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Statement by Mr. Felix Schnyder, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the Ad-hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the pledging of extra-budgetary funds, 29 November 1963

Speeches and statements

Statement by Mr. Felix Schnyder, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the Ad-hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the pledging of extra-budgetary funds, 29 November 1963

29 November 1963

Mr. President,

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to briefly mention before the Ad-hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the pledging of extra-budgetary funds the financial problems which are at present preoccupying my Office.

I should first like to recall the situation concerning the year 1963. The total financial target for our 1963 programmes had been fixed at 6.8 million dollars. This amount is meant to be used mainly for the programme for the completion of major aid projects on behalf of "old" European refugees. All the funds required have not yet been collected, but as I did mention last week before the Third Committee of the General Assembly, I hope that with the goodwill of interested governments, this financial target will finally be reached.

Concerning the programme for 1964, which I have recently submitted to the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, its financial target amounts to 2.6 million dollars.

This fairly important reduction of our financial target does by no means correspond to lesser needs of the refugees. Indeed, the total number of refugee coming within the purposes of the activity of my Office has not diminished in recent years; on the contrary, new refugee situations concerning hundreds of thousands of persons, particularly in Africa, have been added to those situations which my Office hitherto had to face.

We may now contemplate, however, the end of the major assistance projects in Europe, i.e., in a region where under the prevailing economic and social conditions the cost of integrating refugees is particularly high and where the problems to solve had been hardened by the accumulation of human misery during many years. We pursue our efforts with a view to implementing these projects, included in our 1963 programmes, up to the end of 1965. Simultaneously with the completion of these programmes, the increased prosperity in Europe and the beneficial effects of the international protection, which my Office, with the active and understanding co-operation of governments affords to refugees, should make it possible to take care of refugees' integration on a current basis without resorting to the big programmes which the concentration of problems during many years had made necessary.

On the other hand, we reap today the harvest of a prolonged effort calculated to create a mechanism of international solidarity, able to deal also with new refugee situations involving sometimes considerable numbers of persons who require not only emergency aid, but also long-term assistance. This machinery mobilises simultaneously the big non-governmental assistance organisations, the national administrations and naturally the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This pooling of planning and programming media, of personnel and operational facilities, and of means of assistance available either in kind or in cash, has made it possible to successfully resolve problems which at first sight appear rather difficult. This technique has inter alia enabled my Office to play its own role, that of a catalytic and stimulating element, in new refugee situations.

Thanks to these parallel developments I am able today to appeal to Member States of the United Nations or members of the specialized agencies for the relatively small amount of 2.6 million dollars as a target for the 1964 programme of my Office.

This programme is intended on the one hand to continue providing assistance to those refugees in Europe who, because of the nature of their cases, did not come within the purpose of programmes implemented in earlier years; on the other hand, the 1964 programme should enable my Office to give, through the machinery which I have just mentioned, the assistance required in new refugee situations.

In putting the financial target for 1964 at 2.6 million of dollars, care has also be taken of keeping the financial responsibilities of my Office within the limits of resources which, on the basis of earlier experience, can be considered as the basic resources of my Office. I should like to express the wish that governments will appreciate this trend towards stabilisation and will be in a position to keep their contributions at the regular level of earlier years.

In doing so, governments will give my Office the means indispensable for the efficacy of its whole action and will permit the High Commissioner to seize every suitable opportunity to make efforts to stimulate the active and generous interest of public opinion, essentially for supplementary actions. Strengthened by the regular support of governments, my Office will thus be able to fully ensure full use of the catalytic effect inherent in the role of our programmes.

I need not emphasize that the target of 2.6 million dollars is meant to finance the current tasks incumbent upon my Office in the field of assistance. If an unforeseen crisis should arise or if unexpected problems of some size came to light in the course of the year, it would be for the High Commissioner to assess the position, to inform governments and, if need be, to take whatever other measures the situation might require.

I should like to conclude, Mr. President, by recalling that within the framework of a task which the General Assembly has been able to adapt under the course of events to the developments which we have seen happening for several years now, the action of my Office has indeed become increasingly universal. I believe this is also shown by the debates which have taken place during these last days before the Third Committee of the General Assembly. It is of importance, I believe, that this universality be also reflected in the list of States who give financial support to the international action on behalf of refugees. I should like therefore to express the hope that all governments will be able to make an effort, even if this should be occasionally only a token effort, to support the programmes of international assistance to refugees.