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Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1991

Executive Committee Meetings

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1991

1 January 1992
General Assembly Official Records. Forty-sixth Session. Supplement No.12 (A/46/12). United Nations, New York, 1991


1. During the period covered by this report, the global refugee situation deteriorated in an unprecedented manner, owing particularly to developments in the Middle East region and in Africa (the Horn and western Africa). At present, there are some 17 million refugees in the world, a figure which increased dramatically as a product of some of the largest and swiftest population flows experienced during the four decades of existence of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

2. This troubling evolution of events poses new and daunting challenges to both the international community and UNHCR, as well as to the United Nations system as a whole. The humanitarian plight of refugees has served to focus the attention of the international community on one of the most troubling phenomena facing mankind on the eve of the twenty-first century. Recent events have put the humanitarian machinery of the United Nations system and the international community to the test and may have far-reaching implications for the manner in which international assistance is channelled towards emergencies, both man-made and natural. Previous calls for enhanced inter-agency coordination and improvements in resource-allocation have assumed greater significance and urgency and give particular relevance to Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/78 of 27 July 1990. Therefore, unfortunate as they are, recent events have nevertheless had the "positive" impact of focusing the attention of the international community as never before on the situation of refugees. This has meant that in addition to greater scrutiny being placed on the quality and speed of relief, there is now greater awareness of the urgent need to address the root causes of forced flight.

3. While the period under review has been characterized by the emergence of new and urgent refugee situations, long-standing refugee situations, such as that of Afghans in Pakistan and Iran, continue to require the attention of the international community and necessitate new and innovative approaches. The adoption of regional, comprehensive approaches towards the achievement of durable solutions for certain situations, such as that adopted by the International Conference on Central American Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons (CIREFCA) and the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese Refugees (CPA), may augur hope for particularly intractable and long-standing refugee situations concurrently affecting a number of States.

4. Given the worsening refugee situation world wide, UNHCR redoubled its efforts, during the period under review, to seek durable solutions to the world's refugee problems, in furtherance of its Mandate. Recourse to tripartite commissions or similar consultative mechanisms, regional approaches to refugee problems (CIREFCA, CPA) and other such efforts continue to be the mainstay of this endeavour. The High Commissioner has and will continue to make her utmost effort to make a contribution, wherever possible, to those processes which may eventually pave the way for the consolidation of peace and the actual achievement of durable solutions. The role of the Office with respect of Rwandese and South African refugees and exilees are but two recent examples of such efforts.

5. Despite the ever-worsening refugee situation, a certain degree of optimism may be justified in a number of situations. Solutions to the long-standing refugee situation in Central America appear to be on track, thanks to the concerted efforts of the countries in the region through CIREFCA. In Africa, owing to promising political developments, hope appears on the horizon for situations which gave rise to flight in the case of Rwanda, South Africa, Angola and Western Sahara. The two-year track record of the CPA and the continued commitment of all parties to all its components are a promising indicator that this "model" approach will eventually solve the 16-year-old problem of Indo-Chinese refugees and asylum-seekers.

6. Now, on the threshold of its fifth decade of existence, UNHCR marks its fortieth anniversary less with a sense of past achievement than with concern over the increasingly challenging situations being posed almost on a daily basis. Upon assuming office in February 1991, the newly elected United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mrs. Sadako Ogata, stated, "as UNHCR commemorates its fortieth anniversary year, revolutionary changes have redrawn the ideological map of the world, opening up new opportunities for the resolution of regional conflicts. ... The dimensions of today's refugee issue demand that it be placed in the mainstream of the international agenda and in the context of human rights".

7. Now more than ever, the Office depends on the solidarity of the international community in order to improve the speed and quality with which it is able to address the ever-evolving refugee situation. Against the backdrop of persistent financial constraints, greater demands are being placed on the Office by the international community to help resolve emergencies on an unprecedented scale. It is hoped that a funding trend will emerge which will, in turn, allow UNHCR to improve the planning of the totality of its activities and improve its response to emergencies.

8. The above is particularly important as the phenomenon of human displacement has traditionally affected those countries least able to face the additional burden on scarce national resources placed by the influx of asylum-seekers. These countries consequently assume a burden which is disproportionate to available resources with a resulting impact on national populations as well. In this context, the international community must continue to play a dynamic role in encouraging the necessary humanitarian response and ensuring that the protection and assistance needs of asylum-seekers are adequately met. Experience has demonstrated that the cause of global peace, harmony and burden-sharing can hardly be, served in a better way.


A. Introduction

9. Protection involves using law and principles to secure the rights, security and welfare of refugees. Beyond attaining immediate objectives, such as the prevention of refoulement, the ultimate aim of protection is to achieve durable solutions to the problems of refugees, either through voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin in conditions of safety, or through integration in new national communities. In other words, protection is a continuous process which calls for action during flight, admission, the emergency phase, the period of stabilization and the search for durable solutions as well as their effective implementation.

10. The period under review witnessed an overall improvement in the international protection of refugees. States and UNHCR continued and further consolidated their cooperation, both at the regional level and internationally, in the assessment of and response to current refugee situations and further development of thinking to resolve, foresee and prevent refugee problems. The refugee situations in Central America and South-East Asia were approached more comprehensively as plans of action adopted in 1989 at international conferences entered their implementation stage. A regional mechanism set up on an emergency basis in Africa helped effectively to contain a rapidly worsening refugee situation. The attainment of durable solutions through the voluntary repatriation of refugees in several parts of the world and the consequent closure of camps set up over a decade ago constituted other examples of progress. Such developments were nevertheless partially offset by certain negative trends which are considered in other parts of this report.

11. The protection of refugees is inextricably linked to the search for, and attainment of, durable solutions to their problems. Reassessment of how these goals can be achieved with the refugee populations of today remains an urgent need. The forty-first session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme noted the urgency of the deliberations of its Working Group on Solutions and Protection, which it had requested UNHCR to convene during its fortieth session in 1989, but whose convening had been delayed due to the exceptional requirements of the Office's 1990 financial and administrative review. The Working Group is to submit a report to the forty-second session of the Executive Committee in which it will reflect as necessary upon, inter-alia, methods of early warning of developing situations; prevention of future problems as well as resolution of current ones through mediation; addressing the human rights dimensions of refugee flows; developing a stronger concept of State responsibility for those problems; burden-sharing through development assistance to countries of origin and first asylum; the relationship between refugee flows and migration programmes; the important role that regional bodies and mechanisms can play in these various areas; how to deal better with rejected asylum-seekers; and more effective use of the United Nations and other qualified bodies. Beginning in the autumn of 1990, the Working Group on Solutions and Protection has met regularly in response to the above-mentioned considerations by analysing the causes, protection problems, possible responses and solutions - including prevention - relating to the seven categories of persons it decided to discuss within the framework of the exercise, that is, those covered by the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol; those covered by the Convention of the Organization of African Unity Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa and the Cartagena Declaration on Refugees; those forced to leave, or prevented from returning to their countries because of man-made disasters; those forced to leave or prevented from returning because of natural or ecological disasters or extreme poverty; rejected asylum-seekers; the internally displaced; and stateless persons.

12. Throughout discussions in the Working Group, the perspective of UNHCR has been that it is necessary to adopt a global, solutions-oriented approach to population movements containing asylum-seekers, which integrates and properly balances humanitarian and human rights concerns with development, foreign policy and immigration-control considerations. Such a development would, of course, have to be consistent with fundamental refugee protection principles, even while it needs to be recognized that causes, prevention and return options urgently require more concerted examination.

13. Consistent with this approach and concerned with the need to ensure effective implementation of international refugee instruments, notably the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, the Executive Committee also encouraged States Parties to respond as quickly as possible to a questionnaire to be submitted to them on this subject. At the time of preparation of this report, a large number of responses were still outstanding so that only an interim report on the matter to the forty-second session of the Executive Committee will be possible.

14. It is clear from the preceding that the concept of international protection covers a broad range of activities. These include providing for the protection of refugees by promoting with Governments international conventions and special agreements intended to improve the situation of refugees and assisting in efforts to implement durable solutions to their problems. The rest of this chapter focuses on several major protection areas affecting the legal and diplomatic protection of refugees.

B. Rights of refugees

15. While there is a need, as is clear from the above, to move on from the traditional view of the refugee problem as one mainly of responsibilities of receiving countries, admission and the granting of asylum, as well as protection from refoulement, are indispensable components of the international system for the protection of refugees. During the reporting period, many States continued to respect their commitments in this field and the vast majority of the world's refugees were admitted into the territory of States, granted at least temporary asylum and protected from refoulement. Considerable resources were made available by these States, and the international community generally, to meet the needs of the refugee communities, thus demonstrating the continuing strong humanitarian commitment of Governments at the national and international level. In addition, cooperation was maintained at the regional level in refugee-affected areas with reinforced efforts being made to identify and address root causes and at the same time, durable, regionally based solutions were sought in both political and humanitarian domains.

16. In a number of instances, however, admission and asylum were denied on various grounds. These included the refusal by States to examine asylum requests based upon a strict application of the notion of "country of first asylum". Many asylum-seekers were returned on these grounds to countries where they had briefly sojourned or even transited during their flight. Other countries simply denied asylum-seekers access to a status determination procedure.

17. An ongoing practice was the restrictive interpretation in some countries of various elements of the refugee definition contained in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, coupled with the requirement that applicants for refugee status satisfy an excessively stringent burden and standard of proof. For example, a handful of countries rejected asylum-seekers on the grounds that, although they demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution, they could not prove that said fear extended to the whole of the territory of their country of origin.

18. Fundamental civil, political and social changes in certain countries have resulted in an opening up and democratization process, which is being perceived as a fundamental change in circumstances from a refugee status point of view. This has resulted in the termination by countries of asylum of the refugee status of persons from one or more of these countries. Whereas, in a number of cases, the decision may have been appropriate, in some others the decision to terminate status may have been taken before sufficient time had elapsed since the fundamental changes had occurred for the situation in the country of origin to be considered stable.

19. Concern did not lessen during the reporting period over violations of the principle of non-refoulement. Certain States expelled or returned refugees to situations of danger not only individually but, in some instances, on a large scale. Measures of expulsion or refoulement were various and included expulsion orders against refugees, forcible return of refugees to countries of origin or unsafe third countries, electrified fences to prevent entry, non-admission of stowaway asylum-seekers and push-offs of boat arrivals or interdictions on the high seas.

20. Unjustified detention of refugees is clearly contrary to basic human rights. In Conclusion 44 (XXXVII), the Executive Committee recommended that the detention of refugees and asylum-seekers be considered an exceptional measure which should only be resorted to on specific grounds prescribed by law. Those grounds are limited to the need to verify the identity of the individual, determine the elements on which the claim to refugee status is based, deal with cases where the persons concerned have destroyed their travel and/or identity documents or used false ones, and protect national security or public order. Nevertheless, cases of detention, harassment and even kidnapping of refugees as well as asylum-seekers continued to be a cause for concern.

21. While the detention of refugees and asylum-seekers still constituted the exception rather than the rule, in some countries such persons were automatically detained and had to spend considerable periods in detention with no possibility of judicial or administrative review. In a few countries, refugees were detained on account of their illegal entry or presence, regardless of the fact that this was exclusively, or at least mainly, due to their need to find protection. In some countries, no distinction was made between asylum-seekers or refugees and common delinquents or criminals, or between children and adults, regarding conditions of detention. In others, UNHCR was denied access to both asylum-seekers and refugees in detention.

