UN refugee agency head on fivenation visit to West Africa

Beset with continuing instability and conflict, West Africa has been one of the major priorities for UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ruud Lubbers, since his first mission to the region as Commissioner in early 2001. “There are enormous needs in the region, needs that we fear have been completely overshadowed by recent events in Iraq and elsewhere,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said today in Geneva.Mr. Lubbers will visit Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea where he will meet with senior government officials, UNHCR staff and field partners, Mr. Redmond said. He will also visit some refugee camps in these five countries, which account for about 400,000 of the more than 520,000 refugees in West Africa.While there have been marked improvements in some areas since the Commissioner’s last mission, UNHCR remains very concerned over continuing instability in Liberia and the fragile situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the spokesman stated.

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