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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release May 17, 1996


Vice President Gore today met with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mrs. Sadako Ogata on the situation in Liberia and pledged an additional $1 million for UNHCR's regional program for the Liberian refugees in the region.

The United States released immediately $25,000 in emergency funds from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to assist the Government of Ghana in addressing the urgent needs of the Bulk Challenge refugees. The United States has provided $68.4 million so far this year for refugee assistance in Africa, including for Liberians. The UNHCR staff is working with the Government of Ghana, the Red Cross and non-governmental organizations to provide food, shelter and emergency medical care to these refugees. Vice President Gore told High Commissioner Ogata, ?We stand ready to provide additional funding if UNHCR's emergency funds prove insufficient in the current crisis.?

The United States welcomes the decision of the Government of Ghana to disembark Liberian refugees from the cargo freighter Bulk Challenge. This action by President Rawlings and his government to allow life-saving aid and refuge for these suffering people is not only consistent with its international responsibilities under the OAU and Geneva Conventions but also a model for other nations.

The United States deplores the continued fighting in Liberia that is the cause of this new outflow of Liberian refugees. Responsibility for this humanitarian catastrophe rests squarely with the faction leaders. The United States strongly reiterates its call on the faction leaders to end the senseless fighting in Liberia, reestablish the cease-fire, restore Monrovia as a safehaven and recommit to the Abuja peace process.

The United States will continue its diplomatic efforts, in concert with ECOWAS, the UN and the OAU, to encourage a negotiated settlement in Liberia and is ready to support any Liberian government that comes to power peacefully. # # #