22. In several countries, refugees and asylum-seekers were kept in closed camps as a matter of policy. Surrounded by barbed wire and surveyed by police and armed personnel, they were obliged to remain in such camps until either resettled elsewhere or returned to their respective countries of origin. Many have been kept in such camps for more than a decade. Such circumstances have led to severe strain among the camp inhabitants and serious outbreaks of violence have occurred which, in a few instances, led to deaths of inhabitants, as well as serious threats to UNHCR staff.

23. Given the resulting lack of freedom of movement and access to the outside world, camps and detention centres usually make refugees more vulnerable instead of less. The period under review witnessed worrisome situations where refugees in camps fell victim to undisciplined elements of the armed forces of the country of asylum, subversive elements from the country of origin who had infiltrated the camps and/or third Governments attempting to co-opt refugees into their service.

24. Despite such disturbing incidences, the physical safety of refugees granted asylum was generally ensured in most countries. Exceptions, however, occurred and, in particular, many refugee women were subjected to physical violence and sexual abuse. Although the number of piracy incidents has decreased - none was reported in the second half of 1990 - those perpetrated were more ferocious than in previous years. Increasingly restrictive policies of reception have resulted in fewer rescues at sea by ships which could not be assured of the asylum-seekers' eventual disembarkation in the next port of call.

C. Promotion of refugee protection

25. On 25 September 1990, Belize acceded to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol. The number of States Parties to one or both of these instruments is, therefore, presently 107. However, it is expected that other States will soon become parties to both refugee instruments as a number of States were considering accession as of the close of the reporting period. In 1991 UNHCR is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the 1951 Convention. It is hoped that this anniversary event will encourage States who have not done so to accede soon.

26. Promotion and dissemination of refugee law had also retained its place as an essential protection function of UNHCR and, now more than ever, in order to safeguard the human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. In this context, fair and expeditious procedures for the determination of refugee status, as well as implementation of the international refugee instruments in national legislation and/or administrative measures, remained of paramount importance in ensuring that refugees and asylum-seekers receive adequate protection. UNHCR continued to provide advice and training to government officials and others on such procedures. During the period under review, 20 refugee law training seminars for government officials and others were organized in all parts of the world. Despite the Office's present financial constraints, the High Commissioner hopes to continue training activities at the same level with the help of financial contributions by private foundations.

27. The Centre for Documentation on Refugees (CDR) continued to strengthen and systematize the Office's information and documentation capacity. In this connection, further progress has been realized in the development of its databases, REFLIT, REFCAS, REFINT and REFLEG. These databases contain, respectively, abstracts of public documents concerning refugees and of legal decisions on refugee status, the full text of international instruments and of national legislation. In addition to its quarterly bulletin, Refugee Abstracts, the Centre has published a special bibliography, ExCom in abstracts, on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of UNHCR, which describes all major documents issued in the context of UNHCR governing bodies since its creation. In the framework of the International Refugee Documentation Network, CDR has set up an International Refugee Electronic Network (IRENE). This pilot project was established at the request of non-governmental organizations in April 1990, in order to enable speedy and efficient communication and exchange of information between all members of the Network. Finally, the International Thesaurus of Refugee Terminology, published in English in 1989 and behind which CDR was the driving force, is now being issued in French and Spanish.


A. Major trends in assistance

1. Introduction

28. During 1990, UNHCR continued its efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees throughout the world in cooperation with concerned Governments and the international community, as well as its pursuit for durable solutions to refugee situations through programmes such as voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement. These efforts were affected, however, by the financial constraints which UNHCR has experienced since 1989. UNHCR also responded to requests for emergency assistance in an increasing number of new refugee situations which further strained the resources of the Office.

29. At its fortieth session in October 1989, the Executive Committee took the decision only to "note" the budget of $414.4 million for the general programmes of UNHCR in 1990. Furthermore, obligations for the first six months of 1990 were not allowed to exceed $190 million, including the absorption of 50 per cent of any obligations carried over from 1989. The maximum level of this carry-over was set at $40 million. The Committee also decided that the level of obligations for the second half of 1990 would need to be authorized at the Extraordinary Session of the Executive Committee to be held in late May/early June 1990. These measures, although necessary in view of the prevailing financial circumstances at the time, did not allow the Office in 1990 to provide the level of assistance that it otherwise would have, especially if the severe reductions made in the 1989 programme had been taken into account. The limitations already faced during 1989 in the operations carried out by UNHCR thus continued, to a great extent, into 1990.

30. At the Extraordinary Session of the Executive Committee at the end of May 1990, UNHCR submitted a new budget for general programmes for the year amounting to $378.9 million, which included a $38 million deficit carry-over from 1989 and reflected the significant reductions implemented in the general programmes. Expenditure in 1990 under general programmes amounted to $331.3 million (as compared to $386.6 million in 1989), which, together with the deficit for 1989, gave a total expenditure for the general programmes for 1990 of $369.3 million or $9.6 million below the approved target. A further $212.7 million were incurred in expenditure under various special programmes (both cash and kind). Thus, total voluntary funds expenditure related to 1990 activities amounted to $544 million. Administrative expenditure covered by the United Nations Regular Budget amounted to a further $19.9 million. Detailed information on expenditure levels for each country or area programme is given in tables 1 and 2.

2. Emergency relief

31. Over the last 12 months, numerous new refugee situations called for the use of the Emergency Fund and the mobilization of emergency operations. The provision of such emergency assistance through the Emergency Fund is an important aspect of the initial UNHCR response to various refugee situations.

32. During 1990, the Emergency Fund was used on numerous occasions, mainly for situations in Angola ($1.6 million), Burundi and Rwanda ($0.2 million), Ethiopia ($0.5 million), Guatemala ($0.2 million), the Sudan ($1.4 million), Uganda ($0.42 million), Zaire ($1.4 million) and Zambia ($0.9 million).

33. Often, in major refugee situations, initial assistance provided through the Emergency Fund needs to be supplemented by special appeals to the international community for financial assistance. Thus, to assure funding necessary for multisectoral emergency responses and the transition to post-emergency activities, appeals were issued over the period to cover situations in Liberia, the Horn of Africa and the Gulf region.

34. As in the previous year, the emergency response of UNHCR was characterized by increasing inter-agency cooperation with specialized agencies from both within and outside the United Nations system. The pre-eminent example of such cooperation was the response to the Gulf crisis.

35. In October 1990, the Executive Committee addressed the need of the High Commissioner to have a higher degree of flexibility to respond to a range of contingencies. Among the steps subsequently taken to meet this need was an increase in the level of the Emergency Fund from $10 million to $20 million and an authorization to the High Commissioner to spend up to $6 million in any one year for a given emergency. The ceiling of the Working Capital and Guarantee Fund, which, inter alia, funds the Emergency Fund in the first instance, was also raised from $10 million to $50 million.

3. Care and maintenance

36. In Africa, UNHCR continued in 1990 its large care and maintenance programmes in Ethiopia ($42.4 million), Malawi ($36.3 million) and the Sudan ($13.9 million). The deteriorating situation in Somalia considerably hampered the implementation of UNHCR activities in the latter part of the year and finally led to the evacuation of all United Nations personnel, as well as foreign embassies. Refugees and Somalis alike fled to neighbouring countries where assistance was provided. The situation in Liberia throughout the year resulted in an influx of large numbers of refugees in dire need of assistance into the countries of asylum: Côte d'Ivoire ($5.8 million), Guinea ($9.8 million) and Sierra Leone ($2.4 million). Other forms of assistance aimed at limited self-reliance were provided to the Liberian refugees who have spontaneously settled in local villages in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone; in addition to infrastructure in the host villages, agricultural and small income-generating projects have been promoted on a modest scale. In the Sudan, as a consequence of the tensions created by the conflict in the Gulf, the great majority of the United Nations staff were evacuated in the first weeks of 1991, with a significant impact on UNHCR programme delivery.

37. Large care and maintenance programmes continued to be necessary throughout South-East Asia: Thailand ($21.4 million), Hong Kong ($15.1 million) and Malaysia ($6.1 million). With regard to Vietnamese refugees, the number of new arrivals of "boat people" declined to some 31,600 in 1990 in comparison with 80,000 in 1989.

38. In South-West Asia, the largest programme continued to be that in Pakistan in favour of Afghanistan refugees; during 1990, the cost of care and maintenance in Pakistan was some $44.1 million.

39. In Latin America, significant care and maintenance programmes continued in Mexico ($3.3 million) and Honduras ($3.7 million).

4. Durable solutions

40. Among the principal objectives of UNHCR activities is the achievement of durable solutions, preferably through voluntary repatriation, or local integration in the country of first asylum, or, where these solutions are not possible, resettlement in another country. In 1990, some $183 million was spent under general and special programmes towards promoting these three durable solutions.

(a) Voluntary repatriation

41. Voluntary repatriation is the most desirable of all durable solutions to the refugee problem, and remains a priority for UNHCR within the context of the limited resources available to the Office. Emphasis continued to be placed on the need for States concerned to create the necessary conditions to make voluntary repatriation a viable option. The establishment of tripartite commissions to provide and facilitate voluntary repatriation was advocated wherever situations permitted.

42. No large-scale, organized repatriation of Afghan refugees from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Pakistan took place in 1990. Nevertheless, 70,000 Afghans returned through the Voluntary Repatriation Pilot Project, and an additional 30,000 spontaneous returnees (mainly from the Islamic Republic of Iran) were assisted through the UNHCR Guest House Programme. Furthermore, some other spontaneous return movements of Afghan refugees to their country of origin, which began in 1989, gathered momentum throughout the course of 1990. The estimates of the number of these spontaneous returnees in 1990, unassisted by UNHCR, are about 100,000.

43. In Central America, the repatriation of Nicaraguan refugees (and former combatants) from Honduras and other countries in the region was successfully completed, although there remained a number of refugees in Costa Rica to be repatriated during the course of 1991.

44. In Asia, a new outbreak of violence in Sri Lanka disrupted ongoing repatriation activities. Within the context of the Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA), over 8,000 persons have repatriated to Viet Nam since 1989; the highest number of returnees during 1990 were from Hong Kong (5,462), although smaller numbers also returned from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Of those who returned, some 6,298 persons benefited from initial reintegration assistance upon return to Viet Nam. In addition 1,476 persons voluntarily returned to the Lao People's Democratic Republic during 1990, and projects continued to provide them with assistance for reintegration and to attain self-sufficiency.

45. In Africa, 2,774 Namibians, mostly students in Zambia, repatriated during the course of 1990. There are still large concentrations of Angolans in Zaire (300,000), Zambia (45,000) and Namibia (35,000) for whom repatriate n plans have been drawn up in the event that voluntary repatriation becomes a viable option in the near future. The two-way repatriation to Angola and Zaire remained suspended at the end of 1990 - for financial and security reasons. Some 32,000 persons were reported to have returned spontaneously to Mozambique during 1990. These included 25,800 from Malawi, 2,500 from Zimbabwe and over 3,500 from South Africa. Although only a small percentage of returnees were repatriated under UNHCR auspices, UNHCR has put in place in Mozambique a modest assistance programme to provide basic assistance to all returnees during their initial period of reintegration.

(b) Local settlement

46. In situations where voluntary repatriation does not appear feasible in the near future, the local settlement of refugees in their host countries is being facilitated. During the period under review, assistance was provided to refugees in rural settlements in China, Mexico, Somalia, the Sudan, Swaziland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, Zaire and Zambia. it is planned that UNHCR would gradually phase out its assistance to these rural settlements as refugees become increasingly self-sufficient. Unforeseen circumstances, such as civil unrest, have in some cases adversely affected the programmes and thus delayed the phasing-out of UNHCR assistance.

