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Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Executive Committee Meetings

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

1 August 1986
Language versions:

United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Forty-first Session

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No. 12 (A/41/12)


1. In the period under review, UNHCR faced the challenge of attaining durable solutions to refugee problems in the midst of a major emergency in Africa and the persistence of difficult situations in many parts of the world. Wherever feasible, relief efforts were complemented by self-sufficiency activities, in order to limit the need for prolonged care and maintenance programmes. In the field of international protection, certain encouraging developments in respect of improved standards of treatment of refugees were offset by mounting concern over the movements of refugees across continents and over the grant of asylum. Violations of the physical safety of refugees again continued to cause grave anxiety. The need to identify new responses to the problems posed by the exodus of asylum-seekers fleeing situations of generalized violence rather than individual persecution also became apparent.

2. The African emergency, in which UNHCR confronted a situation of mass exodus in the midst of severe drought and famine, absorbed a major proportion of the office's energies in 1985, particularly in the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan. The emergency remained a major preoccupation in 1986: on 25 February the High Commissioner launched an appeal to the international community to fund a $80.7 million programme for emergency assistance in Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan.

3. While the emergency represented a serious setback to the hopes expressed at the July 1984 second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa of new funding for the developmental and infrastructural requirements of countries hosting refugees, UNHCR continued its efforts to link the issues of refugee aid and development by pursuing exploratory talks on possible projects in Africa on the model of the UNHCR-World Bank pilot project in Pakistan. With a growing number of Afghan refugees, Pakistan remained the country hosting the largest single refugee population significant numbers of refugees from Afghanistan also remained in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In South-East Asia, resettlement remained the main durable solution for refugees in camps, though an increasing number of Indo-Chinese "long-stayers" awaiting resettlement caused concern. UNHCR assisted some 112,000 refugees in Central America and Mexico through a combination of care and maintenance in camps and rural self-sufficiency programmes. In Europe, the negative public reaction to the arrivals of larger numbers of refugees and asylum-seekers from other continents became an increasing cause of concern.

4. As part of its endeavour to achieve durable solutions to the problems of refugees, UNHCR promoted several voluntary repatriation movements. These included the continuation of the UNHCR programmes of repatriation of Lao refugees from Thailand, Ugandan refugees from the Sudan and Zaire and Argentine refugees from other countries in Latin America. A rehabilitation project for Ethiopian returnees in Hararghe had to be suspended in view of the severe drought, and relief assistance provided instead. major local integration activities were also undertaken in a number of countries. Resettlement in third countries remained the primary solution for Indo-Chinese refugees, some 58,350 of whom were resettled during 1984. An additional 24,940 were reunited with their family members abroad under the Orderly Departure Programme, which reached the milestone of 100,000 orderly departures in December 1985.

5. As in previous years, UNHCR continued to lay considerable emphasis on enhanced co-operation with other United Nations agencies. Non-governmental organizations were also of considerable assistance to UNHCR as operational partners, as well as in undertaking major activities on behalf of refugees in the fund-raising and public information fields.

6. UNHCR's overall expenditure in 1985 amounted to $459 million, including some $282 million under General Programmes and $177 million under Special Programmes and other Trust Funds. The trend towards a high proportion of General Programmes expenditure, which had been noted in previous years, came to an end in view of increased emergency needs. For the first time in UNHCR's history, however, the General Programmes were not fully funded, and approved programmes had to be cut on all continents.

7. Following the retirement of Mr. Poul Hartling (Denmark) as High Commissioner for Refugees at the end of 1985, Mr. Jean-Pierre Hocké (Switzerland) was elected by the United Nations General Assembly and assumed office on 1 January 1986.


A. Introduction

8. The High Commissioner's action in the field of international protection is founded on the shared interest of States in ensuring that refugees are treated according to accepted humanitarian standards. The full support and understanding of States is therefore a sine qua non for the successful accomplishment of the High Commissioner's task. Today's refugee situations increasingly affect countries in all parts of the world, as evidenced by growing transcontinental movements of refugees and asylum-seekers. It is becoming increasingly clear that only concerted international action can create conditions in which it is generally possible to provide adequate solutions for refugee problems and, at the same time, to facilitate the High Commissioner's task of providing international protection. The identification of appropriate solutions also demands a clear understanding of the underlying factors that give rise to refugee situations and refugee movements and the respective responsibilities of States in this regard.

