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Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Executive Committee Meetings

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

24 August 1984

United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Thirty-ninth Session

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No. 12 (A/39/12)


1. During the period under review, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continued to consolidate existing assistance programmes and to devote a greater proportion of its resources to promoting durable solutions. Pending the realization of such solutions, UNHCR provided care and maintenance to refugees while encouraging self-reliance, wherever feasible through income-generating activities and related training and counselling.

2. In the field of international protection, the reporting period has witnessed the continuation of serious problems relating to the physical safety of refugees, the granting of asylum and the day-to-day implementation of recognized international standards for the treatment of refugees. Problems in the field of international protection have been heightened by the difficulties encountered by States due to the arrival of large numbers of asylum-seekers.

3. In the field of assistance, major programmes begun in previous years continued, notably in Pakistan, which remained host to the world's largest refugee population; the Horn of Africa, where assistance programmes included returnees as well as refugees; South-East Asia, which saw a decrease of over 37,000 in the camp population during 1983; and Central America and Mexico, where emergency assistance was coupled with local integration initiatives. New assistance programmes included aid to Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran, repatriation to Argentina and Chile, and emergency relief for Angolans in Zaire, Mozambicans in Zimbabwe and Sudanese in Ethiopia.

4. The assistance programmes of UNHCR sought, whenever possible, to foster lasting solutions to the problems of refugees. In this context, several voluntary repatriation movements continued, including that of Ethiopians from Djibouti and Ugandans from neighbouring countries, mainly Zaire. In Somalia, following a major policy decision by the Government to allow the establishment of settlements for those refugees unwilling to repatriate, the emphasis of UNHCR's programme will shift away from care and maintenance toward promoting local settlement as a durable solution. The Malaysian Government decided to allow the local integration of Filipino refugees and UNHCR has provided assistance to promote their self-sufficiency. Some 70,000 Indo-Chinese departed for resettlement in 1983 and another 17,000 in the first quarter of 1984.

5. Co-operation with other United Nations agencies was an important feature of several programmes. Emergency food was in large part provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), which devoted over 60 per cent of its emergency resources to refugees. In Pakistan, the UNHCR-World Bank pilot project to provide employment for refugees and the local population was finalized and the International Labour Organization (ILO) continued various training schemes. The ILO was also involved in income-generating activities among refugees in eastern Sudan, while the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) participated in a programme with the Government and UNHCR to assess the long-term needs of refugees in the south. It was agreed to set up a steering committee in Somalia comprising the Government, UNHCR and UNDP to oversee the implementation of the new settlement programme. Co-operation also continued with non-governmental organizations which often acted as operational partners for UNHCR programmes.

6. The office also took an active part, with the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity, in the preparations for the Second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa. The Conference, which took place at Geneva from 9 to 11 July 1984, examined some 128 projects valued at $362 million designed to help African host countries, in the language of General Assembly resolution 37/197, "to strengthen their social and economic infrastructure so as to enable them to cope with the burden of dealing with large numbers of refugees and returnees".

7. Overall expenditure in 1983 amounted to $411.2 million, including $316.2 under General Programmes and $81.5 under Special Programmes; the remaining $13.5 million represented administrative expenditure under the United Nations regular budget. The high proportion of General Programmes expenditure continues a trend in this direction, and total expenditure decreased for the third consecutive year. Despite the absence of large new refugee influxes, it was necessary to resort to the Emergency Fund on 12 occasions and more than $5 million were obligated. Details of these expenditures can be found in table 4 of annex II to the present report.


A. Introduction

8. In examining the recent developments which have occurred in the field of international protection, the emerging picture is in many respects somewhat paradoxical. There has undoubtedly been a perceptible strengthening of the legal framework which provides the necessary support for international action in favour of refugees. The 1951 United Nations Convention1 and the 1967 Protocol2 relating to the Status of Refugees have acquired an ever wider application through further accessions by States. The implementation of the provisions of these basic international refugee instruments has been assured in an increasing number of States through the adoption of appropriate refugee legislation. Impressive progress has been made in the establishment by States of procedures for determining refugee status, and in certain countries existing procedures have been improved with a view to ensuring that applicants for asylum are guaranteed an equitable hearing. The institution of asylum has also been strengthened through the granding of asylum to vast numbers of refugees throughout the world. Seen collectively, these achievements are evidence of the continuing recognition by the world community of the uniquely vulnerable situation of refugees and of their need for international protection.

9. In spite of this welcome progress, the practice of States in many areas of the world could be taken to indicate a contradictory trend. This has become apparent particularly with regard to the admission and treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers, the resurgence of cases in which asylum has been denied for fear of damaging or compromising bilateral relations with countries of origin and the reluctance of States to assume responsibility for examining an asylum request or to admit asylum-seekers otherwise than on a purely temporary basis. There has also been a perceptible tendency on the part of certain States to resort to measures of "deterrence", including the unjustified detention of refugees and asylum-seekers under harsh conditions. An overall assessment would seem to point to an increasing unwillingness on the part of States to give due recognition to the special status of the refugee and to blur the distinction between the refugee and the ordinary alien.

10. To this disquieting picture must be added continuing threats to and violations of the physical safety of refugees through piracy, military attacks on refugee camps and settlements and the failure to rescue refugees on the high seas. The suffering caused by such atrocities is unprecedented in the history of the Office.

11. Many of the disturbing developments mentioned above must be viewed in the context of the wider reality of current refugee situations. The majority of the world's refugees are now persons fleeing armed conflict or serious internal disturbances in their home country and their predicament may be considered to be of a temporary character. This has tended to influence the general attitude of Governments towards the question of admission of refugees which has similarly come to be perceived as temporary. Asylum-seekers, moreover, often arrive in vast numbers in countries which for the greater part are themselves faced with serious economic and social problems. Movements of asylum-seekers have also occurred against the background of large-scale migration of persons moving from lesser developed to developed areas of the world in search of economic betterment. This has led to refugees being identified in the public mind with the ordinary migrant, a tendency which in certain countries has been fuelled by xenophobic attitudes and has resulted in pressure on Governments to restrict further arrivals. These various factors have undoubtedly had a direct bearing on the attitudes of States towards refugees and asylum-seekers. The fact that they influence the policies of Governments to varying degrees in almost all regions of the world emphasizes the need for all the underlying issues to be examined in a global context.

12. It is gratifying to note that this need has come to be recognized by concerned organs of the United Nations and individual Governments. Efforts are being made to reach a better understanding of the root causes of large-scale influxes of refugees and trans-frontier flows, to improve the mechanisms for providing relief when large-scale refugee situations arise and to place greater emphasis on seeking solutions which are most appropriate in any given refugee situation while devoting particular attention to the solution of voluntary repatriation. The High Commissioner greatly welcomes these endeavours since they form part of a comprehensive response by the world community to current refugee problems. He believes that such a response will lead to an attenuation of the suffering which accompanies large-scale refugee movements and will also provide the conditions for a more effective exercise of his international protection function.

B. International refugee instruments

1. The 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol

13. The High Commissioner has been encouraged by the steady progress that has been mace, particularly in recent years, towards the universal application of the 1951 United Nations Convention3 and the 1967 Protocol4 relating to the Status of Refugees. Since the High Commissioner last reported on his activities to the General Assembly,5 Peru, already a party to the Convention, has acceded to the Protocol and Mozambique has acceded to the Convention. There are thus now 96 States parties to the basic international refugee instruments.

14. Although nearly two thirds of the world community have now accepted these basic humanitarian instruments, in three States6 their application is limited in scope owing to the fact that the country concerned is party only to the Convention and not to the Protocol. The geographical scope of these refugee instruments is also limited in eight States7 because, on acceding to the Convention, they opted for the narrower geographical application clause, thus restricting their obligations under the Convention to persons who became refugees as a result of events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951.

15. It is a matter of major concern that in two regions of the world where large-scale refugee problems exist and continue to arise, the international refugee instruments have only been accepted by a small number of States. In its endeavours to promote further accessions to the Convention and Protocol in these areas, the Office frequently encounters the view that these instruments involve obligations which, as developing countries, the States concerned are not in a position to assume. Another view often expressed is that accession is not compatible with national or regional geopolitical interests or concerns. It was, however, precisely in order to meet such concerns and to ensure that States which are confronted with refugee problems are assisted by the world community that the purely humanitarian and non-political mechanism of international solidarity and burden-sharing has been developed. Such international action in favour of refugees would be further strengthened by the accession of all States to the basic international refugee instruments. It is, therefore, hoped that States which have hitherto been hesitant to accede to the Convention and Protocol will reconsider their position in the light of these more general considerations.

16. While accession to the international refugee instrument is of importance, it is no less essential that their provisions be effectively applied at the national level. In this respect, it is encouraging to note a heightened awareness on the part of States of the need to adopt measures to give full effect to the Convention and Protocol under national law. The number of States which have adopted refugee legislation or incorporated in their general aliens law provisions of relevance to refugees has steadily increased in recent years.

2. Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

17. When the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was drawn up, it served as a complement to the statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, adopted by the General Assembly the previous year8 The statute defines the persons of concern to the High Commissioner and the action he is required to take on their behalf, while the Convention describes the various rights and obligations of refugees.

18. The definition of the refugee concept was virtually the same in both instruments. In the years following the establishment of the Office, the High Commissioner was repeatedly called upon by the General Assembly to lend his good offices to resolve situations involving refugees and displaced persons who did not necessarily fall within the terms of this definition. In this way the competence of the High Commissioner was effectively extended to provide protection and assistance to persons who had been forced to seek refuge outside their country of origin because of war or other political or social disturbances. This extended mandate corresponds broadly to the wider definition of the term "refugee" contained in article I, paragraph 2, of the 1969 OAU Convention Governing Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problem in Africa, which refers to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or events seriously disturbing public order in the refugee's home country. It should be noted that persons fleeing their country of origin for these reasons now constitute the majority of the world's refugees.

19. In Africa, due to the broader definition in the OAU Convention, the High Commissioner's authority to act on behalf of refugees is complemented by a binding legal instrument. Elsewhere, however, problems may arise due to the fact that persons falling outside the scope of the 1951 United Nations Convention, but who nevertheless fall within the High Commissioner's broader mandate, do not have a corresponding legal status. Recent experience of the Office has shown an increasing need to address this problem.

C. Determination of refugee status

20. During the reporting period, there has been continuing recognition of the importance of the formal determination of refugee status and of the need for such determination to be carried out according to procedures conforming to certain minimum criteria. The experience of UNHCR has indeed shown that in States where such procedures do not exist, or do not function on a regular basis, the observance of basic principles of international protection may be seriously impaired.

21. It is, therefore, encouraging to note the progress achieved in recent years in the establishment by States of procedures for determining refugee status and the granting of asylum. In Spain, an asylum law which came into effect in March 1984 outlines a procedure for dealing with applications for asylum- and refugee status by a Commission established for this purpose. In Lesotho, a refugee act adopted during the reporting period provides for the consideration of claims for refugee status by the Inter-ministerial Committee for Recognition of Refugee Status. In Zimbabwe, a refugee act adopted during the reporting period also establishes a procedure for determining refugee status. National refugee authorities were created by decree in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic, while in Costa Rica a new refugee determination procedure was established by a decree replacing an earlier one. Legislation outlining the rules of procedure to be followed by the National Refugee Office was promulgated in Nicaragua and a similar implementing law is under consideration in Peru. Draft legislation relevant to the determination of refugee status is currently being prepared in Colombia, Ecuador and Panama.

