Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Sixteenth Session
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.11 (A/4771/Rev.1)
1. During the period under review (1 May 1960 to 31 March 19611), the Office of the High Commissioner has continued to carry out its humanitarian task in accordance with the provisions of the Statute and of the resolutions and directives adopted by the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme.
2. The two most striking features of the period covered by this report have been the effects of World Refugee Year and the increased interest shown in many quarters in the problems of groups of persons who may be regarded as refugees, but who do not come within the immediate competence of the United Nations.
3. World Refugee Year, which began in June-July 1959, was extended in many countries beyond the official closing date of June-July 1960. Ninety-seven countries and territories participated in the Year. World Refugee Year has been an effort both of Governments and of peoples, as evidenced by the fact that approximately two-thirds of the total of nearly $16 million contributed to UNHCR for 1960 came from non-governmental sources.
4. Owing in large part to World Refugee Year, the necessary funds are now available to complete the clearance of camps and also to assist the refugees in becoming firmly settled once they have left camp. The necessary projects are ready and are being put into effect as rapidly as possible.
5. World Refugee Year has contributed to the solution of the problem of refugees of European origin in the Far East, which has now been reduced to manageable proportions. If the present rate of resettlement can be maintained this tragic problem will be solved in the near future, thanks to the helpful attitude of the British authorities in Hong Kong and the Governments which admit these refugees to their territory for resettlement.
6. World Refugee Year has also enabled UNHCR to alleviate the problems of non-settled refugees living outside camps who still require varying degrees of assistance in order to become firmly settled. In accordance with the policy laid down by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, the physically and socially handicapped among these refugees are being given priority in the granting of assistance. In a few countries where non-settled refugees living outside camps can profit from existing favourable economic conditions, a certain number may be able to solve their problems without further international help. Others may benefit from the liberalized immigration criteria introduced during World Refugee Year and still being applied by several immigration countries which have found that handicapped refugees can be rehabilitated and again become useful citizens.
7. In determining the degree of assistance to be given to the remaining non-settled refugees living outside camps the utmost care is taken to ensure that the limited funds available are used to help those who, owing to the fact that they are refugees, do not have the same opportunities as other persons in the country in which they live. The amount of assistance given is determined by the conditions of the refugee concerned and the economic situation of the country of residence. If the favourable economic situation in Europe continues and if the liberal conditions introduced by immigration countries for the admission of refugees are maintained, it is expected that the remaining problem of non-settled refugees living outside camps can, in the near future, be clearly defined in terms of its size, scope and financial requirements and that a definite time-limit can be set for its solution.
8. The completion of the above-mentioned programmes, as well as the effectiveness of the future work of this Office, will, of course, depend on its sustained efforts in co-operation with Governments, other organizations and voluntary agencies.
9. The other tasks of the Office which, within the framework of its mandate, are considered as of "continuing concern", comprise international protection and its useful complement, the promotion of legal assistance, the current promotion of permanent solutions through repatriation, resettlement or local integration, and such aid as might be required in cases of individual emergencies.
10. The promotion of permanent solutions through other agencies working for refugees should make it possible to deal effectively with the, at present limited, number of new refugees and to solve their problems as and when they arise. A few small material assistance projects for the handicapped among these refugees may also be required.
11. International protection, which is the basic task of UNHCR, has been further developed in the interest of some 1,350,000 refugees living in over forty different countries. As in the case of all aspects of the work of UNHCR, it must be carried out in close and continuing co-operation with the Governments of countries of residence of refugees. Through the permanent delegations in Geneva and the branch offices and correspondents of UNHCR as well as through personal visits of the High Commissioner and his staff, this co-operation has been considerably intensified. It has helped to bring about the adoption in many countries of a variety of measures designed to improve the position of refugees. Such measures often have a bearing on both the legal status of the refugees and their economic and social position. They constitute therefore an indispensable factor in consolidating the position of beneficiaries under the various material assistance programmes.
12. In the field of emergency relief, the Office is still concerned with the problem of refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia. The joint programme of this Office and the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies for assistance to these refugees is being continued. The cost entailed in providing the refugees with essential food and clothing amounts to almost $7 million per year. The High Commissioner sincerely hopes that the necessary funds will be made available to enable the League and this Office to continue this essential programme for as long as is necessary.
13. The increasing interest shown by the international community and by people throughout the world in groups of refugees not coming within the competence of the United Nations, many of them outside Europe, was clearly evidenced during World Refugee Year. That interest is also reflected in the resolutions2 which the General Assembly has adopted authorizing the High Commissioner to use his "good offices" for assistance to these groups of refugees. These resolutions indicate the wish expressed in the Assembly to the effect that UNHCR, in accordance with the universal character of its assignments, should gear its activities to the changing world of today.
14. As stated in more detail in chapter V of this report, the High Commissioner was called upon in several instances to transmit funds for assistance to the groups of refugees concerned or to advise or assist Governments in giving help to them.
15. The High Commissioner considers that in the discharge of his "good offices" functions, his Office should always be prepared to assist Governments in solving new refugee problems in accordance with the humanitarian and social character of the task conferred on his Office. He believes that it should in this way be possible for UNHCR to alleviate the plight of refugees, and to lighten the burden of the Governments concerned and to facilitate solutions for all refugees, including those for whom no provision was made at the time his Office was established.
CHAPTER I INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION
16. Gradually the effects of World Refugee Year are making themselves felt in the field of international protection which is UNHCR's main task. World Refugee Year has created a more general awareness and understanding of the specific legal situation of refugees and of the need for special measures for the improvement of their status.
17. The fact that the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951 is being ratified by further Governments, and has been in force for a number of years in some countries, likewise results in the special status of refugees being increasingly recognized in the practice of the judicial and administrative authorities of the countries concerned and in legal doctrine.
18. During the period under review, the protection of some 1,350,000 refugees spread over more than forty countries has been further developed in consultation with the Governments of those countries, as shown in detail in annex II to this report.
19. International protection, it will be recalled, applies from the moment a person becomes a refugee until he has ceased to be a refugee, e. g., through voluntary repatriation or the acquisition of a new nationality. Until this has been achieved, the object of protection is that refugees should receive a status as close as possible to that of the nationals of the country of their residence so that they make take their place in the new community which has received them.
20. Progress continues to be made throughout the various stages of the work of protection. Thus, the draft Declaration on the Right of Asylum, which is to be considered at the sixteenth session of the General Assembly, continues to receive the attention of the United Nations High Commissioner. The determination of the eligibility of refugees plays an increasingly important role in that it is a condition for the granting of the status provided for under the 1951 Convention and is often regarded as a yardstick for the granting of asylum.
21. The existing agreements and conventions have been further extended in terms of the scope of these instruments and of the numbers of contracting parties thereto. The most important instrument for refugees, the 1951 Convention, has now been ratified or acceded to by the Governments of twenty-seven countries spread over the five continents. Further accessions have also been made to other intergovernmental instruments which directly or indirectly benefit the refugees. The rights granted to refugees under these legal instruments and under national legislation are contributing to the consolidation of their legal, economic and social position. They also facilitate the implementation of assistance programmes carried out in the countries concerned. In several instances, improvements in the legal position of refugees are paralleled by practical measures. For example, in several countries where criteria for the access to employment have been liberalized, the labour exchanges have been requested by the Governments to pay special attention to the requirements of refugees.
22. A special mention should be made of refugees in the liberal professions who, though covered to some extent by article 19 of the 1951 Convention, frequently still face considerable difficulty in establishing themselves in their own professions. On the occasion of World Refugee Year, initiatives were taken, particularly in respect of refugee doctors and dentists, by the Council of Europe and the World Medical Association and World Women's Medical Association. Pursuant to a recommendation (number 253) of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, endorsed by its Committee of Ministers, consideration is now being given by that organization to the possibility of a European convention being drawn up on the subject. A certain easing of the restrictions on the exercise of the liberal professions by refugees has already taken place or is under consideration by several countries in Europe.
23. The conclusion on 5 October 1960 between the Federal Government of Germany and UNHCR of the Agreement concerning payments in favour of persons who have suffered by reason of their nationality is a most important step towards the solution of a problem of international protection of refugees, which the High Commissioner has already mentioned in previous reports as still being unsolved.
24. The Agreement provides that refugees who have suffered permanent injury to body or health under the National Socialist régime by reason of their nationality will receive compensation on the same basis as other victims of National Socialist persecution. This should result in much higher payments. This part of the Agreement will be implemented by the German authorities.
25. Under the Agreement, UNHCR has, in addition, received an amount of DM45 million for measures of assistance to refugees persecuted under the National Socialist régime by reason of nationality and who are not entitled to indemnification under the German Federal Indemnification Law. Pursuant to a decision taken by the General Assembly at its fifteenth session, an allocation of $206,000 was earmarked from the United Nations budget for the administration of this fund by UNHCR in 1961. An indemnification section has been set up within the Geneva Office of UNHCR for this purpose. It is anticipated that it will take approximately three years to deal with all the applications to the fund.
26. The measures of international protection described above tend to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of refugees and to improve their position in countries of residence. They may also contribute indirectly to the final aim of the Office: "to help refugees to cease to be refugees". Although measures have been taken by several countries to facilitate naturalization, it will be noted from annex I that the number of refugees coming within the mandate of UNHCR has decreased to only a limited extent. As at 1 January 1961, their number was estimated at 1,350,000, including 850,000 in European countries, against 870,000 one year ago. Efforts for the facilitation and speeding-up of naturalization of refugees where desired will continue.
27. Prior to their naturalization the Office is trying to secure for the refugees certain rights granted by regional legal instruments to the nationals of the parties to these instruments in the territories in which they reside. During the period under review further progress was made in this field. The Council of Europe's Agreement on the abolition of visas for refugees came into force in September 1960. The regulations adopted by the European Economic Community in the field of social security apply to refugees resident in member countries in the same way as to nationals of those countries. Consultations are taking place between this Office and the regional organizations concerned on the possibility of extending to resident refugees further benefits granted to nationals of member countries.
28. Progress has been made in the field of international protection due to the understanding attitude of Governments to which the High Commissioner would like to pay tribute. However, a great deal still remains to be done in this important sector of the work of UNHCR. The High Commissioner considers that the legal position of refugees under the mandate of UNHCR, many of whom have benefited to a large extent from international material assistance, should be as favourable and as secure as possible, in order to ensure that refugees who have been able to begin a new life should not, in the event of a change in the economic situation of the country, again become a charge on the international community, and also in order to prevent the recurrence of problems which have once been solved through international co-operation. In accordance with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, the High Commissioner will continue his efforts in this field.
CHAPTER II VOLUNTARY REPATRIATION AND RESETTLEMENT
29. As in previous years, a certain number of refugees have chosen to return to their own country. In accordance with the terms of its Statute and resolution 925 (X) of the General Assembly, the Office has continued to facilitate the repatriation of refugees whenever they expressed the wish to return to their country of origin.
30. In several countries where UNHCR is represented by a branch office, statistical information has been obtained which shows that during 1960 some 2,500 refugees returned to their country of origin. The total number is believed to be somewhat higher.
31. During the last two years, UNHCR has been able to make financial arrangements for the travel of refugees returning to their country of origin in cases where the cost was not borne by the country of residence, the country of origin or the refugees concerned.
32. The activities of UNHCR in the field of resettlement include the promotion and negotiation of resettlement schemes with Governments and other governmental and non-governmental organizations and the implementation of specific projects with the object of preparing certain limited groups of refugees for immigration to other countries. These projects may include vocational training, language training and rehabilitation.
33. In the course of 1960, the Office has also been called upon to promote resettlement in respect of refugees who were not within the competence of the United Nations and for whom the High Commissioner may use his good offices in accordance with resolution 1388 (XIV) of the General Assembly.
34. Resettlement, which was for many years a solution reserved for limited groups of refugees specially selected by immigration countries, has recently become available to practically any refugee, including the old and young, fit and weak, and economically weaker families. During World Refugee Year, the efforts made for many years to obtain liberalized immigration criteria met with wide-spread response both overseas and in European countries, many of which had previously already admitted handicapped refugees. Consequently, it has become possible to resettle many more people and a much larger proportion of physically handicapped refugees in countries of their choice. To illustrate this in terms of figures, in the course of 1960, some 30,000 refugees within the mandate of UNHCR were moved by the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration which closely co-operates with this Office (see annex III). In the course of World Refugee Year and of the six following months (1 July 1959-31 December 1960), offers of resettlement were received for the immigration of 3,000 handicapped refugees and 4,000 dependants.
35. In addition to the quantitative results achieved during the period under review, the High Commissioner would like particularly to stress the fundamental change which is resulting from the liberal policy which many countries have adopted. The admission of refugees with their families, of handicapped persons rejoining their families abroad and, generally speaking, of those who, owing to a physical or social handicap, would otherwise have been left behind, has had a beneficial influence on the establishment of refugees in immigration countries.
36. A special tribute must be paid to the authorities of the countries concerned for the great care with which the admission and settlement of refugee immigrants, and particularly of the handicapped, has been organized. The successful experiment made by these countries has prompted nearly all of them to continue the same liberal policy after the end of World Refugee Year. They are thereby giving a much greater value to resettlement as a solution to refugee problems, in that they are now enabling this Office to apply this solution to a larger cross-section of the refugee population, including the limited influx of new refugees in Europe which otherwise might create another problem.
CHAPTER III UNHCR REGULAR ANNUAL PROGRAMMES
37. During the period under review, the Office has carried on the implementation of its regular programme for 1960, besides completing further projects within earlier programmes. Implementation of the UNHCR regular programmes for 1961, for which the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme fixed a financial target of $6 million from all sources, has also been started.
38. As at 31 December 1960, over 81,500 refugees in twenty-nine countries (over forty if all countries of resettlement are included) had been assisted under the programmes, in finding solutions to their problems, as shown in more detail in annex IV to this report.
39. As hitherto, the main object of the UNHCR regular annual programmes is to achieve permanent solutions for non-settled refugees and, pending such solutions, to give supplementary aid to the neediest among them. One of the guiding principles observed by this Office in carrying out these programmes is that the refugee should in the first place be helped "to help himself". For this reason, assistance has as far as possible taken the form of loans to enable the refugee to acquire the necessary housing or to establish himself in a job, a trade or a profession. Thus, out of over $31 million committed by UNHCR from the inception of the UNREF programme in 1955 until 31 December 1960, nearly one-half had been allocated for housing and establishment assistance. Most refugees assisted by loans are respecting their obligations to repay them. Assistance is given in the form of grants only in the case of the economically weaker refugees, i.e., the handicapped. The proportion of such refugees, however, is increasing since the stronger elements have been the first to become settled. It is therefore increasingly necessary to assist the remaining case-load through grants.
40. In view of the limited earning capacity of some of the beneficiaries, the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme has agreed to a rent assistance system being applied to housing projects.3 Under this system the rents for refugees with very low incomes are subsidized from loan repayments made by other refugee tenants to the agency implementing the housing project concerned. This will result in a slight reduction in loan repayments accruing to the Emergency Fund established pursuant to resolution 1166 (XII) of the General Assembly.
41. Another guiding principle is to assist the refugees to become self-supporting as rapidly and effectively as possible in accordance with their own free choice. To this end, a network of counsellors gives guidance to individual refugees and assists them in achieving the type of solution most suited to their needs and likely to be the most appropriate in relation to their particular circumstances. Thus, for example, refugees are informed of particular employment openings for which they are qualified or of a special resettlement project which would enable them to join relatives abroad.
42. In the course of 1960, the $12 million financial target set on the occasion of World Refugee Year for the UNHCR regular programme for 1960 was practically reached. Sufficient funds were therefore available to UNHCR to ensure the financing of the Camp Clearance Scheme. During the period under review, further progress was made in achieving permanent solutions for the camp population and the number of refugees in camps qualifying for the scheme decreased from 15,750 at the beginning of 1960 to 10,700 at 31 December 1960. Further progress was also made in the resettlement of refugees from the Far East.
43. Consequently, the Office was able to devote more of its funds and attention to the problem of non-settled refugees living outside camps whose number decreased from approximately 94,000 at the beginning of 1960 to 74,000 at the end of that year in nine countries or areas where the UNHCR main programmes are being put into effect, including an estimated 65,000 in European countries and 9,000 in the Middle East and in the Far East.