9. The source of many of today's refugee movements is increasingly that of generalized violence rather than individually experienced persecution - or fear thereof - as defined in the United Nations Convention of 1951 Relating to the Status of Refugees1 and its Protocol of 1967.2 In this sense, many of today's refugee problems differ in nature and scope from those prevalent at the time the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established. There is an urgent need to identify new ways in which these problems can be solved in an appropriate and humane manner.

10. The relevance of these considerations was particularly apparent in Europe during the reporting period. Increased numbers of non-European refugees continued to arrive in European States. Their problems and those of the States and the individuals concerned were the subject of a series of consultations convened by the High Commissioner in an effort to identify practical and humane solutions.

11. In the Middle East and Asia, no major new developments occurred during the reporting period. In general, countries in these regions offered only temporary asylum to refugees and asylum-seekers, either on condition that they be resettled in third countries or until such time as a voluntary return to the country of origin could be envisaged. In both instances, the majority of the persons concerned had to stay in refugee camps during the intervening period.

12. A different situation continued to prevail in Africa where liberal practices on asylum were followed by most States. Thus, the majority of the world's refugee population today, which is located on the African continent, continued to benefit from durable asylum.

13. In the American hemisphere, the situation of Central American refugees continued to be the main source of concern to UNHCR. There, the majority of refugees live in camps often located near the refugee's country of origin, which creates a potential for the conflict to "spill over" across frontiers and renders more complex the execution of UNHCR's non-political and humanitarian mandate. It may be added that similar situations exist in certain countries in Africa and Asia.

14. In general, though the protection problems arising during the reporting period have continued to be of great complexity, States have made considerable efforts to ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers are treated according to accepted international standards.

15. However, such fundamental issues as the physical safety of refugees and even their very survival have unfortunately assumed greater importance during the last few years and remain among the most serious challenges confronting the international community in the area of international protection.

B. Principles of international protection and refugee rights

1. Asylum

16. Asylum is both an attribute of State sovereignty and the most essential need of the refugee if he is to enjoy his basic human rights. For this reason, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights3 embodies the principle that everyone has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. This principle predates any of the current international refugee instruments and in many parts of the world can be traced back to the beginning of civilization. More recently the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights devotes its article 9 to the Right of Asylum.4

17. The dramatic increases of previous years in the number of refugees seeking asylum were not repeated during the period under review. Even so, large numbers of asylum-seekers requested and obtained asylum and many countries in all areas of the world continued to maintain fair and generous asylum practices. It is heartening that out of more than 10 million refugees registered in the world today, almost all have been granted at least temporary asylum.

18. As indicated above, many current refugee situations involve persons who have been displaced from their countries owing to situations of armed conflict, foreign aggression or occupation or internal upheavals accompanied by serious human rights violations. There is now a growing recognition in all parts of the world that persons in this latter category should be protected from danger through the granting of at least temporary asylum until such time as conditions in their country of origin permit their safe return. This position was also reconfirmed at the Consultations on the Arrivals of Asylum-Seekers and Refugees in Europe convened by UNHCR at Geneva in May 1985.

19. A number of developments in the field of asylum continue, however, to give rise to concern: the adoption by a growing number of States of restrictive and deterrent measures such as the prolonged detention of asylum-seekers; the adoption of summary procedures - sometimes not accompanied by adequate legal guarantees - for dealing with "abusive" or "manifestly unfounded" claims; the refusal to examine asylum requests based either on a strict application of the notion of "country of first asylum" or on a reluctance to consider granting asylum to certain groups of refugees because of the fear of compromising bilateral relations with their countries of origin, particularly if these latter are neighbouring States. Some States have also resorted to an unduly strict interpretation of the term "refugee" as defined in the 1951 United Nations Convention and its 1967 Protocol, coupled sometimes with the requirement that the asylum-seeker bear an unduly heavy burden of proof.