22. In other countries, existing procedures have been modified with a view to speeding up or improving the consideration of claims for refugee status. In Switzerland, the law on asylum was amended, inter alia, for this purpose during the reporting period. In Denmark, a new aliens law came into effect in October 1983 establishing new procedures for according refugee status not only to persons meeting the criteria contained in the 1951 United Nations Convention but also to persons forced to flee their country on "other weighty grounds". In Portugal, amendments to the law on asylum and refugee status extend the right to receive asylum to persons severely threatened as a result of their actions in favour of democracy and freedom. In Finland, additional guarantees to the asylum-seeker were incorporated in a revision of the aliens act, while in Sweden consideration is currently being given to amending the aliens law along similar lines. In several countries, the judiciary has played an important role in ensuring that procedures for determining refugee status conform to standards of fairness and equity.

23. In recent years, a number of countries have been confronted with serious problems arising from substantial backlogs of asylum applications due to the arrival of exceptionally large numbers of asylum-seekers and to the special problem of so-called manifestly unfounded claims. During the reporting period it has been possible for the States concerned to bring the backlog of asylum claims to manageable proportions, inter alia, by making sufficient staff available.

24. The phenomenon of manifestly unfounded or abusive claims for refugee status was considered by the Executive Committee of UNHCR at its thirty-fourth session.9 It was recognized that national determination procedures might usefully include special provisions for dealing in an expeditious manner with such claims. The Executive Committee also emphasized the necessity for all applicants, including those whose claims might appear to be manifestly unfounded, to be granted appropriate legal safeguards.

D. Principles of international protection and refugee rights

1. Non-refoulement

25. During the reporting period, States have continued to respect the principle of non-refoulement which has now come to be described as a peremptory norm of international law. There have, however, again been cases in which this fundamental principle has been disregarded. In several regions, refugees have been returned to their countries of origin or threatened with return in the context of more general agreements between countries of origin and asylum aimed at normalizing bilateral relations. While the objective of rapprochement is to be greatly encouraged, it is essential that the principle of non-refoulement be in no way compromised and that genuine refugees be at all times protected against forcible return to their country of origin.

26. Groups of asylum-seekers are known to have been forcibly returned to their country of origin without a proper examination of their possible eligibility for refugee status or without being given the opportunity to request asylum. Application of the principle of non-refoulement obviously presupposes that asylum-seekers be allowed to present a request to the competent authorities, that their claim be duly examined and that they be in the meantime fully protected against forcible return to their country of origin. As was confirmed by the Executive Committee at its twenty-eighth session, the principle of non-refoulement applies to persons qualifying for refugee status irrespective of whether they have been formally recognized as refugees.10 During the reporting period, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe also adopted a recommendation to this effect.11 It is also encouraging to note that a number of States now follow the humanitarian practice of permitting persons who do not fulfil the criteria contained in the 1951 United Nations Convention but who nevertheless are considered to have valid grounds for not returning to their country of origin to remain in their territory pending a return to normalcy in their country of origin.

27. The office encourages the inclusion of provisions reflecting the principle of non-refoulement in national legislation on refugees or aliens. The principle has been incorporated in the legislation on refugees and aliens adopted during the reporting period by the States mentioned in paragraphs 21 and 22 above.

2. Asylum

28. During the reporting period, countries in all parts of the world opened their doors to refugees who sometimes arrived in vast numbers. They also permitted refugees who had arrived in earlier years to remain in their territory until a durable solution was found for them. It should be noted that the majority of these asylum countries - notably those accommodating large-scale influxes - are among the world's poorest. The willingness of these countries to grant asylum to persons fleeing persecution and/or other circumstances such as, severe internal disturbances, political disruption or armed conflict in their home country has undoubtedly served to strengthen the institution of asylum.

29. In a number of these countries, however, the arrival of asylum-seekers has given rise to special problems due to the burden imposed on their economic resources by the large numbers involved and/or to the sensitive geopolitical situation of some of the States affected and their fear of compromising relations with countries of origin. These various factors have led to the adoption of restrictive policies with regard to asylum which has been granted essentially on a temporary basis and on the strict condition that refugees are resettled elsewhere, sometimes as a matter of urgency. Such refugees frequently find themselves in a very precarious situation owing to the purely temporary and sometimes irregular nature of their presence and the fact that it may not be possible to find a country willing to admit them within the allotted period.

30. In precarious situations of this kind, refugees frequently feel compelled to leave on their own initiative and to seek admission to a third country, sometimes by irregular means. Most third countries, however, normally refuse to admit such refugees into their asylum procedures, turn them away at the border, or endeavour to return them to the country whence they came. The latter countries more often than not refuse to readmit them, with the result that the refugees become what has been termed "refugees in orbit", i.e., refugees without an asylum country.

31. The cases of "refugees in orbit" have hitherto occurred mainly when refugees have passed through one or more countries before arriving in the State where they wish to present their asylum request. At its thirtieth session, the Executive Committee considered that an effort should be made to identify the country responsible for examining an asylum request by the adoption of common criteria.12 These criteria should reflect a number of principles, notably that the intention of the asylum-seeker as regards the country in which he or she wishes to request asylum should as far as possible be taken into account and that asylum should not be refused solely on the ground that it could have been sought from another State. Efforts to reach agreement on such common criteria have not so far met with success. It is, however, hoped that, in view of the very serious difficulties for the persons involved, a solution to this problem will be found in the very near future.

3. Expulsion

32. Expulsion of refugees during the reporting period also gave rise to serious concern. There have been few cases of expulsion of recognized refugees other than under the conditions permitted by article 32 of the 1951 United Nations Convention. Expulsion has, however, occurred in respect of refugees who have not been recognized as such in the various situations described above, viz., where due to the absence or the irregular functioning of determination procedures an application for refugee status is not taken into consideration and the refugee is simply treated as an ordinary alien, or where a State for various reasons does not consider that it is responsible for examining an asylum request. Expulsion in such situations, even though it does not involve refoulement, may give rise to very serious hardship for the refugees concerned. In some cases occurring during the reporting period, expulsion measures have even led to refoulement in that refugees were sent on to a third country which simply returned them to their country of origin. It is, therefore, to be hoped that States will very seriously weigh the consequences before resorting to expulsion measures against persons who may qualify for refugee status.

4. Detention

33. In almost every part of the world, large numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers are subjected to various forms of detention. Such measures are resorted to by States for a variety of reasons. In many situations of large-scale influx, refugees and asylum-seekers are confined to camps and are subjected to restrictions on their freedom of movement. As regards individual refugees and asylum-seekers, detention is often resorted to because the persons concerned are perceived as a threat to the security of the State. They may also be detained because they do not have appropriate documentation or because the law does not distinguish between the situation of asylum-seekers and that of illegal migrants and because detention is considered a natural and automatic consequence of having entered the country in an irregular manner.

34. Circumstances may, of course, arise wherein the detention of refugees and asylum-seekers is justified, e.g. where the security of the State is in fact threatened by their presence. It is, of course, incontrovertible that refugees are obliged to conform to the laws and regulations of the country in which they find themselves and to respect measures taken for the maintenance of public order. On the other hand, the practice of detaining asylum-seekers, because their presence in the territory is considered irregular, beyond the time necessary to establish the bona fide character of their claim to refugee status may be considered unjustified since it fails to take account of the particular situation of the asylum-seeker as compared with other aliens. It is, however, now the practice of certain countries, including those where the detention of persons who have not been convicted of a criminal offence is the exception rather than the rule, generally to detain asylum-seekers who have arrived illegally, sometimes for substantial periods of time, while their claims are being processed.

35. The conditions of detention of refugees and asylum-seekers are also a matter of concern. Where asylum-seekers forming part of a large-scale influx are confined to camps or closed centres, the basic minimum standards applicable should be those defined by the Executive Committee at its thirty-second session.13 In most countries, however, conditions of detention fall considerably below these minimum standards. Where asylum-seekers are detained otherwise than in large-scale influx situations, the standards for their treatment differ considerably. In a number of countries, asylum-seekers are frequently detained with common criminals with no account being taken of their fundamentally different status, and in certain instances, asylum-seekers have been denied access to UNHCR or to any form of legal advice or representation. In other countries, an effort is made to ensure that detained asylum-seekers are treated with due regard to their special situation.

5. Physical safety of refugees and asylum-seekers

36. As reflected in the High Commissioner's previous report to the General Assembly14 problems relating to the physical safety of refugees and asylum-seekers have emerged in recent years as one of the High Commissioner's major preoccupations in the field of international protection. In various parts of the world, refugees and asylum-seekers live in a climate of insecurity, fearful even of their lives and basic safety.

37. Pirate attacks on asylum-seekers in the South China Sea continue to demand urgent international attention. During the past year there was a slight decrease in the number of boats attacked. On the other hand, the incidence of violence associated with such attacks has again increased, particularly as regards the assault on and abduction of women. The Office, in close co-operation with the authorities concerned and other interested Governments, is pursuing its efforts to ensure that effective means of combating these attacks, including preventive patrols and prosecution of suspects, are identified and implemented.

38. The related question of the rescue of asylum-seekers in distress at sea gives rise to no less concern. Statistics for the reporting period show a distressing picture of fewer refugees being rescued by passing ships. These figures apply both in absolute terms as well as in proportion to total boat arrivals. In continuing its endeavours to facilitate the disembarkation of rescued asylum-seekers, the Office has sought to promote a new arrangement entitled "Rescue at Sea Resettlement Offers" (RASRO). The details of this arrangement were discussed by the Executive Committee, at its thirty-fourth session, which commended the scheme to States for their support so that it might be initiated on a trial basis.15

39. Violations of the physical safety of refugees frequently occur in border areas where political tensions between neighbouring countries are exacerbated by their presence. In such situations, which exist in various regions of the world, individual refugees have fallen victim to extortion, robbery and unjustified detention by local police and security forces. The siting of refugee camps in border areas has also prompted armed attacks from neighbouring States. Military attacks on refugee camps and settlements, which in recent years have resulted in the death of some thousands of innocent persons, were again examined by the Executive Committee at its thirty-fourth session.16 On the basis of a report (EC/SPC/23) prepared by Ambassador Felix Schnyder, a former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Executive Committee studied various aspects of the problem, including the respective responsibilities of the country of asylum, the country of origin, the international community and the refugees themselves in preventing such attacks. The Executive Committee began consideration of a draft statement of principles on this matter, negotiations on which are still continuing.

6. Economic and social rights

40. The climate of economic austerity in various parts of the world has undoubtedly bad an adverse effect on the range of economic and social rights granted to refugees and asylum-seekers, particularly with regard to employment.

41. Asylum-seekers who, for various reasons, have been admitted only temporarily pending a durable solution are as a rule denied access to the labour market. This is more particularly the case in situations of large-scale influx. A notable exception is Pakistan where no restrictions on employment are imposed on the large refugee population to whom asylum has been granted, either in the wage-earning sector or in self-employment.

42. During the reporting period, increasingly restrictive attitudes were encountered by individuals admitted into the asylum procedure. A reduced number of countries now find it possible to permit asylum applicants to take up employment once they have submitted their formal request for recognition or refugee status. In situations where access to the labour market is denied, the persons concerned are obliged to live on social assistance provided by the State or on charity furnished by private organizations. Where this situation lasts for months or even years, owing to delays in processing asylum applications, the effects of enforced periods of idleness are likely to be particularly debilitating and often result in serious psychological consequences for the person concerned. Inability to work for prolonged periods of time may also result in loss of professional or technical skills, thus further hampering the integration process once a person has finally been recognized as a refugee.

43. The situation of recognized refugees as regards the right to seek employment is generally more satisfactory since this right is often provided for in refugee legislation. The aliens law adopted in Spain during the reporting period permits persons granted asylum or recognized as refugees to apply for a work permit. A decree adopted in Costa Rica during 1983 also recognizes the right of refugees to seek employment. In a large number of countries, however, refugees for various reasons face obstacles with regard to employment. Such obstacles may be of a legal nature in that the country of asylum has made a reservation to article 17 of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Alternatively, the refugee may find himself in a disadvantaged position when seeking employment due to pressure on the local labour market. The fact that the majority of the world's refugees are to be found in countries where there is a high level of unemployment among local populations is a major reason for the difficulties encountered by refugees in becoming economically independent. This situation calls for action by the international community to establish income-generating projects, with a view to promoting the self-reliance of refugees.

