Nigerian officials waiting for Liberian refugees

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Nigerian ports and immigration officials said Wednesday they were still awaiting the arrival of the Swedish ship carrying Liberian refugees, who were granted conditional asylum by the federal government Tuesday.
Officials at the country's main port at Apapa, near Lagos, said they did not know when the ship, said to be coming in from the Cotonou port in Benin, would arrive.
But they said they would make necessary arrangements to enable the ship to berth, in spite of the congestion at the port following the government's directive on 100 percent inspection of all in-coming cargoes.
Following an appeal from Malian President Alpha Oumar Konare, who visited Nigeria Monday, President Olusegun Obasanjo agreed to take in the 186 refugees, including 79 children, on "purely humanitarian grounds.
" A Nigerian Foreign Ministry statement said the decision was to "prevent a looming tragedy, which could have serious humanitarian repercussions.
especially when this development has arisen as a result of the intensification of the conflict in the Liberia, particularly in Lofa county.
" Konare is the current chairman of the sub-region group ECOWAS.
Meanwhile, officials of Nigeria's National Commission for Refugees, based in the country's political capital of Abuja, said the government was yet to formally inform them of the decision to take in the refugees.
They said Wednesday that they had merely read about the decision in the newspapers.
Ghana and Benin Republic officials had earlier refused allow the ship to berth at their ports.

20 june 2001 18:42:00

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