47. In urban and semi-urban areas, assistance was given to individual refugees to promote their integration. Education, vocational training and counselling services were geared towards giving refugees access to employment opportunities, thus providing them with the means to become independent. The need to give priority to life-saving and life-sustaining assistance measures has meant that less funds are being made available for local settlement activities. This could result in the need for prolonged care and maintenance assistance.

(c) Resettlement

48. Of the more than 15 million refugees world wide, resettlement continues to be sought in any given year for only a minute fraction of those assisted by UNHCR.

49. Refugees promoted for resettlement under UNHCR auspices are those who cannot return voluntarily to their country of origin, nor find a secure future in the country of first asylum. In the absence of other options, the decision to resettle is normally taken when it is the only appropriate means of guaranteeing the legal or physical security of the individual. In other cases, resettlement is pursued when this solution represents the only means of providing the appropriate assistance to vulnerable groups of refugees, for example, the medically-at-risk, the physically or mentally disabled, women-at-risk and victims of torture.

50. In 1990, of the global refugee population of over 15 million, UNHCR sought resettlement for just under 150,000, that is less than 1 per cent. Notwithstanding the success of resettlement under the Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA), of the 150,000 refugees for whom UNHCR sought resettlement last year, the Office registered only 60,150 departures. This represented over a 60 per cent shortfall in meeting the Office's stated needs.

51. Consistent with previous years, the emphasis on resettlement has continued to focus on South-East Asia. While repatriation is sought for Cambodians and many Lao refugees, UNHCR has similarly pursued resettlement for those for whom voluntary repatriation is not possible. In 1990, resettlement of Indo-Chinese from the region, facilitated by the CPA, provided new homes for 49,313 individuals. By 31 December 1990, of the 49,220 persons belonging to the pre-cut-off date group of longstayers as defined in the CPA, 45,125 had been accepted and 39,990 had been resettled.

52. Refugees originating from the Middle East and South-West Asia continue to represent an important resettlement group for the Office, and requirements for this durable solution have naturally increased owing to the crisis between Iraq and Kuwait. In 1990, 3,600 refugees from the Middle East and South-West Asia (mainly Iranians, Iraqis and Afghans) were resettled, including, in contrast to preceding years, a very high proportion who, as a result of the conflict in the region, had to be resettled on an emergency basis. As in previous years, several countries continued to resettle persons from the region independently of UNHCR; the Office, however, promotes this durable solution only for those who cannot remain in countries of first asylum owing to security or compelling humanitarian reasons.

53. In common with the Middle East and South-West Asia, the number of refugees promoted for resettlement from Africa is but a tiny proportion of the total refugee population within the continent. In 1990, a total of 4,274 African refugees were resettled, principally to the United States and Canada.

54. In 1990, the number of refugees resettled from Latin America under the auspices of UNHCR remained relatively low, at 1,537.

55. The historic changes in Eastern Europe resulted in a marked decline in resettlement from the region, thus in 1990, 1,429 persons were resettled from Europe.

56. Last year, of the total of 1,700 cases (6,800 persons) which fell within UNHCR vulnerable groups category, (disabled, medically-at-risk and victims of torture/violence), 485 cases involving 1,940 persons were resettled. Moreover, some 90 cases (270 persons) in the women-at-risk category were resettled under special programmes created for them, or under regular programmes.

(d) Refugee aid and development

57. UNHCR continues to pursue its efforts to have assistance to refugees and returnees complemented by the development initiatives of other agencies. As reported earlier, the subject of refugee aid and development was considered by the Consultive Committee on Substantive Questions (Operational activities) (CCSQ (OPS)), at its meeting held at Geneva in April 1990. Reports on progress made in the area of assuring a better linkage between refugee assistance and development aid were subsequently presented to meetings of the CCSQ (OPS) in October 1990 and March 1991. This last progress report contained a number of draft guidelines on the subject. It is proposed that these guidelines now be reviewed in the light of the observations made by the Committee at its meeting held from 25 to 28 March 1991, and of the findings of the study of the Secretary-General undertaken in response to Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/78 on refugees, displaced persons and returnees.

58. Technical planning for Phase III of the "Income-Generating Project for Refugee Areas" in Pakistan, executed by the World Bank, has begun. It is foreseen that this phase of the project will begin in July 1991.

59. Joint project identification and appraisal planning missions were undertaken by UNHCR with both development and donor agencies. Missions were undertaken with the EEC to Mexico and Viet Nam. In Mexico, an operational plan was drawn up for the Guatemalan refugee programme in Campeche, while two missions to Viet Nam developed projects for Vietnamese returning home. A mission to Mexico was undertaken jointly by the German Ministry for Technical Cooperation and UNHCR to plan projects in the Quintana Roo settlement. Project ideas for development activities to be implemented by host Governments and development agencies have also been prepared for Malawi and Ethiopia and presented to a donor Government for funding.

60. A Regional Summit Conference of Heads of State of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania and the Prime Minister of Zaire, entrusted OAU and UNHCR with the task of preparing a Plan of Action for the integration/reintegration of Rwandese refugees/returnees. This plan is being prepared with the assistance of Governments and development agencies.

61. Funding shortfalls delayed the implementation of a number of projects developed over the last two years. Thus, funding is still awaited for the joint World Bank/UNHCR "South Kassala Agricultural Development Project" in the Sudan as well as for the joint IFAD/UNHCR "South Khorasan Rangeland Rehabilitation and Refugee Income-Generating Project" in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The implementation of a World Bank/UNHCR "Refugee-Affected Area Project" in Somalia has been also affected by lack of funds and by the civil disturbances in the country. The report of a joint IFAD/UNHCR identification mission to Ethiopia on the "Greater Ogaden Special Development Program" will be published shortly.

62. In sum, although a number of initiatives have been taken to identify development projects related to refugee assistance, actual achievements have been hampered by a lack of funding.

5. Programme management and implementation

(a) General

63. The Programme Management System (PMS), which was implemented from 1979 onwards, underwent an in-depth review in 1990. An informal working group within the Office has revised the relevant chapter of the UNHCR Manual and an initial draft was issued in November 1990. This draft has been issued to all field offices and forms the basis for programming and reporting on activities for the period from 1990 to 1992. Based on comments received from field offices, the draft will be finalized during 1991 and issued in its final form.

64. The implementation of the Financial and Management Information System (FMIS) has facilitated project planning, monitoring and control. An improved version is currently being installed and tested in a number of locations which allows field offices to carry out more detailed budgeting. Implementation at Headquarters is moving into a crucial phase with the transfer of the General Accounts to the new system envisaged to take place during the third quarter of 1991.

65. Improvements in the management of projects are being made in the light of audits conducted by the United Nations Internal and External Auditors, of evaluation reports and programme review missions, and of the technical inputs provided by the Programme and Technical Support Section.

66. The effort to address the needs of refugee women and children in a substantive way has continued and has focused on the integration of issues related to refugee women and children within overall programming. The revision of the Programme Management System has taken this into account and is a point of emphasis in training courses.

(b) Evaluation

67. Evaluation activities carried out during the year concentrated on in-depth evaluations of major UNHCR operations. Such in-depth evaluations were intended to assist managers in improving and reshaping operational activities as necessary. Evaluations also provided a structured process for reviewing key activities and issues and subsequent suggestions for improvements, as well as a mechanism for the implementation of recommendations and follow-up on decisions taken.

68. In-depth evaluations reviewed a wide variety of organizational and operational issues including, for example, the extent and adequacy of UNHCR involvement in refugee situations in West Africa, East and Western Asia and Eastern and Central Europe. In the majority of evaluations, a variety of protection issues were reviewed and a thorough assessment of material assistance was carried out. At the same time, implementing arrangements, organizational structures and staffing levels were also reviewed. A principal concern in most evaluations was the extent to which material assistance activities were consistent with the durable solutions envisaged.

69. During the past year significant attention was given to incorporating lessons learned from emergency situations into training activities, in order to improve future preparedness and response. Whenever possible, issues covering women and children were also given special attention.

70. One of the more significant changes to evaluation procedures during the reporting period was the strengthening of the Evaluation Committee. Committee procedures were more precisely defined to ensure a thorough review of conclusions and recommendations presented in evaluation reports, as well as to ensure systematic follow-up on the implementation of recommendations endorsed by the Committee.

(c) Emergency preparedness

71. Emergency preparedness in UNHCR consists primarily of emergency management training, refugee contingency planning, emergency staffing, advance procurement, and the development of new preparedness systems. These activities were carried out over the past 12 months in many parts of the world, especially in three regions: the Gulf, the Horn of Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.

72. In the Gulf region, refugee contingency plans were prepared in all countries anticipating a possible refugee influx, providing a basis for the subsequent refugee camp construction and camp management under UNHCR responsibility. The rapid mobilization and transfer of UNHCR staff to the region were fundamental to UNHCR's speed of response and effectiveness of implementation in Cyprus, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Stocks of emergency relief items were procured and expedited to the affected countries. Country-level emergency management training courses were organized in Jordan (September 1990) and Turkey (November 1990).

(d) Refugee women

73. At the forty-first session of the Executive Committee, the Policy on Refugee Women was approved and revised guidelines for the international protection of refugee women were requested for presentation at the forty-second session.

74. Gender training courses were further revised and more courses are expected to take place at Headquarters beginning in June 1991. Future plans include translation of the courses into French and Spanish and emphasis on field training. Two training videos on refugee women were completed. In addition, the main principles of the policy on refugee women were integrated into general procedures and training modules and manuals.

75. Public information activities continued to raise awareness of the situation of refugee women. International Women's Day focused on the theme of refugee women and received extensive coverage in the international media.

76. UNHCR actively participated at an Expert Group on Refugee and Displaced Women and Children held in preparation for discussion of that topic by the Commission on the Status of Women at its thirty-fifth session. An extensive resolution on the subject was subsequently endorsed by the Commission. In discussions with other United Nations organizations, UNHCR has continually emphasized the importance of addressing the situation of refugee women.

77. UNHCR is presently working closely with the Non-Governmental Liaison Services in the production of a book on refugee women to be published in autumn 1991.

78. Future plans call for extensive training, detailed organizational workplans and practical demonstrations of the policy on refugee women in action.

79. Finally, the secondment of the Senior Coordinator for Refugee Women, who is responsible for assuring the integration of refugee women's issues throughout the Organization, was extended an additional year, with her three-year assignment now ending in July 1992.

(e) Refugee children

80. A large portion of the world's refugees are children. Recognizing that children have special needs that must be taken into account in the protection and assistance activities of the Office, the Working Group on Refugee Children, established in 1987, continued to monitor and review implementation of the "Guidelines on Refugee Children" and strengthen planning and reporting systems to address adequately their needs.

81. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989, annex) is of major importance to UNHCR, especially article 22, which deals expressly with refugee children. The Office is working closely with the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Centre for Human Rights, to address the needs of refugee children.

82. A Consultation on the Implementation of the Guidelines on Refugee Children was jointly organized by UNHCR and the International Save the Children Alliance and took place in Malawi between 25 and 27 March 1991. As a result, it was agreed to revise the Guidelines but, in order to ensure an appropriate regional balance, a similar review workshop in another region is envisaged before such revisions are finalized.

83. A video training film on refugee children will be produced in 1991. Based on the principles of the "Guidelines on Refugee Children", it is aimed at giving a general introduction to the issues related to refugee children and to create awareness and generate discussions in training and other meetings of planners and managers who work with refugees. This film will be followed by videos concerning categories of vulnerable refugee children, with specific suggestions for action and for use by field staff who work directly with refugees.

84. UNHCR is preparing an information paper on the strategies and activities that it has pursued over many years to promote the physical, intellectual and social development of refugee children, as well as on future plans to support and implement the Declaration and Plan of Action of the World Summit on Children (A/45/625, annex).