44. The practice of States with regard to access to education is generally liberal and refugee children and youth normally encounter no difficulty in taking advantage of available educational facilities. Refugees have, however, encountered problems in gaining entry to institutions of higher learning on an equal basis with local populations. In some countries, for example, refugees like other aliens are obliged to pay higher tees and may be subject to admission quotas imposed on all aliens.

45. Provisions were introduced in Lesotho during the reporting period enabling refugees to have the same access to medical treatment as nationals.

7. Documentation

46. It is significant that the first action by the world community in favour of refugees involved the provision of an internationally recognized travel document: the so-called Nansen Passport. The successor to this historic document is the travel document provided for in the 1951 United Nations Convention known as the Convention Travel Document (CTD). It is encouraging to note that virtually all States parties to the international refugee instruments now make CTDs available to refugees lawfully staying in their territory and, in certain cases, to other refugees in accordance with the recommendation contained in paragraph 1 of article 28 of the Convention. Provisions for the issue of CTDs to recognized refugees have been incorporated in legislation of relevance to refugees adopted by Bolivia and Spain during the reporting period. In many countries, CTDs are automatically issued to refugees wishing to travel, whereas in certain other countries refugees must first show that a CTD is required for the purposes of education, medical treatment or resettlement in another country.

47. In the High Commissioner's previous report to the General Assembly,17 it was indicated that the assistance of the Office continued to be sought in cases where CTDs have been issued without a return clause or with a return clause of insufficient duration, or where the non-renewal of CTDs created difficulties for refugees outside the issuing country. It is gratifying to note that there has been some improvement in this respect, that generally liberal practices are now being followed by issuing States and that CTDs are normally provided with return clauses having a sufficiently long period of validity.

48. Where a State is not a party to the 1951 United Nations Convention or to the 1967 Protocol, the office seeks to ensure that refugees are provided with alternative travel documentation under conditions approximating as far as possible those applicable to CTDs. During the reporting period, problems were encountered by Palestinian refugees living outside the area of operation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East - and therefore of UNHCR concern - in securing the renewal of their travel documents. The office was obliged to intervene on a number of occasions with the authorities of the issuing country on behalf of these refugees in order to secure a renewal of their travel documents and, at the same time, with the authorities of their countries of residence in order to avert their deportation.

49. The Office has continued to print CTDs which are available to Governments on request some 9,500 were provided to various Governments during 1983. These documents are now produced in bilingual and trilingual combinations of Arabic, English, French, Kiswahili, Portuguese, Rwandese and Spanish.

50. It is also vital that refugees be in possession of some form of identity card to distinguish them from other aliens. There have been many occasions in the history of UNHCR when the fact that refugees have not been able to identify themselves as such has led to arrest, expulsion and even refoulement. It is encouraging to note that States now generally recognize the importance of issuing refugees appropriate identity documents. In some countries, the documents issued to refugees serve as evidence that their stay has been regularized, either permanently or pending a durable solution elsewhere. Identity documents may also authorize the holder to obtain employment or access to educational institutions. In Ecuador, for example, the identity card issued to persons recognized as refugees affords them the right to work and also exempts the holders from the payment of high fees for a work permit.

51. It is evident that the need for appropriate documentation applies not only to recognized refugees, but also to asylum applicants. In certain countries, asylum applicants are issued with provisional documentation pending determination of their status. During the reporting period, legislation adopted in Costa Rica and Portugal provides for the issue of documentation to applicants for refugee status in the form of temporary residence permits.

52. During the reporting period identity documents continued to be issued by countries accommodating large groups of refugees, while documentation programmes were initiated in others. In Pakistan, the beads of refugee families are issued with papers verifying their refugee status and that of their dependents. Identity cards continued to be issued to urban refugees in the Sudan and programmes for the registration and issue of documentation to refugees were initiated in Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and Zambia. UNHCR printed some 250,000 refugee identity cards at the request of various Governments and, as in past years, also contributed to the cost of providing such cards in several other countries. The various problems related to the issue of identity documents to refugees will be considered by the Executive Committee at its thirty-fifth session.

8. Acquisition by refugees of a new nationality

53. The acquisition by refugees of the nationality of their host country where this is desired, marks the final phase of their legal integration into that country. Article 34 of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees requires States parties to facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees by liberalizing the formalities that are normally required in order to obtain citizenship. In fact, the nationality legislation of only a very few countries contains specific provisions for facilitating the naturalization of refugees and, in the majority of countries, their legal situation as regards acquisition of nationality is the same as that of other aliens. This does not, of course, preclude the possibility of refugee status being taken into account as a favourable element when this is not inconsistent with the provisions of national legislation. In the Office's experience, the authorities of a number of countries have adopted a flexible approach in this regard.

54. Such liberal practices are not followed in all countries. In others, refugees are effectively excluded from acquiring the nationality of their host country either because no identifiable naturalization procedure exists for aliens or because the procedures that do exist impose stringent conditions (with regard to cost, for example) which place nationality beyond the reach of most refugees. In such circumstances, the consequences for second and successive generations of refugees may be particularly serious.

55. During the reporting period, efforts were made in several asylum countries to enable groups of refugees who had been residing there for long periods of time to be naturalized. In the United Republic of Tanzania, the authorities have indicated their willingness to grant nationality to a large group of Burundi refugees once a programme to naturalize some 36,000 Rwandese refugees has been completed. In Uganda, the right to citizenship was recognized as pertaining to a large group of persons who had long been resident there and who bad been internally displaced during the previous year.

E. Voluntary repatriation

56. The most desirable solution to refugee problems is that refugees should be allowed to return home, voluntarily, in safety and in dignity. In order to attain this objective, it is generally recognized that efforts should be undertaken as soon as refugee problems arise. Increased importance has been attached in recent times to the solution of voluntary repatriation and there are now large concentrations of refugees in various parts of the world who would welcome the opportunity to return home under appropriate circumstances.

57. During the reporting period, conditions in various parts of the world were such that numbers of refugees were able to return to their homeland to start life afresh. Return movements of the most significant size occurred in Africa, a continent where voluntary repatriation has long been considered a particularly important factor in resolving refugee problems. In the Horn of Africa, a tripartite commission comprising representatives of the two Governments concerned and UNHCR was set up to establish a programme of return for Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti. By March 1984, some 6,000 such persons had repatriated under this programme while a further 6,500 are believed to have returned on their own. Elsewhere in Africa, there have been sizeable return movements from the Sudan and Zaire to Uganda - where some 11,000 returnees have benefited from UNHCR repatriation assistance - and from Burundi and Uganda to Zaire. In South-East Asia, some 2,300 Lao nationals have to date repatriated from Thailand, while similar numbers of Kampucheans have returned to their home province from the Lao People's Democratic Republic. In Latin America, political changes in Argentina in 1983 and in Bolivia during the previous reporting period have prompted a steady return of former exiles to their respective home countries, both from within the region and from other parts of the world. UNHCR has provided assistance to such persons as and when it was required.

58. In terms of the overall refugee case-load, however, the percentage of refugees for whom voluntary repatriation proved a viable possibility during the reporting period was relatively small, thus pointing to the need to devote increased attention to this important solution to refugee problems.

F. Family reunification

59. The already tragic situation of the refugee is rendered even more acute when he or she is separated from close family members. In various parts of the world, UNHCR is involved in resolving the often difficult and intricate problems that arise in the reunification of separated refugee families. It often happens that the family members remaining in the country of origin are not permitted to leave, or face other obstacles in, for example, obtaining a passport or an exit visa, even though according to the law of the country the right to leave is recognized as pertaining to all citizens. In one region where in past years the High Commissioner has been obliged to report restrictive attitudes, the number of persons permitted to leave to join family members elsewhere more than quadrupled during the reporting period. This positive development is very encouraging, particularly since it included persons from one country where negative attitudes towards the departure of persons for reasons of family reunion have prevailed for a number of years.

60. Obstacles to family reunification may also arise in the country of asylum it the notion of family composition is interpreted more strictly than in the country of origin. Similarly, some countries of asylum require documented proof of family relationships. In view of the special situation of the refugee, it is to be hoped that his or her family will receive more sympathetic treatment than that accorded other aliens in such areas. The Executive Committee, at its thirty-second session, in considering a number of problems which may arise with regard to the reunification of separated families, expressed the hope that countries of asylum would apply liberal criteria in identifying those family members who can be admitted, with a view to promoting a comprehensive reunification of the family. The Executive Committee also stated that absence of documentary proof of family relationships should not se be considered as an impediment to reuniting separated families.18

61. The integration of separated refugee families may be facilitated it dependent relatives who have rejoined the refugee are also accorded refugee status. While this practice is generally followed, in certain countries family members of the refugee are required to show that they themselves are eligible for refugee status. This policy frequently results in a number of practical problems arising from the different legal status accorded to members of a single family.

G. Promotion, advancement and dissemination of principles of refugee law

62. The increasingly complex nature of the world refugee problem has underscored the importance of UNHCR's activities in the promotion, advancement and dissemination of the principles of refugee law. In so far as the office's activities in the fields of promotion and dissemination are concerned, the overriding objective is to create a greater understanding and wider acceptance, both by States and the general public, of the principles of international protection. In the field of advancement, the Office endeavours to promote the development of international refugee law.

63. As in previous years, UNHCR followed and, where appropriate, actively participated in the work of other United Nations bodies charged with questions concerning the rights of individuals. At the regional level, much importance continues to be attached to furthering the Office's relations with intergovernmental organizations. In Latin America, the first of a three-phase co-operative venture by the Office and the Organization of American States to compare inter-American and international concepts of asylum and refugee status and to study the relevant national legislation of member States has now been completed. The Office has actively co-operated in the field of academic research with the Council of Europe, which continues to provide a valuable forum for discussion, both at the intergovernmental and parliamentary level, of problems relating to the legal status of refugees in that continent. The co-operation that has long existed between UNHCR and the Organization of African Unity in the field of promotion, advancement and dissemination of refugee law has been of particular value. Regular contacts on matters of mutual concern have also been maintained with the League of Arab States.

64. In recent years, UNHCR has intensified its co-operation with national authorities particularly as regards the training of officials concerned in the course of their daily work with the determination of refugee status and the admission of refugees. During the reporting period, the Office arranged and participated in workshops and seminars for this purpose which were held in various States in Africa, Asia, and Central and Latin America. Government officials from some 30 countries attended the Second Refugee Law Course which was organized jointly by UNHCR and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo during the reporting period. In Asia, a Seminar on Refugee Law held at Colombo in June 1983 under the joint auspices of UNHCR and the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute provided government officials from southern and central Asian countries with the opportunity of discussing principles of international protection and problems relating to their practical application in this region.

65. The close and fruitful co-operation between UNHCR and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo has continued. The Institute has a long-established tradition as a form for the advancement of international humanitarian law. During the reporting period, two meetings of particular relevance to the promotion and development of refugee law were organized by the Institute: the Round Table on Movements of Populations, held at Florence in June 1983, and the Seminar on Asylum and Refugee Law in the Arab Countries, held at San Remo in January 1984.

66. The Office also collaborated with the International Institute of Humanitarian Law with regard to the dissemination and publication of legal documentation relevant to refugees. The objective of this venture is to expand substantially the UNHCR Refugee Law Documentation Centre - the development and management of which has been entrusted to the Institute - with a view to its becoming a universal resource and reference centre for all matters involving refugee law.


A. Introduction

67. The promotion of appropriate durable solutions remains the primary Objective of the assistance programmes of UNHCR. During 1983, UNHCR continued to co-operate with Governments of countries giving asylum to refugees and with the international community in their efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees throughout the world. In doing so, UNHCR seeks the active participation of a number of international and non-governmental organizations which provide expertise and often financial resources of their own.

