High Commissioner's mission to Asia
High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers ended a 2-day mission to South Korea today and flew to Japan, where he is scheduled to meet senior government officials and co-chair an international symposium on refugees in Africa.
In South Korea, Mr. Lubbers held talks with President Roh Moo-hyun, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yoon Young-kwan, Minister of Justice Kang Kum-sil and other government officials. They discussed South Korea's domestic asylum policy, the issue of North Koreans fleeing their country to China and elsewhere, and the Seoul government's funding of UNHCR. The High Commissioner thanked South Korea for its support for UNHCR, which dates back to the late 1970s during the Indochinese boat people exodus. Mr Lubbers urged South Korean officials to increase their ownership of UNHCR's global work for refugees by boosting their level of funding. Last year, South Korea contributed nearly 2 million dollars to UNHCR, about half of it in unearmarked funds for our regular annual budget.
In Japan, Mr. Lubbers 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 - World Refugee Day - Mr. Lubbers will join his predecessor, former High Commissioner Sadako Ogata, at the International Symposium on Refugees in Africa. The symposium, which will be attended by several African officials, is being co-sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Japan International Collaboration Agency and the Japan Association for UNHCR.