6. Summary of expenditure and budgetary estimates (general and special programmes)

General programmes

85. As mentioned in paragraph 30 above, the Executive Committee at its Extraordinary Session in May 1990 approved a budgetary target of $378.9 million which included a $38 million deficit carry-over from 1989, to be fully absorbed from 1990 income. General programmes expenditure for 1990 amounted to $331.3 million which, together with the 1989 deficit of $38 million, gave a total expenditure for 1990 of $369.3 million. Expenditure thus remained some 2.5 per cent below the approved target and once again confirmed the tight budgeting that is being maintained and the extremely high level of programme delivery. The latter is also borne out by the high rate of disbursements (over 84 per cent) against obligations entered into.

86. The overall situation for 1990 is as follows:

(In million $)
(a) Income
- contributions received funds held in trust3666
- balance of secondary income not required to replenish the Working Capital & Guarantee Fund135
(b) Expenditure
- for 1990 programme activities313
- for 1989 deficit380
(c) Unobligated balance (surplus)
Brought forward to 1991108

Special programmes

87. Expenditure incurred for special programmes (cash and kind) totalled $212.7 million and covered primarily the following activities: Afghanistan Repatriation, Repatriation of Nicaraguans (CIAV), Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) for Indo-Chinese refugees, Cyprus Operation and Assistance to refugees from Liberia in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

88. While donor support has been encouraging throughout 1990, funding of some programmes, among them some repatriation/returnee programmes, has not been forthcoming to meet all requirements. Lack of funding for "refugee aid and development" projects also remained a concern and necessitated the carry-over into 1991 of these important needs.

B. Regional developments in Africa

89. The overall population of refugees in Africa again increased. The influxes into Malawi from Mozambique, into Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Sierra Leone from Liberia and into south, south-eastern and eastern Ethiopia from Somalia continued at a dramatically increased rate. Events in north-eastern Rwanda beginning in early October 1990, in the Sudan, western Equatoria at the end of 1990, as well as developments in Chad, led respectively to further influxes of Rwandese refugees into south-western Uganda, Sudanese asylum-seekers into northern Zaire and the Central African Republic and Chadians to seek refuge in Cameroon, the Central African Republic and the Niger. The increase in numbers has necessitated the launching of new emergency operations as well as the strengthening of UNHCR's field presence to respond more effectively to these complex refugee situations.

90. Today the continent is affected by many problems which have defied solution over the last 30 years or so of independence. Some of the problems arise from the legacies of colonialism, while others are inherent in the systems and institutions which Africa created in the post-colonial era. The fact remains that whether individually or collectively, African countries continue to grapple with social as well as political problems. Border differences, refugees, economic stagnation, problems of structural adjustment, heavy debt servicing, abuse of human rights, lack of political accountability and democracy, environmental degradation and a host of other problems have combined to undermine the confidence and security of the continent.

91. Yet it is clear that, if these problems persist, it is not because Africa has not tried to overcome them. On the contrary, much effort has been extended by individual countries, or a group of them, or Africa collectively, at the level of OAU, to bring the continent together into a political collective, in an attempt to find lasting solutions to their problems including those of refugees.

92. As in the past, the great majority of refugees in Africa have found asylum in countries facing major economic problems, and often in the more remote and recently in least developed areas of those countries. The impact of successive emergencies affecting millions of drought victims, refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons in areas such as the Horn of Africa and the Sudan, combined with budgetary reductions was particularly severe. These countries are unable to absorb the extra burden and may not even be in a position to provide adequate services to their own nationals. Reduced budgets, which allowed little or no provision for unforeseen needs, proved to be ill-adapted to programmes with major inherent constraints and variables resulting from such factors as logistical difficulties and lack of natural resources. Regrettably, as reported earlier, financial support was also not forthcoming for development projects that would both lighten the burden on nationals and promote solutions in refugee-affected areas.

93. Despite adverse economic and social pressures which had an evident influence on attitudes to asylum and protection, African Governments continued to offer generous asylum to refugees but the increased burden brought greater difficulties in maintaining past liberal practices. During the reporting period, the major protection problems were once again largely the result of a breakdown in arrangements to ensure respect for the strictly humanitarian and civilian nature of some refugee camps and settlements. These, and some cases of refoulement, were brought to the attention of the authorities concerned. Positive developments relevant to the protection of refugees during the reporting period included the work of such bodies as the OAU Declaration on Africa's Refugee Crisis, as well as the OAU Council of Minister's resolution CM/Res. 1316 (LIII) on the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons in Africa, particularly article 8, which deals with the safe passage and security of humanitarian relief convoys and food destined for refugees and internally displaced persons in zones of conflict. These and a number of other initiatives addressed, at least indirectly, the root causes of refugee problems in Africa, as well as the preventive actions essential to remove the need to seek asylum and protection in another country.

94. There are, however, grounds for hope that some long-standing internal and regional conflicts can be resolved and conditions created that would allow large-scale repatriation operations to be launched. This is the only realistic solution for Africa's refugees and is the primary objective of UNHCR. For large-scale repatriation to be successful, it is necessary that the international community assist governments of origin in re-assimilating their nationals. Unless this is done, those who have repatriated may leave their homes once more because of their inability to re-establish themselves at a level that meets their minimum needs.

95. During the reporting period, more than a three-fold growth in the refugee population (from 200,000 to 875,500) was registered in the West African region. The major increase was due to the year-long conflict in Liberia which caused some 759,000 Liberians to seek asylum in Côte d'Ivoire (300,000), Ghana (8,000), Guinea (325,000), Nigeria (1,500) and Sierra Leone (125,000). In the last quarter of 1990, some 5,000 Senegalese refugees fled to Guinea-Bissau and some 10,000 Mauritanian refugees crossed the border into Mali. Armed conflict which erupted in south-eastern Sierra Leone in March 1991 resulted in a mass movement of 45,000 persons, mainly of Sierra Leonean origin into the Guéckédou prefecture of Guinea.

96. For 1990, emergency relief assistance was provided under a $15.9 million multisectoral special programme for Liberian refugees in the three most affected countries. The consequences of international focus on other international crises and the resulting competition for financial resources delayed full funding of the programme until the end of October 1990. Additionally, climatic and logistical problems were also major constraints in the effective delivery of assistance to refugees. As the situation regarding peace negotiations and security in Liberia is still evolving, the assistance base will be consolidated and UNHCR aid will be geared towards the promotion of self-reliance in 1991.

97. The situation of refugees in the Horn of Africa and the Sudan has remained complex and continued to be an area of major focus for UNHCR in terms of the development of a rapid and comprehensive response to the cycle of refugee emergencies in the region. So far, relief operations have averted widespread loss of human lives, but they are constrained by the continuing civil war, which shows no signs of ending. Based on the prediction that the spectre of famine, military conflict and political developments in the Sudan would lead to a new exodus of Sudanese refugees into western Ethiopia, limited contingency planning was undertaken but, to date, no significant influx has occurred. Although the UNHCR assistance programme for Sudanese refugees had stabilized, it remained vulnerable to the armed conflicts in the whole region and to the problems caused by the remote location and difficult supply lines to the camp. A further 8,000 Sudanese refugees sought asylum in northern Uganda at the end of 1990, bringing their total there to some 62,000. Some 3,000 and another 35,000 Sudanese refugees sought asylum in the Central African Republic and Haut-Zaire at the end of 1990. Their needs were assessed and immediately met under emergency programmes. However, these programmes were hampered by the lack of adequate funding and an acute shortage of qualified and experienced staff to implement them.

98. Care and maintenance assistance to 385,000 Somali refugees in six camps in eastern Ethiopia further improved their welfare throughout 1990, although the operation, particularly transport and water supply, remained costly and problematic. At the beginning of 1991, however, a large influx of new Somali refugees (150,000 planning figure), together with Ethiopian returnees (200,000 planning figure) from Somalia occurred in three major locations. The majority of the new arrivals were accommodated in the existing camps and received emergency assistance mostly through redeployment of available resources in the country. In order to meet the increased needs of these refugees and returnees, UNHCR appealed in March 1991 to the international community for $41.9 million of which $18.9 million was for the first three months. The majority of the "old" Somali refugees in the meantime expressed their wish to repatriate to north-western Somalia. The implementation of this voluntary repatriation operation will, however, depend on the security conditions that would allow for a United Nations presence and the launching of a rehabilitation programme in Somalia by the international community. Some 15,000 Somalis also sought asylum in Djibouti in the last quarter of 1990 and early 1991.

99. As noted in last year's report, UNHCR was assisting some 460,000 Ethiopian refugees in Somalia in 1989-1990, while awaiting a favourable response to the March 1990 appeal for funds to implement a durable solution to their problem.1 The implementation of the durable solutions programme was fraught with delays due, primarily, to lack of funding and the deterioration in the security situation in the country. Some 9,000 refugees were, nevertheless, repatriated in organized convoys to Ethiopia. Out of that total, some 4,500 returned from north-western Somalia under the joint ICRC/UNHCR operation. Since the evacuation of all United Nations and non-governmental organization staff members from Somalia in January 1991, events in the country have so far prevented the resumption of a United Nations presence in Somalia.

100. The number and situation of refugees in the Sudan remained relatively stable during the reporting period. However, towards the end of 1990 there was a marked deterioration in the nutritional status of Ethiopian refugees (who did not habitually receive food rations), in land settlements in the eastern Sudan due to crop failure, local food shortages and rising prices. The World Food Programme (WFP) and UNHCR have jointly undertaken to provide full rations to all UNHCR-assisted refugees in 1991. Contingency planning was also maintained during the period for possible new influxes due to the prevailing events in northern Ethiopia. Full implementation of the World Bank refugee-affected area development project referred to in the High Commissioner's last report 1 was hampered by the lack of financial contributions towards the refugee component of the project. The project had, therefore, to be redesigned to reduce its scope.

101. The solution to the problems of refugees in East and Central Africa necessitates the establishment of conditions that would allow them to return home voluntarily and remove the need for others to flee. One of the long-standing refugee problems, which to a large extent was being solved by a two-way repatriation between Angola and Zaire, was suspended for lack of financial resources. It is hoped that repatriation will be completed upon conclusion of the Angola Peace Talks and extended to include Angolans from Zambia and Namibia. As reported earlier, contingency planning is under way for the 300,000 Angolans in Zaire, 45,000 in Zambia and 35,000 in Namibia. In the same manner, actions taken by the Governments of Burundi, Chad, Rwanda and Zaire may permit the repatriation of many of their refugees in the near future.

102. At the end of 1990, following the change in the Government in Chad, a new wave of refugees entered Cameroon and the Central African Republic. The events of October 1990 in north-eastern Rwanda, led to an influx of some 19,000 Rwandese refugees into south-western Uganda and of a much smaller group into other neighbouring states. Assistance was provided to both groups of newly arrived refugees from the Emergency Fund and existing allocations. Diplomatic and political initiatives were undertaken by the Governments of Rwanda and the other five neighbouring states, OAU and UNHCR to seek a comprehensive solution to the 30-year-old problem of Rwandese refugees. In that regard, a series of conferences, at both expert and ministerial levels, were held and it was agreed that OAU and UNHCR, in consultation with all concerned parties, would produce a Plan of Action for a lasting solution to the Rwandese refugee problem. At the end of 1990, a Charter of National Unity was adopted in Burundi which, so far, has encouraged small groups of Burundi refugees to repatriate spontaneously from Tanzania and with UNHCR assistance from Rwanda.

