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Education Account
EC/SC.2/81

Administrative and Financial Matters (SCAF), 6 September 1995

I. ISSUE

1. In 1966, the Executive Committee decided to establish a Refugee Education Account outside its regular programme. Underlying this initiative was the concern to assure a more consistent and focused approach to refugee education. Over the years, the terms of reference of the Account evolved. Since 1990, its principal purpose has been to fund university/tertiary education. In the period 1991-1993, some 1,800 students per year benefited from the Education Account. In late 1993, it became evident that contributions to the Education Account would not be sufficient to maintain the programme for tertiary refugee students at existing levels. UNHCR Field Offices were instructed not to accept new students for studies to be funded through the Education Account. (It will be recalled, however, that since 1992, funds were available to enable refugee students to pursue university/higher education courses through DAFI (the Albert Einstein Refugee Initiative) sponsored by the German Government.) An appeal was issued in January 1994 to replenish the Education Account so as to cover the needs of some 1,200 ongoing students. In June 1994, a further appeal was issued; this sought to attract funding for the Account by broadening the range of initiatives (to include para-professional and vocational training) which might be funded under the Education Account. At the last annual session of the Executive Committee (October 1994), a paper was presented on the Education Account (EC/SC.2/69) which, inter alia, sought endorsement for this broader use of the Account. The Executive Committee approved this broader use.

2. The response to date to the appeal issued in June 1994 and all subsequent efforts to replenish the Education Account has not only precluded the extension of its use for the purposes approved at the last Executive Committee, but is still insufficient to fund the continuation to completion of university/tertiary education for the ongoing students, now numbering some 800.

3. As sufficient funds are no longer available in the Education Account, the immediate problem is to decide what to do about those students who are currently engaged in a course of tertiary studies hitherto funded through the Education Account. The number of such students is diminishing, as UNHCR ceased funding new students under the Education Account in December 1993.

The numbers of students under the Account who would still require assistance, and the resources required are as follows:

1995 800 students $ 1.7 million
1996 500 students $ 1.0 million
1997 250 students $ 0.5 million

These figures and related resources update those found in document A/AC.96/845/Part I. In view of the funds carried over from 1994 under the Education Account, and contributions received, the outstanding requirements for 1995 amount to $ 0.8 million.

II. PROPOSALS

4. In order to address this issue, there are three theoretical options:

Option 1: The Office would discontinue assistance to the refugee students.

Comment: This option would mean that the investment already made in these students would be lost; in addition to the disappointment and hardship which the students would suffer, the Office feels a moral obligation to assist these students complete their studies.

Option 2: The Office would seek to obtain further trust funds to replenish the Education Account.

Comment: While the Office is committed to seeking further funds for the Education Account, its lack of notable success to date in this regard would suggest that this second option does not provide a realistic base for planning purposes.

Option 3: The Office would be allowed, exceptionally, to charge to General Programmes, the expenditure still to be incurred in relation to these students, and which cannot be met through the Education Account.

Comment: UNHCR supports this option. If this is accepted, UNHCR would still continue its efforts to obtain contributions to the Education Account, as well as explore ways for funding under a similar trust fund (e.g., DAFI), for these students. The Office would report to the Executive Committee on expenditure that nevertheless had to be incurred under the General Programmes for this remaining group of tertiary students. UNHCR, in favouring the third option, is also conscious of the need to have some predictability as to the source of funding for these students, should they be allowed to continue their studies.

The Office of the High Commissioner would appreciate the guidance of the Executive Committee on this matter.

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Stateless in Beirut

Since Lebanon was established as a country in the 1920s there has been a long-standing stateless population in the country.

There are three main causes for this: the exclusion of certain persons from the latest national census of 1932; legal gaps which deny nationality to some group of individuals; and administrative hurdles that prevent parents from providing proof of the right to citizenship of their newborn children.

Furthermore, a major reason why this situation continues is that under Lebanese law, Lebanese women cannot pass on their nationality to their children, only men can; meaning a child with a stateless father and a Lebanese mother will inherit their father's statelessness.

Although exact numbers are not known, it is generally accepted that many thousands of people lack a recognized nationality in Lebanon and the problem is growing due to the conflict in Syria. Over 50,000 Syrian children have been born in Lebanon since the beginning of the conflict and with over 1 million Syrian refugees in the country this number will increase.

Registering a birth in Lebanon is very complicated and for Syrian parents can include up to five separate administrative steps, including direct contact with the Syrian government. As the first step in establishing a legal identity, failure to properly register a child's birth puts him or her at risk of statelessness and could prevent them travelling with their parents back to Syria one day.

The consequences of being stateless are devastating. Stateless people cannot obtain official identity documents, marriages are not registered and can pass their statelessness on to their children Stateless people are denied access to public healthcare facilities at the same conditions as Lebanese nationals and are unable to own or to inherit property. Without documents they are unable to legally take jobs in public administrations and benefit from social security.

Children can be prevented from enrolling in public schools and are excluded from state exams. Even when they can afford a private education, they are often unable to obtain official certification.

Stateless people are not entitled to passports so cannot travel abroad. Even movement within Lebanon is curtailed, as without documents they risk being detained for being in the country unlawfully. They also do not enjoy basic political rights as voting or running for public office.

This is the story of Walid Sheikhmouss Hussein and his family from Beirut.

Stateless in Beirut

Special Envoy Angelina Jolie in Iraq

The UN refugee agency's Special Envoy Angelina Jolie visited Iraq this week, meeting with Syrian refugees and internally displaced Iraqi citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. She offered support to 3.3 million people uprooted by conflict in the country and highlighted their needs.

Jolie spoke to people with dramatic stories of escape, including some who walked through the night and hid by day on their road freedom. She also met women who were among the 196 ethnic Yazidis recently released by militants and now staying in the informal settlement at Khanke.

"It is shocking to see how the humanitarian situation in Iraq has deteriorated since my last visit," said Jolie. "On top of large numbers of Syrian refugees, 2 million Iraqis were displaced by violence in 2014 alone. Many of these innocent people have been uprooted multiple times as they seek safety amidst shifting frontlines."

Photos by UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

Special Envoy Angelina Jolie in Iraq

Barbara Hendricks marks 25 years with UNHCR

Acclaimed soprano Barbara Hendricks has spent a quarter-of-a-century helping UNHCR to spread awareness about refugees and lobbying on their behalf with politicians and governments. She was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 1987 and, in 2002, was appointed Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador in recognition of her long service for the refugee agency.

In 2012, UNHCR celebrates this landmark 25th anniversary with a ceremony in the Geneva headquarters of the refugee agency. In her years with UNHCR, Hendricks has performed fund-raising concerts, met policymakers and government leaders in Europe, Asia and Africa and been on more than a dozen visits to the field, meeting the forcibly displaced around the world. UNHCR salutes its longest serving Goodwill Ambassador.

Barbara Hendricks marks 25 years with UNHCR