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Prior to the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the High Commissioner's Programme (Pledging Conference) | Statement of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Speeches and statements

Prior to the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the High Commissioner's Programme (Pledging Conference) | Statement of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

2 December 1966

"I should like to thank you first of all for the kind words of welcome to this Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly. I am glad indeed for this opportunity of addressing the General Assembly on one of the most preoccupying aspects of my work: the task of obtaining from Governments the indispensable financial support to carry out the programme of my Office as authorized by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme.

"Although this meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee is concerned with the financing of the UNHCR programme for 1967, I should like to say a few words, Mr. President, with your permission, on the financial situation of my programme in 1966. When I had the honour to address this Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly a year ago, after my election, but before taking office, I expressed the fear that unless governmental contributions to my programme were adjusted to fit the needs and to reach the target fixed by the Executive Committee of my programmes, we might be faced with a deficit which I estimated at roughly $1 million. This fear unfortunately proved to be justified. Against the target for the 1966 programme which has meanwhile been fixed at $4.2 million, there is a deficit of about $1 million in governmental support. My Office is now looking for ad hoc arrangements, including special contributions from non-governmental sources, to cope with this situation before we close books at the end of the year. But this does not eliminate the fact that as of now, the High-Commissioner is still not able to obtain from governmental contributions the funds required to meet the target of his programme.

"I should now like to turn, Mr. President, to our programme for 1967. As you have mentioned yourself in your opining statement, the target for the 1967 programme has been fixed by the Executive Committee of the High-Commissioner's Programme at nearly $4.6 million which is roughly $400,000 more than the 1966 target. The increase in the target is closely linked to the emergence of new refugee situations and therefore of new refugee problems. I should like to stress in this respect that the UNHCR programmes are basically conceived to cover only the imperative and urgent needs of refugees. Unlike other international programmes where long-term planning is possible and where furthermore, on account of financial limitations, projects can be transferred from one year to another, these practices are hardly feasible in the case of the programme of my Office.

"Exactly as I have to adapt my programme to the development of refugee needs, I have also to appeal to Governments to adjust their contributions to meet these needs.

"As to the object of my programme, it is meant primarily to bring relief to human-beings in need, first of all in the early emergency phase of any new refugee situation, and further, to enable the refugees, short of voluntary repatriation, to become self-supporting as soon as possible, or alternatively to find a new country of asylum when resettlement is the best solution to their problems. The significance of my programme goes, however, beyond the alleviation of needs. It makes, I believe, a definite contribution and, in many cases, a vital and indispensable contribution to the political and social stability of refugee areas by removing and eliminating causes of tension and unrest. Ultimately, Mr. President, the programmes carried out under the auspices of my Office contribute to the maintenance of peace which is the primary goal of this Organization which I am honoured to serve. The target of my programme, which is at present less than $5 million for 1967, should be seen against the object and the significance of the programme as I have just tried to outline them before this General Assembly.

"I expect to be able to report next week on the activity of my Office to the Third Committee. I will have occasion, therefore, to point to the tangible results which have been obtained by the UNHCR programmes in settling thousands, hundreds of thousands of refugees throughout the world in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia as well as in Europe. Therefore, I can assure the General Assembly and particularly the Governments contributing to the programme of my Office that their funds are being put to good use. There are still hundreds of thousands of refugees to be helped and while it is within the practical possibilities to do so, this depends on the availability of adequate funds at the appropriate time. It depends therefore entirely on Governments and on their realization of the major interests, from a human and social point of view and even from a political point of view, which are involved in adequate international assistance to refugees.

"Speaking of assistance to refugees, one cannot and should not overlook the importance of private initiative. This has been demonstrated very recently again on the occasion of the large refugee campaign launched in a number of European countries. This does not mean however that the High-Commissioner can rely for the financing of his programmes on private sources. The non-governmental organizations and the public who supports them have objectives and wishes of their own. They want to support projects and programmes which are complementary to the assistance given by Governments either directly or through the multilateral channel of the High-Commissioner. In actual fact, it is indispensable for the High-Commissioner to be able to rely on the availability of funds from private sources for the very reason that, as I have already explained, my Office can provide only a very limited assistance to take care only of the most imperative and urgent needs of refugees.

"For all these reasons, Mr. Chairman, I should like to join you in the appeal you have made in your opening statement to Governments to contribute adequately to the financing of the programmes of my Office. My specific request is that all those Governments who are capable of doing so increase their contributions to meet the increasing demands made to my Office, and that those Governments who have not yet contributed to my programme demonstrate their interest, even if they can only make a token contribution."