44. Further provision for assistance to non-settled refugees living outside camps and for the Far Eastern Programme constitutes the major part of the $6 million regular programme for 1961.
45. Fewer than 1,200 non-settled new Hungarian refugees will remain in Austria, including 570 in camps who will be able to benefit from camp clearance projects and from the UNHCR regular programme for 1961, in so far as solutions cannot be achieved for them under the special programme which is scheduled to be closed in the course of 1961.
46. The countries of residence continue to contribute in various ways towards the assistance of refugees on their territory. Thus by the end of 1960, UNHCR commitments in the amount of $31,113,627 had generated supporting contributions of over $41 million from within these countries. This figure does not include certain items the cost of which it is practically impossible to assess, such as permanent care of refugees in local institutions, remission of fees and taxes and social security benefits.
47. The clearance of official camps in Austria, Germany, Greece and Italy, and of non-federal camps in Austria has continued with increased momentum. As it became apparent that the funds required for the completion of the Camp Clearance Scheme4 would be obtained, solutions were worked out for the remaining camp population in consultation with the implementing agencies and Governments concerned so that appropriate projects could be put into effect as soon as possible.
48. From the inception of the UNREF programme in 1955 until 31 December 1960, the camp population in Austria, Germany, Greece and Italy has decreased from over 75,000 to approximately 15,000 refugees, 10,700 of whom qualify for assistance under the UNHCR Camp Clearance Scheme, while the others will benefit under other programmes.
49. During the period under review, two factors have considerably affected the implementation of the Camp Clearance Scheme: the characteristics of the refugees still living in camps, and the improved economic conditions in the countries concerned. A number of the refugees still in camps can be settled through housing or projects for establishment assistance. However, there is among them an increasing proportion of persons who have been for too long out of touch with the outside world. Projects for their settlement have to be based on the circumstances and requirements of individual refugee families and consequently involve more time and expenditure. Within this group there were, twelve months ago, some 1,500 refugees requiring special assistance to overcome the psychological problems caused by a prolonged period of camp life. As a result of special rehabilitation projects put into effect upon the advice of the UNHCR Mental Health Adviser and in close co-operation with the Governments of the countries concerned, great progress has been made in solving the problems of these refugees. The number of those in camps for whom special measures are still required has decreased and the High Commissioner is hopeful that solutions will soon be found for the problems of the remaining cases.
50. While better economic conditions in the countries of residence of refugees may contribute on the whole to their local integration by creating more employment opportunities, they are at the same time causing an increase in the cost of assistance projects and particularly of housing. This difficulty has arisen in Austria and Germany where there is a shortage of labour and a scarcity of cheap building sites near places of employment. The authorities of these countries are endeavouring to alleviate these difficulties by giving refugees, as far as possible, the same facilities as nationals in respect of housing. Furthermore, a new type of housing of very simple design is being built in certain areas in order to provide refugees in the lowest income brackets with accommodation at a rent which they can afford.
51. Every effort is being made to complete the clearance of camps and to ensure the firm settlement of the camp population as rapidly as possible. In view of the above-mentioned problems, however, some time will still be needed in order to finish this task. In Germany, where the majority of the remaining refugees are living, the considerable number of housing units which are still required may take two years to complete. In Austria, the problem should be solved before the end of 1962. In Italy, also, it is estimated that at least another year will be necessary to achieve the firm settlement of the limited but difficult remaining case-load. In Greece, camp clearance is practically completed. Establishment assistance, however, will still be required to enable the refugees who have left the camps to become self-supporting.
52. It may be stated therefore that while the necessary funds are available, many efforts will still be required on the part of the governmental authorities concerned, of the agencies implementing the programme and of the Office in order to bring camp clearance to a successful conclusion and to achieve permanent solutions for the remaining refugee camp population.
Far Eastern Programme
53. This programme, together with the Camp Clearance Scheme, constitutes one of the priority tasks of this Office. In conjunction with the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, another 1,005 refugees were moved via Hong Kong to countries of final resettlement in 1960 and a further 1,135 were moved during the first four months of 1961, leaving on 1 May 1961 approximately 5,700 refugees still to be resettled.
54. In addition to the financial contributions made to this programme through World Refugee Year, the increased number of resettlement opportunities offered by immigration countries, in particular to handicapped refugees, has contributed to the speedy transfer of refugees from the Far East to their final destinations. Visas for approximately 1,000 refugees are still required.
Assistance to non-settled refugees living outside camps
55. Within the $12 million financial target for the 1960 programme an amount of over $5.3 million was allocated for assistance to these refugees. While first priority has been given to camp clearance, the international community has always recognized the needs of non-settled refugees outside camps. The situation of many of these refugees is precarious; they often live in substandard dwellings under conditions which are worse than those of the camp population. They have accepted the challenge of independent life in new surroundings where they often have to face economic and social problems, particularly in those areas where social legislation has not yet been fully developed or has not been extended to all residents. In the course of the past few years, many of these refugees, particularly in countries such as Austria, France and Germany, have succeeded in becoming integrated. Others have benefited from the increased resettlement opportunities offered by immigration countries. Among the remaining non-settled refugee population, however, there is a growing proportion of physically and socially handicapped refugees who are living in the most difficult conditions.
56. The non-settled refugees living outside camps need in particular employment opportunities and vocational training, and the handicapped among them, rehabilitation; they most difficult cases within this group need permanent care in institutions or in housing specially designed for the aged.
57. In accordance with the principles laid down by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, the extent of assistance given to non-settled refugees is determined on the basis of their specific needs, and priority is therefore given to the handicapped. Furthermore, account is taken of the degree of assistance which refugees can receive from within their country of residence. In those countries where economic conditions and the scope of social legislation justify it, assistance projects are restricted to the physically handicapped and to the specially difficult cases who require rehabilitation in order to overcome their psychological problems. In other countries, assistance is also given to the socially handicapped. In a few countries such as Greece and Turkey, where the number of refugees who come within the mandate of UNHCR is limited and where most of the non-settled refugees need some measure of assistance from international sources, permanent solutions projects are being put into effect as the first part of a comprehensive programme, with the object of solving the whole problem in these countries within a limited period of time. From the beginning of 1955 until 31 December 1960, a total of 39,760 non-settled refugees outside camps benefited from the UNHCR programmes and of this number over 25,029 became firmly settled with assistance from this Office.
58. On the basis of investigations made in various countries and of information received from Governments and voluntary agencies, the non-settled refugee population outside camps in Europe was estimated on 31 December 1960 to number approximately 65,000 persons of whom over 20,000 were in the handicapped categories.
59. Of these 65,000, some 55,000 live in Austria, France and Germany, where, it is felt, the economic situation is such as to lead to a gradual integration of the non-handicapped. Some of the refugees in the handicapped category will be able to avail themselves of the increased number of resettlement opportunities offered by immigration countries. Those who are not rehabilitable will require care in institutions or in homes where they can receive permanent care. The most difficult problems arise in respect of those who do not require care in institutions and who are nevertheless too seriously handicapped to be accepted by immigration countries or to be able to establish themselves in their country of residence without special assistance. It is for these refugees that projects for assistance to non-settled refugees are earmarked in the first instance.
60. The guiding principle observed in drawing up projects for this category of refugees is to assist them to the largest possible extent to become self-supporting. With this object in view, all the refugees who can in any way be retrained are included in rehabilitation projects which may take the form of special vocational training work in a protected community or any other help which gives the refugee an opportunity to make a contribution to the community and to take his place amongst his fellow men.
61. Supplementary aid, though strictly limited to the neediest cases, forms a small but important part of the UNHCR regular programmes. It is granted in the form of food, clothing, hospitalization or other medical care and, occasionally, of small cash grants. In countries or areas where destitute refugees cannot receive the necessary facilities from other sources this form of assistance is essential until such time as permanent solutions have been found for them. In the course of 1960,7,957 refugees benefited from this type of assistance.
62. Legal assistance has a twofold purpose: first, to provide refugees with such legal advice as they may require in judicial cases in view of the fact that they are refugees and, secondly, to assist them in the formalities required for their permanent settlement. This form of assistance has proved most effective in helping refugees to consolidate their economic and social position. It is granted only in those cases where free legal aid is not available and where refugees are not in a position to afford the cost of such aid.
63. Legal assistance, which was already being provided in Austria, Germany, Greece and Italy, has been extended to Latin America and North Africa. Furthermore, provision has been made on a modest scale to cover legal assistance requirements of refugees in various other parts of the world through a central fund at Headquarters.
64. As at 31 December 1960, a total of 9,657 individual services had been given to refugees under the legal assistance programmes. In view of its usefulness legal assistance is being continued and an amount of $120,000 has been included for this purpose in the UNHCR regular programme for 1961.
65. In the course of 1960, a further amount of $168,291 accrued to the Emergency Fund established in accordance with the terms of resolution 1166 (XII) of the General Assembly, and as at 31 December 1960 the Fund had reached the amount of $323,906. During that year, emergency aid was granted in an amount of $9,000 from this fund to refugees in Morocco as already mentioned in the previous report5 An amount of $10,000 was allocated from the Fund on 7 April 1961 for assistance to refugees in Cambodia, as reported in more detail in chapter V of this report.
CHAPTER IV RELIEF PROGRAMME FOR REFUGEES FROM ALGERIA IN MOROCCO AND TUNISIA
66. In accordance with the terms of General Assembly resolution 1500 (XV), the High Commissioner has continued his joint action with the League of Red Cross Societies for assistance to refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia.
67. In that resolution the General Assembly also recommended that the High Commissioner should "use his influence to ensure the continuation of the operation carried out jointly by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the League of Red Cross Societies, and, should this prove impossible, draw up and execute a programme for the assumption by the Office of the High Commissioner of responsibility for those refugees from 1 July 1961".
68. The High Commissioner accordingly consulted the Chairman of the Board of Governors and the Secretary-General of the League of Red Cross Societies in order to explore the possibility of continuing the joint operation beyond 1 July 1961. While this question is not as yet definitely settled, it can be stated that an understanding has been reached as a result of which there is no longer a risk that the operation may be jeopardized.
69. The joint operation has been continued in the humanitarian spirit in which it was conceived, as an emergency relief operation. The main object of the operation, to provide refugees with food and other essentials of life, has been attained. Under the basic programme, food rations providing 1,540 calories per day are issued. In addition, clothing, blankets and tents have been distributed.
70. Under the supplementary programme, 160 milk stations have been set up, 100 in Tunisia and 60 in Morocco, which are attended by some 90,000 children each day. Additional food is also distributed from multi-purpose centres and, in the less accessible mountainous areas of Tunisia, from mobile soup stations. Medical care is provided through dispensaries and mobile and static clinics which have been set up to supplement the medical facilities generously made available by the Governments of Morocco and Tunisia. The state of health of the refugees has, in general, improved during the period under review. However, in view of the living conditions of the refugees and of the marginal rations provided, careful attention will be necessary to prevent the outbreak of disease and especially to preserve the health of the children who represent more than half the total number of refugees. The supplementary programme also includes pilot projects for group work and education, the latter as a supplement to the education facilities placed at the disposal of the refugees by the Governments of both countries.
71. The continuation of, and improvements in, the relief programme have been made possible thanks to generous contributions received from Governments, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and other non-governmental organizations, particularly on the occasion of World Refugee year, and thanks to the close co-operation with the League of Red Cross Societies and the Governments and Red Crescent Societies of Morocco and Tunisia.
72. An operational budget for the joint operation for 1961 was approved by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme in an amount of $6,963,600, of which $4,111,700 was estimated to be required in kind and $2,851,900 in cash. This budget is based on a total of 275,000 rations for both countries. While no difficulties are expected with regard to the necessary contributions in kind, an amount of $1,200,000 in cash is still required to continue the operation, in particular the basic programme, until the end of 1961. The High Commissioner therefore issued an appeal for additional funds to Governments members of the Executive Committee in February 1961.
73. From the beginning of the joint operation on 1 February 1959 up to 30 April 1961, UNHCR received contributions in a total amount of $4,814,132, of which $588,909 was in kind. During the same period, the League of Red Cross Societies received contributions in cash and in kind in an amount of $10 million.
CHAPTER V ASSISTANCE GIVEN TO REFUGEES6 UNDER RESOLUTIONS 1167 (XII), 1388 (XIV), PARAGRAPH 2, 1499 (XV), PARAGRAPH (d) OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
74. One of the most significant consequences of World Refugee Year is probably that through its universal character it focused much more attention on those refugees throughout the world who fall outside the competence of the United Nations. The General Assembly of the United Nations had already in 1957 expressed its interest in one of these groups of refugees, the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong, by adopting resolution 1167 (XII) which authorized the High Commissioner "... to use his good offices to encourage arrangements for contributions". The plight of these refugees has since become known throughout the world and there has been an increased flow of financial contributions for assistance to them.
75. Two years later, the Assembly, in its resolution 1388 (XIV), authorized the High Commissioner also to use his good offices in the transmission of contributions designed to provide assistance to other refugees not coming within the competence of the United Nations.
76. The Assembly thereby expressed its interest in refugee problems other than those which had already come within the scope of the activity of UNHCR and which could be alleviated within the general framework of the task of this Office. The combined effect of the above resolutions and of World Refugee Year has been to arouse increased interest for these refugee problems throughout the world and to give Governments, organizations and individuals an opportunity to channel their contributions through an international body which closely follows their development.
77. As at 31 December 1961, contributions in a total amount of $1,073,418 had been received by UNHCR under the above-mentioned resolutions, including $483,828 for assistance to Chinese refugees in Hong Kong and $57,788 for assistance, through the International Committee of the Red Cross, to Tibetan refugees in Nepal.
78. Within the framework of resolutions 1167 (XII) and 1388 (XIV) the High Commissioner was also able to extend his good offices for the assistance of refugees in countries where UNHCR is carrying out some of its most important material assistance programmes, i.e., in Austria and Greece. A total of $2,110,000 was made available to the Austrian Government for the financing of its own programme to provide accommodation for refugees in Austria who do not qualify for assistance from UNHCR. The High Commissioner was likewise in a positions to channel a contribution of $28,000 for persons of Greek ethnic origin who had returned from the Far East to Greece and who were in need of assistance.
79. The implementation of resolutions 1167 (XII) and 1388 (XIV) is proving that the goodwill of many Governments, peoples and organizations can be enlisted for assistance to needy refugees throughout the world and that many refugee problems can be brought nearer to a solution by focusing public attention on them and by co-ordinating the efforts of all those who are interested in their solution.
80. At its fifteen session, the General Assembly gave further expression to the interest of the international community in the problems of groups of refugees not coming within the competence of the United Nations by adopting resolution 1499 (XV) in which, inter alia, it invited States, Members of the United nations and members of the specialized agencies:
"... to continue to devote attention to refugee problems still awaiting solution..."
"(d) By continuing to consult with the High Commissioner in respect of measures of assistance to groups of refugees who do not come within the competence of the United Nations."
81. The implementation of this resolution naturally has to be based to a large extent on consultations between this Office and interested Governments. The High Commissioner will continue to make his services available when so requested by a Government which desires assistance in dealing with a particular refugee problem on its territory.
82. Thus at the beginning of 1961, the Royal Government of Cambodia drew the attention of the Secretary-General to the problems created by the arrival in Cambodia in recent years of refugees from neighbouring countries and requested the assistance of the United Nations to enable it to continue to assure the care and maintenance of these refugees. In accordance with the suggestion of the Cambodian Government, the High Commissioner investigated the situation and came to the following main conclusions:
(a) That several groups of persons have sought asylum in Cambodia since 1945; that the size of the easily identifiable groups could be estimated at a maximum of five to six thousand persons, and that a further group might include several tens of thousands of persons;
(b) That the Royal Cambodian Government has assumed the burden of care and maintenance of these refugees who cannot care for themselves and has facilitated the integration of some groups of refugees in Cambodia;
(c) That the assistance required by a number of these refugees, includes care and maintenance for those refugees who cannot fend for themselves, economic assistance for the establishment in agriculture of some categories, and in certain cases supplementary medical assistance and clothing.
83. In view of the emergency nature of the situation, the High Commissioner made available to the Cambodian Government the equivalent of $10,000 from the Emergency Fund established under the terms of resolution 1166 (XII). Furthermore, the High Commissioner has drawn the attention of the International Committee of the Red Cross to the problem and has also undertaken to make his good offices available to the Cambodian Government.
