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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Regional Overview: Eastern Europe

UNHCR Fundraising Reports, 1 December 1998

Background

UNHCR's involvement in the territory of the former Soviet Union started in the early 1990s, primarily in response to the humanitarian emergencies generated by conflicts in the Caucasus and Tajikistan. While a solution to many of these conflicts remains elusive, UNHCR programmes have evolved from emergency assistance to longer-term projects, including capacity-building activities, especially in the NGO sector, and efforts to formulate asylum and citizenship legislation consistent with international standards. UNHCR continues to encourage humanitarian action in support of conflict-resolution and confidence-building.

An Integrated Approach to Conflict-Resolution

Durable solutions for refugees and internally displaced persons are often predicated on the political resolution of conflict. Conflict-resolution also has a humanitarian dimension, since solutions to displacement problems are an integral part of the peace process. UNHCR's integrated approach to conflict-resolution ensures that critically important issues such as voluntariness, safety and sustainability of return are not dealt with in isolation, but are part of the negotiation process. For example, links between UNHCR and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group ensure that humanitarian issues will, whenever feasible, be given due consideration in the negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh.

CIS Conference

The Programme of Action adopted in May 1996 at the CIS Conference provided a broad framework for UNHCR's activities in the region; while the follow-up to the Conference helped solidify cooperation with regional organizations and national and international NGOs. The Conference process has promoted dialogue about and awareness of the various displacement problems in the region. It has also helped bring the countries concerned into the mainstream of international norms and practices concerning refugees and displaced persons and encouraged greater cooperation among them on these issues.

Constraints

Despite the progress achieved in several areas, UNHCR's activities in the region remain constrained by two factors: unresolved conflicts and a growing concern for the safety of humanitarian workers. At the time of going to press, the abduction on 29 January, 1998 of Vincent Cochetel, the Head of the UNHCR Office in Vladikavkaz, remained unresolved.

Budget US$

The total budget, including costs at Headquarters amounts to US$ 50,605,665.

CountryGeneral ProgrammesSpecial ProgrammesTotal
Armenia295,3003,778,3674,073,667
Azerbaijan327,70012,414,83812,742,538
Georgia9,005,7559,005,755
The Russian Federation7,329,5006,112,34213,441,842
Belarus540,300100,000640,300
Ukraine2,730,7002,347,1355,077,835
The Republic of Moldova453,400200,000653,400
Follow-up to the CIS Conference1,040,1001,040,100
NGO Fund1,606,6451,606,645
TOTAL11,676,90036,605,18248,282,082
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Seven years on, more than 5 million Afghan refugees have returned - increasing Afghanistan's population by an estimated 20 percent.The large majority have gone back to their areas of origin. However, some recent returnees are facing more difficulties as the country's absorption capacity reaches its limits in some areas. Last year, some Afghans returned before they were ready or able to successfully reintegrate due to the closure of refugee villages as well as the deteriorating conditions in Pakistan. In consequence, 30,000 Afghan refugees returned to further displacement in their homeland, unable to return to their villages due to conflict, lack of land, shelter materials, basic services and job opportunities. These challenges have been compounded elsewhere across the country by food insecurity and severe drought.

UNHCR and the Afghan Foreign Ministry highlighted the requirements for sustainable refugee return and reintegration at an international conference in Kabul in November 2008. The donor community welcomed the inclusion of refugee reintegration within the government's five-year national development strategy and the emphasis on land, shelter, water, sanitation, education, health care and livelihoods. It is anticipated that repatriation and reintegration will become more challenging in future.

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