20. A problem which received considerable attention from the international community was that of refugees and asylum-seekers who moved from a country where they had allegedly found protection, to seek asylum or a durable solution in another without having sought the consent of the national authorities of that country. Such movements also involved persons travelling without an entry visa; in some cases such persons carried insufficient, false or fraudulent documentation, or even no documentation at all. In several instances refugees and asylum-seekers wilfully destroyed or disposed of their documentation apparently in order to mislead the authorities of the country of arrival as to their previous sojourn in other countries where they may already have found protection.

21. Almost all the receiving countries expressed growing concern at this phenomenon. At the same time, however, it was clear that basic protection was not always being provided in the countries from which these persons travelled, nor did minimum human standards of treatment always prevail. Similarly, durable solutions were usually not available in these countries.

22. Apart from creating problems between Governments, these movements had the effect of undermining public support and understanding in receiving countries for the special situation and needs of refugees. UNHCR has therefore been actively involved in the examination of this question, notably in the Executive Committee at its thirty-sixth session. While no conclusions have yet been agreed upon, the High Commissioner is continuing his consultations, at the request of the Executive Committee, with a view to reaching agreement on this matter in a spirit of international co-operation and burden-sharing between States.5

2. Non-refoulement

23. The principle of non-refoulement requires that no person shall be subjected to such measures as rejection at the border, or, if he has already entered the territory, expulsion or compulsory return to any country where he may have reason to fear persecution or serious danger resulting from unsettled conditions or civil strife. This principle has been embodied in a number of international instruments, both universal and regional, and has been incorporated in the national legislation of a number of countries. During the reporting period, the principle received strong endorsement at the regional level by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) at its meeting in Colombia in December 1985. During the European Consultations (see para. 18), the participating States agreed that persons fleeing severe internal upheavals and armed conflicts should receive humane treatment and not be returned against their will to areas where they may be exposed to danger.

24. Although the principle of non-refoulement has been scrupulously adhered to by the majority of States, there have nevertheless been instances of violations affecting both individuals and groups in different parts of the world. It is estimated that thousands of individuals were refouled during the reporting period. Although many of the victims of such violations were recognized refugees, the vast majority were persons whose status had yet to be determined. In one instance, a country forcibly returned some 200 asylum-seekers to their country of origin and another "pushed back" close to 1,000 asylum-seekers.

25. With regard to situations of this kind, it is important to note that the principle of non-refoulement should apply even though the persons concerned have not been formally recognized as refugees., This interpretation was confirmed by the twenty-eighth session of the Executive Committee which reaffirmed "... the fundamental importance of the observance of the principle of non-refoulement whether or not they have been formally recognized as refugees6

3. Expulsion

26. Article 32 of the United Nations Convention of 1951 recognizes that circumstances may arise justifying the expulsion of a refugee who is lawfully in the territory of a Contracting State. Although expulsion does not have such serious implications as refoulement, it may lead nevertheless to severe hardship for a refugee and could have particularly serious consequences for the refugee's family. it is recalled that article 32 limits the grounds on which a refugee may be expelled to those of "national security and public order" and it is generally accepted that expulsion measures should only be taken in serious cases. in line with this view, the Executive Committee at its twenty-eighth session recommended that expulsion should only be resorted to in very exceptional cases and after due consideration of all the circumstances, including the possibility of the refugee being admitted to a country other than his country of origin ... ".7

27. Nevertheless, during the reporting period, refugees in a number of countries were subjected to expulsion measures in contravention of article 32 of the 1951 United Nations Convention. In certain instances refugee delinquents, some of whom had already served their sentences, were issued expulsion or deportation orders through the application of ordinary national legislation or administrative regulations without their special situation being taken into account. In one country, however, where such practices had been adopted in the past, expulsion orders against refugees who had served their sentences were rescinded and these refugees were allowed to continue to enjoy asylum.

28. In the previous report it was mentioned that some States had refused, or withdrawn, asylum in order to maintain friendly relations with the countries of origin of refugees which were seeking their return or expulsion. It is gratifying to note that this practice recurred only rarely during the reporting period. In one region, however, and as a result of pressure exerted by the country of origin, several hundred refugees were expelled from their countries of asylum, where some of them had lawfully resided for a considerable number of years.

