- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Refugee group decries global-aid cutbacks

The main international organization responsible for refugee care and protection is being deprived of more than $100 million this year by donor countries, a leading refugee advocacy group said yesterday.

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is facing additional cutbacks in staff and programs to try to make up for the shortfall, the committee said.

"The funding cuts are a further blow to refugees who have survived the trauma of fleeing their homes and seeing their lives and communities destroyed," said Jeff Drumtra, a senior policy analyst for the Washington-based nongovernmental organization.

He said that while European countries and the European Union were mainly responsible for the reduction in UNHCR funding, the Bush administration has proposed cutting the U.S. contribution by $5 million.

China´s Zhu backs Seoul, Pyongyang comity

BEIJING — Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji backed South Korea´s moves toward improving relations with the communist north during a meeting with his Seoul counterpart, state media reported.

The official news agency Xinhua quoted Mr. Zhu as telling South Korean Prime Minister Lee Han-Dong that "China has a very high opinion of the efforts made by the Republic of Korea for developing bilateral relations, and hopes the two sides would continue their efforts to push forward the overall development of cooperative partnership."

Mr. Lee met Mr. Zhu yesterday at the start of a four-day visit.

U.N. fuel barge reopens Congo port

KINSHASA, Congo — Cheering crowds greeted a U.N. fuel barge in the Congolese city of Kisangani yesterday, celebrating the first journey to cross the Congo River´s battle lines since war severed the route nearly three years ago.

Arrival of the U.N. barge and three unarmed military observers signaled the reopening of the most important transportation link in the vast African nation.

Peace efforts have accelerated since the January assassination of President Laurent Kabila, and combatants have pledged not to interfere with the return of river traffic.

Nigeria OKs docking of refugee vessel

ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria said yesterday it would allow a ship stranded off West Africa with 180 Liberian refugees on board to dock as a humanitarian gesture.

A Foreign Ministry statement deplored the plight of the Liberians, who apparently were fleeing renewed violence in their homeland. The United Nations said they had been marooned on the vessel, the MV Alnar, for nearly two weeks after being denied entry at ports in Ghana and Benin.

Diplomats in the region said Benin authorities were apprehensive about the ship because a ship it allowed to dock in Cotonou in April carried a suspected cargo of West African child slaves.

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