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Statement by Mr. Felix Schnyder, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly at its twentieth session, 1 November 1965

Speeches and statements

Statement by Mr. Felix Schnyder, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly at its twentieth session, 1 November 1965

1 November 1965

In the course of the past two years, since November 1963 when I had the honour of submitting in this same Committee my report to the General Assembly, a number of important changes have taken place and have given a new direction to UNHCR activities, particularly as regards the material assistance it may have to grant to refugees and countries of asylum.

As you will remember, 1963 saw the beginning of both the last of the major programmes for "old" European refugees and the first current programme. This entirely provisional duality of programmes was far from accidental; on the contrary, it reflected what might be termed a new strategy in the approach to refugee problems and a deliberate attempt to clear away the 'residue of the past so as to enable UNHCR to devote its entire attention to problems of the immediate present. Since then, the Office has endeavoured to prosecute these twin tasks side by side. With each month, therefore, progress has been made the implementation of the last of the major aid programmes which is to be completed by 1966 except for certain residual, projects for which the completion dates have been extended to 1967. As for the new problems, it is the ones to be tackled under current aid programmes which, needless to say, have; led to the most spectacular developments, the most fraught with consequences of every kind. Indeed, at the very moment w he n the I tide of new' refugees in Europe was again starting to rise, Africa in turn was becoming the focal point of refugee problems of steadily increasing number, acuteness and magnitude. This sudden increase in the number of refugees on the African continent compelled UNHCR to readjust and adapt its activities, and this trend still continues.

Now what exactly has UNHCR done to meet the unprecedented demands created by this situation? Apart from winding up previous programmes, a task which, as I have said, is now nearing completion, it has endeavoured, in Europe, to speed up the process of integration or emigration so as to prevent any fresh accumulation of refugees in camps.

Outside Europe, although the problems are no different in essence from those with which it is normally concerned, the context in which they arose was obviously quite different. In addition to the usual difficulties connected with an influx of refugees into a country, there were problems which had to be expected in developing countries. In particular, the lack of food stocks which could be drawn on for as long as necessary, and the inadequacy of any local administrative organization and suchlike on which the activities of a non-operational body like UNHCR normally depends for the implementation of refugee integration programmes, were a very serious problem. As a consequence, increasing efforts had to be made to stimulate and assist Governments to deploy all their available resources and to attract the maximum assistance from outside.

This organized campaign, which had to be carried out within the shortest possible time, led to the gradual establishment of increasingly comprehensive and complex machinery in which Governments, the United Nations specialized agencies, the, voluntary agencies and. UNHCR, were all called upon to play their appropriate part. I think, Mr. Chairman, that I should at this point draw particular attention to the efforts made, in this confluence of goodwill, mobilized on behalf of refugees and asylum countries, by some of the United Nations specialized agencies, such as the ILO, FAO and the World Food Programme as well as, from time to time, by WHO and UNESCO. The various United Nations bodies already operating in these African countries, where they face a gigantic task, naturally lent UNHCR all the assistance in their power. Similarly the voluntary agencies made special efforts to come to the assistance of the African countries which were faced with distressing refugee problems or, if they were already engaged there, to intensify their efforts still further.

The last two years have therefore witness a remarkable development of international co-operation on behalf of refugees. And this development, which has happily helped to stimulate a steadily increasing number of countries to take a greater interest in and acquire a better understanding of humanitarian activities on behalf of refugees, has naturally been to a large extent inspired by UNHCR. But though the Office may be the motive and co-ordinating force of these activities, it is only one of the elements involved. And the aid programme which reflects, in concrete terms, its direct share in this work, represents only a tiny fraction of the amount spent every year on behalf of refugees.

In Africa, therefore, UNHCR has been obliged to introduce a number of innovations. Does that mean that it has departed from the traditional guiding lines laid down for it by this Assembly and by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner Programme? Certainly not. These guiding lines derive from the very nature of its activities, the basic objective of which remains, needless to say, the international protection of refugees. What UNHCR can do, therefore, in terms of assistance in the search for the permanent solutions referred to in its Statute, is of a strictly marginal nature. Based on voluntary contributions, in other words, on the spirit of solidarity which inspires all international activities on behalf of refugees, the aid programme is only the trigger, the stimulant for much broader scale action dependent first and foremost on the initiative and powers of sovereign Governments, which alone are in a position to assess and decide what can and should be done on their own territory to settle in an appropriate manner the problems created by an influx of refugees.