29. Finally, as in the previous reporting period, a number of States continued to resort to measures of expulsion with respect to asylum-seekers without regard to their possible refugee character, merely on the grounds of their illegal entry or presence and without due regard to article 31 of the United Nations Convention of 1951 which, under certain conditions, prohibits the imposition of penalties, on account of such illegal entry or presence, on refugees coming directly from a territory where they fear persecution.

4. Detention

30. During the reporting period many thousands of individual refugees in all areas of the world were detained for no other reason than that of illegal entry or for having overstayed the validity of their entry visa and without regard to the circumstance that such irregular entry or presence was due exclusively to the need to find asylum. While in some instances it may be understandable that individual asylum-seekers are detained during an initial period after entry in order to establish their identity and the bona fide character of their claim to asylum, the indeterminate deprivation of liberty beyond such an initial period is unjustifiable. Exceptions to this rule would require such serious reasons as national security or public order, or the likelihood that the asylum-seeker may abscond before his claim to refugee status can be judged. At the same time a positive trend was detected in a limited number of countries where several hundreds of asylum-seekers who had been held in indefinite detention, sometimes for as long as three to four years, were released and the practice of these States of automatically detaining asylum-seekers was further curtailed.

31. A related problem encountered by UNHCR in some countries was the lack of access to asylum-seekers in detention, who had not been informed that UNHCR was available to assist them. The conditions of detention were also a cause for concern in several countries where asylum-seekers were detained under extremely harsh and sometimes inhuman conditions. Some detainees had been severely tortured and needed medical treatment.

32. Problems relating to the detention of refugees have also arisen in the context of "irregular movements" when, because there was no agreement between the Governments concerned, it did not prove possible to return refugees to the country where they were supposed to have found protection. In such instances, refugees had to face the prospect of remaining in detention for an indeterminate period.

33. In a number of large-scale influx situations, several States automatically confined refugees and asylum-seekers to camps under conditions equivalent to that of detention. In fact, a distressingly large number of refugee camps in all parts of the world have acquired the characteristics of detention centres, where refugees have to live for an indefinite period in closely-guarded locations with no possibility of leaving the confines of the camp without risking measures of reprisal. In some countries, such measures included the loss of asylum and subsequent expulsion or deportation and, in one country, the risk of physical violence and loss of life. Currently several tens of thousands of refugees are living under these conditions and many know of no other world, having been born and brought up in such camps. The problem deserves increased attention from the international community.

5. Violence and the physical safety of refugees

34. Although the primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of refugees rests with the country of asylum, in the exercise of its international protection function UNHCR has a justifiable concern for the physical safety of persons under its mandate.

35. In many instances during the reporting period, refugees were subjected to violence during their flight to safety and even in camps and settlements; in some instances, camp guards were responsible for such abuse. In a few countries, prolonged confinement in closed refugee camps has led to acts of lawlessness and violence.

36. The period under review also witnessed a recurrence of military and armed attacks on refugee camps and settlements and attacks on individual refugees living in urban centres. During such attacks several dozen refugees were killed, many more were seriously wounded and large numbers suffered other forms of physical abuse, including rape. As in previous years, military and armed attacks took place not only from across but also from within national borders. In a few countries, armed elements were again allowed access to refugee camps with the object of maintaining security, but on a number of occasions they resorted instead to serious acts of violence against refugees.

37. For the last five years, the Executive Committee has studied various aspects of the problem, including the respective responsibilities of countries of origin, countries of asylum, the international community and the refugees themselves in avoiding such attacks. At its thirty-fifth session, the Executive Committee established a Governmental Working Group to continue consultations regarding the prohibition of military or armed attacks on refugee camps and settlements and to report on the results of these consultations to the Executive Committee at its thirty-sixth session. At that session, the Committee was, however, unable to agree upon a set of principles that could be adopted by States to deal with the problem effectively. In its conclusion, the Executive Committee stressed the importance of the question being kept under constant review and requested its Chairman to continue consultations on the matter.8

38. Violations of the physical integrity and safety of refugee women received particular attention by UNHCR during the reporting period and were also discussed extensively by the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection and by the Executive Committee. In different areas of the world, there were numerous instances where refugee women were subjected to sexual abuse in the course of their flight to safety and even after their arrival in camps. Women refugees were almost invariably the victims of rape and abduction in the course of pirate attacks on asylum-seekers on the high seas.

