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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Regional Overview: South Asia

UNHCR Fundraising Reports, 1 December 1998

While no major refugee flow occurred in the region during 1998, the voluntary repatriation of 65,000 Chakma refugees from India to Bangladesh was completed under a bi-lateral agreement between the two countries. Some 95,000 Bhutanese refugees remain in camps in Nepal and require continued assistance until durable solutions to their problems can be found.

Since the repatriation of some 21,000 Rohinga refugees from Myanmar, now living in Bangladesh, cannot be completed during 1998, UNHCR's care and maintenance activities will continue in 1999. Arrangements are underway to design and implement a United Nations integrated development plan for Northern Rakhine State in Myanmar. Such a plan would allow UNHCR to phase out its assistance activities by the end of the year 2000. In Sri Lanka, continued hostilities between the authorities and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have not permitted the repatriation of an estimated 67,000 Sri Lankan refugees living in camps and 35,000 dispersed outside camps in southern India. Fighting has also resulted in the repeated displacement of tens of thousands of persons within Sri Lanka. Yet increasing numbers of internally displaced persons are returning to the Jaffna Peninsula in the north of the country. UNHCR's programme in Sri Lanka is therefore being reoriented to promote durable solutions for internally displaced persons and to foster community-based assistance to help prevent population flight.

Protection and assistance

Protection and assistance will be provided to some 18,000 urban refugees, mainly from Afghanistan, in India and to small numbers in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Care and maintenance will also continue for an estimated 2,000 refugees from the Tibet region who are expected to transit Nepal in 1999. UNHCR will also help complete the legal documentation for some 20,000 refugees from the Tibet region who settled in Nepal prior to 31 December 1989. UNHCR will continue to promote refugee law throughout the sub-region during 1999. Training activities in refugee and humanitarian law are conducted for law faculties, bar associations and professional bodies as well as for government officials and police.

Regional consultations

Informal consultations on Refugee and Migratory Movements in South Asia, established in 1994, in the form of an eminent persons group from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, will continue with a meeting in Nepal in 1998. These consultations address ways to increase awareness of refugee issues in the region and have resulted in the preparation of model national legislation on refugees. Since none of the countries in the region is signatory to international refugee treaties, the eminent persons group is encouraging Governments to consider the adoption of national refugee legislation on the basis of this model law.

Budget US$

The budget does not include costs at Headquarters.

CountryGeneral ProgrammesSpecial ProgrammesTotal
Sri Lanka74,9006,338,7936,413,693



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Author Hosseini in Afghanistan

UNHCR Goodwill Envoy Khaled Hosseini visited Afghanistan in early September and saw first-hand one of the UN refugee agency's largest and most complex operations. During a 10-day trip, the best-selling author visited UNHCR projects and met returnees in the northern provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan, Balkh, Parwan and Kabul. Hosseini, a former Afghan refugee now settled in the United States, noted that it would take time and effort for Afghanistan to provide returnees with adequate infrastructure and services. He urged the international community to remain committed to Afghanistan and to give the country time. Hosseini could not visit the south and parts of the east, where insecurity is impacting on the ability of UNHCR to assess needs and provide assistance to those who need it the most. Since 2003, UNHCR has helped more than 4 million refugees return to Afghanistan. This year, some 300,000 Afghan refugees have returned from Pakistan. More than 900,000 remain in Iran and 2 million in Pakistan.

Author Hosseini in Afghanistan

Afghanistan: An Uncertain Future

For over a quarter of a century, Afghanistan has been devastated by conflict and civil strife, with some 8 million people uprooted internally and in neighbouring countries. The overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 resulted in one of the largest and most successful return operations in history.

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.

Afghanistan: An Uncertain Future

Kuwaiti Funds Provide Vital Medical Aid for Syrians in Lebanon

As the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon continues to grow, ensuring access to quality health care is becoming an increasing challenge for humanitarian aid groups and the international community. So, Kuwait's unprecedented donation in April of US$110 million for UNHCR's Syria crisis operations this year came at a most opportune time. Slightly more than 40 per cent of the amount has been used to fund programmes in Lebanon, including the provision of vital - and often life-saving - medical care. In the following photo gallery, photographer Shawn Baldwin looks at the essential work being done in just one Kuwaiti-supported clinic in northern Lebanon. The small Al Nahda Primary Health Care Clinic in the town of Beddawi has a staff of seven doctors and one nurse. Between 600 and 700 people seek medical attention there every month and the clinic meets the needs of some of the most vulnerable refugees.

Kuwaiti Funds Provide Vital Medical Aid for Syrians in Lebanon

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The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees welcomes the State of Kuwait's contribution of US$ 100 million to support UNHCR operations aiding Syrians.
UN Appeals for Syria OperationsPlay video

UN Appeals for Syria Operations

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