This role of stimulant, of co-ordinator, UNHCR has fulfilled with increasing efficacy in Africa and in Europe, in Latin America, and occasionally in Asia, as is evidenced by the results achieved in Togo, the Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal and the Central African Republic.

Such work, however, remains precariously based, since it is subject on the one hand to the vicissitudes of political events beyond any control of UNHCR, and on the other hand, to the active and continuing goodwill both of the Governments concerned and of its other partners representing the international community, namely, Governments and inter-governmental organizations, and other public or private international organizations whose co-operation is vital to an undertaking of this kind. The utmost vigilance is therefore needed to prevent interest from waning and to ensure that the machinery for International co-operation thus established amidst innumerable difficulties does not gradually lose its effectiveness.

At this point, Mr. Chairman, I should like to renew the appeal I addressed to Governments barely a 'Month ago at the Executive Committee's recent session. As a result of the present proliferation of refugee problems and consequently of the increasing obligations devolving on UNHCR, it has been necessary to raise the financial target of the programme from $3 million in 1964 to $3.5 million in 1965 and $3.9 million in 1966. This year's aid budget shows a deficit of over $500,000 and unless this is made up by a substantial increase in the regular contributions from Governments, next year it may reach $1 million, and at that figure the whole of - the' UNHCR activities would inevitably be compromised. The programme, as I have said, represents only a tiny fraction of the total effort being made on behalf of refugees. But we must not forget that it is both the instigator and the mainstay of this effort, and that, without it, the entire edifice would quickly crumble. In other words, the work of international solidarity which, as I said a moment ago has developed to such an extent, and notably in - Africa where, starting from nothing, it has now taken shape, must today pay the price of its own success. On this condition and on this condition alone will it be able to continue to fulfil its vital task and all the effort that has been put into assembling, piece by piece, the various constituent parts will not have been in vain. From thirty-five in 1963, the number of countries contributing funds for UNHCR activities has increased to nearly sixty today. But in many cases, these are merely token contributions. A universal task ought to receive the universal support which purely humanitarian activities such as those of UNHCR can legitimately expect. As for those countries which have hitherto been most closely associated with this work, they will, I am sure, certainly desire, as is shown by the announcement some have already made of increased contributions for 1966, to ensure that the results achieved thanks to their steadfast support are not compromised on one day to the next. I therefore await with obvious anxiety but also with confidence, the decisions on this question shortly to be announced at this Assembly, by those Governments which are prepared to be associated with our work.

At this point in my statement I should also like to say a few words about a private initiative which, although in no way intended as a substitute for government assistance, is nevertheless calculated to give to the work of international solidarity supported by UNHCR a new impulse and new resources. Under the Chairmanship of H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, a Working Group of representatives of various European voluntary agencies has been set up and has decided to launch a campaign next year to raise money for refugees. It will be a one-week press, radio and television campaign in all the countries concerned, and the intention is to provide assistance mainly for refugees in Africa and Asia. As a mark of the importance it attaches to United Nations activities on behalf of refugees, the Working Group has chosen 24 October 1966, which is United Nations Day, as the starting date for the campaign. The Assembly will, I believe, Mr. Chairman, appreciate the reasons for this choice. Nothing, in my opinion, can bring out more clearly the real significance of United Nations Day than initiatives of this kind. The generosity and remarkable spirit of solidarity by which such initiatives are unquestionably inspired bring a new meaning to United Nations Day; they demonstrate clearly the vitality of the ideals which are the glory of our great Organization and find in them the most felicitous and tangible expression that can be conceived. I am therefore sure that the Assembly will wish to examine sympathetically the recommendation by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme that, in 1966, United Nations Day be designated as a day dedicated to the cause of refugees.