68. While the promotion of durable solutions through voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement remained the long-term goal, UNHCR responded to requests for emergency assistance to new arrivals and continued to pursue care and maintenance programmes for refugees for whom no immediate solution could be implemented. Whenever possible, relief programmes have also included measures aimed at promoting self-reliance among refugees.

69. The office has pursued with vigour its efforts to improve the management of assistance programmes. Such efforts have included the training of UNHCR's staff in project management techniques, the organization of workshops for agencies in charge of UNHCR-funded projects and of regional seminars on refugee-related issues, the introduction of a new project monitoring reporting system and the further development of various manuals, including a Handbook for Emergencies, a Social Services Handbook and a Procurement Manual.

70. As a result of the relative stabilization of the largest refugee situations and the absence of massive new influxes, UNHCR was able to reduce expenditure of voluntary funds to some $398 million in 1983 from $407 million in 1982. The former amount includes $316.2 million under General Programmes and some $81.5 million under Special Programmes. The higher proportion of expenditure under General Programmes is in line with the trend away from purely emergency operations which was already noted last year. Moreover, the 1983 General Programmes expenditure against the approved budget target exceeded 95 per cent, reflecting improvements in programme costing, management and monitoring.

71. The paragraphs below provide a summary of the major areas of assistance as well as an overview of major developments in each of the geographical areas covered by the four UNHCR regional bureaux. Detailed information on the levels of expenditure for each country or area programme is given in tables 1 and 2 of annex II to the present report.

B. Major trends in assistance

1. Emergency response

72. Emergencies may result from new influxes into a country of asylum or from a deterioration of conditions in existing refugee situations. The High Commissioner has the authority to allocate up to $10 million annually to meet needs arising in such cases, provided that the amount made available for one single emergency does not exceed $4 million (see General Assembly resolution 35/41 B of 25 November 1980).

73. In 1983, $5,455,000 were obligated from the Emergency Fund. An amount of $1,087,000 was allocated to meet the urgent needs of some 10,000 Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia while $1 million were used for the purchase and airlift of 5,000 family-size tents for an influx of Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The High Commissioner also contributed $350,000 from the Emergency Fund to alleviate the plight of illegal immigrants expelled from Nigeria. Another $600,000 were used to meet emergency needs of a new influx of Angolans in Zambia. A significant part of the Emergency Fund allocations in 1983 was to assist persons of concern to UNHCR in Lebanon as well as needy Lebanese who, due to events in their country, were unable to return and needed temporary assistance. An amount of $1,243,000 was allocated for this purpose, of which $685,000 were for assistance inside Lebanon, $250,000 for assistance to Lebanese displaced persons in the Syrian Arab Republic, $135,000 for Lebanese in Cyprus and $173,000 for those in various European countries. An amount of $500,000 was used to assist a group of refugees and displaced persons in Uganda, while $675,000 were spent for Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica.

74. The office continued to improve its capability in this vital area which often affects all subsequent phases of assistance to refugees. The UNHCR Handbook for Emergencies, published in English in 1982, was put to direct use in a number of field situations and its basic assumptions were tested. The feedback from UNHCR field staff and implementing partners has been positive and managerial and technical innovations as well as practical lessons learnt in the field are being collated for the second edition of the Handbook. The French version was issued in 1983 and is to be followed by a Spanish edition in 1984.

75. Emergency Health Kits (medical supplies and equipment) for 10,000 refugees for three months were dispatched from UNHCR stocks along with Field Office Kits (basic materials to allow the opening of a field office at short notice) and Field Survival Kits for staff members deployed in emergency situations.

76. The Emergency Unit continued to be entrusted with the co-ordination of the various internal and external resources necessary to ensure the level of professionalism which refugee emergencies require.

2. Care and maintenance

77. Although the longer-term objective of UNHCR assistance is the achievement of a durable solution and of individual or group self-reliance, political, physical, environmental or socioeconomic factors often preclude the rapid identification of appropriate measures which would make refugees self-sufficient within the shortest possible time. Under those circumstances, and at the request of the host Government, UNHCR provides intermediate assistance in the form of care and maintenance. This may include food, shelter, water, health services and sanitation, clothing household utensils and equipment, and education including vocational training. Whenever feasible, care and maintenance programmes include such self-sufficiency activities as kitchen gardening and poultry farming, which aim not only at providing refugees with additional income but also at teaching new skills, thereby preparing them for a more productive and independent life.

78. In 1983, intermediate care and maintenance assistance amounted to approximately 55 per cent of total TINRCR General Programmes expenditures, confirming a trend begun in 1981 toward reducing the relative importance of this type of assistance. The largest single care and maintenance programme continued to be the assistance programme for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, for which $83.9 million were obligated under both General and Special Programmes. The programme in Pakistan covered basic items and services such as supplementary food, storage facilities, shelter, health care, clothing, quilts, cooking fuel, water supply and veterinary services while income-generating and self-sufficiency measures were increasingly incorporated into the programme.

79. A total of $58 million were obligated in 1983 under both General and Special Programmes for Indo-Chinese refugees in South-East Asia for care and maintenance pending a more durable solution which, in the majority of cases, will be resettlement.

80. In Somalia, the Government decided that those refugees who do not wish to avail themselves of the option of voluntary repatriation to Ethiopia will be allowed to settle in Somalia. As a result, a part of the funds obligated in 1983 for Somalia could be shifted from care and maintenance to local integration programmes. The amount obligated under care and maintenance decreased from $25 million in 1982 to some $16.6 million in 1983.

81. In Central America, $17 million were obligated for care and maintenance activities, although significant progress towards more durable local settlement programmes could also be observed in this region.

3. Self-sufficiency activities

82. Whenever possible, UNHCR seeks to include income-qenerating and other self-sufficiency activities in its larger care and maintenance programmes. This policy of promoting self-sufficiency partly reflects a desire to reduce the financial burden on the host Government and the international community at large, it also represents an effort to reduce the dependency syndrome which often develops among refugees in prolonged care and maintenance situations.

83. Self-sufficiency activities continued in 1983 in all the major care and maintenance programmes mentioned above. In Pakistan, for example, vocational training projects were expanded and ILO began implementation of an income-generating project funded by UNHCR. The World Bank projects involving the use of refugee labour for infrastructural improvements in the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan reached the implementation stage, with encouraging signs of donors' willingness to provide the necessary funds.

84. In Somalia, self-sufficiency schemes were implemented in most of the 35 refugee camps with the full co-operation of voluntary agencies and the support of the Government. Important developments were achieved in the Luuq and Quorioley areas in the field of small-scale kitchen gardening. Income-generating projects for women, implemented mainly by the Government of Somalia, were expanded. A donkey-cart system for distribution of water was expanded. In South-Fast Asia and Central America, further progress towards the introduction of self-sufficiency and self-reliance activities was made in 1983.

4. Durable solutions

85. The primary objective of all UNHCR assistance activities is the achievement of durable solutions through which refugees become wholly self-sufficient and no longer require international support. The three classic durable solutions are voluntary repatriation, local integration in the country of first asylum or, when these are not feasible, resettlement in another country. In 1983, some 30 per cent of UNHCR's resources obligated under the General Programmes for all types of assistance went directly to the promotion of one of the three durable solutions. These figures, however, do not reflect total expenditures for such activities as they do not include the financial inputs or donations in kind such as land and personnel contributed by host Governments, bilateral donations given to the country of asylum, or the direct contributions of non-governmental organizations and intergovernmental agencies. In addition, amounts obligated under the General Programmes for legal assistance, education, counselling, and aid to special groups could often legitimately be added to the amount spent directly on the promotion of durable solutions.

86. Repatriation, Voluntary repatriation remains the preferred durable solution. Repatriation efforts for groups and for individuals were continued during 1983. Rehabilitation projects are sometimes undertaken for former refugees once they have returned to their countries of origin and these are funded from UNHCR Special Programmes.

87. In Chad, the repatriation operation which started in 1981 was virtually complete by the end of 1983, as remaining groups from Cameroon, Nigeria, the Central African Republic and the Sudan returned home. Some 200,000 persons received assistance from UNHCR under this special operation. In 1983, some $1.4 million were obligated from funds still available from previous years. In order to complete UNHCR activities in Chad, an agreement for six months was concluded with the UNDP in N'Djamena to phase out the rehabilitation assistance mainly for returnees in Abéché and André.

88. During 1983, following a bilateral agreement between the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the authorities in Phnom Penh, over 3,000 Kampuchean refugees repatriated from the province of Attopeu in the southern part of the Lao People's Democratic Republic to Stung Treng and Rattanakiri provinces in Kampuchea. Of this number, 2,236 repatriated with the assistance of the authorities, the others repatriated spontaneously. Once back in their home villages, returnees benefited from UNHCR assistance. Costs incurred by the Lao Government for the transport and care and maintenance of returnees during their travel were reimbursed through a special contribution made to UNHCR for this purpose. During the year, negotiations continued regarding the voluntary return of Kampuchean refugees in Thailand.

89. Following the voluntary repatriation under UNHCR auspices of 461 persons from Thailand to the Lao People's Democratic Republic early in 1983, the programme was temporarily suspended. Movements resumed again in November and by the end of the year 595 persons had repatriated, bringing to 2,397 the total number of persons who had repatriated voluntarily with assistance from UNHCR since the inception of the programme in 1980. Returnees continued to benefit from assistance designed to facilitate their reintegration. In 1983, $1,318,000 were obligated for these activities.

90. In the wake of changes in Bolivia in October 1982 and in Argentina in October 1983, and following the publication in September 1983 by the Chilean authorities of lists of Chilean exiles authorized to return, UNHCR was approached by many Bolivian, Chilean, and Argentine refugees, principally in Europe and Latin America, for assistance in connection with their voluntary repatriation. Statistics made available by UNHCR offices and by voluntary agencies in the three countries of origin indicate that 1,858 Bolivians, 361 Chileans and 196 Argentines returned in 1983. However, these statistics are not complete as they do not fully reflect the number who repatriated on their own, without UNHCR assistance.

91. In response to a request by the Bolivian Government, UNHCR used its good offices to solicit contributions to a rehabilitation fund for needy returnees facing great difficulties in their social and economic reintegration. An amount of $200,000 was made available in May 19.83 to assist up to 1,250 returnees. The funds were administered by the Bolivian Bishops Conference.

92. In Chile, UNHCR was called upon to play a major coordinating role in processing requests for repatriation from Chileans abroad, in accordance with special procedures required by the Chilean authorities.

93. The Special Programme of Assistance to Ethiopian Returnees, originally scheduled to be fully implemented by June 1983, bad to be extended further owing to delays in various programme sectors. Of the total programme valued at $20 million, some $10 million had been obligated in cash and $6.3 million in kind by the end of 1983.

94. A UNHCR programme review mission visited Ethiopia in October-November 1983 and recommended some modifications to the programme. In general, it was felt that the dual objective of the returnees programme, namely, to provide relief and rehabilitation to individual returnees and to develop an environment which was conducive to further voluntary repatriation, was being met. It was felt that conditions for further large-scale repatriation were promising in the Ogaden, and it was agreed with the authorities that a larger share of the programme resources could be redeployed for projects in that part of Ethiopia.

95. At the request of the Governments of Djibouti and Ethiopia, UNHCR participated in two tripartite commission meetings held in January-February and April 1983 to discuss the terms of the voluntary repatriation of refugees of Ethiopian origin in Djibouti. Preparations for the organized movement of refugees from Djibouti to Ethiopia as well as for their reception in Ethiopia lasted until September 1983 when the first organized movement took place. In all, 12 train movements were organized in 1983 transporting over 6,000 refugees back to Ethiopia. Another 6,000 returned on their own, bringing the total number of returnees from Djibouti to Ethiopia to over 12,000 by the end of 1983. It is expected that this repatriation operation will be completed during 1984.

