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Refugee News                  September    1997 
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Afghanistan: Fighting creates new refugees while others are repatriated 
Algeria :U.N. refugee agency warns against deportation of asylum-seekers
Canada: Hundreds of Gypsies from the Czech Republic 
Congo/Brazzaville: Refugee situation worsening
Liberia: Massive repatriation under way
Rwanda: Could the U.N. have prevented the 1994 genocide?
Thailand: 20,000 new refugees from Cambodia 
More information 

Afghanistan: Fighting creates new refugees while others are repatriated  

The recent resurgence of military activity in Afghanistan, with the Taliban being forced to retreat from the north towards Kabul, has forced thousands to escape from the capital to seek refuge in Pakistan. Some of the refugees speak of many displaced civilians have been stranded in areas north of the capital. 

At the same time, some eight to ten thousand Afghan refugees, encouraged by this retreat, are returning from Turkmenistan to their to their villages in the northern part of the country. An additional 250,000 who had sought refuge in Iran are expected to return too. 

On the other side of the country, the United Nations have started a repatriation program to return 150,000 refugees from Pakistan to eastern Afghanistan. Many of them have not seen their homes for almost 20 years i.e. since the time of the Soviet invasion. In Pakistan alone there 1,200.000 refugees from Afghanistan. 

Refugees moving back to Afghanistan encounter many problems: their homes may have been destroyed, antipersonnel land mines are buried all over the place and water for drinking is often lacking. 

The World Food Program (WFP) says that there are 200,000 people threatened with starvation in Afghanistan because of the continuing fighting. More than 80 percent of them women and children. The Red Cross says that in recent months it has treated nearly seven thousand people wounded in the fighting. 

Afghan battles prompt displacement, facilitate return

Some 200,000 are displaced in Afghanistan as a result of recent

Help the Afghan Children, Inc.

UNHCR Information on:- 
Refugee News: More about Afghanistan



Algeria :U.N. refugee agency warns against deportation of asylum-seekers  

In the context of the recent exclamation of violence in Algeria, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a statement, on September 18, to warn against the 'hasty' deportation of rejected Algerian asylum-seekers especially from European countries. 

The agency considers that many of those currently fleeing Algeria are in genuine need of international protection (including people with close links with the government, members of the country's security forces and the judiciary, intellectuals, artists, and journalists) but acknowledges that not all asylum-seekers from that country have legitimate claims to asylum. 

The statement criticizes the attitude taken by some European countries to the needs of these Algerians. During 1996 only 670 of the 5,950 Algerian asylum applicants in Europe and North America were approved. 


30 August 1997: Villagers killed and maimed in Algeria atrocity

Algerian rebels kill more than 80 villagers

ArabNet - Algeria

UNHCR Information on:- 

Refugee News: More about Algeria


Canada: Hundreds of Gypsies from the Czech Republic 

Over 500 Gypsies have fled the Czech Republic for Canada in recent months. They claim status as refugees from racial persecution citing beatings and harassment by neo-Nazi groups with the police watching until the skinheads finished their 'job'. 

This surge of Gypsy immigration, that started by word of mouth but escalated after Czech television documentary on August 7 portraying Canada as a 'heaven on earth', has taken Canadian officials by surprise and embarrassed the Czech Republic's emerging democracy. Shelters in the Toronto area are overflowing. 

Canada accepts about 30,000 refugees among 200,000 annual immigrants. 

Gypsies are drawn to go to Canada 

Canada: Czech gypsies 

UNHCR Information on:- 
Czech Republic 

Refugee News: 
More about Canada


Congo/Brazzaville: Refugee situation worsening 
The situation in Brazzaville deteriorated further during the third week of September. Heavy fighting has resulted in many people being wounded. Hundreds are fleeing across the Congo river into Kinshasa every day, including many injured being evacuated. The UNHCR has some 27,000 people at Kinkole refugee camp outside Kinshasa. 

Some 30,000 Zairians who used to work in the Republic of Congo have returned as well. Brazzaville was considered a relatively calm and peaceful city compared to Kinshasa. That image changed abruptly in June when fighting broke out between rival militias—one loyal to President Pascal Lissouba and the other to the former military ruler, Gen. Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Lissouba had tried to disarm Sassou-Nguesso's forces ahead of presidential elections. 

After three months of fighting, Brazzaville is almost empty and the city has been stripped by looting soldiers. Some 90 percent of its 800,000 residents have fled. 


Many flee Brazzaville clashes

UNHCR - information on: 
Congo(Dem. Rep.) 

Refugee News: More about Congo (Brazzaville)


Liberia: Massive repatriation under way 

 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is planning a major repatriation operation in West Africa. Almost 480,000 refugees are to return to Liberia after spending up to seven years in the neighbouring countries. 

The refugees that the civil war in Liberia has forced to escape are in these countries: 

    •  235 000 in Guinea 

    •  210 000 in Ivory Coast 
       14 000 in Ghana 
       14 000 in Sierra Leone 
       6,000 in Nigeria 
  The war also resulted in: 
    •   150,000 civilians killed 

    •   1,000,000 internally displaced 
  Already some refugees have taken the initiative to go back on their own reassured by successful elections held in July. Some 40,000 have returned home from Ivory Coast and Guinea. UNHCR workers in the areas the refugees returned to say that there are many positive signs with the returnees building houses and planting crops. 

Refugees Flood Liberian Border Towns

UNHCR - information on: 
Sierra Leone 
Côte d'Ivoire

Refugee News: More about Liberia
More about Sierra Leone


Rwanda: Could the U.N. have prevented the 1994 genocide? 

 According to a Belgian commission U.N. peacekeepers could have prevented the 1994 genocide of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans but were thwarted by higher-ups in the organistaion. 

A well placed Rwandan informant had given the U.N. peacekeeping force details of a plan by the Hutu extremist government to exterminate thousands of Tutsis and gave them the locations of arms stores ready to be used by the government-backed Hutu militiamen who were to carry out the killings. High-ranking officials at the U.N. headquarters refused to authorize the force to confiscate the arms and grant asylum to the informant and his family. 

Less than three months after this incident, the Hutu Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi were killed in a plane crash. Hutu extremists then started the genocide. Some half a million Rwandans were killed in the next few weeks. 

UN Thwarted Action to Avert Genocide

UN Thwarted Action to Avert Rwandan Genocide

UNHCR - information on: 

Refugee News: More on Rwanda


Thailand: 20,000 new refugees from Cambodia  

About 20,000 refugees from eight villages in southwestern Cambodia crossed into Thailand on 23 September to escape fighting between forces loyal to Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the ousted co-premier, and present leader Hun Sen, the co-premier who seized sole power in a bloody coup in July. 

CAMBODIA/REFUGEES - For war-weary refugees, life comes to a stop again:

UNHCR - information on: 

Refugee News:  More on Cambodia