Having emphasized, a few moments ago, the development of international co-operation on behalf of refugees a development well illustrated by the initiative I have just mentioned - I feel it is desirable, Mr. Chairman, that I should also draw attention to the increasingly active interest in this work taken by regional organizations, such as the Council of Europe, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Organization of American States (OAS). Quite recently, the Human Rights Committee of the Organization of American States held a meeting, at - which my Office was represented for the consideration of refugee problems The observer status granted by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme to OAS opens up valuable opportunities for the development of our relationships with that organization, while the links established over a year ago with the Organization of African Unity have been steadily strengthened. And I have no doubt that the arrival in Addis Ababa of a UNHCR representative in the near future will provide an opportunity for even further consolidation. That organization has already indicated a desire that my Office should be associated with the preparation of the Convention on African Refugees which is now being drawn up. This has just been confirmed by the resolutions adopted at Accra by the Heads of State and Heads of Government and by the OAU Council of Ministers. In this way it will be possible to fulfil one of the basic aims of such co-operation, which is to harmonize government interest at the regional level with the universal interest on which United Nations activities on behalf of refugees is founded. Another no less significant fact is that the concern expressed in these resolutions rightly echoes the concern which has continually been expressed by UNHCR in its efforts to inculcate an understanding and acceptance of the necessity for maintaining and insisting on the non-political character of international work for refugees. Indeed, refugee 'Problems can be overcome and prevented from becoming a source of disputes between States only if they are stripped of their political aspect and handled without reference to the causes which gave rise to them. For us, that is both a self-evident truth and an absolute rule deriving from the strictly humanitarian nature of the task entrusted to UNHCR by the General Assembly. We cannot therefore but be gratified when the African States explicitly endorse the twofold principle that to grant should not in itself be regarded as an unfriendly act - certainly not as a hostile action towards the refugees' country of origin, and that refugees, in turn, must not become the instruments of a policy of aggression or intrusion directed against their country of origin.

Lastly, with regard to the Council of Europe, it has been so long associated with the efforts of UNHCR to bring about a steady improvement in the status of refugees that there is not need to dwell on the valuable and effective assistance which it has always and in all circumstances been prepared to offer. Similarly, it has not hesitated on occasion to bring to the notice of its members the difficulties faced by our Office in financing our programmes and in this way has helped us to see them carried out.

Before leaving the aid programme, Mr. Chairman, there are a number of points to which it seems desirable t draw the attention of the Third Committee and which concern the objectives of UNHCR's activities, as well as their form and repercussions, in those new areas of the world to which it has now been forced by events to transfer its operations.

If we consider the principal features of refugee problems in Africa, especially when compared with those to which UNHCR was accustomed in Europe, there two which stand out immediately. The first is the need for quick action. Very often it is a question of nothing less than saving the lives of thousands of refugees who have been completely stripped of all resources. Prompt and effective action is the only way of preventing refugee problems, in the particular context in which they arise, from getting rapidly out of control for an indefinite period, and thus becoming a cause of serious concern to the Governments of host countries, and even of dangerous friction with neighbouring countries. That means that the steps taken to remedy them must be as simple, flexible and effective as possible. Thanks to the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly, it has been possible in recent years, on the basis of the "good offices" idea originally used for refugee groups outside the High Commissioner's mandate, to develop a new procedure adapted to the special conditions applying in the countries where the new refugee problems are to be found. In the present case, the accepted meaning of "good offices", which usually refers to the occasional and limited role of a voluntary intermediary, has been slightly extended, since following the adoption of resolution 1473 (XVI), this term now covers the whole of UNHCR's activities on behalf of new refugee groups. These groups, provided they possess the essential characteristics of refugees coming within the High Commissioner's mandate, are now entitled without restriction to the benefit of the High Commissioner's services, both aid and protection, without Governments having first to determine their eligibility in each individual case, which in present conditions - would be an impossible task.

Furthermore, the time factor is so important in such cases that only specific measures, distinct from those of broader scope and longer duration which form part of efforts to promote the economic and social developments of the countries in question, can lead to an effective solution of these problems.

On the other hand, the various specialized agencies of the United Nations are a priori competent, within their particular spheres of activity, to take over to some extent from UNHCR when the refugees have reached the stage of being able to provide for their most elementary needs themselves. At this point, in fact, the special problems which may result from, their presence cannot, for obvious reasons be solved separately from the problems affecting the population as a whole. The line we have always taken, a line dictated both by the traditional position of the Office and by an objective analysis of its possibilities of action, is that the only possible approach to this particular situation is to continue our special efforts on behalf of refugees until the problem they present becomes to some extent merged with the more general problem of the economic and social development of the country concerned. In my opinion, Mr. Chairman, this is the only realistic position; it is the only one which is in keeping with the necessarily limited resources available to an agency like UNHCR, whose competence is, as you know, confined to refugees covered by a specific definition and which is neither, designed nor equipped to tackle the problems of under-development itself.