103. The number of Mozambican refugees in Malawi increased by over 120,000 during the reporting period, to a total of some 927,000. UNHCR continued to assist the Government and people of Malawi to meet the burden which resulted from the presence of a large number of refugees. The UNHCR assistance programme is intended to meet the basic needs of the refugees pending their voluntary repatriation - the only durable solution possible for them. The global financial crisis during 1989-90 had an adverse impact on the Office's ability to deal effectively with problems related to increases in water-borne diseases, inadequate storage systems, road maintenance, education and steps to reverse the ecological degradation to the environment resulting from the presence of nearly 1 million refugees.

104. Assistance to over 140,000 Mozambicans in Swaziland, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe continued during the reporting period. Simultaneously, however, some voluntary repatriation to Mozambique, both spontaneous as well as organized, took place during the period under review. The UNHCR assistance programme in Mozambique continued to meet the needs of these returnees, estimated at some 240,000 as at end 1990. Funding problems, however, limited the scope and level of the assistance.

105. In December 1990 and in January 1991, UNHCR, in cooperation with the Governments of Zambia and Namibia, organized the airlift of some 2,266 Namibian refugee children from Nyango (Zambia) to Windhoek. That operation was undertaken pursuant to Security Council resolution 435 (1978) relating to the independence of Namibia.

106. Following the internal political changes initiated by the Government of South Africa in 1990, UNHCR and the Government have been holding discussions on the possible involvement of the Office in the voluntary repatriation of South African refugees. In March 1991, the Government of South Africa announced its agreement, in principle, to invite UNHCR to participate in the repatriation exercise operation, subject to agreement by both parties on the conditions pertaining to the repatriation. The High Commissioner has welcomed this invitation in principle as "a very important development" which would allow UNHCR to play its "normal and traditional role in ensuring that refugees and exiles return under conditions of safety and dignity" and has reiterated the readiness of the Office to establish "an adequate and effective presence in South Africa to discharge its statutory responsibilities". In early February 1991 the Office had submitted to the Government of South Africa a draft Memorandum of Understanding that would form the basis of UNHCR involvement in the repatriation. The most important provisions in the proposed Memorandum of Understanding relate to three key areas:

  • the granting of a general amnesty to all South African refugees and political exiles, as in the Namibian situation;
  • the establishment of a UNHCR presence in South Africa for the entire duration of the operation, including an agreement on the status of the field office(s) and the staff;
  • the procedures and formalities for readmission, reception and reintegration of returnees.

107. Negotiations on the draft Memorandum of Understanding are continuing. Notwithstanding these developments, a new wave of South African asylum-seekers has been arriving in neighbouring countries since the middle of 1990 claiming to have fled from the violence in the townships in the Republic. The Office continues to provide assistance to those refugees pending their eventual voluntary repatriation once conditions at home permit. The number of South African refugees in the southern Africa region is estimated at some 38,000.

108. During 1990, expenditure in Africa under UNHCR voluntary funds totalled $225.9 million of which $144.3 million was under general programmes and $81.5 million under special programmes. The largest amount spent under these programmes was for care and maintenance, namely $129.8 million.

C. Regional developments in Asia and Oceania

109. Intensive efforts continued to be made to implement the Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) which was adopted at the International Conference on Indo-Chinese Refugees (ICIR) held at Geneva in June 1989. The CPA includes a number of measures aimed at achieving a durable solution to the long-standing problem of Indo-Chinese asylum-seekers in the South-East Asia region. These measures comprise a mass information campaign to discourage clandestine departures, expansion of the Orderly Departure Programme (ODP), the respect of the right to first asylum, the establishment of a consistent region-wide refugee-status determination process, resettlement of those determined to be refugees, and the voluntary repatriation of those determined not to be refugees.

110. The CPA and, in particular, the mass information campaign have contributed towards a decrease in the number of arrivals of Vietnamese asylum-seekers during the period under review. The total number of arrivals (boat and land) in 1990 was 40,500 persons compared to some 83,700 the previous year. Arrivals during the first three months of 1991 totalled 1,770. However, as at 31 March 1991, a total of 109,000 Vietnamese asylum-seekers remain in camps in the region, the highest total since 1979. Whereas until 1989 the majority of Vietnamese asylum-seekers were from the northern part of Viet Nam, more recently the trend has shifted towards a vast majority of asylum-seekers departing from the South.

111. The mass information campaign designed to discourage the organization of clandestine departures, which was initially conducted mainly in the northern part of the country, was expanded in 1990 to the whole of Viet Nam, with special emphasis on the southern and central parts of the country. Under the coordination of the Ministry of Information and with the assistance of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Labour, UNHCR established an ongoing working relationship with all the components of the Vietnamese media in order to further this campaign.

112. Status determination procedures were established throughout the region and are now operating on a regular basis. In its role of observer/adviser, UNHCR held regular consultations and worked closely with the Governments concerned in the establishment and operation of these procedures. By the end of 1990, a total of 28,600 persons had received first instance decisions, of which roughly 20 per cent were positive. The rate of recognition, however, varied widely from country to country.

113. As voluntary repatriation constitutes one of the most important aspects of the CPA, UNHCR was active in setting up repatriation counselling infrastructure throughout the region for both new arrivals as well as for those who had been determined not to be refugees. Information on various aspects of the CPA was made available in oral presentations and in written texts to all new arrivals. Asylum-seekers were counselled on repatriation and on the type of assistance to be provided to returnees in Viet Nam.

114. Since the adoption of the CPA and as of end March 1991, a total of 8,600 Vietnamese asylum-seekers returned to Viet Nam from first asylum countries, and were assisted under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding concluded between the Vietnamese authorities and UNHCR in December 1988. Upon their return to Viet Nam, each person was provided the equivalent of $30 per month over a one-year period to help in their reintegration. UNHCR staff members in Viet Nam conducted periodic monitoring visits to their home provinces and villages.

115. In order to establish an accelerated and simplified procedure of voluntary repatriation, Viet Nam, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong and UNHCR signed, in 1990, a Joint Statement setting up the modalities for repatriating asylum-seekers who, while not volunteering to return, are nevertheless not opposed to going back. In December 1990, 23 persons belonging to this category returned to Viet Nam from Hong Kong, while a further group of 13 returned from Papua New Guinea.

116. In July 1990, the Commission of European Communities informed Governments at the Post Ministerial Conference of ASEAN countries at Jakarta of its initiative to offer a multi-annual assistance programme within the framework of the CPA to facilitate the return of asylum-seekers to Viet Nam. In this respect, the Commission concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with UNHCR in early April 1991 in accordance with which the Commission would provide training and long-term reintegration assistance to all returnees and contribute towards the financing of their return. The programme started in February 1991, with a pilot phase totalling ECU 10 million.

117. Notable progress was made in the resettlement of asylum-seekers granted refugee status. By the end of 1990, 45,125 persons, or 92 per cent of the pre-cut-off date case-load, had been accepted by countries of resettlement, of whom 39,900 persons had departed. One of the problems concerning the pre-cut-off date case-load was the equitable sharing among resettlement countries of the remaining difficult cases, i.e. disabled or medically-at-risk, as well as cases with a criminal background. Of the total of 103,519 post-cut-off date Vietnamese asylum-seekers, the number considered to be refugees reached 6,506 by end December 1990. The focus of resettlement thus began to shift to the post-cut-off date population.

118. Under the Orderly Departure Programme (ODP), by the end of 1990, a total of 252,760 Vietnamese had left Viet Nam by air to over 30 countries. Negotiations between UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) took place in 1990 to hand over the administration of this programme to IOM. It was agreed between the two parties and the Vietnamese authorities that this would be implemented as of January 1991, particularly with regard to travel arrangements.

119. In China, the younger generation of the 285,000 Vietnamese suffer from the absence of job opportunities, low per capita income and scarcity of cultivatable land. A total of 40 projects related to water supply, crop production, forestry education, animal husbandry, health and income-generation were implemented to expedite self-sufficiency. Upon completion of these projects, some 2,800 jobs were created, 1,200 children and youths were admitted respectively to primary schools and a vocational training centre, while some 1,400 families were provided with potable water. In 1990, UNHCR's financial contribution to these projects totalled $3 million. Moreover, plans are being made for the voluntary repatriation of up to 3,000 Lao refugees from Yunnan Province.

120. A total of 67,000 Lao refugees and asylum-seekers remained in camps in Thailand, however, from 1980 to January 1991, a total of 6,725 Lao had voluntarily returned to the Lao People's Democratic Republic from Thailand under the auspices of UNHCR. The majority of these returnees were lowlanders. In addition, 431 persons denied refugee status had repatriated by the end of 1990. It is estimated that some 30,000 asylum-seekers have returned spontaneously to the Lao People's Democratic Republic without any assistance from UNHCR. The Lao Government has agreed to receive up to 500 returnees per month through six crossing points on the border.

121. The third Thai/Lao/UNHCR tripartite meeting was held from 21 to 22 August 1990, at Chiengmai, Thailand. It was agreed during the meeting that there should be further coordination between the three parties to lay down a comprehensive plan to resolve the Lao refugee problem within a definite time-frame. In November 1990, UNHCR undertook an assessment mission to assess the voluntary repatriation programme and the reintegration of Lao refugees from Thailand. The mission concluded that assistance provided should be redirected from purely "care and maintenance" to activities that would prepare and facilitate their integration upon return. Consequently, a follow-up Lao/UNHCR planning mission was scheduled for end March 1991 to review ongoing repatriation projects or identify new projects in conjunction with Government/multilateral/bilateral development projects. A comprehensive programme, including a time-frame, implementing mechanism and responsibilities, and estimated budgetary requirements, is under preparation for submission to the fourth tripartite meeting, scheduled to be held in April 1991 at Luang Prabang, Lao People's Democratic Republic.

122. In addition to an estimated 300,000 Cambodians assisted by the United Nations Border Relief Operations (UNBRO) at the Thai-Cambodian border, UNHCR continues to provide for the care and maintenance of some 15,000 Cambodians in Thailand and another 15,000 in Viet Nam. UNHCR has continued to develop and refine plans for the repatriation and initial reintegration in Cambodia of the Khmer presently in border camps in Thailand. For this purpose, an inter-agency mission led by UNHCR, comprising WFP, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs in South-East Asia (OSRSG), World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Secretariat, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and non-governmental organizations visited Thailand and Cambodia in mid-1990. Follow-up inter-agency consultations have been held to ensure effective coordination and a definition of the responsibilities of each United Nations agency and of non-governmental organizations in the medium and long-term rehabilitation programmes. A Memorandum of Understanding has been concluded between UNHCR and WFP on food assistance. The contingency plan prepared aims to ensure a safe return and a smooth transition of returnees to productive living in rural areas in line with the guidelines for voluntary repatriation in the Draft Peace Plans (see A/46/61).

123. In October 1990, the Secretary-General launched an appeal to cover the financing of the preparatory phase of the repatriation - which has met with a favourable initial response of over $10 million. The present political uncertainty coupled with an intensification of fighting, has prevented UNHCR from major spending on pre-positioning relief items which are indispensable to ensure operational readiness in the event of a rapid conclusion of the peace agreement. However, surveys are under way inside Cambodia to determine the absorption capacity of potential returnee areas and to review logistical aspects in key sectors, such as food, water, housing, health, agriculture and education. Preparations and planning for the repatriation are thus continuing in Thailand and Cambodia in anticipation of a political settlement and durable peace.

124. The number of asylum-seekers in both Australia and New Zealand increased significantly. In Australia, the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS), supported by non-governmental organizations, expanded its counselling activities in favour of needy asylum-seekers. The Governments of Australia and New Zealand requested UNHCR to reinforce its presence in the status determination procedures and additional lawyers and support staff were recruited for this purpose.