84. Consultations are still taking place between the Royal Government of Cambodia and this Office. The results of these consultations will be reported to the General Assembly during its sixteenth session.
CHAPTER VI CONTRIBUTIONS OF VOLUNTARY FUNDS
85. The full effect of World Refugee Year on voluntary funds contributed to UNHCR became evident during the period under review when the contributions to UNHCR were more than three times the average amount received during the five preceding years. The total amount paid, pledged or promised to UNHCR for 1960 reached $15,933,927, of which $10,860,550 was contributed on the occasion of World Refugee Year, as indicated in more detail in annex V. The break-down by donors and type of contributions is as follows:
|World Refugee year contributions||Other contributions||Total|
86. The number of Governments which made contributions in cash totalled forty-one. A further thirty-six Governments made contributions in kind to the joint UNHCR/UNRWA Stamp Plan. The geographic distribution of these seventy-seven States is as follows: Africa, 14; Americas, 15; Asia, 24; Europe, 22; and Oceania, 2.
87. Of the total amount of $15,933,927, $11,275,336 was contributed to the UNHCR regular programmes for 1960. Thus, the target of $12 million approved by the Executive Committee for 1960 was almost reached and the financing of all projects planned within those programmes was ensured.
88. One of the most striking features of World Refuge Year is the fact that $4,658,591 was contributed to UNHCR in 1960 for the benefit of refugees other than those assisted under the regular programmes. Almost half of this amount was earmarked for refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia. Other substantial amounts were earmarked to benefit Chinese refugees in Hong Kong and various other groups of refugees within the framework of the good offices mission entrusted to the High Commissioner under resolutions 1167 (XII) and 1388 (XIV) of the General Assembly. This clearly illustrates the universal spirit of World Refugee year.
89. Non-governmental contributions for 1960, included in the above total amount, reached the unprecedented figure of $9,357,532. In addition to the contributions from national World Refugee Year Committees, mention should be made of the considerable interest shown in the course of World Refugee Year by smaller private groups and organizations and by individual donors.
90. As at 30 April 1961, $4,968,867 had been paid, pledged or promised to UNHCR for 1961. Of this amount, $3.434.349 was paid, pledged or promised by thirty Governments in the following geographical areas: Africa, 6; Americas, 2; Asia, 5; and Europe, 17.
91. The remaining sum of $1,534,518 was raised by private organizations on the occasion of World Refugee Year and paid or firmly pledged to UNHCR in 1961. Of the $4,968,867, some $3 million was earmarked for current UNHCR 1961 programmes, thus leaving a considerable gap between amounts contributed and the target of $6 million. It is expected that most of the remaining funds raised for UNHCR programmes within the framework of World Refugee Year will be paid during the first half-year of 1961. Taking these payments into account, it is expected that non-governmental contributions for 1961 will compare favourably with government contributions. However, since the bulk of World Refugee Year funds have already been received, it is now clear that future UNHCR programmes will again be more heavily dependent on governmental support.
92. It is hoped, however, that many of the non-governmental organizations and individual private donors who have given their support to UNHCR during World Refuge Year will continue their interest in refugee work.
93. It may be stated that World Refugee Year has made a real impact in many areas and in many segments of the population where awareness of the problems of refugees has been followed by a sense of responsibility towards them. Every effort will continue to be made to keep alive the interest of all those who have participated in World Refugee Year so that, in years to come, the effects of this demonstration of human solidarity will continue to make themselves felt to the benefit of refugees.
CHAPTER VII OTHER ACTIVITIES
Relations with other offices and organizations
94. The co-operation of UNHCR with other organizations either directly or indirectly concerned with the problem of refugees has always been indispensable in view of the largely promotional nature of its tasks. Thus, for example, UNHCR projects for assistance to refugees are put into effect by some 150 voluntary agencies under agreements concluded between this Office and the agencies concerned. The transportation of refugees for resettlement is largely the responsibility of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, with which UNHCR maintains a close relationship. It also co-operates closely with the United States Escapee Program.
95. The increasingly varied nature of the work of this Office and the extension of its activities to many parts of the world has further enhanced the need for close co-operation with some of the main specialized agencies and offices of the United Nations such as the International Labour Office, the Technical Assistance Administration, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund, the Universal Postal Union and the World Health Organization. In the operational field, UNICEF has continued its valuable support of the Joint Relief Operation for refugees in Morocco and Tunisia, by providing blankets and by advising UNHCR on the setting up of milk stations for refugee children. The Technical Assistance Administration has given valuable advice and assistance to this Office particularly in those areas where UNHCR is not represented and where new refugee situations developed during the period under review. The Universal Postal Union has continued its co-operation with UNHCR in connexion with the implementation of the joint UNHCR/UNRWA Stamp Plan.
96. In the field of international protection, the office has continued its co-operation with the International Labour Organisation with regard to manpower and social security problems. In this particular aspect of the work of UNHCR, closer relations with regional organizations are proving increasingly effective: through these organizations attention is drawn to the possibility of extending to refugees within the mandate of UNHCR the facilities granted under arrangements or agreements concluded under their auspices. Consultations to this effect are being pursued with the council of Europe and with the OEEC and, since the beginning of 1960, with the European Economic Community. It is hoped that the co-ordination of UNHCR protection activities with these organizations will lead to a further stabilization of the status of refugees regularly residing on the territory of the member Governments of these organizations.
97. It is also hoped that the increased co-operation of UNHCR with other international and non-governmental organizations throughout the world will facilitate its task in respect of groups of refugees which did not previously come within the sphere of activities of UNHCR.
Award of the Nansen Medal
98. The Nansen Medal for 1960 was awarded jointly to the four Englishmen who conceived the idea of a World Refugee Year (WRY), Messrs. C. Chataway, M. P., C. Jones, T. Philpott and T. Raison, in appreciation of their humanitarian concern and initiative on behalf of refugees. In making the award, the Nansem Medal Award Committee wished to pay a tribute to the devotion and perseverance of the four Englishmen concerned in gaining widespread acceptance of the purposes of World Refugee Year, and also to honour all the individual men and women in all countries who have joined the efforts of Governments and non-governmental organizations to bring about solutions of the problems of refugees. The award ceremony took place in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, on 10 October 1960, the anniversary of Fridtjof Nansen's birth.
99. Every effort has been made by UNHCR to maintain the keen public interest in refugees which was manifested during World Refugee Year. In many countries, WRY fund-raising campaigns were prolonged and the demand for written and visual information from governmental and non-governmental bodies and from the public in general was maintained. Although World Refugee Year had officially ended, television services in many countries continued to include items on the problems of refugees in their programmes, and several major networks co-operated with UNHCR in presenting actuality programmes on the refugee problems which received the highest TV ratings in Canada, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. At the Monte Carlo TV Festival one of these was awarded the prize for the best news coverage of the year. Others were shown at the main film festivals. The Press has also continued to follow the development of refugee work, and has shown an increasing interest in refugee problems outside Europe.
100. There has been a noticeable shift in the nature of the requests for information received by UNHCR: the public and the organizations which had contributed or were contributing funds to UNHCR projects now wished to receive detailed information on the progress being made with particular projects within the UNHCR annual programmes. A special series of reports has been initiated to satisfy this demand. More information was also called for concerning the problems of refugees not within the immediate competence of the United Nations.
101. In order to give the general public a more up-to-date picture of work which could usefully be undertaken by the international community, special articles and pamphlets were prepared and given a wide distribution in co-operation with the United Nations Office of Public Information.
102. To enlist public support for the programme for non-settled refugees in Europe living outside camps a new film has been produced with the co-operation of leading American, British and French actors, called "Nicolas, Mon Ami". UNHCR was also associated with the production of a film called "My Son is a Viking", made by a voluntary agency in Norway illustrating the resettlement problem of a handicapped refugee family in a new country.
103. New photo material has been made and is being distributed concerning refugee problems in North Africa and in Hong Kong. Co-operation with the United Nations Office of Public Information and a number of radio networks resulted in the production of a series of short broadcasts which were particularly useful in support of fund-raising campaigns.
ANNEX II International protection
A. INTERNATIONAL INSTRUMENTS AFFECTING REFUGEES
1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
1. During the period under review three further States became parties to the 1951 Convention: New Zealand on 30 June 1960, Brazil on 16 November 1960 and Portugal on 22 December 1960. On 11 July 1960, the United Kingdom extended application of the Convention to the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland and on 11 November 1960 further extended application of the Convention to Basutoland, the Bechuanaland Protectorate and Swaziland. The Following twenty-seven States have so far become parties to the 1951 Convention: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Ecuador, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Greece, Holy See, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Yugoslavia. In certain other countries the procedure for ratification is under way.
1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons
2. This Convention entered into force, after the sixth ratification, on 6 June 1960. Two further States have now become parties to the Convention: Belgium on 27 May 1960, and Luxembourg on 27 June 1960. Thus, the following eight States are now parties to this Convention: Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Israel, Norway, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Yugoslavia.
1957 Agreement relating to Refugee Seamen
3. In order that this Agreement may come into force, ratification by the eight signatory Governments is necessary. The Governments of Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have ratified, and in the Federal Republic of Germany the parliamentary procedure for ratification has been completed. Monaco and Morocco have acceded to the Agreement. All the signatories, as well as Italy, are applying the principles of the Agreement in advance of its entering into force.
4. The UNHCR Branch Office in the Netherlands, in co-operation with the Netherlands port authorities at Rotterdam, has prepared a survey in order to ascertain the present scope of the problem of refugee seamen and further means of solving it.
1956 Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance
5. The following further States have ratified this Convention: France on 24 June 1960, Poland on 13 October 1960, Brazil on 14 November 1960 and Chile on 9 January 1961. Thus, nineteen States are now parties to this Convention.
1952 Universal Copyright Convention
6. The Government of Belgium ratified on 31 May 1960 the Universal Copyright convention and Protocol No. 1 extending its benefits to refugees habitually resident in contracting States. There are now thirty-five parties to this convention, thirty of which are also parties to Protocol No.1.
Draft Declaration on the Right of Asylum
7. A draft Declaration on the Right of Asylum adopted by the Commission on Human Rights at its sixteenth session was discussed in the Economic and Social Council. The Economic and Social Council adopted a resolution (772 E (XXX)) transmitting the draft Declaration to the General Assembly for its consideration together with comments which have been made by Governments on the draft Declaration. The General Assembly, not having been able to consider this item at its fifteenth session, decided (resolution 1571 (XV)) to take it up as soon as possible at its sixteenth session.
B. INDEMNIFICATION - FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY
8. As mentioned in earlier reports, intensive efforts have been made with a view to securing adequate compensation for refugees who were persecuted under the National Socialist régime. The negotiations which had been proceeding for some time between UNHCR and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany resulted in the conclusion on 5 October 1960 of an Agreement between UNHCR and that Government. The Agreement which will help to solve this long outstanding problem concerns payments in favour of persons persecuted under the National Socialist régime who suffered damage by reason of their nationality.
9. Article 1 of the Agreement provides that refugees who suffered permanent injury to body or health by reason of their nationality will now receive compensation on the same scale as other categories of victims of persecution. This part of the Agreement will be put into effect by the German Federal authorities. An announcement has been made on the manner in which this article will be implemented by the Federal Administration Office (Bundes Verwaltungsamt) at Cologne and on the procedure to be followed. The German Federal Government estimates that he implementation of this article will result in additional indemnification payments of about DM50 million.
10. In the Protocol to the Agreement, also signed on 5 October 1960, provision has been made for close consultation between the Federal Administration Office and UNHCR on both general questions and individual cases. The Office will be given an opportunity of stating its views, particularly in cases where the Federal Administration Office considers that an application must be rejected or where questions of fundamental importance arise.
11. Under article 2 of the agreement, the German Federal Government has placed at the disposal of UNHCR the sum of DM 45 million, for measures of assistance to refugees who were persecuted by reason of their nationality but who are not entitled to receive indemnification under the German Indemnification Law.
12. The Fund of DM45 million placed at the disposal of UNHCR in accordance with article 2 of the Agreement is being administered by UNHCR. An Indemnification Section within the headquarters of UNHCR has been established for that purpose. It is anticipated that the handling of claims will take three years. The General Assembly at its fifteenth session included in the UNHCR section of the United Nations budget for 1961 an amount to cover the administrative expenses arising from the implementation of the Agreement in 1961, so that the whole amount of DM45 million, plus interest, can be devoted to the beneficiaries.
13. Implementation of article 2 of the Agreement began in January 1961. Applications are being screened as they are received. A Consultative Committee has been established on which voluntary agencies and the refugees themselves are represented and which advises the High Commissioner, at his request, on matters connected with the Fund. These voluntary agencies and the refugees will also be represented on an Appeals Board to be established to advise the High Commissioner on appeals against negative decisions taken by the Indemnification Section on applications received. The scale of payments and the priorities to be applied will be determined by the High Commissioner according to a points system after having sought the advice of the Consultative Committee referred to above. However, as the number of applicants who may qualify for payments from the Fund cannot be known in advance, it will not be possible immediately to establish the final amounts to be granted.
Indemnification under the German Federal Indemnification Law
14. In addition to implementing the Agreement of 5 October 1960, UNHCR, and particularly its Branch Office for Germany, continues to give assistance to refugee applicants for indemnification under the German Federal Indemnification Law, in particular by establishing whether they were refugees on the date specified in that Law.
C. ADMISSION AND RESIDENCE
15. In those countries of Europe where the Office of the High Commissioner takes part in the procedure established for determining whether refugees come under the scope of the 1951 Convention or within the mandate of UNHCR, 16,232 persons were recognized as refugees during 1960. This number includes 1,526 refugees who went from one country of asylum to another whereas 14,706 are newly arrived refugees or refugees who had been residing for some time in the country in which they have now been recognized.
16. During 1960, Valka Camp near Nuremberg, Germany, which had served as reception centre for refugees in the Federal Republic of Germany for more than ten years, was finally closed, and a new Federal Reception Centre established at Zirndorf, where conditions and accommodation are more satisfactory.
17. The Swiss authorities have decided to make it possible for refugees to be released from control by the Federal Aliens Police after five years residence in Switzerland instead of the statutory qualifying period of ten years applicable to aliens in general. On the basis of this release, favourable consideration can be given to applications for permanent residence permits submitted by the refugees concerned, who will thus be exempt from the requirement of obtaining labour permits.
18. In Tunisia, which is a party to the 1951 Convention, the authorities have agreed to set up an interministerial Committee for the Recognition of Refugees to which all applications for refugee status would be referred for decision. UNHCR will co-operate with the Tunisian authorities in this matter.
19. With regard to United States Public Law 86-648 for the admission of a certain number of refugees on parole from some specified countries, one of the conditions of admission is that the applicants must come within the mandate of UNHCR. The High Commissioner's representatives in the countries concerned are co-operating closely with the United States immigration authorities by determining the refugee status of those applicants whose status has not already been certified by the appropriate authorities of the country concerned.
D. RIGHTS OF REFUGEES IN THEIR COUNTRIES OF RESIDENCE
Right to work
20. In Austria, a decree was issued on 14 February 1961 bringing forward the date-line for the exemption of refugees from the requirement of labour permits. According to this decree, all refugees who were in that country before 1 January 1958 are exempt from such permits. Formerly, this exemption applied to those refugees who were in Austria before 1 January 1957. The exemption now covers the great majority of new Hungarian refugees.
21. In Greece, the Ministry of labour has issued a circular to all labour offices instructing them to do everything possible to help refugees find employment, and to issue them with work permits.
22. In Italy, a Mixed Commission composed of officials of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Labour, the Asministrazione Aiuti internazionali (AAI) and UNHCR has been established in order to facilitate the procedure for granting permanent residence permits and the right to work to refugees who do not already qualify for work permits under the arrangements referred to in last year's and previous reports.
23. Whereas most countries grant labour permits to refugees, subject to certain limitations, for wage-earning and salaried occupations and also for the independent exercise of crafts and trades, admission to the majority of the liberal professions had been virtually closed to refugees in many countries because such admission is usually restricted to nationals and the 1951 Convention does not prescribe a treatment more favourable than that accorded to aliens generally. Significant measures towards a liberalization of admission criteria in this field were taken or initiated during 1960, on the international as well as the national level, particularly with regard to medical professions.
