UNHCR signs cooperation accord with Americas nations
WASHINGTON, United States, November 14 (UNHCR) - With the aim of further strengthening its programmes to assist refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless persons in the Americas, UNHCR has signed a cooperation agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS).
The agreement, signed at the OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, formalizes a long-standing tradition of cooperation between the organizations on issues of common interest.
It was signed by OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and UNHCR Director for the Americas Philippe Lavanchy.
"This agreement reflects the importance of the Americas region in the protection of refugees. Our cooperation with the OAS will enhance our work to promote international refugee law and the implementation of the Mexico Plan of Action," said Lavanchy, referring to the 2004 agreement endorsed by 20 Latin America countries to promote protection and durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons.
The OAS Secretary General said the agreement would promote "regional solidarity towards refugees. Past experiences of forced displacement in the region prove that we need to move forward."
The massive displacement caused by violence in Colombia continues to be the main focus of UNHCR's efforts in the Americas. Every month, an average of between 18,000 and 20,000 Colombians are forced to flee their homes to escape violence: more than 1.2 million in the past five years alone, victims of one of the world's longest-lasting internal armed conflicts.
More than two million Colombians are listed on the national registration system for displaced people.