It is nevertheless impossible to disregard the need to concern ourselves with the fate of refugees after the completion of the projects designed to supply them with the basic elements of what I might call a subsistence economy, that is to say, to enable them to provide for their most immediate vital needs by their own efforts. UNHCR has therefore endeavoured, in collaboration with the Governments concerned and with the competent international organizations (the ILO and FAO in particular), to find ways and means of consolidating settlement which were in many cases clearly precarious. It is obvious that the arrival of refugees, sometimes in large numbers, in areas where the level of living of the population is still very low could in general only have the effect of increasing, indeed of exacerbating, at least for a time, the problems resulting from under-development. This new factor introduced by the influx of refugees into a given area has therefore created an opportunity, if not an imperative obligation, to institute or to accelerate a more or less long-term process aimed at improving the situation of the local populations as a whole. In order to facilitate and above all to speed up implementation, UNHCR, with the approval OF the Executive Committee, has agreed to make a financial contribution, limited both with respect to time and amount, and corresponding to the share of this larger undertaking that would initially be for the benefit of refugees. It has done so, for instance, in the case of the regional development programme organized by the ILO, in co-operation with UNHCR and FAO, in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Such action to improve the situation of refugees will not only ensure that they do not, sooner or later, again present a problem for both the international community and the host country; it will also enable them to play an effective part in developing the resources of the countries where they have found asylum, so that, far from continuing to be a burden to them, they will make an active and useful contribution to their future prosperity.

It is not my intention, Mr. Chairman to give the Committee a detailed account of the different problems to which I have just referred. Since I have mainly been concerned to show how UNHCR views these problems and how it has tackled them with a view to helping Governments to find a solution, I should merely like briefly to review the situation in the areas where conditions have been most difficult or critical during the past months.

First of all, despite new arrivals, the more than 200,000 refugees from Angola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have not presented any major problem following the efforts made to facilitate their settlement. I need hardly say that we are still continuing to concern ourselves in various ways with their situation. On the other hand, in the case of the refugees from Rwanda, who are concentrated in Kivu province, an area which has been particularly exposed to civil strife, the situation has not developed as favourably as we might have wished. Th is partly due to the fact that the deportation order made in respect of these refugees still remains in force; although it has not been carried into effect, it nevertheless keeps them in a state of insecurity. This measure has thus virtually precluded the further progress with the regional development plan drawn up by the ILO, which is intended to consolidate their settlement. Finally at the recent session oil the Executive Committee, the Observer for the Congo drew attention to the existence of some 10,000 Sudanese refugees in the north-eastern part of the country and stated that his Government intended to appeal for international assistance for their settlement.

In Burundi, after some uncertainty caused by internal events, the settlement of most of the Rwandese refugees who have sought asylum in that country is now proceeding smoothly. Provided that general conditions within the country remain favourable, such settlement will undoubtedly continue to make satisfactory progress as is the case in the Mugera area, where 25,000 Rwandese refugees are now being settled. In Uganda, a country which is giving asylum to some 85,000 refugees, not including 34,000 Congolese the present situation is marked by a steady influx of Sudanese refugees, who at present probably number about 30,000. The programmes already approved by the Executive Committee are still being carried out both for the Sudanese refugees and for the Rwandese refugees; 10,000 of the latter are awaiting proposals for a permanent solution, a matter which is now under study by the Government. Apart from the 12,000 Rwandese refugees already settled in the Republic of Tanzania, progress is being made with the settlement both of the 3,000 Rwandese refugees transferred from Kivu and of the 10,000 or so refugees from Mozambique in the southern part of the country.

In Senegal, approximately 30,000 refugees from Portuguese Guinea are also in the process of being resettled in the province of Casamance at a level comparable to that of the local populations. The Executive Committee has also approved a programme for some 20,000 new arrivals.

Lastly, we recently learned that there has been an influx of Sudanese refugees into the Central African Republic since last spring. At the Government's request, an official from my Office will visit that country in the near future to discuss possible measures with the Government.