24. Following consultations between the secretariat of the Council of Europe and UNHCR, the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted in September 1960 a Recommendation concerning the position of refugee doctors and dentists in countries members of that organization, suggesting the elaboration of a European convention on the subject. Under this instrument, the contracting parties would undertake not to prevent refugee doctors and dentists from exercising their profession on grounds of nationality; to grant them, as far as possible and without any condition of reciprocity, recognition of equivalence in respect of professional diplomas obtained in the country of origin, and to facilitate, by scholarships or otherwise, such additional courses and examinations as may be considered indispensable. At the same time, the Medical Women's international Association and the World Medical Association adopted resolutions along similar lines, enjoining the (national) member associations to promote measures designed to facilitate the admission of refugee doctors to medical practice.
25. In Switzerland, a decree was issued on 24 June 1960, permitting certain groups of refugee doctors, dentists, pharmacists and veterinaries to take the qualifying professional examination and, after an internship of two years, to exercise their profession without any restrictions.
26. In the United Kingdom, forty-four refugee dentists passed their statutory examination and were registered under an Act of Parliament passed in 1956.
27. In Austria, draft legislation has been submitted to Parliament providing for refugees to be admitted to medical and dental practice on the same conditions as nationals and for recognition to be granted in respect of professional diplomas obtained in the country of origin, subject only to the passing of such additional examinations as may be determined by the competent authorities.
28. In Germany, where refugees admitted prior to 30 June 1950 can already qualify for the exercise of liberal professions on the same conditions as German nationals, other refugee doctors having foreign degrees and medical students upon graduation in Germany are to obtain permission, under a law recently introduced in Parliament, to exercise their profession; applications are to be examined on a case-by-case basis and licences granted subject to certain restrictions.
29. More comprehensive bills covering other liberal professions (lawyers, architects, engineers, accountants, etc.) are under consideration by the Belgian and French parliaments.
30. In Austria, refugees in possession of an Austrian identity document were permitted to benefit from unemployment relief (as distinct from unemployment assistance, which is granted to refugees in the same way as to nationals) until 31 December 1960. This benefit has now been extended for a period of two years, until 31 December 1962.
31. In the Federal Republic of Germany, a new Aliens Pension Law was passed in 1960. According to the provisions of this Law, refugees who were in Germany prior to 30 June 1960 are entitled to benefit in certain circumstances with regard to old-age pensions, disability pensions, widows' and orphans' pensions in respect of periods of work completed in the refugee's home country. Several hundreds of refugees have already received social insurance benefits in accordance with this law.
32. In Australia, the procedure for application for naturalization has been simplified, thus benefiting, inter alia, the numerous refugee applicants for naturalization.
33. In Belgium, a draft law is before Parliament to facilitate the naturalization of certain categories of aliens, including refugees, particularly young people.
34. In Italy, a new nationality law is under consideration which, if adopted, will facilitate the naturalization of certain groups of refugees in that country.
35. In the Netherlands, the naturalization of aliens normally requires ten to fifteen years' residence in that country. The Netherlands authorities are considering accepting five years' residence in the case of refugees as a condition for naturalization, provided that the applicant's assimilation within the country appears to be satisfactory. Moreover, applicants certified as coming within the mandate of UNHCR will be eligible for naturalization free of charge, if their economic situation is such as to constitute an impediment to naturalization.
F. MOVEMENT OF REFUGEES
Facilitation of travel
36. The European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees, concluded under the auspices of the Council of Europe in co-operation with the High Commissioner's Office, entered into force on 4 September 1960, having been ratified by three countries. Since that time, further States have ratified and the following seven countries are now parties to that Agreement: Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
37. As from 1 July 1960, refugees and stateless persons who have been resident in Denmark, Finland, Norway or Sweden for at least one year are permitted to travel to the other countries of this group without requiring a visa.
38. Negotiations are taking place between various European countries for the conclusion of bilateral agreements to exempt refugees resident in those countries from the requirement of a visa for temporary travel.
39. The Government of Israel now issues the refugee travel document provided for by article 28 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Certain other Governments which have recently ratified the Convention are making arrangements for the issue of these documents in their countries.
(Note: Financial and statistical data tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
APPENDIX Report on the fifth session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme Geneva, 25-31 May 19617
SECTION I Introduction
Opening of the session
1. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme held its fifth session from 25 to 31 May 1961, at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. The High Commissioner opened the session in the absence of the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Rapporteur in office.
2. The following officers of the committee were elected by acclamation: Chairman: Mr. K. Salvensen, Norway; Vice-Chairman: Mr. E. Arango, Colombia; Rapporteur: Mr. W. A. Higgie, Australia.
3. The members of the Executive Committee were represented as follows:
|Germany (Federal Republic)||United Kingdom|
4. The Governments of Cambodia and Portugal were represented by an observer, as was the Sovereign Order of Malta.
5. The International Labour Organisation, the Council of Europe, the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the League of Arab States were represented also by observers.
6. On behalf of the Committee, the Chairman welcomed the newly-elected High Commissioner, Mr. Felix Schnyder, who had taken up his functions at the beginning of the year.
Adoption of the agenda
7. The Committee adopted the following agenda:
(1) Election of officers
(2) Adoption of the agenda
(3) Introductory statement by the High Commissioner
(4) Progress report on UNHCR regular annual programmes and on the former UNREF programme as of 31 December 1960
(5) Progress report on programme for new Hungarian refugees
(6) Assistance to refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia - report on the implementation of General assembly resolutions 1286 (XIII), 1389 (XIV) and 1500 (XV)
(7) Provisional financial statements for the year 1960, and other financial matters
(8) Status of governmental and private contributions to UNHCR for 1960 and 1961
(9) Assistance to refugees in the special cases category
(10) Far Eastern Operation
(11) UNHCR regular programme for 1961 (new and revised projects)
(a) Material assistance
(b) Legal assistance
(12) Housing of non-settled refugees in certain European counties
(13) World Refugee Year
(14) Other refugee problems
(15) Allocations for the UNHCR regular programme for 1962
(17) Financing of transport of refugees
(18) Arrangements for the future work of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme.
Introductory statement by the High Commissioner and other general statements
8. The High Commissioner made a statement, reproduced in full in annex I to this report, in which he summed up the main problems confronting his office and the tasks lying ahead. Members of the Committee stressed the importance which they attached to the views which the High Commissioner had submitted for their consideration.
9. The Committee decided that it that it would revert to the suggestions contained in the statement of the High Commissioner on the course of its debate.
10. In the course of the discussion the representative of the Holy see made a statement in which he reiterated the deep interest of the Holy See in the cause of refugees and reaffirmed its support of the work of UNHCR. He stressed that the larger proportion of contributions made on the occasion of World Refugee year had originated from non-governmental sources. He paid a particular tribute to the Stamp Plan and was pleased to announce that, in addition to $160,000 contributed in kind to UNHCR within the framework of the Plan, the Holy See had just made available to the High Commissioner an amount of $300,000, representing the total proceeds of stamps issued by the Postal Administration of the Vatican City State on the occasion of World Refugee Year.
11. Of this amount, $50,000 was intended for UNHCR and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, $100,000 for assistance to refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia, $50,000 to Palestine refugees, $50,000 to Viet-Nam refugees in the Republic of Viet-Nam and $50,000 for Chinese refugees in Hong Kong.
12. The Committee also heard a statement by Dr. Peter Paul Nahm, Secretary of State of the Ministry for Refugees, Expellees and War Victims, of the Federal Republic of Germany, who emphasized his Government's concern for the foreign refugees on its territory and pledged its continued co-operation with the High Commissioner in his humanitarian task.
13. The representative of Switzerland announced that the Federal Council had issued a decree, on 26 May 1961, under which all refugee doctors, dentists, pharmacists and veterinary surgeons (as well as refugee students in these fields) who had been admitted to Switzerland with a view to permanent residence prior to 24 June 1960 would be allowed to take the Swiss State examinations and subsequently to exercise their profession in Switzerland on a basis of equality with Swiss members of the medical professions. The present measure was designed to extend to other refugees the privileges granted to Hungarian refugees under a similar decree issued on 24 June 1960.
SECTION II Progress report on UNHCR regular annual programmes and on the former UNREF programme as of 31 December 1960
14. The Committee considered the progress report on UNHCR programmes for 1959 and 1960 and on the former UNREF programme (A/AC.96/110), and a note on the progress made in camp clearance during the second half of 1960 (A/AC.96/111).
15. In introducing the report the representative of the High Commissioner informed the Committee that over $6 million had now been committed for the Camp Clearance Scheme, the financing of which was now fully assured. With regard to the tasks still lying ahead, there remained, as at 1 January 1961, some 60,000 non-settled European refugees for whom provision had not so far been made. The Australian representative expressed interest in this figure. He sought and was promised clarification from the High Commissioner as to the method used for its compilation.
16. Satisfaction was expressed at the progress being made with the Camp Clearance Scheme and at the fact that its financing was completely assured.
17. In reply to a question by the representative of the Netherlands, the High Commissioner informed the Committee that the construction of housing for refugees was still being hampered in some countries because of difficulties in obtaining suitable building sites situated near employment centres, and by the shortage of manpower and building materials. It was expected that greater progress in housing construction would be made during the first six months of 1961.
18. The representative of Turkey informed the Committee, with regard to the integration of refugees in his country, that a draft Bill for the ratification of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was now before Parliament.
19. With regard to the implementation of the UNHCR programme in Greece, the representative of Greece informed the Committee that rapid progress was being made in the clearance of camps. There were now only four camps left in his country. As for housing and establishment assistance, a draft Bill was shortly to be submitted to Parliament which would authorize the competent Ministry to conclude with the refugees the agreements referred to in paragraphs 237 and 238 of document A/AC.96/110. The representative of the High Commissioner stressed the importance of these agreements being concluded as soon as possible so that the refugees concerned could obtain legal title to the apartments or shops and workshops provided for under the programmes and be able to assume the normal obligations of householders and tenants.
20. In the course of the discussion, further inquiries were made into the progress achieved in various areas. The details of these inquiries and of the replies thereto may be found in the summary record of the 42nd meeting.
21. The Executive Committee took note of the progress achieved and of the reports submitted to it in documents A/AC.96/110 and A/AC.96/111.
SECTION III Progress report on programme for new Hungarian refugees
22. The Committee considered the progress report on the programme for new Hungarian refugees as at 31 December 1960 and final report on the fund for new Hungarian refugees (A/AC.96/112).
23. The Chairman drew the particular attention of the Committee to section III of the report which contained proposals concerning final measures for the provision of residual needs of the refugees concerned, and which pointed out that it was proposed in future to include these refugees in the regular programme of UNHCR where necessary.
24. The Executive Committee took note of the progress achieved in providing permanent solutions for new Hungarian refugees. It authorized the High Commissioner to close his accounts for the Fund for assistance to these refugees and to use future refunds of unspent balances, cancellations and other adjustments on existing projects as non-specified income for the UNHCR regular programmes, it being understood that Hungarian refugees should benefit under these programmes on the same terms as other refugees.
25. The Committee also noted that reimbursements of UNHCR loans under projects for new Hungarian refugees would continue to be credited to the Emergency Fund established under General Assembly resolution 1166 (XII).
SECTION IV Assistance to refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia - report on the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 1286 (XIII),1389 (XIV) and 1500 (XV)
26. The Committee considered documents A/AC.96/113 and A/AC.96/113/Add. 1 in which the High Commissioner reported on the progress achieved in the joint operation of the League of Red Cross Societies and his Office for assistance to refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia.
27. Introducing the item, the High Commissioner emphasized that funds immediately available for that programme were sufficient only to guarantee its continuation through June 1961. He had therefore launched an appeal for contributions to the members of the Executive Committee.
28. Mr. Ray Schaeffer (speaking on behalf of Mr. Henrik Beer, Secretary-General of the League of Red Cross Societies) stated that on 18 May 1961 the Chairman of the Board of Governors and the Secretary-General of the League had decided that the League would continue the joint operation until October, when the question would be considered again at a meeting of the Board of Governors. An understanding had also been reached between the League and the High Commissioner to avoid any risk of the arrangements for the operation being jeopardized.
29. The League was addressing an appeal to its member societies for further contributions to enable it to continue the joint operation, with the understanding that Governments would be approached also for increased contributions.
30. The representative of Tunisia expressed his country's appreciation to Governments, the Office of the High Commissioner and the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and to other organizations for their contributions to the assistance programme. According to the statistical data available to his Government, the number of refugees now in Tunisia was 171,000. It was essential that assistance to these refugees, which was already placing a heavy burden on the Tunisian budget, should be continued, particularly as regards food, medical supplies and clothing and blankets for the coming winter.
31. Several representative stressed the importance which their Governments attached to the assistance programme for these refugees. They recalled that either their Government or voluntary organizations had made important contributions in cash or kind to the programme and that further donations were being considered.
32. A number of representatives announced their Governments' affirmative response to the High Commissioner's appeal for funds made on 28 February 1961. In this connexion, the representative of Switzerland announced that his Government had just made an additional contribution of 100,000 Swiss francs and would consider the possibility of making a further contribution if required. The representative of the United States informed the Committee that the United States Government, which had already made important financial contributions to the programme, would continue to supply, inter alia, surplus food and material for shelters. He stressed the desirability of the services of the voluntary agencies being used to a greater extent in connexion with the programme.
33. The representative of the Holy See had already at an earlier stage in the debate announced a contribution of $100,000, as part of the contribution it had made from the proceeds of the Stamp Plan.
34. The representative of the Netherlands announced that he Netherlands Government had decided to contribute 100,000 guilders ($27,624) in response to the appeal of the High Commissioner.
35. The representative of Turkey stated that his Government had decided to send thirty tons of sugar as well as medicaments to refugees from Algeria in Tunisia through the intermediary of the Turkish Red Crescent Society. His Government hoped to be able to make available further contributions in kind.
36. The Committee also heard from the representative of the Federal republic of Germany that a further donation would be forthcoming from his country after parliamentary approval had been obtained.
37. The representative of Italy stated that the national Red Cross Society in his country would make a contribution in kind.
38. The representative of Yugoslavia stressed the need for vocational training for them more rapidly to resume a normal existence.
39. The Committee also heard a statement from the representative of the League of Arab States and from the representative of the American Friends Service Committee, a summary of which may be found in the summary record of the 44th meeting.
40. The High Commissioner expressed his appreciation of the humanitarian spirit in which the problem was being considered. He recorded his gratitude to the Governments which had already contributed or which had announced new contributions and to those of Morocco and Tunisia which were bearing a heavy burden. It was essential that further donations be received. These could best be channelled either through his Office or through the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. This would enable his Office to continue the programme and would facilitate the necessary planning. In reply to a question by the representative of the United Kingdom, the High Commissioner confirmed that UNICEF was prepared to continue assistance to the programme but might not be able to make blankets available for the refugees as before.
41. The Executive Committee took note of the progress achieved in the joint operation of the Office of the High Commissioner and of the League of Red Cross Societies for assistance to refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia and agreed that it was essential for the programme to be continued.
42. It recorded its gratitude its gratitude to the League of Red Cross Societies for assistance to continue the joint operation.
43. The Committee expressed its appreciation to all Governments and organizations for their contributions and voiced the hope that the appeal made by the High Commissioner would meet with further response so that the necessary contributions in cash and kind to ensure the continuation of the programme could be obtained.
44. The High Commissioner, at the 44th meeting, renewed the appeal which he had made in February 1961 for contributions towards the 1961 budget of the programme for assistance to the refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia.
45. The representative of the United Kingdom stated, at the closing meeting of the session, that her delegation realized that unless additional funds were made available, the relief programme for refugees from Algeria would come to an end at the end of June 1961. The United kingdom Government was therefore prepared to contribute, subject to reasonable limits, 10 per cent of all cash donations made by member Governments of the Executive Committee in direct response to the appeal.
46. The Chairman, on behalf of the members of the Committee and of the High Commissioner, expressed deep appreciation for the announcement which had been made.
SECTION V UNHCR regular programmes
A. Assistance to refugees in the special cases category
47. The Committee considered the report on the mental health of refugees and in particular of special cases in Austria, Germany, Greece and Italy (A/AC.96/116 and Add. 1).
