• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

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.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

Statelessness in Kyrgyzstan

Two decades after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, thousands of people in former Soviet republics like Kyrgyzstan are still facing problems with citizenship. UNHCR has identified more than 20,000 stateless people in the Central Asian nation. These people are not considered as nationals under the laws of any country. While many in principle fall under the Kyrgyz citizenship law, they have not been confirmed as nationals under the existing procedures.

Most of the stateless people in Kyrgyzstan have lived there for many years, have close family links in the country and are culturally and socially well-integrated. But because they lack citizenship documents, these folk are often unable to do the things that most people take for granted, including registering a marriage or the birth of a child, travelling within Kyrgyzstan and overseas, receiving pensions or social allowances or owning property. The stateless are more vulnerable to economic hardship, prone to higher unemployment and do not enjoy full access to education and medical services.

Since independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan has taken many positive steps to reduce and prevent statelessness. And UNHCR, under its statelessness mandate, has been assisting the country by providing advice on legislation and practices as well as giving technical assistance to those charged with solving citizenship problems. The refugee agency's NGO partners provide legal counselling to stateless people and assist them in their applications for citizenship.

However, statelessness in Kyrgyzstan is complex and thousands of people, mainly women and children, still face legal, administrative and financial hurdles when seeking to confirm or acquire citizenship. In 2009, with the encouragement of UNHCR, the government adopted a national action plan to prevent and reduce statelessness. In 2011, the refugee agency will help revise the plan and take concrete steps to implement it. A concerted effort by all stakeholders is needed so that statelessness does not become a lingering problem for future generations.

Statelessness in Kyrgyzstan

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

Forced to grow up too soon in Lebanon: Mahmoud

Mahmoud,15, hasn't been to school in 3 years. In his native Syria, his parents were afraid to send him because of the civil war. They ended up fleeing a year ago when, in the early morning hours, a bomb fell on a nearby house. The family, still groggy from being jolted awake, grabbed what they could and fled to Lebanon. Their home and the local school have since been destroyed.

In Lebanon, Mahmoud's father is unable to find work and now the family can barely afford rent.

A month ago, Mahmoud started working for tips cleaning fish at a small shop next to his home. He makes about $60 USD a month. With this money he helps pay rent on his family's tiny underground room, shared between his parents and eight brothers and sisters. Mahmoud is proud to help his family but with the fish shop located in the same subterranean structure as his home, he barely goes out into the sunshine.

Children like Mahmoud, some as young as seven, often work long hours for little pay, and in some cases in dangerous conditions. These children forfeit their future by missing out on an education and the carefree years of childhood. Many are also traumatized by what they witnessed back in Syria.

UNHCR and its partners together with local governments are providing financial assistance to help vulnerable Syrian refugee families cover expenses like rent and medical care, which means there is less need to pull children out of school and put them to work. UN agencies and their partners have also established case management and referral systems in Jordan and Lebanon to identify children at risk and refer them to the appropriate services.

Forced to grow up too soon in Lebanon: Mahmoud