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USIS Washington 
File

27 July 1999

Text: Amb. Burleigh on Promoting Peace and Security in Africa

(Refugee problems and political problems closely linked) (1460)
The international community must "look at its response to the Kosovo
crisis, take inspiration from what has been proved possible, and then
work together to ensure that the same positive results are achieved in
Africa."
Ambassador Peter Burleigh, charge d'affaires a.i. at the U. S. Mission
to the United Nations Session on Promoting Peace and Security:
Humanitarian Assistance to Refugees in Africa made that point July 26
in New York.
In a written statement, Burleigh noted that the United States has been
"actively involved" in trying to eliminate conflicts and strife across
the continent, but especially in Sierra Leone and Congo, the Great
Lakes region, Angola, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.
Burleigh stressed that "the path to resolving refugee crises lies in
finding solutions to the underlying political problems."
"High-level United States representatives have been involved in
promoting the peace process for the Democratic Republic of Congo, and
Special Envoy Howard Wolpe has been working actively with others to
help resolve the situation in Burundi," he said.
"In addition," he noted that former National Security Advisor Anthony
Lake was in the Horn of Africa the week before to help support the
Organization of African Unity's (OAU's) effort to encourage the
Ethiopians and Eritreans to negotiate a settlement to their conflict.
Following is the text of Burleigh's statement, as prepared for
delivery:
(begin text)
Statement of Ambassador Peter Burleigh, Charge d'Affaires a.i., United
States Mission to the United Nations on Promoting Peace and Security:
Humanitarian Assistance to Refugees in Africa, July 26, 1999
Mr. President,
I would like to welcome, once again, Mrs. Ogata to the Security
Council chamber. It is an unfortunate and tragic fact that refugee
issues often figure prominently in the complex matters of
international stability which daily face the Council. We are,
therefore, always grateful to Mrs. Ogata for her briefings on refugee
situations.
First, I would like to applaud Mrs. Ogata's commitment to refugees
around the world, as well as her dedicated efforts to acquire
first-hand information about the plight of refugees and international
efforts to assist them. Last week, she was in Washington for
consultations on current refugee emergencies, notably those across the
African continent. Prior to that, as she just informed us, Mrs. Ogata
was in Algiers for the OAU Summit, seeking the cooperation of heads of
state on such critical issues as humanitarian access. And she also
recently completed another fact-finding visit to the Great Lakes
region of Africa.
Every one of us in this room recognizes that humanitarian needs in
Africa are quite substantial and that there are many obstacles to
meeting them -- from programming levels to logistical access. We agree
with Mrs. Ogata that it is not by criticizing aid to victims in Kosovo
that those obstacles in Africa will be overcome. We must instead look
at the international community's response to the Kosovo crisis, take
inspiration from what has been proved possible, and then work together
to ensure that the same positive results are achieved in Africa.
Mrs. Ogata has spoken of the opportunity that springs from the peace
processes in Sierra Leone and in Congo. My government has been
actively involved in facilitating the peace processes in these and
other conflicts in Africa. In May, a united effort involving
Presidential Envoy Jesse Jackson, ECOWAS chairman President Eyadema of
Togo, and SRSG Francis Okelo resulted in a cease-fire agreement for
Sierra Leone.
High-level United States representatives have been involved in
promoting the peace process for the Democratic Republic of Congo, and
Special Envoy Howard Wolpe has been working actively with others to
help resolve the situation in Burundi. In addition, former National
Security Advisor Anthony Lake was in the Horn of Africa just last week
to help support the OAU effort to encourage the Ethiopians and
Eritreans to negotiate a settlement to their conflict. These are just
some of the examples of the extent to which my government shares Mrs.
Ogata's conviction that the path to resolving refugee crises lies in
finding solutions to the underlying political problems.
For nearly a decade, Sierra Leoneans have endured the horrors of a war
characterized by unspeakable atrocities. With the July 7 peace
agreement, we have an opportunity to support the Sierra Leoneans on