Before closing this chapter on Africa, I must say a wordy Mr. Chairman, about the problem posed by the presence in Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and the Central African Republic of a relatively large number of Congolese who have come to seek what is thought to be temporary refuge in those countries. The majority of them seem to be anxious to return to their own country as soon as they can safely do so when calm has returned to the region where they used to live. Despite requests from most of the countries in question, UNHCR could not consider taking any action until the situation of these Congolese had been clarified from the legal and practical point of view. At my suggestion, therefore, the International Committee of the Red Cross has kindly sent one of its best qualified representatives to the area, where he has tried, through appropriate contacts between' the Governments of the countries of asylum and the countries of origin to encourage repatriation, which in most cases seems to be the right solution. One cannot, however, a priori exclude at least the possibility that these Congolese may include individuals, who, because of the events in which they have been involved, are justified in claiming refugee status. With the approval of the Executive Committee, therefore, UNHCR has thought it necessary, in Uganda and in Burundi, to grant such refugees limited assistance, which is particularly intended for women and children.

It is interesting to note in this connexion that the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has taken the initiative to entrust to ad hoc missions the responsibility of organizing the repatriation of those of its nationals who are willing to return to their country. It is to be hoped that this initiative will succeed and will be extended to other countries where Congolese have sought temporary refuge, thereby bringing this problem to an end.

In most of the countries which I have just mentioned, Mr. Chairman, the attitude of the Governments, their desire to co-operate and their willingness to solve the problems arising from a generally liberal and generous policy of asylum have been a source of encouragement and reassurance to UNHCR. I do not doubt that, with the help of the international community, they will in fact succeed in solving these problems in the near future. Then, and only then, will the refugees to whom they have so generously opened their doors cease to be a source of concern to them and become, there as elsewhere, a factor of enrichment and progress.

To give refugees who cannot be, or have no wish to be, repatriated the means of establishing themselves in the receiving countries as quickly and smoothly as possible, so that they soon cease to be a problem to those countries and are themselves assured of decent living conditions such is also indeed the aim pursued by the High Commissioner's Office in carrying out its mission of protection. For, it must be repeated, that mission is a basic one, from which all the others derive. As will be remembered, it was essentially to overcome the special handicap to which the refugees are subject in their daily lives - because they have no effective national protection that, fifteen years ago now, the General Assembly established the High Commissioner's Office, and gave it the task of inducing Governments to grant the refugees an adequate status.

One of the most obvious signs of progress in this direction is certainly the steady increase in the number of countries acceding to the Convention of 28 July 1951, which clarifies just this question of the minimum legal status which refugees are to be granted. It is my pleasure, therefore, Mr. Chairman, to inform the Committee that the accession of Jamaica, Liberia, Peru and the Republic of Tanzania, which took place last year, has been followed by the recent accession of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bringing the total number of signatory countries to forty-eight. Moreover, this figure should be increased by about a dozen newly independent countries, which, although they have not yet acceded formally to the Convention, nevertheless consider themselves, in fact, to be bound by it.

Still on the subject of the 1951 Convention, I would also mention that following the Colloquium held in April 1965 at Bellagio (Italy) about which I wrote in my report the idea has been broached of a Protocol to remedy the consequences of the dateline which is stipulated in the Convention, and which restricts its effects most unfortunately ratione personae. Before taking any action in this matter, however, I thought it useful to sound out the Governments most directly concerned - i.e., those of the countries signatories to the Convention and those of the countries members of the Executive Committee as to their views, and this preliminary inquiry is now being undertaken. I trust it will enable us to find an appropriately simple and rapid procedure for eliminating without delay a provision in the Convention which today constitutes an anachronism.