125. The Government of Papua New Guinea agreed to allow the Irian Jayan refugees to settle on its territory if they so wished. Refugees, including women, were encouraged to engage in income-generating activities such as carpentry, metalwork, gardening, animal husbandry and sewing. A total of 600 refugees voluntarily repatriated to Indonesia during 1990.

126. At the request of the competent authorities, on 1 November 1990, UNHCR began a programme of emergency relief assistance to returnees and other displaced and destitute persons in Mannar District, Sri Lanka. This followed the return from south India of some 43,000 Sri Lankan Tamils who had repatriated since 1987 and had been assisted in their reintegration by UNHCR. The programme has the following objectives: to provide humanitarian assistance to returnees and displaced persons; to help create conditions for the eventual repatriation of some 200,000 Tamils who remain in south India; to provide an alternative to those Sri Lankans, who, faced with civil unrest in their home villages, would otherwise be forced to seek refuge in India. Emergency measures included the establishment of two Open Relief Centres (ORCs), one on mainland Mannar at Madhu and the other at Pesalai on Mannar Island. At both ORCS, temporary shelter is provided for displaced persons together with medical/health services delivered by Médecins sans Frontières (MSF). UNHCR assists with the transportation of emergency food supplies to the ORC at Madhu; the food is supplied by the Government of Sri Lanka.

127. Owing to the political developments in Pakistan, the repatriation from Bangladesh of 280,000 stranded Pakistanis (Biharis), scattered in 66 camps, still cannot be foreseen.

128. During the period under review, Nepal has had an influx of some 2,000 Bhutanese into the Jhapa and Morang Districts in the Terai region. The group, which had resided in Bhutan for years (with or without Bhutanese nationality), has a similar cultural and ethnic background to the Nepalese and indeed speak Nepalese; consequently their presence in Nepal has been socially well tolerated. UNHCR is considering a limited assistance programme for this group.

129. During 1990, expenditure in Asia and Oceania under voluntary funds totalled $102 million, of which $52.6 million was under general programmes and $49.4 million under special programmes. Care and maintenance programmes accounted for $60 million of the total.

D. Regional developments in Europe and North America

130. The fundamental changes that took place in Central and Eastern Europe during the period under review led to a substantial increase in UNHCR activities and role in the area. Although Hungary and Yugoslavia are the only countries in the region to date to have acceded to the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol, almost all other countries in the region have now indicated their intention to accede in the near future. In a related development, the movement of asylum-seekers into the area, albeit yet in comparatively small numbers, has increased noticeably during the period under review, with further mass-flows anticipated. The countries concerned have generally taken an appropriate humanitarian stance towards the issue, while also seeking UNHCR advice and assistance. Budget and staffing constraints, however, made it increasingly difficult for the Office to keep pace with events. As an initial measure, an appeal for funds essentially geared towards the promotion of refugee law was launched in January 1991. UNHCR undertook a number of missions to countries in the region during which various topics of common interest such as accession to international refugee instruments, development of national legislation, procedures and administrative institutions charged with status determination, refugee law and emergency management training, support for development of a contingency plan, as well as assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers, repatriation, resettlement and family reunification were dealt with.

131. In Western Europe, the number of asylum-seekers continued to increase in 1990, reaching approximately 420,000, as compared to 320,000 for 1989 and 290,000 in 1988. Substantial numbers of these arrivals came from outside the region. The continuously increasing influx of asylum-seekers over the past years has created large backlogs of pending applications, which in turn led to serious strains on reception facilities and increased expenditures for public relief and assistance. Furthermore, rates of recognition of refugee status have decreased. This would seem to indicate that the asylum procedure is often used for what would essentially be ordinary migration. This tendency has created considerable problems with large numbers of rejected cases, who most often have not been removed and accelerated procedures were in operation in a number of countries. A less favourable public opinion has developed towards foreigners in general, among whom are asylum-seekers and refugees. Governments took a series of measures to control or regulate admission of what they consider irregular movements of asylum-seekers or refugees (Supplementary Schengen Agreement and Dublin Convention were adopted and negotiations on an External Borders Convention initiated). As a result, the number of "orbit cases" and detention of asylum-seekers at the border has increased. In some cases, asylum-seekers and refugees risked refoulement.

132. At the same time, UNHCR has continued its active participation in the informal consultations carried out between Governments in the region of Europe, North America and Australia, which aim at addressing a variety of problems pertaining to asylum, refugee and migration issues in these regions. In April 1991, Spain joined these intergovernmental consultations which now involve 16 Governments, as well as UNHCR and IOM.

133. The current trend in Europe towards unified policies and practices has important consequences for refugees and asylum-seekers. Special efforts in this direction are under way in the Council of Europe and in the European Community. UNHCR has, of course, closely followed these developments.

134. Major new refugee flows in the region were: from Albania to Greece (19,852, of whom 8,700 repatriated from November 1990-March 1991), to Italy (27,000, of whom 2,000-3,000 had returned by March 1991), to Yugoslavia (2,100) and from Iraq to Turkey.

135. Although the refugee situation in North America differs from that in Europe, both continents continued to face similar protection problems. As in the past, Canada and the United States were major countries of resettlement. During 1990, 24,663 refugees were resettled in Canada and 122,300 in the United States. In the same year, approximately 36,550 persons requested asylum in Canada and 74,000 in the United States.

136. The refugee situation in French Guiana, where approximately 5,000 Surinamese persons considered of concern to UNHCR are being assisted by the French authorities, remains unchanged. Efforts towards voluntary repatriation continued to be discussed within the Tripartite Commission composed of representatives of Suriname, France and UNHCR.

137. During the year, UNHCR voluntary funds expenditure in Europe and North America totalled $27.3 million, of which $24.4 million was under general programmes.

E. Regional developments in Latin America and the Caribbean

138. At the end of 1990, 92,773 Central American refugees were assisted by UNHCR. The estimated refugee population in southern Latin America was 29,098, of whom 8,275 received UNHCR assistance. A small increase over 1989 figures is due to new arrivals of asylum-seekers from within the region and elsewhere. In Costa Rica, 1990 was marked by progress in the attainment of durable solutions for some 27,413 refugees provided with assistance. While giving priority to the promotion of voluntary repatriation, the new Costa Rican Administration ratified its commitment to integrate those refugees who wished to remain in the country. The Boca de Arenal camp was dismantled and the remaining camps (Achiote, Alvaperal and Tilarin) will be closed in 1991. In Honduras, 2,445 refugees (mainly Salvadorians) remained in refugee camps as at 28 February 1991, following large-scale repatriation during 1990. In Mexico, assistance was provided to 45,412 Guatemalan refugees and 5,148 refugees from other Latin American countries during 1990. The multi-year plan for achieving refugee self-sufficiency in Campeche and Quintana Roo was prolonged to end December 1992, due to a slow implementation rate. A project for the promotion of income-generating activities in Chiapas began in March 1990.

139. The trend towards voluntary repatriation of Central American refugees, already apparent in 1989 and early 1990, accelerated considerably during the reporting period. By March 1991, some 36,392 Nicaraguans had repatriated from Honduras within the context of the International Support and Verification Commission (CIAV), while 8,887 Salvadorians also repatriated. These movements permitted the closure of refugee camps and the corresponding UNHCR Sub-Offices at La Mosquitia and El Paraiso, Danli. Also within the CIAV framework, an additional 6,627 refugees and 132 demobilized members of the Nicaraguan Resistance repatriated voluntarily from Costa Rica. The repatriation trend from Costa Rica continued in the initial months of 1991 and it is estimated that up to 10,000 Nicaraguans will return throughout the year. Smaller movements of refugees also took place in Central America and the Caribbean during the reporting period, including Guatemalans from Mexico and Honduras and Haitians from the Dominican Republic.

140. The immediate welfare and protection needs of returnees have continued to be met by the respective UNHCR Offices in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua. UNHCR has also provided longer term assistance and support to the rehabilitation of returnee communities in these countries to assist in the consolidation of return within the context of regional peace efforts.

141. The voluntary repatriation of Chilean refugees also increased, with 2,500 Chileans repatriated under UNHCR programmes from various countries of asylum, particularly Argentina, Cuba and countries in Eastern Europe. Following a request by the Chilean Government in March 1990 for UNHCR assistance towards the reintegration of returnees, a Tripartite Agreement between the Government of Chile, UNHCR and IOM was signed on 8 November 1990, which establishes the general framework for the participation of each party in facilitating the voluntary repatriation of Chileans and their reinsertion. Pursuant to this Agreement, a joint UNHCR/IOM assistance project in favour of returnees was elaborated with a target of 5,000 beneficiaries for which a joint UNHCR/IOM appeal was launched in February 1991.

142. Efforts also continued during 1990 to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of the Surinamese refugees currently in French Guiana within the framework of the Tripartite Commission (France, Suriname and UNHCR). Two agreements between UNHCR and the Government of Suriname for the reinsertion of returnees were signed on 20 April 1990.

143. As reported in chapter II, on 27 June 1990, Belize acceded to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and to its Protocol of 1967. Pursuant to article 42 of the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, on 14 February 1990, Brazil informed the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the withdrawal of the geographic reservation to the 1951 Convention.

144. During 1990, expenditure in Latin America and the Caribbean under UNHCR voluntary funds totalled $43.4 million, of which $24 million was under general programmes. Of this total, $18 million was for voluntary repatriation and $12.9 million for local settlement programmes.

International Support and Verification Commission (CIAV)

145. In furtherance of the Tela Accord and at the request of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, UNHCR assumed an operational role within the International Support and Verification Commission (CIAV) carrying out the largest repatriation movement in Latin America in the history of UNHCR. A total of 52,927 persons (including members of the Nicaraguan Resistance) repatriated during 1990 from Honduras and Costa Rica. The presence of UNHCR in Nicaragua was strengthened to undertake the monitoring of security conditions and provide the rehabilitation assistance envisaged in the CIAV Plan.

International Conference on Central America Refugees (CIREFCA)

146. In accordance with CIREFCA's Concerted Plan of Action (May 1989), the First International Meeting of the CIREFCA Follow-up Committee took place in New York City from 27 to 28 June 1990 at United Nations Headquarters. This event, convened by Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico, was sponsored by UNDP and organized jointly with UNHCR. The meeting was inaugurated by and held under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations with the participation of 72 United Nations Member and observer States, 59 non-governmental organizations, 14 organizations of the United Nations system and 3 intergovernmental organizations.

147. Generous pledges of financial support were announced by donor Governments, including $74.5 million towards the 59 projects presented by the 7 participating States (including 10 UNHCR projects) against external financial requirements of $161 million, in addition to $24 million towards other initiatives within the "framework" of CIREFCA. On the same occasion, $57.4 million was also pledged towards CIAV for projects parallel to CIREFCA pertaining specifically to Nicaragua.

148. Cooperation between UNHCR and UNDP in the framework of CIREFCA is being pursued through the CIREFCA Joint Support Unit based at San José, whose role is to assist the seven CIREFCA States in their implementation of the CIREFCA Plan of Action. UNHCR/UNDP cooperation is also being pursued through the Development Project for Displaced Persons, Refugees and Returnees (PRODERE), a region-wide integrated development programme on behalf of uprooted populations implemented by UNDP with the participation of UNHCR and other United Nations agencies. Inter-agency cooperation in the context of CIREFCA continues to be enhanced by the Joint Task Force on Uprooted Populations, comprised of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, UNHCR and UNDP.

149. A key element of the CIREFCA Plan of Action (A/44/527) was the provision made for mechanisms at the country, regional and international levels as a means of ensuring coordination, dialogue and information-sharing between the CIREFCA countries, donors, non-governmental organizations and agencies of the United Nations system. The primary follow-up mechanism remains the CIREFCA Follow-up Committee, composed of the seven CIREFCA countries, which continues to meet at regular intervals, evaluating progress in the implementation of the CIREFCA Plan of Action in the light of the evolution of the situation of the affected populations in the region. In addition, National Coordinating Committees and CIREFCA Support Groups have been established at country level.