48. In introducing the subject, the Mental Health Adviser pointed out that of the number of 1,200 special cases in Germany, 400 had now been assisted in overcoming their problems. Careful attention would need to be given to the remaining 800 cases to ensure that they were able to resume a normal life.
49. In Italy, the problems of handicapped refugees requiring special assistance could best be solved by arranging for their placement in a community with sheltered workshops. The cost of establishing and maintaining such a community, however, was proving to be very high. The implementation of this type of project would be facilitated if additional assistance towards its financing could be provided by the central Italian authorities or from sources in other countries.
50. The Mental Health Adviser also drew special attention to the psychological problems which arose in the case of certain refugees for whom camp life represented a certain security. Once having left the camp, these refugees needed special assistance which might best be given to them through the social welfare authorities of the country of final settlement.
51. The representatives who spoke on the subject agreed on the importance of the work being done by the Mental Health Adviser and by the teams of special counsellors, particularly as programmes were reaching the stage where solutions had to be found for refugees whose firm settlement presented special problems.
52. In reply to a question by the representative of the United Kingdom, the Mental Health Adviser stated that there was indeed a high proportion of schizophrenics among the special cases. They could be assisted through intensive care provided they had not suffered for too long a time from the complaint. Placing them in sheltered workshops would in most cases greatly contribute to their recovery.
53. The representative of Italy assured the Committee that his Government would continue to co-operate in the work being done by the Mental Health Adviser. His Government considered, however, that the cost of caring for special cases should be considered an international responsibility.
54. The Executive Committee took note of the progress achieved in assisting the special cases, and expressed its agreement with the recommendations put forward by the Mental Health Adviser in the documents considered.
B. Far Eastern Operation
55. The Committee considered the report submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/117) concerning the main developments of the operation and future plans. Introducing the report, the representative of the High Commissioner emphasized the helpful attitude of the Hong Kong Government which was facilitating the entry of refugees to Hong Kong pending receipt of a visa for their final destination.
56. The Committee took note with satisfaction of the progress being made in the Far eastern Operation which it considered should continue to receive the highest priority.
57. Expressions of appreciation by representatives at the work being performed by the United Kingdom authorities in Hong Kong were endorsed by the Committee.
C. UNHCR regular programme for 1961
New and revised projects
58. The Committee considered documents A/AC.96/120 and Add. 1 in which the High Commissioner submitted to it for approval new and revised projects within the UNHCR regular programme for 1961.
59. The representative of Canada asked whether project VAR/Z/61/AUL to provide a contribution of $40,000 towards the cost of establishing a reception centre in Australia would result in an increased flow of refugees to that country. He also wondered whether such a project should be accorded a higher priority than projects in other countries. The representative of the United States asked whether such a project should not be undertaken by the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration.
60. The High Commissioner explained that this project was designed to assist refugees who did not qualify for immigration to Australia either under normal governmental schemes or under special schemes for the handicapped. Refugees in this intermediate category often had difficulty in obtaining the individual sponsorships while they were still living in Europe. The reception centre proposed under the project would provide temporary accommodation and facilities for refugees who would thus be able to immigrate to Australia without definite individual sponsorships.
61. The representative of Australia pointed out that his Government provided considerable assistance towards the initial accommodation of refugee and other migrants. Some thirty-five migrant centres under Commonwealth Government control, with a capacity of approximately 35,000 persons, facilitated the placement in employment of migrants and assisted them to bridge the gap between their date of arrival and the time when they could find private accommodation. The Government could not, however, provide these facilities for all migrants. In certain instances, persons or organizations who wished to sponsor settlers for Australia under full fare arrangements experienced difficulty in obtaining the necessary accommodation. The proposal now being considered was designed to counteract this situation. The proposed project would undoubtedly increase the flow of migrants to Australia.
62. The representative of Canada requested that future projects of a similar nature be considered in the light of the particular circumstances prevailing.
63. With regard to the proposed country clearance plan for Italy contained in document A/AC.96/120/Add. 1, the representative of Italy stated that his Government agreed with the plan and that a positive decision as to its financial participation was expected in the near future.
64. Introducing the legal assistance projects, the representative of the High Commissioner drew attention to a note submitted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (A/AC.96/123) which gave a description of the need for legal assistance to refugees and examples of results achieved. He stated that the High Commissioner wished to pay tribute to the voluntary agencies for the socio-legal assistance they were giving to the refugees.
65. The Committee heard from a statement by the representative of the Federal Republic of Germany that legal assistance in that country was contributing to wards the integration of refugees and that the continuation of the legal assistance programme in Germany was welcomed by his Government.
66. The Executive Committee took note of document A/AC.96/120 and its addendum. It expressed general agreement with the country clearance plan for Italy as outlined in paragraphs 3-7 of the addendum and approved the specific projects submitted in paragraphs 7-34 of the document and in paragraphs 8-15 of its addendum.
Priorities for the UNHCR regular programme for 1961
67. The Committee also considered the priorities submitted to it in document A/AC.96/119 which follow the same principles as those adopted by the Committee at its fourth session.
68. The Executive Committee authorized the High Commissioner to implement projects up to the total target of $6 million as funds became available. The Committee further agreed that the priorities which it had adopted in paragraph 122(2) of the report on its fourth session be applied to the whole of the $6 million programme for 1961. It would be the responsibility of the High Commissioner to ensure that no project with a low priority was implemented until the financing of all projects with a higher priority which were ready for implementation was assured. As in the past, projects for which specifically earmarked contributions were received would be implemented immediately.
D. Housing of non-settled refugees in certain European countries
69. The Committee considered the report on housing for refugees living outside camps in Austria, France, Germany (Federal Republic of), Greece and Italy, submitted to the High Commissioner by Mr. Jens L. Seip, together with the introductory note presented by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/128).
70. Mr. Seip explained that he had suggested assistance whereby refugees could obtain housing loans at favourable rates of interest and at long term. He emphasized that even social (i. e., subsidized, low-cost) housing in the countries concerned would be too expensive for many of the refugees and that assistance through a guarantee fund would not suffice to solve the problem since the burden of repaying short-term loans would be heavy for the refugees. Special measures would therefore be necessary to enable them to make the required down-payments. He suggested that a fund or funds established from which loans could be granted for the purpose of providing the down-payment necessary to enable the refugees to obtain a dwelling. Such loans would be for a longer term and frequently at lower interest rates than could be provided through a guarantee fund.
71. The problem was most serious in the Federal Republic of Germany and in France. In Greece and in Italy it might be solved within the framework of UNHCR regular programmes.
72. The High Commissioner pointed out that, generally speaking, only handicapped refugees could benefit from UNHCR housing projects. Even if non-settled refugees had access to the most favourable social housing schemes in the country of residence, a considerable number of them would be unable to obtain a dwelling owing to their limited income. He felt that it would be appropriate to give the Governments concerned such technical assistance as they might wish to receive from his Office in this regard and possibly to assist them in providing such guarantees as might facilitate the granting of housing loans to refugees.
73. In the course of the discussion, several representatives outlined the arrangements made for refugee housing in their country. It was evident from the statements that, in principle, refugees generally were placed on an equal footing with nationals so far as the acquisition of low-cost dwellings was concerned. They were at a disadvantage however in that, inter alia, they did not always meet the legal criteria for the acquisition of social housing, and in that they often had no family of relatives from whom they could receive financial help towards the initial down-payment often required to obtain a dwelling.
74. The representative of France stated that in his country refugees could benefit from housing subsidies under the same conditions as nationals. These housing subsidies, however, were granted only to families who had managed to obtain modern dwellings corresponding to certain standards. Refugees living in sub-standard dwellings did not benefit therefore from housing subsidies and at the same time lacked the initial capital to obtain adequate dwellings. The problem therefore was to provide the refugee with sufficient capital for use as a down-payment to acquire or rent a new dwelling. In order to meet the special difficulties arising in the case of refugees, the French delegation suggested that a loan fund be established to which the French Government would make a matching contribution equal to the amount contributed by UNHCR. The fund might be established under revolving loan arrangements.
75. The representative of the Federal Republic of Germany emphasized that in his country homeless foreigners had the same legal rights as nationals in the acquisition of housing. A large proportion of subsidized dwellings in Germany were allocated to persons who had lost their home on the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany as a result of war damage. Homeless foreigners did not fulfil this condition. The representative of Germany gave an account of the participation of his Government in the provision of housing for refugees and stated that he hoped that by the middle of 1963 the housing problem of refugees qualifying for assistance under UNHCR programmes in Germany would be solved. He welcomed however the proposal that discussions take place between the High Commissioner's Office and the competent German authorities on the priority to be given to foreign refugees in the acquisition of social housing.
76. The representative of Italy pointed out that resettlement was the main solution for the problem of non-settled refugees in Italy. The provision of employment was the most important prerequisite for refugees wishing to remain there permanently.
77. In outlining the situation in his country the representative of Austria stressed that housing standards differed from one country to another. In Austria, for example, the situation of refugees should be related to the standards of the Austrian population generally. As in other countries, the main difficulty for refugees in Austria was to obtain the funds required to make the necessary down-payment for a dwelling. He suggested that the problem should be further discussed with the Office of the High Commissioner.
78. The representative of the Holy See stressed the great importance that was attached by the Holy See to social conditions, including housing. He thought that a strict formula could not be applied and that appropriate arrangements should be worked out for each country concerned.
79. The representative of Norway explained the functioning of a special revolving fund which had been established in his country to assist refugees to acquire housing. He supported the suggestion that the establishment of such loan funds in Austria, France and Germany should be further considered.
80. Several other representatives expressed their Governments' interest in the question of housing for refugees. They agreed that refugees should be granted the same facilities as nationals and that from the psychological point of view it would be preferable to grant them loans rather than subsidies.
81. The representative of the United Kingdom stated that this type of financing should really devolve upon host Governments.
82. Mr. Seip said that he was well aware of the difficulties likely to be encountered by Governments which attempted to place refugees in a position of advantage as compared with the national population in the acquisition of housing. He hoped that the idea of a loan fund to financially assist refugees to acquire housing under the best market conditions might provide a solution to the problem.
83. The Executive Committee took note of the report on the housing of refugees and agreed that the High Commissioner should continue the study of this problem and submit further suggestions to it at a subsequent session.
E. Allocations for the UNHCR regular programme for 1962
84. The Committee considered programme allocations for 1962 submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/124) in the amount of $5 million, including $4.3 million for material assistance, $120,000 for legal assistance and $580,000 for administrative expenses. In introducing the item the representative of the High Commissioner pointed out that the allocations were based on the amount of funds that could reasonably be expected for the 1962 programme. The proposed programme was generally focused on assistance to "old" refugees in the handicapped categories; it also included limited amounts for assistance to new refugees through resettlement. He drew the attention of the Committee to the important question of supporting contributions.
85. During the discussion of the long-term considerations on which the proposed 1962 programme had been based, the representative of the Netherlands questioned the possibility that, as stated in paragraph 5 (b) of the document, financial provision for the settlement of "old" refugees still remaining in Europe could be completed within the next two or three years. She emphasized that while priority had been given to the refugees in camps, resolution 1166 (XII) of the General Assembly stipulated that sight should not be lost "of the need to continue to seek solutions for the problems of refugees outside camps".
86. The representative of the High Commissioner recalled in this regard that in accordance with the decisions taken by the Execution Committee at its third session, priority within the group of non-settled refugees living outside camps was to be given to the handicapped. In reply to further questions the representative of the High Commissioner stated that most of the non-settled handicapped refugees had been registered because concrete possibilities were in sight to solve their problems. During the ensuing discussion several delegations considered that a registration of all non-settled refugees would be valuable since it would give a complete picture of the size of the problem.
87. The Committee then considered the question of supporting contributions. Some representatives questioned the extent to which the percentage of supporting contributions made in the past from within countries of residence of refugees were actually related to the per capita income of the countries concerned. The representative of Austria emphasized that in the matter of supporting contributions percentages could be misleading; in matters of this nature it was more realistic often to speak in terms of total expenditure. He drew attention to document A/AC.96/110 where it was stated that supporting contributions did not include the cost of some items which were difficult or impossible to assess and he stressed the fact that in Austria substantial expenditure was incurred by local authorities in the form of public assistance relief, etc. The representative of Austria pointed out that in the case of his country, supporting contributions were being provided from local and not from Federal Government sources.
88. The representative of the Federal Republic of Germany stated that the constant and considerable influx into Germany of new national refugees without property was creating a heavy burden for the German authorities. For this reason, the Federal Government was unable to do more for foreign refugees although there was reason to hope that by 1963 the great majority of foreign refugees in Germany would be integrated. He added that the Federal Government would be contemplating an increase in its contribution to the High Commissioner's operational budget for 1962.
89. The representative of France informed the Committee that the supporting contributions from various sources in his country referred to in paragraph 27 of the document would be forthcoming.
90. In reply to a question by the representative of the Netherlands concerning the proposed allocation for various countries, the representative of the High Commissioner explained that the distinction between operational and administrative expenses was presently being studied, and the conclusion of the study might lead to adjustments between sections of the programme.
91. With regard to the legal assistance programme, the representative of Belgium expressed his preference for assistance to refugees to be granted in the form of short-term loans. The representative of the High Commissioner pointed out that refugees who were receiving legal aid in connexion with law suits were being asked to undertake reimbursement of the cost involved.
92. In reply to a question, the representative of the High Commissioner confirmed that the percentages contained in paragraph 12 of the report represented averages which it was suggested might obtain in the annual programme in each country.
93. In the course of its discussion, the Committee was informed of the views exchanged between the representative of Greece and the Office of the High Commissioner on the implementation of the UNHCR regular programmes in that country (A/AC.96/124/Add.1).
94. In this connexion the representative of Greece stated that the other important problems relating to the implementation of UNHCR programmes in Greece, which were referred to in paragraph 16 of document A/AC.96/124, had also been the subject of discussions between his Government and UNHCR. Even though these problems were not yet solved, he wished to express his delegation's conviction that it would be possible in the near future to find solutions to these problems which would conform with the general policy of the Executive Committee as well as with the financial rules of the High Commissioner's Office and with the relevant Greek regulations, thus facilitating the conclusion of agreements concerning the implementation of 1961 projects.
95. In reply to some representatives who discussed the high amount proposed for the 1962 programme in Greece, the representative of the High Commissioner recalled that this allocation was part of a country clearance plan for Greece, the principle of which had been approved by the Committee at a previous session. Projects within an amount of up to $1.4 million would be submitted to the Committee at its next session for approval.
96. The Committee agreed on an over-all target of $5 million from all sources, including $4.3 million for material assistance, $120,000 for legal assistance and $580,000 for administrative expenses. The Committee also agreed with the general considerations set forth in paragraph 5-7 of the document. With regard to the question of supporting contributions to be made within the countries of residence, the Committee recommended that the High Commissioner should observe the following rules:
(a) For projects which increase the economic potential or reduce the financial responsibilities of the country of residence, the direct supporting contributions should represent not less than 75 per cent of the total cost of the projects in the countries with the strongest economy and at least 25 per cent in the countries with the lowest contributing capacity. Contributions from any local sources made towards the implementation of individual solutions under open funds would continue to be considered as direct contributions towards the total cost of the projects;
(b) Projects which merely provide services to refugees and do not increase the economic potential or reduce the financial responsibilities of the country of residence (such as counselling or supplementary aid) may be implemented with reduced supporting contributions. In the countries with the lowest contributing capacity or in cases where such projects are implemented by UNHCR, the High Commissioner may waive the requirements for these supporting contributions.
97. The Committee agreed on the country allocations for 1962 as shown in paragraph 114 of document A/AC.96/124 and approved the country programmes outlined in paragraphs 18-40 of the document.
98. The Committee considered satisfactory the information on progress made in resolving the question of ownership and rent of housing built under UNHCR programmes in Greece, provided by the Greed Government in the letter quoted in paragraph 2 of document A/AC.96/124/Add.1, as well as the arrangements reached between the Greek Government and the High Commissioner on the question of establishment assistance reported in paragraph 3 of that document. The Committee therefore authorized the High Commissioner:
(a) To proceed with the implementation of the 1961 programme in Greece as approved by the Committee:
(b) To plan, in consultation with the Greek Government, a 1962 material assistance programme for Greece up to a total of $1,400,000 to be worked out on the same lines as for 1961 but with increased attention being paid to establishment assistance.