96. During the last three years, nearly 130,000 Ugandans have returned spontaneously to the West Nile province of Uganda, most of them from Zaire. The assistance given is partly of an emergency nature and partly designed to promote rapid integration. Since November 1982, an amount of approximately $1,260,000 has been spent.

97. The programme in the West Nile province of Uganda is now implemented under a tripartite agreement between the Government, the Lutheran World Federation and UNHCR. The World Food Programme, UNICEF and Médecins sans Frontières are also co-operating in the effort. A programming mission was sent to the area in September 1983 to review the entire programme of assistance and to assess future needs. The total amount required for relief and rehabilitation is now estimated at some $10 million. UNHCR has approached various donor countries for a contribution amounting to some $2 million to cover the most urgent requirements for relief and rehabilitation.

98. Local settlement and local integration: In cases where voluntary repatriation is unlikely for the foreseeable future and the host Government is agreeable, local settlement or local integration of refugees within the host society is often the best possible durable solution. Local settlement assistance may be given to individuals as well as to groups of refugees, the latter mainly through assistance for agricultural settlements. Local integration of individual refugees is most often implemented in an urban or semi-urban environment. The objective of such assistance is to encourage and assist refugees to reach a level of self-sufficiency comparable to that of the local population. Local settlement of groups of refugees in rural settlements usually requires multi-year planning as self-sufficiency can generally not be expected during the first year of the development of such agricultural schemes.

99. In 1983, some 25 per cent of the assistance provided under General Programmes was used for local settlement activities. Planning for such programmes often involved expert advice from consultants, from agencies of the United Nations system, or from UNHCR's own Specialist Support Unit. This Unit further promoted local settlement efforts in various countries by holding workshops with participants from Governments and, where appropriate, non-governmental and intergovernmental agencies involved in the planning and implementation of projects.

100. The Specialist Support Unit undertook several detailed feasibility studies to assess the potential of proposed sites for the implementation of larger-scale local settlement programmes in Africa and Central America. It also played an important role in monitoring the progress of various ongoing settlement schemes, providing expert advice for further planning of these settlements. Where outside expertise is required, the Unit advises the regional bureaux in the formulation of the terms of reference and also evaluates the technical reports received from the field.

101. Resettlement: If voluntary repatriation proves impossible and refugees cannot be settled in the country of first asylum, resettlement is the third option for a durable solution. Although this solution provides a unique opportunity for refugees to start a new life, it often entails a drastic change from their previous way of life. Resettlement assistance is also provided for special groups of refugees such as those who are separated from their families and the disabled who are in need of physical or mental rehabilitation in countries where the necessary facilities are more readily available.

102. During 1983, some 68,000 Indo-Chinese refugees were resettled in third countries of whom about 35,000 were Vietnamese, 27,000 Kampucheans and 6,000 Lao. Although some countries decreased their resettlement quotas, many continued to admit refugees on the basis of family-reunion criteria. Countries also admitted Indo-Chinese rescued on the high seas by vessels flying their flag. In addition, some 19,000 Vietnamese joined family members abroad, departing directly from Viet Nam under the Orderly Departure Programme.

103. In Europe, some 20,800 refugees of different origins benefited from continued migration programmes implemented by countries of immigration. About 3,000 refugees were resettled from Africa mostly to join family members abroad or to take up permanent residence if this was not possible in their first country of asylum. Nearly 3,000 refugees were resettled from the Middle East and South-West Asia and another 1,000 refugees left the American continent for resettlement abroad.

104. Disabled refugees and their families, totalling about 1,000 persons, were admitted to new countries of asylum under special resettlement programmes.' UNHCR faces particular difficulties in locating places for the mentally disabled and increased resettlement offers are also needed for refugees suffering from physical handicaps.

105. Some countries continued to provide resettlement on an emergency basis at UNHCR's request to ensure the physical safety of individual refugees.

106. Expenditures incurred by UNHCR for the promotion of resettlement and for transportation costs of refugees to countries which are not in a position to assume such costs amounted to some $10.7 million under General Programmes, a slight reduction compared to 1982.

5. Social services in pursuit of durable solutions

107. Community services and counselling: During 1983, community and counselling services were provided to refugees both in urban and rural areas. Activities included social counselling of individuals, families and groups, temporary financial support, employment and self-employment guidance, and education and training. In addition, community development and other self-help activities were organized and refugees were counselled with respect to voluntary repatriation and resettlement. Individuals and groups with special needs were assisted in obtaining the services and support required.

108. UNHCR's Social Services Officers worked to ensure the effectiveness of such activities by assessing needs, identifying available resources, coordinating services, providing professional supervision of local social services staff, developing projects to meet identified needs, promoting refugee participation in the planning and delivery of services, organizing in-service training for local staff and monitoring and evaluating programmes. Emphasis continued to be placed on providing adequate services through the recruitment of professionally trained local staff. To provide effective social services in rural settlements and camps increased efforts have been made to train refugees in social work and community development skills. To help improve the quality of social work services, regional workshops were held for UNHCR and implementing agency social workers. A Social Services Resource Library has been developed at UNHCR headquarters to support programmes in this field.

109. Education: During 1983, UNHCR continued to provide essential educational assistance to refugees. Elementary education was provided in local government schools or in specially established settlement schools. UNHCR had more than 100 programmes world-wide in the fields of post-primary vocational/technical and academic education. In-service teacher training, literacy programmes, special skills training, pre-school education, curriculum development and textbook production are the main activities under UNHCR's programme of non-formal educational assistance.

110. Assistance was provided to enable nearly 14,300 refugee students to study at the secondary and tertiary levels, an increase of 12 per cent compared with 1982. An amount of some $12.7 million was used in 1983 for this scholarship assistance programme. Approximately 19 per cent of the students took technical training courses while 66 per cent attended secondary school and 15 per cent university. Renewed emphasis was put on orienting students towards technical training, considered more likely to lead towards employment and meeting the manpower needs of asylum countries.

111. Aid to handicapped refugees: At the beginning of 1983, guidelines were issued to field offices for identification of and assistance to handicapped and other refugee groups with special needs. Where no other projects existed or the number of disabled refugees did not justify the establishment of a special project, needy disabled refugees were aided under the Trust Fund for Handicapped Refugees which had been set up with the proceeds of the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to UNHCR in 1981. Assistance covered the treatment, training and rehabilitation of the disabled. Costs of specialists' fees, diagnosis, surgery, medicines, physiotherapy, prosthetic aids, wheelchairs, tricycles, psychiatric treatment, psychological counselling, and inter-country transportation were the main requirements. Priority was given to treatment in the country of asylum or in neighbouring countries. For the long-term, it has been found useful to train either refugees or nationals in diagnosis and simple treatment of various handicaps. Projects have been established for this purpose. Projects for training disabled refugees in vocational skills have also been established in several countries, with provision for training refugee instructors.

6. Phasing-out of assistance

112. Once one of the three durable solutions has been successfully attained, international assistance provided through UNHCR ceases and responsibility or further assistance to refugees rests with the host Government. This normally involves the provision of the same services to refugees as to nationals in surrounding villages or towns. In Botswana, the planned hand-over of the Dukwe refugee settlement had to be deferred due to a significant new increase in the settlement population. In an attempt to provide alternative solutions for refugees in urban centres in Kenya, a small rural settlement at Bungoma near the Ugandan border was established in 1983 for 20 rural families. The settlement is scheduled to become self-sufficient in 1984 after which UNHCR assistance is to cease. UNHCR ended its assistance programme for refugees from Chad in the Sudan following the repatriation to Chad of the remaining 2,000 refugees.

113. The successful phasing-out of assistance to the Barundi refugee settlements in the United Republic of Tanzania can be attributed not only to the willingness of the Government to assume responsibility for the settlements, but also to adequate multi-year planning leading to self-sufficiency. The hand-over of the Mishamo settlement will conclude another effectively implemented multi-year agricultural development scheme. However, UNHCR has been called upon to provide one-time assistance within otherwise self-sufficient settlements, and additional measures were considered by the Second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa in July 1984 to upgrade the infrastructure and economic viability of settlements which have already been handed over. The hand-over to the Government of Zaire of the medical and educational institutes constructed under UNHCR projects for refugees in Bas-Zaire brought to an end UNHCR assistance to this refugee group.

C. Regional developments in Africa

114. In 1983, UNHCR expenditures in Africa totalled over $153 million of which some $114.8 million were obligated under General Programmes and $38 million under special Programmes. Details relating to expenditure by country and area are given in tables I and 2 of annex II to the present report.

115. In 1983, UNHCR increased its efforts to find durable solutions for refugees in Africa. Wherever possible, UNHCR moved away from care and maintenance and focused available resources on the promotion of voluntary repatriation or, alternatively, local settlement whenever this was possible. A feature of UNHCR programming in Africa in 1983 has been the formulation of comprehensive plans of action for major programme areas to ensure that policy objectives are pursued in a coordinated manner. Topics such as refugee self-sufficiency, income-generation, education, and phasing out of UNHCR activities when self-sufficiency has been attained are addressed in these plans of action.

116. The voluntary repatriation of some 12,000 Ethiopian refugees from Djibouti was one of the main features of 1983. A tripartite agreement was reached in April between the Governments of Djibouti and Ethiopia and UNHCR spelling out the action necessary to facilitate the voluntary return of these refugees, some of whom had been in Djibouti for more than five years. Starting in September 1983, a comprehensive programme operating on both sides of the border was established and attention was paid to setting up adequate reception arrangements at different staging points in the Dire Dawa region of Ethiopia. While repatriation and registration for repatriation continues, attention is now also being given to other options for those refugees unwilling to return to their country of origin at this time.

117. Throughout 1983, the refugee situation in the Sudan was characterized by new arrivals both in the south and the east. These influxes have been the result of a number of factors, including the severe drought which has plagued so many parts of Africa. Many refugees, who traditionally have been able to find employment as rural workers, are no longer able to do so and have to rely on assistance. In southern Sudan, difficulties were experienced in transporting food to the refugees and remedial measures, including the establishment of a larger warehousing capacity in Juba and exploration of different supply routes have been undertaken in conjunction with the World Food Programme (WFP). The Sudan programme also involved ILO in the development of a range of income-generating activities for refugees in the east. Some 10,000 families are expected to benefit from this programme which is designed to promote self-sufficiency. Discussions with LNDP, with a view to their examining the longer-term needs of the refugee-affected area in southern Sudan, were initiated in 1983. A number of projects have been identified for further examination prior to implementation.

118. In the latter half of 1983, a new influx of refugees took place into the Gambela area of south-western Ethiopia. By the end of the year, some 21,000 refugees had arrived in this area, calling for a quick emergency response. A field office was established in Gambela to co-ordinate the UNHCR relief effort and emergency supplies were airlifted. Impassable roads in the wet season make delivery of items problematic.

119. Somalia continues to host a large number of refugees. Difficulties in programme implementation because of logistical problems have also been a recurrent feature of this programme. A persistent difficulty has been the unavailability of food in sufficient quantities although serious efforts are under way to resolve this problem in conjunction with donors. The Government of Somalia agreed in 1983 to the establishment of settlements for those refugees who do not wish to repatriate. Agreement was reached on the establishment of a Steering Committee to co-ordinate the settlement programme, chaired by a representative of the National Refugee Commission and comprising the Ministry of Planning, UNDP and UNHCR. It will be supported by a technical unit composed of a rural settlement specialist, an agronomist, a hydrologist and a physical planner. A specialist mission was undertaken in October-November 1983 to identify possibilities and options for the proposed local settlements. Its report will provide a basis for the technical unit's detailed investigations which are being accorded high priority.