150. The CIREFCA process has also witnessed significant progress in international protection of refugees and returnees, along with a growing awareness of the particular legal and protection problems affecting internally displaced persons. It should be noted that during the period under review the Mexican Government passed internal asylum legislation recognizing the status of refugees; the meaning given to the term "refugee" being that contained in the Cartagena Declaration, already applied on a de facto basis to asylum-seekers in the region by many Latin American countries.

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

151. Progress towards a durable solution for Afghan refugees in Pakistan was made with significant repatriation movements of refugees over the past two years, involving some 300,000 persons. However, the civil war continues and the areas from which most Afghan refugees originate remain insecure. Since early spring 1991, fighting intensified in several areas in Afghanistan, particularly around Khost, which resulted in some 10,000 new arrivals, according to Government of Pakistan sources. Nevertheless, it is expected that spontaneous repatriation movements might continue at levels similar to those of the past two years.

152. UNHCR continues to review its policy on assistance to Afghan refugees in Pakistan aimed mainly at promoting and facilitating voluntary repatriation while adjusting care and maintenance levels and objectives in order to make them consistent with the goal of achieving durable solutions for the refugees. Specific objectives and strategies for 1991 included improved monitoring of political and military developments and of refugee movements resulting therefrom, and a reassessment of the degree of self-sufficiency of the refugees and their numbers in the camps.

153. The Islamic Republic of Iran hosts over 2.3 million Afghans and over 500,000 Iraqi refugees, in addition to those who arrived following the Gulf crisis early in 1991. UNHCR assistance over the years has aimed at complementing the considerable efforts of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In this context, during 1990, UNHCR covered, inter alia, the purchase of vaccines, medicines, water-distribution systems, logistical support, the salaries of Afghan health workers and the training of Afghan traditional midwives, amounting to nearly $8 million. Moreover, some $4 million were obligated for Iraqi refugees located in three provinces in the west of the country. In 1990, assistance concentrated on logistical support, medical supplies and equipment, water and sanitation systems.

154. As mentioned earlier, during 1990 the absence of a durable solution to the problem of Afghan refugees, in the form of a broad political settlement, remained the major impediment to their large-scale return. In order to promote such return, UNHCR and WFP, with support from the Coordinator for the United Nations Humanitarian and Economic Assistance Programmes Relating to Afghanistan (UNOCA), launched a Pilot Repatriation Project in July 1990, which provided for a cash grant of Rs 3,000 and 4 kilos of wheat against every family ration card surrendered. The purpose of this grant was to facilitate refugees' travel to Afghanistan. UNHCR mobilized additional staff to supervise this encashment programme and to monitor, to the extent possible, movements back to Afghanistan. As at 31 December 1990, ration cards representing approximately 70,000 persons were presented. At the same time, it is estimated that a further 100,000 persons returned to Afghanistan spontaneously, without having made use of the Pilot Project. Whereas it is unlikely that every encashed ration card represents a family having effectively returned to Afghanistan, and although the original planning figure was not reached, in general the project may be considered a success, particularly given late start, refugees, unfamiliarity with it and the opposition from some quarters.

155. In Afghanistan in 1990, UNHCR continued to support the Peace Guest House project, where returnees are received and assisted with onward transportation to their areas of origin. Guest houses were supported at Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif. WFP provided a food component to participating returnees. At Herat, the considerable number of returnees required UNHCR to organize onward transportation by air. As of end 1990, 30,001 persons had been assisted by UNHCR through the guest house project.

156. During 1989, UNHCR put considerable effort into cross-border projects. By 1990, however, their catalytic role was demonstrated as the arrival of other United Nations agencies, with their own cross-border programmes, allowed UNHCR to terminate all prior-year projects. Only seven new projects were initiated, mainly in conjunction with other United Nations agencies in Afghanistan.

157. UNHCR activities in 1990 in other sectors were: collection of data on the provinces in Afghanistan of priority concern to UNHCR, monitoring of repatriation through the increased presence of staff in border and field locations, maintaining an efficient radio and data transmission network as an essential aspect of providing security, efficiency and coordination, a number of vocational and income-generation projects in Pakistan, as well as immunization activities.

158. Disbursements during 1990 for the repatriation of Afghan refugees totalled $14.5 million, of which $2.4 million corresponded to activities inside Afghanistan and $9.9 million to activities in Pakistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

159. In Algeria, assistance to the Sahrawi refugees in the Tindouf area continued as in the past, covering food, education, health and domestic needs as well as self-sufficiency projects to promote local production pending voluntary repatriation. Within the framework of the United Nations political settlement of the Western Sahara question by the organization of a referendum, an initial repatriation plan, including a provisional budget, has been adopted and all necessary measures are being taken to prepare for this operation in coordination with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

160. Immediately following the invasion of Kuwait, during the first phase of the Gulf crisis, UNHCR concentrated its efforts on providing indirect support to the overall programmes that facilitated the repatriation of well over 700,000 third-country nationals who had left Iraq and Kuwait. Within that group, UNHCR directly assisted a few thousand refugees and asylum-seekers for whom immediate repatriation was not feasible.

161. On 11 January 1991, the United Nations presented the Regional Humanitarian Plan of Action and appealed for start-up contributions. The Plan detailed requirements corresponding to the arrival and assistance during three months of up to 400,000 persons (100,000 each in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Syria and Turkey) at an estimated budget of $175 million, of which $38 million was identified as the minimum requirement to begin creating additional reception capacity.

162. Between 15 January and 15 March 1991, some 65,000 persons arrived in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Syria and Turkey from Kuwait and Iraq. The first few weeks of that period were marked by the arrival of a large number of third-country nationals (mostly to Jordan), the majority of whom were immediately repatriated to their countries of origin. Iraqi nationals started to arrive mostly in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey.

163. During the same period, UNHCR organized 84 flights, 4 road convoys and 2 shipments which positioned 264,000 blankets and nearly 30,000 tents and tarpaulins in the region, in addition to kitchen sets, lamps, stoves and other supplies necessary to cover the needs of the refugee population in the four countries. Other United Nations agencies (UNICEF, WHO, WFP, and UNDRO) and IOM also sent supplies, food and/or provided services, as established by the Regional Humanitarian Plan of Action.

164. In what has been called the fastest refugee movement in the 40-year history of UNHCR, during the first week of April the Iraqi refugee population in the Islamic Republic of Iran grew from 50,000 to 700,000, and in Turkey from some 7,500 to 250,000 as a result of civil unrest and hostilities within Iraq. Before the end of April there were some 1 million Iraqi refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran and approximately 400,000 in the Turkish border area, with many others approaching the border of both the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey.

165. Responding to this new emergency, the United Nations system revised the Plan of Action on 9 April in order to assist the needs of 1.5 million refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq during three months and designated UNHCR as the lead agency. The new estimated budget was set at $400 million of which $238.5 million were earmarked to UNHCR.

166. As of 1 May, UNHCR had received $94.4 million and had sent or had on route to the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey some 970,000 blankets, 68,915 family tents, 682 hospital tents, 100,809 plastic sheeting/tarpaulins in addition to other relief supplies and complementary food.

167. The High Commissioner visited refugee sites in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey and met with high-level authorities, including the Presidents of the two States. UNHCR, which has increased its staff to 78 in the Islamic Republic of Iran and 54 in Turkey, has been coordinating relief efforts in the field with both Governments, non-governmental organizations and other United Nations agencies. To strengthen the United Nations response to the emergency in the area, the relevant United Nations agencies are preparing a consolidated version of the Regional Humanitarian Plan of Action which will cover all countries concerned, including Iraq.

168. During 1990, expenditure in South-West Asia, North Africa and the Middle East under UNHCR Voluntary Funds totalled $97.6 million, of which $51.9 million was under general programmes and $45.7 million under special programmes. Of this total $63.6 million was spent on care and maintenance.


169. 1990 again proved to be a challenging year for UNHCR from the point of view of fund-raising. As reported earlier, expenditure on 1990 activities amounted to $544.0 million; comparable expenditure in 1989 was $570.3 million, which included a deficit of $38 million under the general programmes which had to be brought forward and absorbed in 1990. Of the 1990 expenditure, $331.3 million was spent on general programmes and $212.7 million on special programmes and other trust funds.

170. Donor support continued to be very strong and several important donors increased their total contributions by up to 60 per cent in absolute terms, with an increase of 12 per cent on the total contributions figure of $507 million in 1989 (see table 3).

171. Apart from regular appeals to cover the approved budget of the general programmes, several special appeals were issued in 1990 for new situations which had to be addressed. Among the most prominent were the two-way, voluntary repatriation operation between Angola and Zaire, the massive exodus of Liberians into neighbouring countries, the emergency assistance required in Sri Lanka, the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese Refugees (CPA), as well as the large voluntary repatriation operation from Honduras and Costa Rica to Nicaragua within the framework of CIAV.

172. At its forty-first session in October 1990, the Executive Committee approved a target of $345.6 million for general programmes, which was subsequently increased by the Executive Committee to $355.6 million to reflect a $10 million increase in the Emergency Fund. The total voluntary contributions needed in 1990 to cover general programme requirements as well as special programmes were estimated to be $547.5 million.

173. In 1991, UNHCR opened the year with a $10.8 carry-over of funds under general programmes. As at 31 March 1991, total contributions, both paid or pledged, for general and special programmes amounted to $317.9 million. The early announcement of pledges in the first quarter of 1991 for the year's general programmes (contributions for 1991 general programmes as at 31 March amount to $251.4 million) is indeed a most welcome development that permits UNHCR to better plan activities throughout the year.

174. With new needs and emergencies in Africa and the Middle East region, the High Commissioner must count, in 1991, on the continued support of the international community to enable the Office to carry out the tasks with which it has been entrusted. In view of the magnitude of the requirements, early contributions by donor Governments are especially relevant. Furthermore, UNHCR will continue to seek support from Governments who so far have not contributed to its programmes or whose economic situation would call for a more active participation in supporting refugee programmes. Special efforts are being deployed simultaneously in the field of private-sector fund raising.


A. Cooperation between UNHCR and other members of the United Nations system

175. In the area of inter-agency cooperation, the Office pursued its traditional policy and practice of establishing and promoting relationships with sister United Nations organizations, especially those which have an interest or expertise in areas of benefit to refugees and returnees.

176. This policy has been invigorated by recent initiatives by Member States of the United Nations to encourage greater system-wide cooperation and coordination through the development of joint approaches to common objectives in the general area of technical, developmental and humanitarian assistance. In this context, and given the need to augment the resources available to assist refugees and returnees, UNHCR has paid greater attention to inter-agency cooperation as an area of activity with significant potential resource-mobilization for complementary assistance to refugees and returnees.

177. The approach reaffirms the importance of a development-oriented refugee assistance policy that takes full account of the situation of refugees, returnees and displaced persons and the United Nations system's need to establish and/or enhance existing policies and mechanisms to that end. This focus of inter-agency cooperation has been espoused by recent sessions, in 1989 and 1990, of the UNHCR Executive Committee and has found formal expression, inter alia, in General Assembly resolution 44/137 of 15 December 1989 and Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/78. The UNDP Governing Council has taken complementary decisions which call for greater attention by UNDP, as the United Nations system's focal point for assistance to internally displaced persons, to the related issue of developmental assistance to refugees and returnees.

