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Deputy High Commissioner ends mission to East, Horn of Africa

Briefing notes

Deputy High Commissioner ends mission to East, Horn of Africa

4 December 2001

Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Mary Ann Wyrsch wraps up her three-country mission to Africa today, as she meets in Nairobi with the Vice-President and the Ministers of State and Foreign Affairs for Kenya before departing tonight for Geneva. While in Kenya Ms. Wyrsch also visited the country's two camps, Kakuma and Dadaab, which together house over 210,000 mainly Somali and Sudanese refugees. She has also met with representatives of donor and resettlement nations.

The Deputy High Commissioner began the familiarization mission last week in Eritrea and travelled to Kampala and Adjumani, in Uganda, before arriving in Kenya. Ms. Wyrsch surveyed UNHCR field operations in each country and met with government authorities to discuss refugee issues. In Eritrea, UNHCR is engaged in a large-scale operation to repatriate 150,000 Eritrean refugees from Sudan - more than 26,000 have returned home since May. Uganda hosts over 175,000 principally Sudanese refugees, and with UNHCR assistance has been able to decrease the refugees' dependency on international aid by giving them land to farm.

The field visit is Ms. Wyrsch's first since she joined UNHCR in April. The Deputy High Commissioner, whose responsibilities at the agency include the function of controller and management of human and financial resources, has been focusing on management issues and the working conditions of field staff.