120. There are increasing signs that Ugandan refugees in both Zaire and the Sudan are prepared to repatriate, and movements back to Uganda, particularly to the West Nile region, have been undertaken with increasing frequency. A liaison officer has been appointed to the Africa Bureau to ensure a coordinated approach in the countries of asylum and origin, so that those wishing to return can be assisted effectively. It is expected that the repatriation to Uganda will accelerate during the course of 1984 and additional resources will then have to be allocated to help reintegrate those returning to their home communities.

121. The situation of the more than 27,000 South African refugees in various countries in southern Africa, namely, Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, did not change materially during 1983. UNHCR assistance continues to comprise subsistence allowances, scholarships and the promotion of self-sufficiency either in rural settlements or through individual income-generating activities. The South African liberation movements recognized by the Organization of African unity (OAU) received further support through the international procurement of agricultural equipment for their farms in Angola and the United Republic of Tanzania. Recent developments in Namibia are being closely followed and UNHCR is prepared to assist in facilitating the immediate repatriation of Namibian refugees when conditions permit. In the meantime, UNHCR continues to assist some 75,000 Namibian refugees in Angola, Zambia and other countries in Africa.

122. In 1983, major efforts were also made for the preparation of the Second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa. Detailed country programmes were prepared by the major asylum countries and were designed to meet both their additional needs and the increased infrastructural requirements due to the presence of refugees. This latter aspect was the special feature of the Second Conference. It was also its major focus, since the majority of refugee-affected countries in Africa are among the least developed countries. Joint technical teams, comprising UNDP, UNHCR and, in some cases, OAU had visited 14 countries to discuss and refine the requests which were to be presented at the Second Conference. A large-scale public information campaign had also been launched to bring to the attention of the international community the massive refugee problem in Africa and the need to find solutions urgently. Well before the convening of the Second Conference, held from 9 to 11 July 1984, significant interest had been generated in the plight of refugees in Africa. It is now well recognized that, in seeking lasting solutions, account must be taken of the needs of host countries.

D. Regional developments in the Americas and Europe

123. The major developments in Latin America in 1983 were a continued increase in the number of refugees in Central America and Mexico and the beginnings of significant voluntary repatriation movements to Argentina, Bolivia and Chile.

124. The number of refugees in Central America and Mexico increased from some 312,000 at the beginning of 1983 to over 330,000 persons at the end of the year. The increase was due mainly to new influxes of Nicaraguan and Salvadorian Refugees in Costa Rica and Honduras and of Guatemalan refugees in Mexico. There was a proportional increase in the number of refugees assisted by UNHCR through its different programmes, which benefited some 96,500 persons by the end of 1983. The general objectives of UNHCR in the region continue to be to provide emergency assistance to newly arrived groups of refugees in order to ensure that their immediate material needs are met and, when the emergency phase is over, to initiate and pursue measures for their local integration in the countries of asylum. Efforts to integrate refugees in rural areas were pursued in Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Other measures aimed at urban integration were undertaken primarily in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama.

125. In Honduras, some 17,500 Salvadorian and 500 Guatemalan refugees were regrouped in camps near the western border (Colomoncagua, Mesa Grande and El Tesoro). The living conditions of the refugees improved substantially in 1983 and the camps have become very well organized. Towards the end of the year, the Honduran Government decided in principle to transfer these refugees from the border area to the northern part of the country near the town of Olanchito (Yoro Department). UNHCR is currently discussing with the Honduran Government the conditions for this transfer. Approximately 15,000 Nicaraguan refugees of Miskito origin, who began arriving in Honduras in 1982, were initially grouped in a large camp in Mocoron. In February 1983, they were dispersed to numerous rural villages along the three main rivers of the area, Río Patuca, Warinta and Mocorón, where self-sufficiency projects were started. It is expected that most of the refugees will become self-sufficient as regards their subsistence requirements in 1984 and 1985. Some 2,800 other Nicaraguan refugees have benefited from UNHCR assistance since the latter part of 1982. They are accommodated in two small villages (Jacaleapa and Teupasenti) in the area of Danli (El Paraíso Department).

126. In Mexico, nearly 43,000 Guatemalan refugees, settled in 89 sites along the border, continued to receive care and maintenance during 1983 despite difficult logistics. International assistance is channelled through the National Commission for Refugees (COMAR). Possibilities for small self-sufficiency programmes for these refugees in other parts of Mexico are under consideration by the Government.

127. In Europe, the flow of asylum-seekers continued unabated, particularly from developing countries. These included refugees who had spent a certain period in a first country of asylum before proceeding to Europe. In the course of 1983, an increasing reluctance on the part of many European Governments to accept such applicants was noted. To discourage economic migrants from utilizing the asylum procedure, certain deterrents were introduced by some Governments, including prohibition from working and reduction of social benefits while applications were being examined. Preoccupied by the economic recession and the heavy financial burden constituted by asylum-seekers, whose cases often take years to determine in view of the lengthy eligibility procedures, certain Governments have been unwilling to maintain the generous admission criteria of former years. At the same time, the traditional resettlement countries also decreased their intake of refugees. As a result of such measures, a certain accumulation of cases was noted in first asylum countries such as Austria, Greece, Italy, Turkey and Yugoslavia.

128. The insecurity of asylum-seekers in certain first asylum countries frequently made it necessary for UNHCR to appeal to Governments in Europe for transit facilities, enabling these persons to remain temporarily in a country where their physical safety could be assured pending a more permanent solution. Countries such as Austria, Denmark, Portugal, Spain and Sweden responded generously to requests of this kind. The estimated total number of refugees in Europe in 1983 was 600,000 and there were an additional 100,000 asylum-seekers. The countries receiving the most asylum-seekers continued to be the Federal Republic of Germany and France, although the intake of the former country was greatly reduced in 1983. In relation to its population, Switzerland received the highest percentage of refugees in Europe. Austria and Sweden registered an increase, as did Italy and Turkey which granted generous transit facilities despite the fact that both countries still maintain the geographical reservation to the 1951 Convention, under which asylum-seekers from non-European countries are not eligible for refugee status.

129. The economic recession made it increasingly difficult for European Governments to meet all the needs of asylum-seekers and refugees. As a result, UNHCR was often called upon to increase its contribution to a number of projects, particularly in the fields of legal assistance, in order to assist asylum-seekers through the asylum procedure, and counselling, in order to deal with problems of integration and mental stress. Projects were also launched for language courses and vocational training, some in co-operation with the intergovernmental Committee for Migration, and for the promotion of self-help activities. Assistance was also given to some needy Lebanese stranded in Europe.

130. In September 1983, a Seminar on the Integration of Refugees in Europe was held at Geneva and was attended by representatives of 19 Governments and by non-governmental organizations. The purpose was to provide a forum for a discussion of the difficulties currently confronting asylum-seekers and refugees in Europe, to exchange information on the different approaches adopted by countries and to propose concrete solutions. Conclusions were reached on the main subjects: the legal framework of integration, the institutional framework of integration, capacity of absorption of refugees, willingness of refugees to integrate, the pre-asylum period, the period after recognition of refugee status and/or the granting of asylum, and long-term social and legal integration.

131. UNHCR obligations in the Americas and Europe totalled $44 million in 1983, of which $40 million were under General Programmes and $4 million under Special Programmes. Details of expenditure by country are given in tables 1 and 2 of annex II to the present report.

E. Regional developments in East and South Asia and Oceania

132. Refugees of Indo-Chinese origin continued to constitute the largest refugee group in East and South Asia and Oceania. By the end of 1983, the total number of Indo-Chinese refugees still awaiting durable solutions in camps and centres in asylum countries in the region stood at some 167,000, of whom 42,237 were boat people. In addition to this number, there were an estimated 276,000 Indo-Chinese refugees in China and some 26,000 Kampuchean refugees in Viet Nam, the majority of whom also benefited from UNHCR assistance.

133. Thailand accommodated the largest number of Indo-Chinese refugees of any first asylum country in South-East Asia. At the end of 1983, the number of Indo-Chinese refugees in Thailand totalled some 133,000, including 56,300 Kampucheans, 68,000 Lao, and 8,600 Vietnamese. Other countries and areas providing temporary asylum to significant numbers of Indo-Chinese refugees included Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. In addition, there were two Refugee Processing Centres, one in Indonesia and the other in the Philippines, which provided temporary accommodation for some 21,000 Indo-Chinese refugees who had already been accepted for resettlement by third countries.

134. UNHCR's programmes for large numbers of Indo-Chinese refugees in the region are determined in great measure by the fact that the choice of durable solutions is limited to resettlement in third countries and, to a lesser extent, voluntary repatriation. Resettlement continues to be the most practicable solution, with some 880,000 refugee departures recorded since 1975. Although the numbers choosing to return home remain small, voluntary repatriation, even of limited scope, has served a valuable function in keeping open an alternative. For those refugees still awaiting durable solutions in asylum countries, UNHCR continues to provide intermediate assistance in the form of basic care and maintenance which includes, inter alia, food, accommodation, clothing, household utensils and equipment, water, health and sanitation services, education and vocational training, and social services. Given the decline in resettlement opportunities, assistance is also geared towards meeting the needs arising from the prolonged residence of refugees in camps. Increased emphasis is put on such areas as counselling and mental and physical health programmes, wherever possible, relief measures have been combined with activities aimed at assisting refugees towards self-reliance within the constraints of camp life and government regulations. In most countries, assistance is provided by UNHCR through agreements with Governments, non-governmental organizations and voluntary agencies. Moreover, UNHCR assistance is often supplemented by relief activities and services of other agencies utilizing their own resources.

135. As in previous years, UNHCR has continued to provide assistance to all Indo-Chinese refugees in Thailand. Assistance activities in the country have somewhat stabilized and expenditures have progressively decreased in approximate proportion to the steady decline in the refugee case-load. In the context of the camp consolidation policy of the Royal Thai Government, one more camp is in the process of being closed, thus leaving two camps available for Lao hill-tribes, one for lowland Lao, one for Kampucheans, one for Vietnamese, and one processing and transit centre for all ethnic groups.

136. Voluntary repatriation candidates and groups of spontaneous returnees to countries of origin have also benefited from UNHCR assistance. Resettlement kits containing agricultural implements, domestic utensils and, whenever appropriate, rice, have been distributed to persons choosing to return home. Beneficiaries have included some 2,236 Kampuchean refugees repatriated from the Lao People's Democratic Republic under a bilateral arrangement between the authorities concerned, 2,397 Lao refugees repatriated from Thailand, and large numbers of refugees of both ethnic groups who repatriated spontaneously. In the Lao People's Democratic Republic, returnees continue to benefit from assistance designed to facilitate their return and reintegration. In particular, UNHCR has intensified its efforts to diversify small-scale, integrated self-sufficiency projects.

137. In China, some 276,000 refugees from Indo-China have been settled on 257 state farms in various provinces. From 1979 to 1983, a total of 69 state farms with a combined refugee population of some 184,000 received UNHCR assistance. In some of these state farms, production has risen and living standards have improved to the extent that refugees have become increasingly self-sufficient. During 1983, some 1,200 Kampucheans were also assisted in the Lao People's Democratic Republic and 21,000 Kampuchean refugees benefited from UNHCR assistance in Viet Nam) of these, some 16,000 lived in centres established with assistance from UNHCR.

138. UNHCR's assistance programme in the East Malaysian State of Sabah is geared towards self-sufficiency and promotion of local integration. In 1983, UNHCR contributed towards the construction of low-cost housing for some 2,500 persons, two markets and 36 classrooms; towards the training of officials involved in refugee affairs; and to counselling activities. Following the Government's recent decision to allow local integration of Filipino refugees, further assistance by UNHCR in this field is envisaged.

139. other groups of concern to UNHCR in the region include some 8,000 Afghans and Iranians in India, asylum-seekers from Irian Jaya, Indonesia, in Papua New Guinea, and other individual refugees, mostly Iranians, in several other countries. These refugees, whenever necessary, receive subsistence allowances, medical care, counselling and/or education assistance on an individual basis.