178. The ensuing advocacy by the Office of greater inter-agency cooperation on. refugee/returnee assistance has concentrated on the following practical objectives:

(a) Establishment of inter-agency cooperation focal points in cooperating agencies;

(b) Inclusion of refugee/returnee issues in the work programmes of individual organizations;

(c) Establishment of joint refugees/returnees/displaced persons programme designs and implementation arrangements;

(d) Establishment of a joint resource-mobilization strategy for developmental assistance to refugees and returnees;

(e) Identification of areas of cooperation at the regional, subregional and country levels;

(f) Inter-agency training arrangements to ensure an integrated and effective United Nations system-wide response to the problems of refugees and returnees.

179. Contacts at the head-of-agency level established with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Labour Office (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), and with non-United Nations bodies such as the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), on enhancing ongoing cooperation between these organizations and UNHCR, have generally resulted in a positive response. UNDP, UNICEF and WHO have nominated senior officials as focal points for cooperation with UNHCR and a plan of work in line with the above objectives ties been established with UNDP and UNICEF. To facilitate joint programme development at the field level, all UNDP and UNHCR field representatives have been informed of the new initiatives towards enhanced cooperation through a letter jointly signed by the respective heads of agencies. Memoranda of Understanding, which already exist between UNHCR and many of the aforementioned agencies, are being revised in view of these efforts. Proposals for new Memoranda of Understanding have been made to UNFPA and will eventually be made to UNICEF. Joint programme development in the area of refugee education assistance is being undertaken with UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, ILO and interested non-governmental organizations in the framework of the Plan of Action promulgated at the World Conference on Education for All, held at Jomtien, Thailand in March 1990. Contacts have been established and significant steps have been taken with the Office of the Director-General for International Economic Development on outlining the approach and establishing the mechanism for the implementation of Economic and Social Council resolution 1990/78 which called, inter alia, for an assessment of the experience and capacity of the United Nations system in assisting refugees, displaced persons and returnees.

180. The strong and traditional cooperation between UNHCR and WFP has been strengthened by the recent development of a mechanism for the sharing of responsibilities by both agencies in the areas of food aid donor coordination, commodity - and cash - resource-mobilization and logistics. These are based on the desire for greater programme effectiveness through improved inter-agency cooperation as set out in a recently completed Concept Paper on UNHCR/WFP Cooperation.

B. Relations with other intergovernmental organizations

181. As with cooperation between UNHCR and other United Nations agencies, UNHCR seeks to promote consideration, wherever appropriate, of its own activities in the forefront of policies, plans and activities of these organizations and, in turn, to focus further UNHCR's own attention on key issues and activities of these organizations on matters of relevance to the Office. To this end, three main and broad types of action are concurrently being taken; namely advocacy, enhancement of existing cooperation and general liaison activities. Under these headings, the following sampling of diverse activities may be highlighted:

(a) The Organization of American States (OAS) and UNHCR have cooperated in a joint programme of legal research of refugee law in Latin American countries. These studies, conducted by the Under-Secretary of Legal Affairs of OAS, oriented and financed by UNHCR, have promoted a greater understanding of the legal systems relating to refugees in key countries in Latin America. OAS and UNHCR also cooperated in the context of the International Support and Verification Commission (CIAV) operation in Central America;

(b) As mentioned in the preceding section, within the framework of the Jomtien "Education for All" Conference, a fruitful cooperation has been developed on the provision and coordination of education for refugees, between relevant United Nations agencies, the World Bank, non-governmental organizations and governmental organizations such as the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the Norwegian Overseas Development Agency (NORAD);

(c) Traditional coordination between UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been further reinforced. As mentioned earlier, this includes activities related to the Gulf Crisis and a tripartite agreement between IOM, UNHCR and Chile for the voluntary repatriation of Chilean refugees;

(d) Cooperation and periodic consultations between the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and UNHCR on the key refugee situations in Africa have taken place, notably as concerns Rwanda, Liberia and South Africa;

(e) Consultations between the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and UNHCR have continued. A draft memorandum of cooperation has been elaborated between UNHCR and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO);

(f) UNHCR participated at the important Ministerial Conference on the movements of persons coming from Central and Eastern European countries, organized by the Council of Europe and the Government of Austria, in January 1991 at Vienna;

(g) The cooperation and the financial contribution of the European Community to UNHCR general programmes and special operations (Voluntary Repatriation) have been further reinforced;

(h) UNHCR participated in the International Symposium Responding to the Nutrition Crisis among Refugees held at Oxford, in March 1991. Some 250 participants, including refugees, experts in nutrition, health professionals, NGO specialists and generalist staff, Governments, and a host of United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations analysed the nutrition crisis affecting refugees. The role and responsibilities of UNHCR and WFP were discussed and important practical recommendations were made to meet refugees' food needs better.

C. Humanitarian cooperation with liberation movements

182. UNHCR continued to maintain constructive relations with the National Liberation Movements recognized by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), namely the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC), Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO). In the course of 1990, SWAPO won the elections in Namibia and subsequently formed the Government of the newly independent State. As regards ANC and PAC, following political changes in South Africa in early 1990, the Office initiated discussions with them in connection with the possible mass voluntary repatriation of South African refugees and exiles. These discussions have been held in the context of consultations with all concerned parties in order to ascertain their perceptions on the issue, with a view to clarifying procedures and goals for such an operation, subject to the overall political agreement of all the principal actors.

183. The provision of humanitarian assistance to the refugees under the care of the ANC and PAC, either through Governments or directly through these organizations acting as implementing partners, continued during the period under review. Such assistance covered care and maintenance needs, education, vocational training and, where feasible, support towards local integration.

D. Relations with non-governmental organizations

184. UNHCR has sought to maintain and expand a good working relationship with non-governmental organizations by ensuring that complementary activities are being pursued in a concerted way to achieve a common objective, that is, durable solutions for refugees.

185. While continuing the formal and institutional meetings with non-governmental organizations (such as the Consultations on Protection and the annual meeting prior to the Executive Committee which assembled 120 non-governmental organizations), emphasis has been put on more frequent informal meetings on specific issues. UNHCR organized 25 such meetings on the following topics: developments in the situations in the Gulf, Latin America, Albania, Africa (particularly regarding Rwandese refugees) and UNHCR participation in the voluntary return of South African refugees. UNHCR also initiated inter-agency meetings, gathering non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies and donors, on thematic exchanges (e.g. food aid and education), with the aim of making effective use of complementary roles in sectors which had been affected by the budgetary cuts following the Office's financial crisis in 1989. Non-governmental organizations were regularly informed of the Office's financial situation and met in fact with the consultant responsible for an evaluation of UNHCR funding mechanisms.

186. In agreement with proposals made by a group of non-governmental organizations, and in keeping with the current efforts among United Nations agencies to reassess their relations with other organizations, UNHCR also initiated a consultative process aimed at the joint review of the "Guidelines on NGO/UNHCR Cooperation" covering, inter alia, the fields of protection, assistance, advocacy, information, fund-raising and programming. To date, approximately 20 field and headquarters-level consultations have taken place world wide, associating 250 non-governmental organizations. The conclusions of these various consultations will be incorporated into a reference document to be issued in 1991.

187. Following a Workshop on Information in which 25 non-governmental organizations participated, a pilot-project to create an electronic information network was started. UNHCR was given responsibility for the "Bulletin-Board" which provides the latest information on refugee situations. This electronic exchange network has been set up on an experimental basis and currently includes around 10 umbrella agencies world wide. It is hoped, however, that it will expand in the near future.

188. UNHCR joined the Sponsors' Group of the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS). This collaboration will permit the Office to open new avenues between it and development-oriented non-governmental organizations, to involve them in reintegration projects for refugees and returnees and to sensitize them to refugee problems. In this context, NGLS has been approached, to participate in reintegration projects for returnees in the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

189. For the third consecutive year, UNHCR prepared a data-listing of non-governmental organization operational partners, for use within and outside of the Office (200 local and international non-governmental organizations implement UNHCR projects in 77 countries). This listing gives information on implementation by non-governmental organizations operating by project type and geographical regions. Moreover, with the developments in Eastern and Central Europe, UNHCR undertook research on non-governmental organizations operating in this region. With this increased information the Office will be able to maximize liaison activities with this group of non-governmental organizations.

190. Staff of operational partners of non-governmental organizations participate in UNHCR workshops, seminars and training activities at UNHCR headquarters and in the field. Of particular note is non-governmental organization participation in emergency management, gender impact, protection, programming, broad management and train-the-trainer courses, which have enabled these individuals to extend these skills within their own organizations.

191. The Office, in collaboration with the International Save the Children Alliance, organized in March 1991 a consultation to evaluate the impact of the UNHCR "Guidelines on Refugee Children" on assistance and protection of Mozambican refugee children and their families in Malawi, with particular focus on vulnerable and war-affected children. Participants, included 11 non-governmental organizations, ministerial representatives of the Governments of Malawi and Mozambique and UNHCR staff from Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Headquarters. Recommendations were formulated for the revision of the Guidelines to cover practical and operational considerations.


192. There is a recognized link between public awareness of refugee issues and the ability of UNHCR effectively to carry out its protection and assistance functions. In view of the serious financial difficulties facing UNHCR and the negative trends in public opinion in many parts of the world, it became increasingly necessary for the Office to project a strong image of itself and to communicate the needs of refugees to a broad public. The fortieth anniversary of UNHCR has provided the occasion to reach new audiences through several public information programmes.

193. In this context, UNHCR continued to carry out a range of public information activities aimed at creating international awareness and understanding of the plight of refugees and the goals and activities of the Office itself. Such activities were, nevertheless, constrained by scarcity of resources, as UNHCR was still unable to devote more than 1 per cent of its total voluntary funds budget to public information activities. In 1990, $3.2 million were spent in this sector, of which $0.6 million were covered by earmarked donations. During the year, $0.7 million in earmarked contributions were received as a direct result of public information activities. Approximately $4 million has been foreseen to cover various public information activities in 1991.

194. Public information initiatives during the period under review included the production and dissemination of written and audio-visual materials, the maintenance and further development of relations with the media on all aspects of refugee issues, and the organization of exhibitions and special events which stimulate the interest of the media and the public.

195. UNHCR continued production of Refugees magazine, which has a well-established reputation as a useful information vehicle. Ten editions were produced in 1990 in English, French and Spanish, six in Japanese, five in German, four in Italian, one in Arabic and one in Greek. In 1990, some 1,667,500 copies were distributed free of charge in over 100 countries. A similar number of issues and language versions has been envisaged for 1991. Other printed materials produced focused on highlighting the 1951 Convention's fortieth anniversary and included posters, a poster-calendar, a leaflet, fact-sheets and maps.


1 Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-fifth Session, Supplement No. 12 (A/45/12).

2 CIREFCA/CS/90/10 of 29 June 1990.

(Note: Statistical and financial tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)

1 Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-fifth Session, Supplement No. 12 (A/45/12).

2 Annual Programme and the Emergency Fund.

3 Excluding North Africa which is included in 5: South-West Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

4 Information applies to former Federal Republic of Germany. [Through accession of the German Democratic Republic to the Federal Republic of Germany with effect from 3 October 1990, the two German States have united to form one sovereign State. As from the date of unification, the Federal Republic of Germany acts in the United Nations under the designation "Germany".]

5 Excluding expenditure for programme support and administration.

6 Including assistance to returnees in countries of origin.

7 Excluding North Africa which is included in 5: South-West Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

8 Information applies to former Federal Republic of Germany. [Through accession of the German Democratic Republic to the Federal Republic of Germany with effect from 3 October 1990, the two German States have united to form one sovereign State. As from the date of unification, the Federal Republic of Germany acts in the United Nations under the designation "Germany".]