But while the Convention, or Refugee Charter, as it has been called, provides the High Commissioner with an extremely valuable jumping-off ground in his constant efforts to improve the legal status of refugees, his activities are of course, by no means limited to this aspect of refugee problems. They extend to many other circumstances and departments by which the refugees are affected to freedom of movement, for example, or, what is even more important, to the granting of *entry visas to refugees wishing to emigrate to countries likely to offer them the best chances of making a new life for themselves. In Europe, hitherto the main scene of such migratory movements to countries beyond the Atlantic, close co-ordination between the different authorities concerned (Governments, the High Commissioner's Office, the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, and voluntary agencies) has made it possible to organize efficiently and expeditiously the transfer of refugees and their families to the countries of destination. But all this machinery would have been ineffective had not the High Commissioner previously succeeded in inducing the main immigration countries to increase their quotas, liberalize their immigration requirements particularly as regards age and health, and also to adopt special programmes on behalf of the most seriously handicapped refugees. The efforts made along these lines over a period of almost ten years, helped in large measure by the enthusiastic climate created with the inauguration in 1959 of that great and beneficient undertaking, the World Refugee Year, have gradually borne fruit. Together with the efforts made, either inside or outside the assistance programme, by the European countries themselves, and backed by the new facilities granted to refugees who are increasingly being given the same treatment as nationals so far as concerns the application of intra-European agreements on such matters as the free movement of workers these efforts have led to a solution of the harrowing problem of the refugee camps, in which men, women and children were gathering in increasing numbers from year to year. Whether in the sphere of local integration or in that of immigration, therefore, I think I may claim that the progress achieved has been impressive. Nevertheless, the present influx of new refugees in some European countries poses serious problems, both for the countries of asylum and for the machinery of international co-operation, which is sometimes put to severe test. Constant care remains necessary as regards both eligibility procedure and material aid, if these difficulties are to be prevented from becoming more acute. May I take this opportunity of expressing my satisfaction at the recommendation recently adopted by the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe which usefully recalls the principles governing the right of asylum, to which the members of that organization are so profoundly attached. I should also like to express the satisfaction we felt last summer at the announcement of the new Immigration Act by the President of the United States of America. I trust that this Act, based as it is on liberal principles, will further facilitate the' resettlement of refugees in that great country where so many have already been given the opportunity to live.

Lastly, the Office has not lost sight of the important question of refugees who we're victims of Nazi persecution because of their nationality. Negotiations have been started with the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany concerning the possible establishment of a new fund for indemnifying refugees who sustained damages other than those covered by the Act recently adopted by the Federal Parliament. Although these negotiations have not yet led to a successful conclusion, we are still trying.

These few examples, Mr. Chairman, will, I think, suffice to show that protection continues to receive very careful attention by the High Commissioner's Office. Far from being eclipsed by the sometimes burning problems of assistance which at present beset the African continent after having been to the forefront in Europe, the efforts to provide protection have drawn new strength and impetus from the geographical extension of our activities. Although assistance at first played a preponderant part in action to deal with the new refugee problems, it was not long before questions of protection also arose. Take, for example, the expulsion order issued against the Rwanda refugees in the Congo. Many urgent representations have since been made on the subject of this order, both because of what it is and because of its practical consequences. Generally speaking, therefore, the functions of the High Commissioner's Office have been clarified by the action taken on new theatres of operation: the role of the Office has been presented in clearer and truer perspective to the international community as a whole.

In concluding this statement, Mr. Chairman, I cannot do better than refer to the decision unanimously adopted at its recent session by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, after the statement I had made concerning the present state of refugee problems and the efforts of my Office to help in solving them. As the decision in question is included in the Committee's report, which appears as an addendum to my report to the Assembly (A/601/Rev.1/Add.1), I do net propose to read it out in full, but will merely quote a few passages which seem to me to be of special significance. After noting the increasing scope of the refugee problems which are facing the UNHCR in various parts of the world, the Committee expressed its serious concern at the difficulties with which the UNHCR is confronted in meeting the financial target of its current programmes, and warmly supported all efforts which the High Commissioner might make to overcome these difficulties. Having paid a tribute to the work accomplished by the High Commissioner's office and to the contribution which it makes to alleviate the suffering of refugees and at the same time to maintain' peaceful and harmonious relations between States, the Committee endorsed the principles and methods enunciated in my introductory statement, and stressed in particular the importance it attaches to the humanitarian and non-political approach of the UNHCR and to the catalytic role of its programme of assistance. Finally, recognizing that in a number of areas the refugee problems confronting the High Commissioner are increasing in number, scope and complexity, the Committee considered that the High Commissioner should renew his appeal to the members of the General Assembly to support further the humanitarian work of his Office in the field of protection and assistance to refugees.

This appeal, Mr. Chairman, I made some moments age to the delegates here present. They will have sensed, I imagine, the deep concern of this Office regarding, in particular, the financing of the programme and the urgency of my request to put an end to a situation which, if it were to continue, might jeopardize or undo what, at no small cost, has so far been achieved.