99. The Committee further approved the country allocations proposed for the legal assistance in paragraph 41, as well as the suggestions of the High Commissioner contained in paragraph 42.
100. The Committee agreed on the proposed allocation of $580,000 as a grant-in-aid to the United Nations budget for administrative expenses and on the suggestion made in paragraph 46 of the document.
SECTION VI Resettlement and financing of transport of refugees
101. The Committee considered the report on the resettlement of refugees in 1960 and future trends (A/AC.96/125 and Add.1).
102. In introducing the report, the representative of the High Commissioner pointed out the considerable increase in the number of handicapped refugees who had been admitted to countries of resettlement. He summed up the main schemes which were at present being put into effect by immigration countries and expressed the hope that the liberal spirit in which the immigration of refugees of all categories had been facilitated would be maintained in order completely to solve the problem of handicapped refugees and to avoid its reappearance.
103. Mr. Marcus Daly, Director of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, associated himself with the High Commissioner's view that every effort should be made to solve the problems of the "old" refugees. He pointed out that it would be necessary to ensure that solutions were found for new refugees if the creation of new problems was to be prevented. Mr. Daly also drew attention to new developments in the field of migration such as, for instance, the fact that a considerable number of European migrants were returning to Europe, and pledged his organization's continued co-operation with the Office of the High Commissioner.
104. The representative of the United Kingdom, in pointing out that numbers of refugees were being admitted into the United Kingdom under special schemes, drew the attention of the Committee to the fact that a very considerable influx into that country of persons from other parts of the Commonwealth and from other sources was presently taking place. This created certain problems in respect of the further admission of refugees.
105. The Executive Committee took note with appreciation of the progress achieved in the resettlement of refugees and endorsed the suggestions contained in paragraph 46 of the document.
Financing of transport of refugees
106. The Committee had before it document A/AC.96/126 concerning the financing of transport of refugees. The representative of the High Commissioner drew the attention of the Committee to the division of responsibilities between ICEM and UNHCR in the field of resettlement resulting from the relevant constitutional provisions and resolutions governing the activities of the two organizations.
107. The representative of Canada recalled that the item had been placed on the agenda of the Executive Committee at its third session upon the proposal of the Canadian delegation at a time when ICEM was suffering from a shortage of funds and when it could be expected that increased contributions would be made to the UNHCR on the occasion of World Refugee Year. The main object of the proposal was to ensure that refugees in possession of visas would not be prevented from being resettled because of a shortage of funds for their transportation.
108. The Canadian delegation did not in any way wish to bring about any overlapping in the activities of UNHCR and ICEM. The Canadian delegation wished to submit the following conclusions to the Committee:
(a) That the financing of the transportation of refugees was legally permitted under the Statute of UNHCR, as was borne out in paragraphs 7 and 32 of the document before the Committee;
(b) That the Emergency Fund established in resolution 1166 (XII) of the General Assembly could be used at least in part for the financing of transportation of refugees in cases of an emergency subject to the authorization of the Executive Committee;
(c) That if refugees in possession of visas could not be moved because of a shortage of funds the necessary action should be taken by UNHCR as stated in paragraph 38 of the document before the Committee;
(d) That the situation should be periodically reviewed by the Executive Committee.
109. In conclusion, the representative of Canada stated that of situations should arise which would warrant the High Commissioner making a special contribution for the financing of the transport of refugees, the Executive Committee should be able to authorize such action if it considered that the situation justified this.
110. It was felt in the committee that the present division of responsibility between UNHCR and ICEM should be maintained and that the financing of transportation should remain the responsibility ICEM. It was pointed out that funds accruing to the Emergency Fund established under the terms of resolution 1166 (XII) of the General Assembly would have to be used for other forms of assistance to refugees.
111. It seemed clear, on the other hand, that, in the case of an emergency, action would be taken by the High Commissioner as indicated in paragraph 38 of the document and furthermore that UNHCR would continue to associate itself with appeals for transportation funds which might be made by ICEM.
112. The Chairman pointed out that the conclusions submitted by the Canadian delegation generally followed the lines of the document presented by the High Commissioner, except with regard to the use of that part of the Emergency Fund, established under the terms of General Assembly resolution 1166 (XII), which would not consist of contributions earmarked for the financing of transport.
113. In reply to a question by the representative of Australia, the representative of the High Commissioner confirmed that contributions which were earmarked for the transportation of refugees would be so used in accordance with the wish of the donors.
114. The Executive Committee took note of the document presented to it by the High Commissioner and approved the conclusions included in paragraphs 37 and 38 of the document. The Committee further took note of the conclusions submitted by the Canadian delegation subject to the observations made in the course of the discussion.
SECTION VII World Refugee Year
115. The Committee considered the note on World Refugee Year (A/AC.96/121) submitted by the High Commissioner. In introducing this document, the representative of the High Commissioner suggested that, as this was probably the last occasion on which World Refugee Year would figure on the Committee's agenda, it would perhaps be appropriate for the members, in view of the large numbers of refugees still in need of assistance, to decide on appropriate action which would enable the world-wide interest created by the Year to be maintained and stimulated.
116. The High Commissioner's representative paid a special tribute to the magnificent contribution made towards the success of so many World Refugee Year committees, and urged Governments to continue to give every encouragement and support to the vital work of these agencies.
117. In the ensuing discussion on World Refugee Year delegates emphasized the necessity of maintaining the world-wide, humanitarian interest which had thus been created in refugee problems. In the course of the debate a statement was made by the representative of the Churches Commission on International Affairs, the summary of which may be found in the summary record of the 44th meeting.
118. The representative of the Netherlands proposed that the centenary of Fridtjof Nansen's birth on 10 October 1961 should be appropriately publicized and promoted by the High Commissioner. The Committee thanked the representative of the Netherlands for initiating this proposal and was unanimous in requesting the High Commissioner to contact Governments and, in close co-operation with the Norwegian Refugee Council, to give early practical assistance and advice to Governments and voluntary agencies concerning various plans which might be proposed for the commemoration.
119. The Committee was unanimous in paying tribute to peoples, Governments, organizations and individual persons who throughout the world had participated in World Refugee Year. It expressed the hope that every effort would continue to be made to keep alive the interest of all those who had taken part in World Refugee Year so that its impact on the solution of refugee problems would continue to make itself felt.
SECTION VIII Financial questions
Contributions to UNHCR
120. The Committee had before it document A/AC.96/115 indicating the status of contributions to UNHCR for the year 1960 and also for the first two months of 1961.
121. The representative of the High Commissioner emphasized that the total amount of nearly $16 million for 1960 (which included some, as yet, unfulfilled pledges and promises) represented an all-time record, largely due to World Refugee Year. The main features of the financial year 1960 had been the further diversification of programmes financed through UNHCR and the increasing number of countries supporting these programmes.
122. These trends had continued in the early part of 1961, as was shown by the distribution over various programmes (both regular and other) of the amount of nearly $4 million contributed as at 28 February 1961. Since that date, additional contributions totalling approximately $1 million had been received, pledged or promised. Of that amount, some $135,000 would be made available for the UNHCR regular programmes for 1961 and nearly $400,000 for the programme of assistance to refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia. An amount of $133,000 had been made available to UNHCR for assistance to Chinese refugees in Hong Kong under the terms of General Assembly resolution 1167 (XII). An amount of $220,000 was available for refugees in Austria, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Viet-Nam under General Assembly resolution 1388 (XIV).
123. The representative of the High Commissioner further drew attention to the fact that at the end of April an amount of $3 million had been announced towards the $6 million target set for the UNHCR regular programmes for 1961. A sum $1,200,000 was still needed for assistance to refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia.
124. He further referred to the continued efforts of UNHCR to raise contributions from Governments as well as from non-governmental organizations. Contributions from non-governmental organizations could usually be obtained only through the submission by the High Commissioner of "self-help" projects which the organizations were prepared to financially assist. Care and maintenance funds could usually be obtained only from Governments.
125. The representative of the United Kingdom stated that while many countries were contributing for the first time to UNHCR programmes, it nevertheless appeared that it might be difficult for UNHCR to reach its financial targets. She felt, therefore, that it might perhaps be desirable when making new plans to bear in mind the requirements of the UNHCR regular programmes.
126. In reply to the United States delegation, the representative of the High Commissioner confirmed that, while the United States appropriations were a legal pledge, the actual payments were dependent on sufficient matching contributions being made by other Governments.
127. The Executive Committee took note of the efforts made by UNHCR to raise funds from both governmental and non-governmental sources and recommended that the High Commissioner pursue his efforts to raise funds for the benefit of refugees coming within his sphere.
Provisional financial statements for voluntary funds for 1960 and other financial matters
128. The representative of the High Commissioner pointed out that the provisional financial statements (A/AC.96/114) included an entry of $5,382,095 for the Indemnification Fund referred to in document A/AC.96/INF.2. This entry covered the first 50 per cent of the amount due from the Government of the German Federal Republic. The second half of the amount due had been paid during 1961. The representative of the High Commissioner drew attention to the Emergency Fund established under General Assembly resolution 1166 (XII). The amount accruing to the Fund had increased from $155,000 to over $300,000 during 1960, and consideration was being given to the possible use to be made of the Fund when it reached the ceiling of $500,000 set by resolution 1166 (XII).
129. After consideration of the document before it, the Executive Committee took note of the provisional financial statements for voluntary funds for 1960.
130. The Committee also considered document A/AC.96/118 which dealt with financial maters of a technical nature. After having heard an explanation from the representative of the High Commissioner, the Executive Committee endorsed the suggestions put forward by the High Commissioner in the document and authorized him to take the necessary action accordingly.
SECTION IX Other refugee problems
131. The Committee considered document A/AC.96/122, submitted by the High Commissioner, in the light of his general introductory statement (reproduced in annex I to this report).
132. In introducing this item, the High Commissioner made a statement (reproduced in annex II to this report), in which he commented on the background of the good offices resolutions8 adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations and brought to the attention of the Committee some of the implications of the tasks involved and of the action he had been called upon to take.
133. The representative of China gave the Committee a review of the situation of Chinese refugees. He paid tribute to the authorities of Hong Kong which were assisting a considerable number of these refugees and expressed the hope that further help would be forthcoming for them. He mentioned in particular the possibility of the establishment of a revolving fund from which small loans might be granted to help the refugees to become self-supporting.
134. He renewed his former plea for assistance to Chinese refugees in other countries in South East Asia whose plight would continue until they could be integrated in their country of residence. He pointed out that a comprehensive international plan would be required for that purpose.
135. He also drew the attention of the Committee to the recommendations which had been adopted by the second conference of the International Committee for World Refugee Year earlier in 1961. Two of these recommendations concerned the inclusion in the mandate of UNHCR of Chinese refugees in Hong Kong and of Tibetan refugees in Nepal and in India. The object of the third recommendation was to investigate the situation of Chinese refugees in Burma, India, Indonesia, Laos, Macao, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Viet-Nam.
136. He stated that his Government considered it desirable that the High Commissioner should be authorized to collect the necessary information on the problems of these refugees and to transmit it to the Committee.
137. The representative of Greece recalled that refugees who had arrived in his country after 1 January 1961 fell outside the scope of the country clearance plan which was being implemented by UNHCR in his country and he hoped that in future some material assistance could be extended to these refugees as well.
138. With reference to the statement made on the subject of Chinese refugees in Hong Kong, the representative of the United Kingdom gave the Committee a general account of the measures taken by the Hong Kong Government to assist Chinese refugees to establish themselves in Hong Kong. She pointed out that they were treated in the same way as other residents of the colony and that they had the same rights and duties. The Hong Kong Government was appreciative of the contributions for assistance which were being received from international sources. It would, however, find it difficult to accept the establishment of a project in Hong Kong, the implementation of which would result in other authorities assuming functions which were the responsibility of the Hong Kong Government. The representative further emphasized that the problem of refugees in Hong Kong could be solved only through local integration and not through temporary relief. The Hong Kong Government had a great deal of experience in dealing with the problems of these refugees and would continue to take all possible measures to alleviate their difficulties.
139. The representative of Canada recalled that the Executive Committee had been established by resolution 672 (XXV) of the Economic and Social Council pursuant to the terms of resolution 1166 (XII) of the General Assembly and that both resolutions concerned only refugees within the mandate. He wondered, therefore, if the Executive Committee was competent to make policy recommendations in respect of refugees who fell outside the scope of these two resolutions.
140. As for the use to be made of the Emergency Fund established under resolution 1166 (XII) of the General Assembly, he appreciated the High Commissioner's concern to interpret his mandate in reasonably broad terms for humanitarian reasons and he realized that if his aid was to be effected it must be given rapidly. He considered, however, that while paragraph 7 of resolution 1166 (XII) authorized UNHCR to utilize the Emergency Fund under the general directive of the Executive Committee, the fund was to be used only for assistance to refugees within the mandate of UNHCR.
141. A number of representatives expressed themselves, in varying degrees, in favour of the suggestions which the High Commissioner had presented in his statement on other refugee problems. They considered that every effort should continue to be made to achieve solutions to the problems of "old" refugees, and that the Office also should continue to pay the greatest attention to its basic tasks, the international protection of refugees and the promotion of permanent solutions, due care being taken of the needs of the handicapped.
142. They felt, however, that at the same time the Office of the High Commissioner should be geared to deal with new refugee situations such as those outlined in document A/AC.96/122. As Europe was continuing to make rapid economic progress, more resources might be devoted to the problems of refugees in other areas. They considered furthermore that these problems were of a somewhat different nature from those of the "old" refugees and that they might in some cases require less direct expenditure from international sources. Under the terms of the good offices resolution, UNHCR might stimulate and co-ordinate the activities of Governments and other organizations dealing with those problems.
143. The representative of China, in expressing his full support of the concept outlined by the High Commissioner, informed the Committee that it had been his intention to submit a resolution expressing the views of his Government. However, owing to shortage of time he had decided not to introduce the resolution. The Chairman in expressing appreciation of the course followed by the representative of China stated that the contemplated resolution containing the views of the Chinese Government would be circulated to delegations for their information.
144. Some representatives expressed appreciation of the measures which the High Commissioner had taken in response to the request of the Cambodian Government for assistance to refugees on its territory. They considered that the good offices resolutions reflected the intention of the General Assembly that his Office should be ready to meet any similar requests for assistance or advice.
145. The opinion was also expressed that a certain flexibility should be allowed with regard to the use to be made of the Emergency Fund in order to assist the High Commissioner in coping with new problems.
146. Other representatives pointed out that if the good offices resolutions were interpreted too broadly, new refugee situations might be allowed to develop more easily in the expectation that international assistance would be forthcoming. These representatives also feared the possibility of straining unduly the financial resources available to the High Commissioner.
147. Some delegates felt that as the problem which had been brought to their attention by the High Commissioner was of the most fundamental importance to his future activities the various aspects of it would need to be most carefully considered by their Governments. In this regard, it was felt that more detailed information should be submitted by the High Commissioner for consideration.
148. The representative of the United States stated that his delegation considered that the High Commissioner had a threefold task, each of equal importance. These were: (i) continuing international protection; (ii) the continuing requisite support to refugees under his mandate with emphasis on the completion of the major assistance programmes; and (iii) the handling of new problems pursued through the good offices resolutions.
149. With regard to this latter task, he expressed his delegation's view that the Office of the High Commissioner should act as a catalytic agent for the raising of international funds needed to meet new emergencies, as and when they occurred. He felt that, bearing in mind the humanitarian aspect of the refugee problem, the Emergency Fund might be utilized when this was justified by circumstances, pending the time when adequate contributions could be obtained.
150. In the course of the discussion, the Committee heard a statement by the observer from Cambodia who summed up the problem which had arisen from the influx into his country of refugees from the Republic of Viet-Nam and more recently from Laos.
151. His country had admitted refugees in a humanitarian spirit since 1956 and was giving them care and maintenance. As it could no longer bear the financial burden involved, it had sought and been given assistance by the Office of the High Commissioner. The Cambodian Government would be glad to receive the financial support of the international community through UNHCR. His Government was also intending to seek the good offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross through UNHCR in connexion with the repatriation of foreign refugees from Cambodia when they could return to their country of origin.
