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   By Tani Freedman
	   GENEVA, Oct 13 AFP - UN refugee agency chief Sadako Ogata today 
lambasted governments for placing self interest above humanitarian 
principles, saying the flouting of human rights ideals had serious 
	   The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) faced its greatest 
 protection challenge in the Great Lakes region of Africa, where 
civil wars in Rwanda, Burundi and the former Zaire had created 
massive refugee populations.
	   Ogata told delegates at the opening of the annual UNHCR 
executive committee session that support in the region from the 
international community had been scant.
	   Refugee camps should have been located way from border areas, 
armed militia separated from genuine refugees in the camps, and 
those who had committed crimes against humanity brought to justice.
	   The UNHCR's request for a multinational force to speed the safe 
return of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the former Zaire 
to Rwanda was also rejected.
	   "Our repeated proposals to implement such measures in a manner 
consistent with the exigencies of security and stability went 
unanswered," Ogata said.
	   "These failures, not the (humanitarian) principles themselves, 
have contributed to further insecurity and violence.
	   "Had States fufilled their responsibilities as stipulated ... 
and supported our actions more firmly and decisively, I believe 
some of the problems we encountered could have been avoided," Ogata 
	   The Democratic Republic of Congo, as Zaire is now called, has an 
estimated 250,000 Rwandan refugees lost in its hinterland. These 
are the remaining caseload from more than a million that entered to 
escape the aftermath of a 1994 genocide of Tutsis by Hutu 
	   Rwandan refugees are scattered in 11 Central African countries.
	   Tanzania hosts over 70,000 refugees from DRC and roughly 230,000 
	   The UNHCR was faced with an "excruciating dilemma" in DRC of 
repatriating Rwandans to unsafe areas in western Rwanda or leaving 
them to die of hunger and violence in the forests, Ogata said.
	   Integrating the two million Rwandans who had returned from exile 
since last year was key to restoring peace in the region, Ogata 
said, adding that the 53-member executive committee had adopted 
"the challenge of refugee repatriation" as its central theme this 
	   Ogata called for a two-way dialogue with governments, regional 
organizations and particularly the Organization of African Unity, 
saying she was open to discussing "practical measures" on ways to 
get humanitarian principles respected on the ground.
	   Ogata also reprimanded Western countries for violations in their 
own countries, saying she was particularly worried by the clampdown 
in the West on asylum seekers, who were increasingly being rejected 
at borders and interdicted at sea.
	   "I am concerned that if we do not attempt to resolve the 
apparent contradictions between humanitarian principles and state 
interest, countless more innocent persons will suffer."
	   Fundamental refugee rights like asylum were "non-negotiable," 
she affirmed.
	   Ogata also broke some good news. The number of emergency refugee 
crises appeared to be declining, with the number of persons under 
UNHCR scrutiny down 1.3 million since early 1996 to 22.7 million in 
	   The UNHCR had completed the repatriation of almost 300,000 
Togolese refugees, helped 20,000 internally displaced Chechens go 
back home, and others to return to countries including Burma, 
Tajikistan and Guatemala.
	   Improvements in the political landscape in Angola, Liberia, the 
Horn of Africa and in Western Sahara could open up the possibility 
of mass returns in the months to come, she said.
	   AFP lw

   RANGOON, Oct 15 AFP - Philippine President Fidel Ramos arrived 
here today at the start of a two-day landmark visit, as the first 
ASEAN head of state to visit Burma since its controversial entry 
into the Southeast Asian grouping earlier this year.
	   The Philippine president was welcomed at the airport by Senior 
General Than Shwe, chairman of the ruling State Law and Order 
Reconciliation Council (SLORC), and the Rangoon-based diplomatic 
	   He received a 21 gun salute from an honour guard and was cheered 
by hundreds of uniformed school children waving flags along the 
road to a state guest house, a kilometre from leading dissident 
Aung San Suu Kyi's residence.
	   Two bilateral agreements and two memorandums of understanding, 
covering drugs control and economic cooperation, will be signed 
	   AFP  ts

   RANGOON, Oct 16 Reuters - A private US delegation met senior 
officials of Burma's military government today in what analysts 
said was a bid to persuade them to open a dialogue with opposition 
leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
	   The four-member delegation, headed by former US ambassador to 
Japan and the Philippines Michael Armacost, met with Secretary 
General One of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) 
Khin Nyint for two hours, government officials said.
	   No official comment on the progress or content of the talks was 
available but local political analysts said the delegation was 
seeking to persuade the SLORC and Aung San Suu Kyi to enter into 
	   The delegation met Suu Kyi at her Rangoon residence yesterday, 
members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party said.
	   Kent Wiedemann, charge d'affairs of the US embassy in Rangoon, 
also attended that meeting, they said.
	   The NLD won a landslide election victory in 1990, which was 
never recognised by the SLORC.
	   The SLORC has repeatedly ignored Suu Kyi's requests for talks 
but has recently met with some other senior NLD members.
	   REUTER jnb