Lubbers embarks on second leg of Asia mission in Tokyo
TOKYO, June 17 (UNHCR) - UN refugee agency chief Ruud Lubbers today completed a two-day visit to South Korea and arrived in Japan, where he is due to co-chair an international symposium on refugees in Africa for World Refugee Day (June 20).
In Japan, the High Commissioner is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, Justice Minister Mayumi Moriyama, Senior Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Tetsuro Yano and other high-ranking government officials.
On Thursday and Friday, Lubbers will join former High Commissioner Sadako Ogata and Ambassador Said Djinnit of the African Union at the International Symposium on Refugees in Africa. The symposium, which will be attended by several African officials, aims to refocus attention on Africa and look for solutions to the continent's long-standing refugee crises. It is being co-sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Japan International Collaboration Agency and the Japan Association for UNHCR.
While in South Korea, High Commissioner Lubbers discussed the country's domestic asylum policy and the issue of North Koreans fleeing their country to China and elsewhere with President Roh Moo-hyun, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yoon Young-kwan, Minister of Justice Kang Kum-sil and other government officials.
Expressing his gratitude for South Korea's support for UNHCR (which dates back to the late 1970s during the Indochinese boat people exodus), Lubbers urged South Korean officials to boost their level of funding for the agency's global work. In 2002, South Korea contributed nearly $2 million to UNHCR, about half of it in un-earmarked funds for the agency's regular annual budget.