited Kala refugee camp, 160 km from Zambia's northern border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Kala has more than 18,000 Congolese refugees who fled last year's advance of the Rwandan army on Katanga province in the south-east. On Saturday, he visited 14,000 Angolan refugees at Nangweshi camp in western Zambia.
Last week, the OAU Council of Ministers adopted a resolution reaffirming the OAU's support for the 1951 Convention on Refugees, which marks its 50th anniversary on July 28.