their path to national recovery. Indeed, in two days, the
"International Contact Group" on Sierra Leone will meet in London to
demonstrate support for the implementation of the Lome Agreement. The
group will also consider priorities for international assistance in
all of the key areas, including humanitarian aid to innocent civilian
victims of atrocities; demobilization and reintegration of former
soldiers; and reconstruction of the social and economic infrastructure
of the country.
We expect that most, but not all, of the 450,000 Sierra Leonean
refugees residing in Guinea, Liberia, and Cote d'Ivoire will want to
return as soon as they believe that Sierra Leone is secure. The United
States strongly supports the voluntary repatriation and reintegration
of those refugees who want to return home.
We applaud the efforts of all those who realize that assistance for
the humanitarian effort in Sierra Leone and throughout Africa must
come from many sources. The Brookings Group of major donors, including
NGOs, U.N. agencies and the World Bank, has selected Sierra Leone as a
target country for proposed "partnership initiatives." These
initiatives will improve both relief and development planning and
program implementation. The U.N. has also decided to make Sierra Leone
a pilot case in the Strategic Framework process. We are confident that
these efforts can be fully coordinated to help give Sierra Leoneans
the peace and recovery that they deserve.
Meanwhile, significant conflicts in the Great Lakes have affected some
4.1 million people -- among them 950,000 refugees, an estimated 2.2
million internally displaced persons, 12,200 unaccompanied minors, and
800,000 other conflict victims. In recent days, as Mrs. Ogata has
detailed, the refugee numbers have increased dramatically as Congolese
from Congo/Brazzaville have fled to Gabon and many from Congo/Kinshasa
have fled to the Central African Republic.
As I mentioned earlier, the United States has been closely involved in
efforts to conclude a cease-fire agreement in the Congo war. Only an
end to that war and a cessation of hostilities will provide an opening
for recovery and development for the people of that devastated
country. Congolese refugees continue to flee to Tanzania and Zambia.
Long-term insecurity in eastern Congo prevents sustained delivery of
relief assistance, raising fears that the coping mechanisms are being
exhausted and that an extensive humanitarian disaster is imminent. We
welcome Mrs. Ogata's report on the efforts by leaders in the region to
provide humanitarian access to UNHCR and other relief entities.
The USG has also been intimately involved, in cooperation with the
special envoys of several other nations, in seeking to bring peace to
Burundi, where internal and external peace processes are ongoing. It
is difficult to predict when a peace agreement will be concluded.
Meanwhile, the unfortunate number of Burundi refugees in Tanzania
continues to grow.
The ongoing tragic wars in Angola, in Somalia, in Sudan, and between
Ethiopia and Eritrea are also of great concern to the U.S., as well as
to this body. I wish to express my country's grave concern that the
lethal nexus of drought and conflict in the Horn, which has produced
so many humanitarian crises in the past, could well reappear later
this year if a lack of access to food puts desperate people on the
move.
It is painfully clear that the challenges we face in the refugee area
are immense and that both political instability and unforgiving
environmental factors only raise the hurdles we must overcome. Yet we
must not lose heart nor allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with
pessimism. Our experience in Kosovo has shown that the international
community, working together with a clear vision and common goal, can
indeed make significant strides on the path towards repatriation and
humanitarian assistance for refugees.
I am happy to inform the Council that, during Mrs. Ogata's visit to
Washington last week, the State Department announced an additional
mid-year contribution of $11.7 million for UNHCR's General Program. Of
that amount, over half -- $6.6 million -- is for Africa. My government
looks forward with optimism to joining the rest of our colleagues in
applying the positive lessons learned in Kosovo to those areas in
Africa and around the world that still cry out for assistance.
Mr. President,
In closing, let me reiterate our appreciation to Mrs. Ogata for all
she has done to help alleviate the plight of refugees throughout the
world and to reassure her of my government's continuing support for
her efforts.
(end text)



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