152. The observer from Portugal made a statement on the situation of Chinese refugees in Macao. He pointed out that 80,000 had been granted admission since 1937. Furthermore, the Portuguese Government was spending a considerable amount of funds in order to ensure care and maintenance for these refugees who included a large proportion of sick and infirm persons. The observer for Portugal expressed the hope that UNHCR would assist his Government in solving this problem.
153. The Committee also heard a statement by the representative of the Standing Conference of Voluntary Agencies Working for Refugees and one by the representative of the International Conference of Catholic Charities, a summary of which may be found in the records of the 48th and 43rd meetings respectively.
154. The High Commissioner thanked the members of the Committee for the guidance they had given him with regard to the implementation of the good offices resolutions. The crux of the matter was for him to know the extent of assistance which the international community and Governments would wish to be given to the groups of refugees falling within the scope of these resolutions. As and when he was called upon to deal with their problems he would have an opportunity to obtain clearer data in this respect. Keeping in mind the suggestions made by some representatives he would, in his further reports to the Committee, provide it with information concerning the development of the activities of his Office in this field.
155. Finally, he asked the members of the Committee to inform him in due course of the steps they might be able to take to assist the Cambodian Government in solving the problems of refugees which it was facing at present.
SECTION X Arrangements for the future work of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme
156. The Committee first considered a working document submitted to it by the High Commissioner on arrangements for the future work of the Executive Committee (HCR/EC.(V)/CRD.1). In the document, the High Commissioner suggested that the major policy questions concerning his Office be considered at a main session to be held once a year in the spring. A number of representatives expressed their support of this suggestion. Some representatives felt that this arrangement should not prevent the Office of the High Commissioner from submitting important questions to the autumn session if this proved necessary.
157. The Executive Committee accordingly adopted the suggestions contained in the document.
158. The Committee also considered the suggestion for the establishment of a preparatory sub-committee, contained in working document HCR/EC.(V)/CRD.2. The Committee decided that this suggestion might be further considered at a subsequent session, it being understood that in the meantime the High Commissioner could consult with permanent delegations in Geneva as and when necessary.
Annex I Introductory statement by the High Commissioner to the fifth session of the Executive Committee
1. It is a real pleasure for me to make this first contact with the Executive Committee today. I am fully aware of the prestige and authority which the Committee enjoys, and of the support which it can accordingly give to the work of the High Commissioner's Office. The Office which I have been called upon to direct, being an instrument of the international community, represented here by the Governments most directly concerned with the refugee problem, cannot indeed do without the Committee's guidance and advice. It can act only if there is a real meeting of minds between us; only if that exists can the work entrusted to the Office faithfully reflect the will of the international community and be really useful, efficacious and lasting. I shall accordingly venture to expound to you all the thoughts which strike me as I face up to a task whose magnitude and difficulty are well known to you.
2. As you are aware, at its regular session the General Assembly signified its approval of the account that my predecessor, Dr. Lindt, had given of this Office's activities. At the same time the Assembly once again expressed its wish that the High Commissioner for Refugees should in case of need assist refugees other than those normally within his mandate. Although there is, of course, no question of abandoning in any way what has hitherto been the very essence of the High Commissioner's mission, the wish was thus clearly expressed that Governments might take advantage of the existence of a body dealing exclusively with the refugee problem on behalf of the international community by requesting, if need be, its advice and support. The position thus adopted on two occasions and more recently formulated in resolution 1499 (XV) undoubtedly reflects the General Assembly's desire that the UNHCR should adapt itself to the circumstances and events of the world of today. It also implicitly reaffirms the universal and essentially dynamic as well as the exclusively humanitarian and social nature of the mission entrusted to the Office which I have the honour to direct.
3. The General Assembly's desire to place the UNHCR in the orbit of a world in full development further enhances the exceptional importance attaching, in my view, to the present session of the Executive Committee. Not only shall I have to report to the Committee on the activities of the High Commissioner's Office during the past few months and to sum up the present state of affairs now that the end of the vast programmes of assistance to the former European refugees is in sight. We shall also have to try to define the lines along which this Office will have to work in the future, bearing in mind both the circumstances of the residual problem as it exists today and certain changes which seem to be required both by circumstances and by the wish recently expressed by the General Assembly. It is therefore unnecessary for me to repeat how much I shall value any opinions, advice and guidance which the spokesmen of the Governments here represented may wish to give me at this time.
4. Let us look first at the High Commissioner's immediate task. I am sure that the Committee will unanimously agree with me that the first of his tasks is to complete as speedily as possible the vast programmes of material assistance designed to solve one of the most serious human problems of post-war Europe: the problem of the refugee camps, and of the non-settled refugees living outside them in conditions sometimes even more precarious and wretched. It would be inconceivable to halt on the road with the goal in sight. If the campaign were interrupted, or even merely slowed down, it would lose its momentum and finally success would be endangered, along with all that has already been achieved at the cost of so much effort. That would be particularly regrettable now that World Refugee Year has created such a fund of goodwill throughout the world for the benefit of refugees, and has given so powerful an impetus to UNHCR activities.
5. We must therefore continue to act, and to act fast, to finish off the work undertaken for the former European refugees. I propose, in accordance with my predecessor's method - which I think has proved successful - to set a term and precise limits to this task. I intend to submit to the Executive Committee at its session in the spring of 1962 a clear and concrete objective which can be achieved in a specified time. If the Committee approves this idea, my staff and I will busy ourselves in the meantime with defining the work still to be done and drawing up an over-all to cope with it. But in order to complete an enterprise so well begun and now so near to its conclusion, I shall of course need the active collaboration of the Governments and of all the intergovernmental and voluntary agencies which have hitherto played an important part in it and occupy such a prominent place in the whole range of activities conducted on behalf of refugees. I do not think I am being over-optimistic in saying that I am assured in advance of their valuable support.
6. But while the current programmes for camp clearance and for the resettlement of refugees not yet integrated and living outside camps, are, I hope, thus being completed, we must not lose sight of what I will call the UNHCR's continuing tasks. I mean the sum total of the Office's basic activities which are aimed at first ensuring a place of refuge for the refugees and then bringing their status as closely into line as possible with that of the nationalities of the countries in which they are living, consolidating and improving upon what has already been achieved in that direction, so that problems once solved do not gradually recur, and so ordering things that the coming of new refugees does not, for lack of continuing and appropriate action, give rise to a new problem more or less comparable in magnitude to the one which we are now solving. These activities are known as: international protection; search for opportunities of emigration; and material assistance, either in emergencies or in order to facilitate the integration or resettlement of handicapped refugees.
7. The purpose of international protection is, as I just mentioned, to ensure for refugees a status as closely akin as possible to that of nationals in all respects - until the moment when they cease to be refugees, either because they have returned to their country of origin of their own free will, or because they have acquired the nationality of the country in which they have settled. That is certainly a delicate and lengthy task, which calls for constant effort and a policy which must be steady of aim but flexible in application, in order to take account of all the circumstances of time and place and to grasp every opportunity to improve in one way or another the status of the refugees for whom the UNHCR is responsible.
8. Another of the Office's continuing tasks is to seek countries of final settlement for all refugees who for one reason or another cannot or do not wish to become integrated in the country which first received them. I cannot lay too much stress on the importance of maintaining in the future the new facilities granted in recent years by the countries of immigration, and more particularly the overseas ones, to refugees wishing to emigrate. If this safety-valve, in the shape of emigration for refugees fit to work as well as for those not fully fit or unfit, were to close again, and the influx of refugees remained only what it is today, there would be every reason to fear the gradual reappearance in Europe of those black spots of bitterness and despair which the refugee camps used to be.
9. In order to avoid a recurrence of that frightful process, and also for reasons of fact or of plain justice, provision should I believe also be made for a certain amount of material assistance in all cases where circumstances or the refugee's special situation justify it, as a supplement and a stimulus to legal protection and to resettlement. Thus, assistance for resettlement will, I think be needed in certain cases, especially for handicapped refugees and where the economic or social situation in the receiving country so requires. I am thinking, in connexion with such assistance, of projects limited both in aim and in funds allocated, and flexible enough to be adaptable both to individual situations and to the special circumstances of each country.
10. These observations are of course of an entirely general nature, which will later have to be submitted to the Committee for approval in the form of concrete and precise proposals. The formulation of such detailed proposals cannot however be usefully undertaken unless I am assured in advance of the Committee's concurrence with general policy which I am now attempting to define.
11. While I am thus trying to summarize the essential duties of this Office, I cannot refrain from mentioning three of its present activities which, though they have some aspects peculiar to themselves, nevertheless receive our constant attention. I wish to refer first to a problem that has long been a matter of concern to the international community and which should likewise be capable of final solution before long - that of the refugees of European origin who are still in mainland China and wish to emigrate. An account of the present position is given in one of the documents before you. It is gratifying to note that, with the help of the Governments, my Office, acting in close co-operation with ICEM, has been able to cope with the crisis caused by the sudden influx of these refugees at the end of last year and to ensure their resettlement out of Hong Kong fairly rapidly. I must, however, stress that, among the factors governing the solution of this problem, some of which, I should remind you, lie outside our purview, the factor still causing us concern today, apart from the financing of the operations and particularly of transport, is the procurement of visas for a receiving country for the thousand or two persons who have not yet got them. I am convinced that the Governments of the many countries which have hitherto shown how eager they are to help settle this problem will be willing to open their doors to such of these refugees as do not yet have a country of destination in view.
12. At the end of last year, as you know, an agreement was concluded with the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany providing in particular for the establishment of an indemnification fund for refugees persecuted under the National Socialist regime by reason of their nationality. My Office has been made reason of their nationality. My Office has been made responsible for administering the fund, and this is at present one of its important tasks, though it is limited in time, since the whole matter has to be settled within a specified period.
13. On the fringe of these traditional and essentially European problems there arose some time ago another problem to which the UNHCR is at present devoting every attention in compliance with an express recommendation by the General Assembly: that of refugees from Algeria in Morocco and Tunisia. An early solution of this problem, it may be hoped, will ensue from the negotiations now in progress. However that may be, the humanitarian task entrusted in this matter to the UNHCR, which he has undertaken so far in close collaboration with the League of Red Cross Societies, must in the meantime be pursued unfalteringly till its conclusion. We shall therefore continue to help the Governments concerned to maintain these refugees and meet their essential needs. The generosity of many Governments, of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and of voluntary agencies, together with the results of World Refugee Year, have so far enabled the UNHCR to honour his obligations. But the financing of this operation is entering a critical phase, and I shall be compelled to appeal once more during this session to the generosity of Governments to help me by additional contributions to fulfil the task assigned to me by the General Assembly.
14. There, then, in broad outline are the current and concrete tasks to which the UNHCR should, I think, be called upon to devote himself immediately or in the near future. Obviously they cannot be carried out successfully without the co-operation of the international community and the Governments concerned. Above all, nothing of value can be done without the initial and continuing co-operation of the country of residence. That is an obvious truth which must be stated once again and from it derives the primary responsibility incumbent on countries receiving refugees. Experience and common sense show, however, that one cannot go on appealing indefinitely to the spirit of collaboration and sacrifice of countries of first asylum, which often have many other urgent duties to fulfil, especially to their own nationals, if the international community itself does not display its interest and does not show its readiness, if need be, to assume its fair share of the burden which these countries have to bear owing to their generosity and to the simple fact of their geographical position. It is of course, for the international community itself to decide in the light of the circumstances what part it intends to shoulder of the burden which a particular refugee problem represents for a given country. What seems to me essential in any case, however, is to maintain the spirit of international solidarity that has been continuously displayed for many years towards refugees and which reached such impressive heights during World Refugee Year. Because it is essential for the fulfilment of the UNHCR's task, I consider it to be one of the main duties of my Office to maintain this spirit of international solidarity, on which, indeed, depends the future of the refugees in every sphere. Whether it be in connexion with their legal status or the facilities which should be given them for resettlement in one country or another, no lasting progress will be achieved, and all the ground that has been gained so far in these fields might in fact be lost again, should the international community cease to show its solicitude for the refugees in their helpless plight. It is therefore essential, and I cannot sufficiently stress this point, that the feeling of solidarity which now prevails in the international community with respect to the refugee problem should be constantly kept alive so as to ensure that the humanitarian spirit which now constitutes the basis of action to solve this problem should not be supplanted by other more restrictive preoccupations, however legitimate these might be.
15. Conversely, experience shows that no refugee problem, however massive or difficult, is insoluble and can in fact resist the combined will of the international community and the Governments concerned. The UNHCR, in so far as he represents the international community, seems to be the ideal agent to initiate and carry to a conclusion this concerted action of all the public or private entities prepared to assist in solving such a problem. It is also for the UNHCR, I believe, by virtue of his very mission, to arouse or revive goodwill and to co-ordinate its manifestations if need be, so as to make them as effective as possible. The Camp Clearance Programme, started only three years ago, provides a specific example of what the international community can do when confronted with one of the most difficult problems that can face an organization like ours. It also illustrates the methods which, I believe, my Office should follow in order to achieve the positive results expected of it.
16. This brings me back to the subject I raised at the beginning of this statement, in connexion with the General Assembly's wish that my Office should, if need be, assist in the solution of problems hitherto outside its purview. This does in fact bring up the whole question of the lines along which this Office's activities should be directed in the future. It is therefore, I think, essential for me to try to define to the Committee the meaning and scope of decisions likely to affect the very future of the UNHCR.
17. Resolutions 1388(XIV) and 1499 (XV) of 20 November 1959 and 5 December 1960 refer explicitly, as you know, to refugees outside my mandate. That mandate, and in particular the definition of refugee which is an integral part of it, was drawn up in circumstances, and to meet a problem, clearly defined at the time: the object was to alleviate the miserable plight of European refugees who had been victims of events preceding or following the Second World War, of whom there was still a large number. But other problems, as I have said, are emerging in the world today, from which the international community cannot or does not wish to withhold concern. Thus, what the General Assembly apparently meant to affirm was that this Office should remain available at all times to deal with any requests that might be addressed to it by any Government anxious for the assistance or advice which it might need when confronted with a problem involving refugees who do not come within the immediate competence of the United Nations.
18. That being so, it does not seem easy to set in advance limits to as task of which the General Assembly confined itself - deliberately it would appear - to formulating solely the principle, leaving it to the Governments, to the High Commissioner and to the facts themselves empirically to define cases. What can, however, be inferred from it is that the decision to be adopted in each particular case and the action to be taken by the UNHCR, if any, depend essentially upon the views and wishes of the Governments of the countries in which the refugees are located, upon the circumstances and upon the ability of the UNHCR to provide really useful and effective help. It would, therefore seem that the utmost flexibility must be the essential characteristic of this incursion by the UNHCR into territories which were hitherto outside his competence, unless he was specially instructed otherwise by the General Assembly, as has happened in various circumstances. But what are, in fact, the problems which might thus require the UNHCR's attention within the framework of these new activities defined in resolution 1388(XIV) as "good offices".
19. These are in Europe as everyone knows, persons upon whom events, the tribute exacted by the modern age, confer the character of refugee in a broad sense, and who nevertheless do not come within my mandate. There is every reason to believe that the UNHCR might on occasion lend this good offices to Governments responsible for these refugees and help the refugees themselves back to a normal way of life. My Office has already made some moves in this direction, especially as regards emigration. With respect to national refugees, in the strict sense of the term, who for one reason or another cannot resettle in their own country, any action on a substantial scale in which my Office might be invited to participate, would naturally have to be co-ordinated with the special representative of the Council of Europe for national refugees and over-population, which is more directly responsible for these refugees and has in any case already initiated some action on their behalf. However that may be, one point is worth stressing: that is the close interrelation between problems which, although differing in legal characteristics, still affect the economic and social life of the countries concerned and the refugees themselves in a like manner. World Refugee Year, which made it possible to furnish exceptional assistance to all groups of refugees, whether within the mandate or not, provides us with an excellent example, and, as it happens, one of positive value, as the Governments in some cases agree to accept sacrifices for the refugees within the mandate that they would not have accepted so easily if parallel assistance had not been given at the same time to other groups of refugees.
20. It is outside Europe, however, that UNHCR action on behalf of refugees not within the mandate might, it would seem, be destined to develop further in the future. It is there, in my opinion, that it would assume its full significance, precisely in so far as it would bear witness to the interest attached by the international community to problems which, although differing in legal characteristics or general context from those which the UNHCR is traditionally called upon to solve, are still human problems which must be dealt with as such.
