ARTICLE: Asylum and the Non-Refoulement of Refugees: The Case of the Missing Shipload of Liberian Refugees Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1999 Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University
Stanford Journal of International Law

ARTICLE: Asylum and the Non-Refoulement of Refugees: The Case of the Missing Shipload of Liberian Refugees

Summer, 1999

35 Stan. J Int'l L. 313


Paul Kuruk *


In June 1996, the world confronted disturbing stories of Liberians fleeing their war-ravaged capital of Monrovia. With hundreds of refugees packed on board, two freighters were shunted helplessly for weeks from port to port, as one West African nation after another denied their requests for admission. 1 The Zolotitsa, carrying about 450 Liberian and other West African refugees, sought the right to berth in ports in Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast for more than three weeks. 2 For several days, the ship was stranded at sea as search planes responding to its distress signal failed to locate it. 3 Eventually, the refugees were forced to return to Liberia to face the same conditions from which they had fled. 4 Just one month earlier, some 2,000 refugees in the Bulk Challenge similarly were refused entry by a number of West African nations until Ghana bowed to intense international pressure and accepted them. 5 The reluctance of West African nations to grant asylum to Liberian refugees contradicts the commonly held belief that traditional African hospitality is a fully adequate means of protecting African refugees. 6

This Article examines the existing law on asylum in Africa. Specifically, it focuses on both the sufficiency of current laws in meeting the need for asylum, as well as guarantees against expulsion in refugee receiving countries. Part Two describes the incidents involving the Zolotitsa and the Bulk Challenge. Part Three explains the refugees' need for asylum and guarantees ...
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