140. During 1983, a total of $74.2 million was obligated for assistance to refugees in East and South Asia and Oceania under General Programmes and $9.5 million under Special Programmes. Of this amount, $58 million was obligated for multi-purpose assistance for Indo-Chinese refugees in the region.

F. Regional developments in the Middle East and South-West Asia

141. As in 1982, the largest single UNHCR assistance programme in 1983 was the multi-purpose assistance programme for Afghan refugees in Pakistan. However, events in Lebanon necessitated emergency assistance to thousands of displaced persons and refugees in the Middle East. UNHCR also continued the co-ordination of a comprehensive assistance programme for displaced persons in Cyprus. Discussions with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran were continued on the modalities of the implementation of a local integration programme for Afghan refugees. UNHCR obligated a total of $96 million for these different programmes, of which $68.8 million were under General Programmes and $27.2 million under Special Programmes. Details of expenditures by country and area are given in tables I and 2 of annex II to the present report.

142. UNHCR's humanitarian assistance programme for Afghan refugees in Pakistan in 1983 was based on assessed needs, available resources and implementation capabilities. To the extent that a planning figure was required, calculations were based on a case-load of 2.3 million beneficiaries. There was no major influx of refugees during 1983. In the majority of the refugee villages (some 340 in Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province and the Punjab), traditional mud houses constructed by the refugees themselves are increasingly replacing tents. Refugees also tend to participate more and more in the local economy. Although a major part of the programme continues to emphasize care and maintenance, there is a growing awareness among all participants of the need for a shift towards self-reliance.

143. A UNHCR-World Bank project to provide employment and thus generate supplementary income for refugees and the local population in the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan was finalized. The project, which will be implemented over a three-year period, aims at repairing damage to forest areas and improving irrigation systems and roads, all of which have been adversely affected by refugees and their livestock. The project is costed at $20 million and $1,628,591 were obligated in 1983. UNHCR also incorporated into its 1983 programme some of the projects recommended by ILO after a mission to Pakistan in late 1982. The projects were designed to provide employment and skills-training opportunities for Afghan refugees. A vocational training project, funded by UNHCR and implemented by ILO, was started in Baluchistan, while a pilot project for promotion of fuel-efficient stoves and ovens was started in the North-West Frontier Province.

144. The Government of Pakistan continued the relocation of part of the refugee population from the North-West Frontier Province to the Punjab. By the end of 1983, approximately 40,000 refugees had been transferred to Kot Chandana in the Mianwali district. A new site was selected which will hold an additional 10,000 refugees.

145. To alleviate the suffering of the civilian population affected by the continuing civil war in Lebanon in 1983, UNHCR provided emergency assistance in the form of relief items such as blankets, mattresses, kitchen utensils, etc. to some 98,000 persons including displaced Lebanese and refugees. In the Syrian Arab Republic, UNHCR provided similar relief items for Lebanese and Palestinians not registered with UNRWA who took refuge in the Syrian Arab Republic and who are residing in the Sayda Zeinab Camp, the areas of Draa and Sweida and in outlying provinces. The number of such persons who received UNHCR assistance in 1983 amounted to some 38,000. UNHCR also provided monthly subsistence grants to some 200 needy Lebanese in Cyprus.

146. Although it is clear from the above that UNHCR's resources in the Middle East were used predominantly for the displaced victims of the violence in Lebanon, the Regional office in Beirut, often under extremely difficult circumstances, has been able to carry out traditional assistance for refugees in the area.

147. In 1983, a total of $3.5 million was obligated for an initial programme of assistance to Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This amount included $1 million made available from the Emergency Fund to provide some 5,000 family-size tents to meet the urgent needs of new arrivals as well as $2.5 million to be used until mid-1984 for basic relief items for refugees in the provinces of Khorasan and Sistan-Baluchistan. In the meantime, discussions continue between the Government and UNHCR concerning the modalities of implementing a broader UNHCR programme of assistance to supplement the efforts already being undertaken by the authorities in favour of Afghan refugees.


A. Co-operation between UNHCR and other members Of the United Nations system

148. In accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly concerning inter-agency co-ordination, UNHCR has continued to intensity its efforts towards closer co-operation with other members of the United Nations system and has participated in a number of meetings dealing with issues related to its work.

149. As a result, more joint activities have been initiated and fruitfully maintained. Its participation in the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination and related subsidiary bodies has also provided UNHCR with an opportunity to raise aspects of its activities which are of common interest to other members of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC). In general, collaboration between agencies has either taken the form of participation within the framework of UNHCR programmes of assistance or the provision of technical advisory services and expertise by a number of United Nations agencies.

150. As in previous years, the World Food Programme (WFP) has continued to meet most of the basic food needs of refugees in many affected areas of the world. The proportion of WFP emergency resources dedicated to refugees continues to increase as new refugee situations emerge. In 1983, in Africa alone, WFP provided some 100,000 tons of food commodities valued at $41.5 million to refugees and displaced persons, forecasts for 1984 and subsequent years assume that the 1983 level will be maintained. WFP contributions have also helped UNHCR to promote the self-sufficiency of refugees within the context of local integration projects. Apart from continuing its role as food aid coordinator in Pakistan, Somalia and Thailand, where UNHCR is engaged in major care and maintenance operations, WFP has provided logistical support for UNHCR programmes in the Sudan and Zaire.

151. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has provided support to various refugee programmes in fields related to care and maintenance and community development. In Djibouti, Pakistan and Somalia, for example, UNICEF has assisted in the supply of drinking water to refugees, while in the Syrian Arab Republic it has co-operated with UNHCR in providing emergency relief assistance to Lebanese refugees.

152. In continuing discussions, UNHCR and UNDP have agreed upon general guidelines and procedures for future co-operation in situations requiring longer-term assistance to refugees and involving development projects. Follow-up meetings have taken place in both New York and Geneva to work out detailed operational terms of reference for proposed UNHCR-UNDP joint projects in Somalia and the Sudan. A further significant aspect of continued collaboration with UNDP is the employment of United Nations Volunteers in various UNHCR programmes around the world.

153. Co-operation with ILO has increased and is centred around the promotion of vocational training and income-generating activities in refugee settlements. UNHCR and ILO are also engaged in projects concerning labour migration and the integration of refugees in Latin America, the development of small enterprises or co-operatives in various African countries and the rehabilitation of disabled refugees. Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organizations in October 1983, possibilities of greater collaboration in other areas are being explored.

154. Close collaboration has also developed in recent years between UNHCR and the World Bank. UNHCR was represented by a high-level delegation headed by the Director of Assistance at the World Bank-sponsored Consultative Group meetings on Somalia and the Sudan. Early in 1984, agreements were signed between the Government of Pakistan, the World Bank and UNHCR for projects which aim at creating employment and income-generating activities for both refugees and local residents.

155. The World Health Organization (WHO) has continued to provide technical advice and expert services for major emergency relief operations. Joint appointments of UNHCR-WHO health coordinators have been made for refugee programmes in Pakistan, Somalia and Thailand. In Pakistan, two additional medical posts have also been created. At headquarters level, WHO has seconded to UNHCR a public health-nutrition adviser.

156. Also in the medical field, the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) has for its part been co-operating with UNHCR in family planning programmes in the United Republic of Tanzania, this co-operation has recently been extended to Indo-Chinese refugees in Hong Kong.

157. UNHCR continues to maintain close contacts with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the area of refugee education. The possibility of expanding existing consultancy services is under consideration, and UNESCO has agreed to consider seconding specialized staff members to UNHCR to assist in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of programmes in special fields of education. UNESCO is also collaborating with UNHCR to establish a recognized testing system in subjects such as languages, mathematics and general science for refugees without certificates, thus allowing them to be placed and to continue their studies at various levels.

158. Co-operation with the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator (UNDRO) has proceeded along the lines of the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1978 between the two organizations. UNHCR has recently participated in an informal meeting aimed at drafting a convention to expedite the delivery of relief supplies in disaster situations.

159. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) and UNHCR issued a joint appeal in October 1983 for the rescue of asylum-seekers in distress at sea. The appeal drew attention to the tact that a significant number of these refugees were not being rescued by passing vessels.

160. UNHCR has also continued to receive technical advice from other agencies. The United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) plans to participate in a joint venture with UNHCR and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in the context of the new settlement policy of the Somali Government and has provided, under secondment to UNHCR, the expert services of a physical planner-construction engineer. UNEP is also expected to participate in an inter-disciplinary mission to Somalia in September-October 1984 to advise on planning and implementation requirements for new settlements, in order to explore the possibilities of involving the technical ministries of the Government of Somalia and UNDP and to draw up a plan of action.

161. Co-ordination and co-operation with other United Nations agencies such as the Centre: for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the World Intellectual Property Organization and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research will continue to be of great importance to UNHCR. The Office will also continue, as appropriate, to co-operate with other agencies in such global endeavours as the United Nations Decade for Women, the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, the International Plan of Action on Aging adopted by the world Assembly on Aging at Vienna, the International Youth Year and the Substantial New Programme of Action for the 1980s for the Least Developed Countries.

B. Relations with other intergovernmental organizations

162. UNHCR has continued to maintain close contact with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) with regard to various aspects of refugee problems in Africa. At the invitation of the Secretary-General of the OAU, the High Commissioner visited Addis Ababa from 5 to 8 June 1983 on the occasion of the annual summit meeting of the Heads of African States and, thus, had the opportunity of reviewing African refugee situations and policy issues at the highest levels. In October of the same year, OAU was present as an observer at the thirty-fourth session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme and participated actively in the debate. Throughout the year, UNHCR and OAU also, collaborated closely on preparations for the Second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa.

163. Close co-operation with the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration (ICM) continued, particularly with respect to UNHCR-funded travel for refugees accepted for resettlement in third countries. Organization by ICM of transport at concessionary rates has led to considerable savings in this field. ICM has also collaborated with UNHCR and the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) in the dissemination of information and materials on refugee resettlement and integration through the International Refugee Integration Resource Centre (IRIRC), which is run under a tripartite agreement between the three organizations.

164. UNHCR maintained regular contact with the Organization of American States (OAS). There was particularly close co-operation with the OAS Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs and the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The joint programme for the study on the legal condition of refugees, "asilados" and displaced persons in the member States of OAS continued into its second year (see para. 63 above). As in previous years, UNHCR attended the OAS General Assembly in Washington.

165. During the period under review, UNHCR continued to develop its relations with the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. With a view to enhancing existing collaboration for the benefit of refugees in the Arab States, regular contact has been maintained with these two organizations to ensure a continuous exchange of views on subjects of mutual interest. UNHCR participated in the meeting on co-operation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States, which was held at Tunis from 28 June to 1 July 1983. Moreover, at the invitation of the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the High Commissioner plans to visit Tunis in April 1984.

166. UNHCR has continued to maintain a close relationship with the European Economic Community (EEC) and the Council of Europe. This has resulted in various specific démarches by the EEC in support of UNHCR's objectives in the fields of protection (see para. 63 above) and assistance. Contacts with the European Parliament have contributed to maintaining a high level of awareness of refugee problems, including their repercussions on member countries of EEC themselves. Financial contributions from EEC have somewhat lessened, owing to the relative absence of new emergencies, and total contributions in 1983 amounted to some $30 million. It has, however, been possible to include a new budgetary line in the EEC budget for refugee assistance beyond the emergency phase) this will become operational in 1984.

C. Co-operation with liberation movements

167. In accordance with the pertinent General Assembly resolutions, UNHCR has continued its close collaboration with liberation movements recognized by OAU and the United Nations. The South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC) and the Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) act as UNHCR's implementing partners for Namibian and South African refugees in their countries of asylum. The relationship between UNHCR and the national liberation movements has been close and productive in meeting the humanitarian needs of these refugees. Representatives from SWAPO, ANC and PAC attended the October 1983 meeting of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme in an observer capacity.