21. However that may be, the general attitude to be adopted towards the new responsibilities deriving from the resolutions I have mentioned should, I think, meet a twofold concern: to ensure that, in compliance with the General Assembly's wish, this Office is ready at all times to deal with any new tasks which might be laid upon it by circumstances and to lay down, in agreement with the Executive Committee, appropriate arrangements for such measures as the provision of immediate financial assistance, commensurate of course with the Office's limited resources, but such as to enable the High Commissioner to cope, according to the means made available to him, with emergency situations where human lives are at stake. There is no need for me to repeat how convinced I am of the need to act in this instance with all the caution and realism called for by such a projection of my Office's activities into the future and into fields alien to its original normal aims but wholly in conformity with its humanitarian and social calling. Experience in various fields has already proved the feasibility and usefulness of UNHCR action. I shall speak of that experience later when document A/AC.96/122 comes up for discussion. I should merely like for the moment, by way of conclusion, to stress the tendency which, I think, has become clearly apparent within the General Assembly to want this Office's activities to be directed towards a more effective universality by stressing afresh the strictly humanitarian and social character of the mission entrusted to it and by permitting it in consequence to act outside unduly narrow legal formulae that do not always fit the new situations which the international community might possibly wish to deal with.
22. Such, in broad outline, is the way in which I conceive the present and future task of my Office. I should like, of course, to hear in due course the reactions of the members of the Committee and to learn whether the analysis I have just made for them accords with their views or concerns. I am fully aware, of course, of the extend to which the questions raised here may be matters to ponder over. But I was, I believe, in duty bound to submit this general outline to the Committee at this stage, since the task is there before us and we must begin at once to draw up the plans due to be submitted to the Committee at its future sessions.
23. I think it necessary also to stress finally that the views which will be expressed here and the conclusions that we shall reach, as regards both immediate programmes and any new line to be followed in this Office's future activities, will greatly facilitate the work of the United Nations General Assembly when it comes to assess those programmes and to decide whether or not the UNHCR's activities should be continued. When the Members of the United Nations come to define their attitude, they will probably be anxious to know as precisely as possible what would be involved by the continuation of the work of the UNHCR within the framework of the humanitarian mission that was originally entrusted to it by the General Assembly and which has until now guided its activities.
Annex II Statement by the High Commissioner on item 14 of the agenda "Other refugee problems" (made at the 47th meeting)
1. One of the items on the Committee's agenda which seems to me to merit especial attention is that of "other refugee problems". Document A/AC.96/122, which I have placed before your Committee, contains factual information in the main. To enable the Committee to deal with the "other refugee problems", it gives a general geographical account, describing the work of the Office of the High Commissioner both on behalf of refugees who come within the mandate and on behalf of other groups. The document deals, of course, only with those groups of refugees with which the Office of the High Commissioner has actually been called upon to concern itself up to the present time.
2. The document also raises the question of the possible use of the Emergency Fund for the benefit of refugees who, prima facie, do not come within the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner. I shall come Back to this point.
3. To begin with, I should like to review in a more general way the problems which appear to arise with respect to these other groups of refugees, the existing bases for action by the Office of the High Commissioner, and the principles which the Office might apply. Because this aspect of the office's work may become very significant in the future, I should like not only to place my views on the subject before the Committee but also, and more particularly, to hear the opinions of the representatives of the countries participating here which have always taken a special interest in refugee problems.
4. In my introductory statement I had occasion to air some very general considerations. I spoke on what might be called the philosophy of the matter. I should now like - in so far as it can be done at this stage - to clothe my thinking on the subject in specific terms and to consider certain practical - I might even call them prosaic - aspects.
5. If one reflects on the historical development of international efforts on behalf of refugees, first under the auspices of the League of Nations and later under those of the United Nations, one realizes that, while recognizing and developing certain principles, the international community has tackled the problems pragmatically, as and when they arose. In the refugee field, as in others, the facts gradually created the law.
6. The Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner, annexed to General Assembly resolution 428 (V) adopted late in 1950, defined the term "refugee" and laid down the terms of reference of the Office of the High Commissioner in language which confirmed certain principles of international action that at that time already had a fairly long history behind them. However, while defining legal principles in general and absolute terms, the Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner was essentially designed to organize, or rather to continue, international action on behalf of groups of refugees who, at the time, seemed to need that action most urgently. These are the refugees who might, in simplified terminology, be called "international political refugees" - the victims in Europe of the Second World War and of its aftermath. At the same time, however, the refugees who were already the subject of various international conventions concluded between the two world wars were not forgotten.
7. The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951, expressly refers, moreover, to "events occurring before 1 January 1951", and leaves it to each contracting State to specify whether, so far as it is concerned, it understands the expression "events occurring before 1 January 1951" to mean such events occurring "in Europe" or such events occurring "in Europe or elsewhere". I shall not at this point go more deeply into the analysis of the Statute and of the 1951 Convention; both instruments have helped to define, consolidate, and gain acceptance for, the major principles of international protection for refugees.
8. Again, it was realities which, only a few years after the adoption of the Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner, induced the United Nations General Assembly to broaden the field of activity of the Office by authorizing it to act with respect to groups not coming within the Statute or whose situation in relation to the Statute was not settled.
9. I am referring to General Assembly resolution 1167 (XII) concerning Chinese refugees in Hong Kong; this resolution recognized that the problem was "such as to be of concern to the international community" and authorized "the United Nations High Commissioner... to use his good offices to encourage arrangements for contributions". I am also thinking of General Assembly resolution 1388 (XIV), which authorized "the High Commissioner, in respect of refugees who do not come within the competence of the United Nations, to use his good offices in the transmission of contributions designed to provide assistance to these refugees".
10. I could cite in addition the General Assembly's resolutions relating to World Refugee Year which, prompted by purely humanitarian considerations, patently enlarge the scope of international action on behalf of refugees without any restrictions with respect to specific groups of refugees. In this connexion I should like to draw the Executive Committee's attention to resolution 1502 (XV) concerning World Refugee Year, adopted by the General Assembly on 5 December 1960, that is, after the end of this Committee's fourth session.
11. It was at the fifteenth session likewise, and likewise on 5 December 1960, that the General Assembly adopted resolution 1499 (XV), concerning the High Commissioner's report which seems to me to generalize the possibilities of action opened up by the expression "good offices" used in the earlier resolutions. I am referring in particular to the general tenor of the resolution, which, I may mention in passing, is briefly analysed in document A/AC.96/122, paragraph 38. I should like to draw your attention most particularly to the fact that, after noting "that...there still are considerable numbers of non-settled refugees, whose problems can be solved only by a further concentration of the efforts of the international community", the General Assembly invites States "to continue to devote attention to refugee problems still awaiting solution", more particularly by "continuing to consult with the High Commissioner in respect of measures of assistance to groups of refugees who do not come within the competence of the United Nations". These "measures of assistance to groups of refugees" clearly mean more than mere financial contributions, which were, if not the sole, at least the essential, concept embodied in resolutions 1167 (XII) and 1388 (XIV).
12. In adopting in recent years the resolutions to which I have just referred, the General Assembly, while wishing to ensure the continuance of legal assistance to refugees who are under the High Commissioner's mandate, realized the great diversity of the problems facing refugees who do not necessarily come within the definition in the Statute, the diverse needs of these groups of refugees, and the need to make international action possible or at all events to enable it to develop. In my opinion, there is no doubt that the General Assembly, in so doing, was thinking first and foremost of the financial, economic and social needs of other groups of refugees. However, the provisions of resolution 1499 (XV) show that the Assembly wished to maintain a relatively flexible attitude in this field.
13. The good offices mission entrusted to the High Commissioner's Office has already yielded tangible results, especially in the form of financial contributions; considerable sums have been received by the UNHCR for the benefit of various groups of refugees, particularly in Asia and Europe. I think it is unnecessary for me to repeat here the facts and figures shown in documents A/AC.96./122 and A/AC.96/115 on the status of contributions to UNHCR. A very clear expanding trend is moreover discernible in this field of activity. As was noted during the discussion of document A/AC.96/115, since the publication of the documents the Office has been able to assist in the financing of assistance projects for new groups of refugees not mentioned therein.
14. The good offices mission entrusted to the High Commissioner by the General Assembly in the resolutions cited above is evidence of a greater sense of international solidarity towards refugee problems. I think that the Assembly's chief aim must have been to offer operation for refugees could be facilitated, unhampered by strict definitions.
15. It is necessary however to consider the nature of the limitations on these opportunities for increased international action. The concept of good offices used by the General Assembly calls to mind in the first instance the role of intermediary between Governments. Indeed, I think that under the new resolutions the essential task of the Office as an agency acting in the interests of refugees is to assist and facilitate, sometimes even perhaps to encourage, collaboration between Governments.
16. In this context, I should stress one significant fact which is fully reflected in the expression "good offices": that the primary responsibility with regard to refugees within a State's territory lies with the Government of that State. It follows necessarily that, so far as the Office is concerned, the views and attitude of the authorities of the country where the refugees are physically present must be a determining factor. Similarly, it seems clear to me that the High Commissioner, in carrying out his good offices mission to promote co-operation between States, ought to act with all the necessary flexibility, caution and discretion. Any action on his part will only be useful, indeed will only be possible, if Governments bear in mind that such action is a constructive factor and in no wise a hindrance in their international relations.
17. I should also add that, in order to strengthen its role of intermediary between Governments, the Office can use its good offices also to promote contacts between Governments and voluntary agencies and even between voluntary agencies themselves. In this way, notably, the Office has succeeded in obtaining large financial contributions in conformity with its good offices mission.
18. Naturally, the Office uses its good offices solely for humanitarian and social purposes, as it has been doing from the outset, in accordance with the provisions of its Statute. The absence of political considerations is all the more conspicuous in that, with respect to "other" refugees, the General Assembly did not lay down any definition connecting a given group of refugees with some particular political event. This fact may make the essentially catalytic activities of the Office of the High Commissioner considerably easier by ensuring, I trust, that it will receive world-wide co-operation whenever a new refugee problem arises.
19. I would stress that by enlarging the scope of the Office's activities the United Nations General Assembly has placed at the disposal of the international community and more especially of the various Governments, an apolitical instrument for co-ordinating international action on behalf of new groups of refugees. I think we can feel certain that Governments wishing to contribute to the international effort for refugees will be glad to know that they can make use of an essentially non-political organ which, in certain cases, will ensure the maximum efficacy of the assistance provided and demonstrate its disinterested nature. I am tempted to regard this as one of the essential services which the UNHCR can provide, as one of the functions truly appropriate to the very nature of that international agency.
20. I shall not venture to predict the future development of the work of the UNHCR within the elastic framework that I have tried to outline here, on the basis of General Assembly documents. Needless to say, the Office is not seeking new tasks, though its function is such that it must be prepared to undertake any new tasks and cope with any new problems which may arise.
21. This does not mean that the Office of the High Commissioner should plunge blindly, so to speak, into any new problem at the sound of the word "refugee". Here, as elsewhere, great caution must be exercised. It is particularly important, I believe, for the High Commissioner to be sure that he is on firm ground; that is to say, able to rely on the support of the international community. In addition, a certain proportion must be maintained between the ways and means which are at the High Commissioner's disposal, or which he may reasonably expect to find at his disposal, on the one hand, and the magnitude of a particular new task, on the other. In the present phase of the work of the UNHCR, and in view of the possibly immense refugee problems which may arise, it would seem preferable for the UNHCR to concentrate mainly on strictly defined objectives. In a given situation, the action taken by the High Commissioner's office may well be marginal, that is to say, it might deal with only a limited but significant aspect of a situation which, taken as a whole, might overtax its capacity.
22. The specific role which the UNHCR can play in dealing with new refugee problems will in fact be determined mainly by events. It is significant in this respect that, shortly after the adoption of resolution 1499 (XV) and at about the time when I assumed my functions as High Commissioner, a Government addressed a request to the United Nations for assistance in dealing with a new refugee problem outside Europe, the region where the UNHCR has hitherto been mainly operating. I am referring to the problem of refugees in Cambodia, which is described in document A/AC.96/122, paragraphs 26-32.
23. I shall not repeat here what is stated in that document but I should like to draw the Committee's attention to the fact that the situation in Cambodia has not remained stationary since my special representative's visit there in January/February of this year. More refugees - some 2,000 - have arrived in Cambodia, from the Republic of Viet-Nam. In response to a further request by the Cambodian Government, I was able, thanks to the assistance of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to send another representative to the scene. The report I have just received corroborates on several points the report summarized in the document before you. However, the contribution which I have offered to the Cambodian Government, out of the Emergency Fund, does not seem to be adequate in view of this new development, and negotiations are now going on between the Cambodian Government and the UNHCR on this subject.
24. As is known, large numbers of people have recently entered the Republic of the Congo (Leopoldville) from neighbouring areas, as a result of disturbances there. According to the information I have received the organizations participating in relief work in the Republic of the Congo are also undertaking to supply generous assistance in this new situation. This question was recently brought to my attention and I am at present examining it.
25. Document A/AC.96/122 also refers, as I said earlier, to the problem of the Emergency Fund created under General Assembly resolution 1166 (XII). It mentions, inter alia, the possibility of using the Fund in new situations where the refugees would not appear to come prima facie within the mandate of the UNHCR or in situations where, despite the emergency character of the situation, a considerable period of time would be required to determine whether a given group of refugees is actually within the competence of the UNHCR according to its Statute.
26. An analysis of resolution 1166 (XII) and the directives made under that resolution by the UNREF Executive Committee at its eighth session, which were confirmed by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme at its first session (A/AC.96/8 and A/AC.96/20, paragraph 39), indicates that the Emergency Fund is intended to be used for refugees coming under the competence of the UNHCR within the meaning of the Statute. It is of course debatable to what extent this narrow interpretation, based though it is on the relevant text, is compatible with the emergency nature of the Fund, which is reflected in the title "Emergency Fund" given to this Fund in the original English version of resolution 1166 (XII). Still more important, in my view, is the fact that resolution 1166 (XII) governing the Emergency Fund was adopted by the General Assembly at its twelfth session in November 1957. Although the Assembly adopted the first "good offices" resolution - resolution 1167 (XII) - at the same time, this idea of good offices was then still quite new. It should therefore be noted that the principle underlying the Emergency Fund was settled before the full development in the General Assembly of the trends now reflected in resolutions 1388 (XIV) and 1499 (XV), on which I have spoken at length.
27. Consequently, in drawing the Executive Committee's attention to the possibilities of action to deal with new refugee situations which the Emergency Fund would seem to offer my purpose is to learn the Committee's views regarding the new situation facing the UNHCR in relation to refugee problems as a whole, rather than to ask it for an interpretation of existing texts. For my part, however, I believe that if the Executive Committee should desire greater freedom in the use of the Emergency Fund, the General Assembly's endorsement in the matter of the texts would be required.
28. The members of the Committee have no doubt observed my interest in these other refugee problems, particularly new refugee situations arising - or which might arise - outside Europe and, especially, the importance which I attach to ascertaining the views of the Committee regarding the role which the UNHCR should play in this sphere. In the course of the year I shall be reporting for the first time to the Economic and Social Council and then to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and I should like to be able to transmit to those bodies the views of the Executive Committee and any opinion which it may wish to express.
1 Henceforth the reporting period, which was previously from 1 May to 30 April, will be from 1 April to 31 March in order to facilitate the observance of the six weeks' rule governing the distribution of reports to the Economy and Social Council.
2 Resolution 1167 (XII), 1388 (XIV), 1499 ( XV).
3 See A/AC.96/78, paragraph 91, and A/AC.96/67, paragraphs 18 and 19.
4 This includes the Camp Clearance Programme and the Fund for special hardship cases which was instituted to provide solutions for those refugees in camps who for technical reasons had not previously come within the terms of reference of the Camp Clearance Programme and did not receive assistance under any other programme.
5 Official Records of the General Assembly, Fifteenth Session, Supplement No. 11 (A/4378/Rev.1) annex 4, paragraph 28.
6 The term refugee is being used lato sensu in this chapter.
7 Issued previously under the symbol of A/AC.96/127
8 1167 (XII), 1388 (XIV) and 1499 (XV).