UNHCR Boss Fears Renewed Violence in sub-Region

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted May 6, 2004

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Rudd Lubbers says there is still the risk of renewed violence around the corner in the MRU basin and the sub-region at large; Patrick K. Wrokpoh & I. Solo Kelgbeh report.
He said peace has not been totally achieved yet in the sub-region, as such there is a need to change what he called “the mind set” by mobilizing people as well as empowering them so that they can change from the path of violence to peace.

Mr. Lubbers made these assertion Tuesday evening when the NTGL Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant held a cocktail reception for him and members of his delegation at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia.
The UNHCR boss who also once served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, urged Liberians to organize peace in what he termed as “sustainable way”, emphasizing that the opportunity afforded the country now by the international community is the last chance.

Mr. Lubbers said the job of achieving total peace in the sub-region is not yet done in full, stressing that there is a need to uphold what he described as the “MRU Concept”. He said Liberia is the example of the sub-region. and it is indeed possible to change the mind set and mobilize people and empowering all of them something which he expressed confident can be achieved for them to forget about war.

For his part, NTGL Chairman Bryant commended the UNHCR for the tremendous assistance it has rendered and continues to render to Liberians affected by the crisis.

He said the government is pleased that Mr. Lubbers is in the country to assess the situation for himself.
He frowned on the past government of exiled former president Charles Taylor for the low courtesy shown towards Mr. Lubbers during his first visit to Liberia.

Chairman Bryant said such an attitude would have adversely affected the country’s international image, adding that Liberia is a country of good people and they regret that these good characteristics were not shown to Mr. Lubbers when he visited Liberia the first time.

Chairman Bryant appealed to Mr. Lubbers for the UNHCR to increase its assistance to Liberian refugees and assist with their repatriation back home.

Meanwhile, the UNHCR boss has reiterated his agency’s uncompromising stance to repatriate Liberian refugees from neighboring countries beginning October 1, 2004.

Mr. Lubbers said while it is true UNHCR needs a balance of US$25m for the repatriation and reintegration of Liberian refugees October 1 is a conducive date.

He said according to reports gathered UNMIL will be deplored throughout the country by June. And from June to October there is a three-month wrap-up. Continuing, Mr. Lubbers UNHCR wants to ensure that returnees are not resettled in displaced camps but rather to their original areas.

Flanked by UNHCR Country Representative, Moses Okello and Zobia Hassim-Ashagarie, Deputy Director, Africa Bureau at a press conference yesterday Mr. Lubbers said all Liberian returnees will be given full attention.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.