D. Relations between UNHCR and non-governmental organizations

168. Non-governmental organizations operating at the international and local levels have continued to provide valuable services to refugees and support to UNHCR activities on their behalf. UNHCR maintains relations with some 250 non-governmental organizations, 80 of them on a regular basis. Non-governmental organizations act as operational partners of UNHCR in the field where they provide emergency relief, longer-term assistance and support in the implementation of durable solutions. In donor countries, non-governmental organizations assist UNHCR by bringing refugee concerns to public attention by lobbying on refugee policy and by organizing fund-raising campaigns.

169. UNHCR has maintained close contact with umbrella agencies involved in refugee work and, in particular, with the International Council of Voluntary Agencies in Geneva. Other umbrella organizations which work with UNHCR include the All Africa Conference of Churches, the American Council of Voluntary Agencies for Foreign Service, Australians Care for Refugees, the British Refugee Council, Caritas Internationalis, the Committee for Co-ordination of Services to Displaced Persons in Thailand, the Danish Refugee Council, the Finnish Refugee Council, the Middle East Council of Churches, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the stichting Vluchteling, the Standing Conference of Canadian Organizations Concerned for Refugees, the World Alliance of Young Men's Christian Associations, the World Alliance of Young Women's Christian Associations and the World Council of Churches.

170. UNHCR has continued its co-operation with the International Red Cross, i.e. the International Committee of the Red Cross, the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the National Red Cross Societies. Some of UNHCR's major assistance programmes are implemented by the League. UNHCR has continued to be represented at the monthly meetings on disasters and emergencies hosted by the League in Geneva.

171. As a result of the interest of the non-governmental organizations in greater involvement in the annual meeting of the UNHCR Executive Committee, UNHCR convened, in October 1983, the first pre-Executive Committee meeting for non-governmental organizations which was attended by 66 agencies. The meeting enabled the non-governmental agencies to familiarize themselves with the main subjects on the Executive Committee's agenda and allowed for discussion with UNHCR of key elements within the High Commissioner's programme. Such consultation with non-governmental organizations is expected to become a permanent feature of UNHCR's preparations for the annual Executive Committee sessions.

172. In accordance with one of the recommendations of the 1981 UNHCR/NGO Consultation, an informal UNHCR/NGU consultative group on international protection was established and has held a number of meetings in Geneva. In May 1983, a two-day seminar on international protection problems was hosted by UN HCR with the participation of legal experts from non-governmental organizations and academic institutions.

173. At the Seminar on the Integration of Refugees in Europe, held at Geneva in September 1983, national non-governmental organizations participated alongside delegations from 19 countries. The agencies reported on the increasing responsibilities delegated to them by their Governments in the field of refugee integration.

174. During the reporting period, UNHCR has consulted with its non-governmental organization partners not only on broad issues such as refugee protection and integration, but also on specific regional questions. Areas of particular concern to the non-governmental organizations have included the Horn of Africa and Central America. UNHCR has participated in non-governmental organization meetings on the latter area, notably the ICVA Consultation held in Nyon, Switzerland, in January 1984.

175. In November 1983, non-governmental organizations were invited to comment on the report on the Meeting of Experts on Refugee Aid and Development held by UNHCR in August. The comments of the non-governmental organizations were submitted to the High Commissioner prior to discussion of the subject at the informal meeting of the Executive Committee in January 1984.

176. In early 1984, the High Commissioner issued guidelines on co-operation with non-governmental organizations as implementing agencies for UNHCR-funded projects. These are intended to clarify a number of issues in the field of UNHCR-NGO relations.

E. United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons

177. In the context of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and as a continuing concern of UNHCR, assistance was provided to individuals and groups of disabled refugees in various countries. Surveys to establish the needs, and assistance to meet them, were funded under the Trust Fund for Handicapped Refugees established with the Nobel Peace Prize money and from the overall allocation available under the General Programmes. The ILO and several non-governmental organizations have co-operated with UNHCR in identifying the needs and in developing and implementing projects for disabled refugees.

F. United Nations Decade for Women

178. Measures initiated in previous years aimed at ensuring the protection of women refugees, facilitating their involvement in the administration and operation of camps and encouraging their participation in skills training were continued. The ILO and other agencies co-operated in identifying and developing projects for women refugees. Counselling and health services for victims of violence and projects for women and children torture victims were continued in Asia and Latin America. Projects during the period under review included skills training, income-earning activities, primary health care, nutrition, family life and day-care services, provision of water supply, improved cooking methods and child care. The non-governmental organizations have been particularly active in this field.

G. Nansen Medal Award

179. The Nansen Medal for 1983 was awarded to President Julius Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania in recognition of his personal contribution and that of his country to the cause of refugees. since the early years of its independence, the United Republic of Tanzania has generously offered asylum to a virtually uninterrupted influx of refugees. Its liberal naturalization policy was a great encouragement for the pursuit of durable solutions in Africa. President Nyerere announced that the $50,000 prize that accompanied the award would be used to build schools for refugee children in the United Republic of Tanzania, as was the 1982 prize money which was awarded to Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Sonja of Norway.


180. In 1983, UNHCR voluntary funds expenditures were reduced for the third consecutive year. Expenditure amounted to $398 million as compared with $407 million in 1982. For General Programmes $316.2 million were required as against $81.8 million under major special Programmes and other Trust Funds. The international community responded generously. Following a General Programmes appeal in January and further negotiations with donors throughout the year, the 1983 programmes were fully financed. A total of 75 Governments provided contributions, while non-governmental organizations assisted through contributions in cash and in kind valued at $5.3 million. Intergovernmental organizations provided contributions amounting to $31 million, principally in food.

181. Urgent needs which arose in the course of the year obliged the High Commissioner to issue special appeals for additional funds. It should be noted that these were fewer in number than in previous years and that the total volume of additional funds requested was considerably reduced. The establishment of a programme for the voluntary repatriation of Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti required a special appeal in June, and later in the year it became necessary to reiterate the need for additional funding for the Programme of Orderly Departures from Viet Nam. In August, a special appeal was issued to promote contributions for a major income-generating project established by the World Bank for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

182. During 1983, the Executive Committee members and interested donors were regularly informed of the funding requirements and financial situation of the Office through periodic information letters from the Director of External Affairs. Reports on major UNHCR programmes were also issued to keep donors up-to-date on the progress of assistance activities and related expenditures.

183. At its thirty-fourth session, the Executive Committee approved a target of $368,460,000 for General Programmes in 1984. This means that, according to present estimates, total voluntary funds requirements for 1984, together with expenditures under current Special Programmes (returnees to Ethiopia, Kampuchea, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Uganda) the Refugee Education Account and the Orderly Departure Programme) are likely to be once again in the region of $400 million. Total contributions in 1984 for both General and Special Programmes as at 31 March 1984 amounted to $140 million. Table 3 of annex II to the present report shows contributions to UNHCR General and Special Programmes for the years 1983 and 1984 which were paid or pledged as at 31 March 1984.

184. The High Commissioner is grateful that donor response to refugee needs has remained prompt and generous despite the considerable demands on their financial resources. The High Commissioner depends on donors to maintain such understanding and generosity so that refugees may be assisted effectively through the full implementation of the programmes approved by the Executive Committee.


185. UNHCR continued its efforts to promote greater public awareness of the problems of refugees through the production and distribution of information material and through co-productions with other information sources and outlets. In addition, the Office was charged with the responsibility for the public information programme of the Second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa.

186. Throughout 1983, a detailed and varied public information plan was developed and executed with the purpose of sensitizing world public opinion to the plight of refugees in Africa and to the aims and objectives of the Second International Conference an Assistance to Refugees in Africa. Activities included film and radio productions, two international journalists' seminars to Africa, a background leaflet, a variety of posters, briefing kits, a slide set and a special issue of UNHCR's monthly publication Refugees (December 1983). Public information activities related to the Second International Conference were intensified in 1984 during the months preceding and succeeding the Conference. These would include a televised concert, two more journalists' seminars to Africa, a series of international non-governmental organization public information workshops, press briefings, and collaboration with other United Nations agencies.

187. The newspaper Refugees continued to provide up-to-date information on refugee problems world-wide. It was published monthly in English and French and there was one special German language issue. Its quarterly supplement, Refugees magazine, focused on four major issues: Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Indo-Chinese refugees, attacks on refugee camps, and refugees in Africa. It too was published regularly in English and French with special issues in Arabic, Italian and Spanish.

188. Other publications included a catalogue of information materials, photo and thematic posters, a world refugee map and a calendar based on drawings by refugee children. Country fact sheets gave regularly updated and detailed information on aid programmes in Central America, South-Fast Asia, Pakistan, Somalia, the Sudan, Zaire and Ethiopia. Press releases were issued as warranted.

189. In the course of the year, the photo-library distributed some 45,000 photographs (black and white and slides) to the media, schools and non-governmental organizations. In addition to servicing external demand, the photo-library continued to provide support for all UNHCR's public information publications and to arrange exhibitions.

190. During the period under review, the film department completed three documentary films which are now ready for distribution and are reaching wide audiences: "The Camp on Lantau Island" (boat people in Hong Kong), "The Lost Tribes" (Afghan refugees in Pakistan) and "Beyond Emergency" (Ethiopian refugees in Somalia). In addition, UNHCR continued and intensified its policy of film co-productions with major television networks which produced several films on refugee situations around the world. These co-production agreements, which contain provisions that the resulting films must be shown at prime time and the spare footage given to UNHCR for noncommercial use, continue to prove very useful. UNHCR films are distributed by UNHCR as well as by some major film distribution agencies.

191. The Office has produced and distributed taped radio interviews and other material, especially on the Second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa, to branch offices as well as to United Nations Radio and national networks.

192. Public information material in the form of films, colour slides, black and white prints, posters, printed material, calendars and education kits were provided to voluntary agencies to support their fund-raising projects and information campaigns.

193. In order to assist the world media to develop and sustain an interest in refugee problems, regular contacts were maintained with the press, radio and television, numerous inquiries were answered and interviews given to interested journalists. UNHCR Representatives and Public Information Officers in the field continued to keep the press in their respective countries informed, and requests from journalists and television crews for UNHCR assistance in reporting on refugee situations around the world continued to increase. Journalists, television crews and photographers also participated in the itinerant media seminars of the Public Information Section, one of which visited South-East Asia and another the refugee asylum countries of Central America. Two seminars travelled through a number of African countries on an information-gathering programme for the Second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa.

(Note: Financial and statistical data tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)

1 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, No. 2545, p. 137.

2 Ibid., vol. 606, No. 8791, p. 267.

3 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, No. 2545, p. 137.

4 Ibid., vol. 606, No. 8791, p. 267.

5 Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 12 (A/38/12 and Corr.1).

6 Madagascar, Monaco, Mozambique.

7 Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Madagascar, Malta, Monaco, Paraguay and Turkey. The geographical limitation introduced on accession to the Convention by various other states has progressively been withdrawn.

8 Adopted by the General Assembly on 14 December 1950 as the annex to resolution 428 (v).

9 Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/38/12/Add.1) para.97 (2).

10 Ibid., Thirty-second Session, supplement No. 12A (A/32/12/Add.1), para. 53 (4) (c).

11 Recommendation on the protection of persons satisfying the criteria in the Geneva Convention who are not formally recognized as refugees, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 25 January 1984.

12 Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-fourth Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/34/12/Add.1), para. 72 (2) (h).

13 Ibid., Thirty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/36/12/Add.1), para. 57 (2) II B2.

14 Ibid., Thirty-eighth Session, Supplement No. 12(A/38/12 and Corr.1), paras. 33-37.

15 Ibid., Supplement No. 12A (A/398/12/Add.1), para.97 (3) (c).

16 Ibid., paras. 93-95, and 97 (4).

17 Ibid., Supplement No.12 (A/38/12), para. 49.

18 Ibid., Thirty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/36/12/Add.1), para. 57 (4), subparas. 5 and 6.