39. The problem of such attacks in the waters of South-East Asia continued to cause serious concern, even though the number of boats attacked decreased in 1985 for the second consecutive year. Of the total number of boats arriving in Thailand and Malaysia, 25 per cent were attacked in 1985 as compared to 34 per cent in the previous year. However, the level of violence during such attacks did not decrease accordingly. In 1985, the number of deaths resulting from such attacks was recorded at 73 persons, an increase from 59 in 1984. In addition, 111 persons were abducted and another 110 women were victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. Efforts to curb such attacks, which continued during the reporting period under an enlarged anti-piracy programme established by the Royal Thai Government, was extended for a fourth year.

40. Throughout 1985 a number of measures were taken to promote the rescue of refugees in distress at sea. On 1 May 1985, the RASRO (Rescue at Sea Resettlement Offers) scheme commenced with a contribution of almost 3,000 places by 15 participating countries. Very soon thereafter, UNHCR announced a project designed to reimburse ship owners' costs directly related to the rescue of refugees. Rescue at sea was actively promoted and the UNHCR booklet "Guidelines for the Disembarkation of Refugees" was widely distributed to shipmasters in the South China Sea. The decline in rescue activities reported on in 1982, 1983 and 1984 was reversed in 1985 when 3,018 individuals were disembarked from 87 ships.

6. Economic and social rights

41. Refugees must be granted various social and economic rights not only to facilitate their local integration but to preserve human dignity and self-respect. The enjoyment of such rights is equally necessary for asylum-seekers as well as those who have received only temporary asylum since over reliance on assistance creates a dependence syndrome which may seriously retard their future prospects.

42. The 1951 United Nations Convention and the 1967 Protocol provide for a range of social and economic rights for refugees including, inter alia, rights to wage-earning employment, self-employment, public education and public relief, artistic rights and industrial property. When acceding to these instruments, 26 States have entered a reservation in respect of article 17 dealing with the right to wage-earning employment.

43. Whether or not Contracting States have entered such reservations is not, however, always a decisive factor. Some States that have entered reservations in practice treat refugees according to the standards defined in the Convention and others where no reservations have been made, may find it difficult to comply with their obligations, owing to the absence of the necessary economic and social infrastructure.

44. It is encouraging that many States have continued to grant refugees adequate access to social and economic facilities, sometimes going beyond the minimum Standards in the 1951 United Nations Convention. Moreover, refugees have been granted economic and social rights by States which have not yet acceded to the 1951 United Nations Convention or its 1967 Protocol. Where States have encountered difficulties in ensuring that refugees are granted such rights, UNHCR assistance programmes may be useful as supportive measures, not only to refugees but also to the local population.

45. During the reporting period, the need for special supportive assistance programmes proved to be particularly necessary in those camps where refugees do not enjoy any freedom of movement outside the camp limits. Although some employment opportunities were provided under self-help projects, the situation remained generally unsatisfactory with refugees being entirely dependent on external assistance. Serious problems were also encountered by many thousands of refugees of urban background who found themselves in countries of asylum where, in view of high levels of under-employment or unemployment, they were not permitted to gain their own living.

46. The situation is equally unsatisfactory with respect to education. Many asylum countries are also amongst the world's poorer nations and have a scarcity of educational institutions for their own nationals; they cannot, therefore, offer such facilities to urban refugees. In camp situations, while some educational opportunities were provided, special educational programmes were not always recognized by the national authorities with the result that a large number of refugee children were unable to obtain a certificate testifying to their education.

47. The enjoyment of economic and social rights is also of great importance to asylum-seekers pending the determination of their status. During the reporting period, many countries did not differentiate between refugees and asylum-seekers with respect to their economic and social rights. In an effort to discourage further arrivals, a few countries have, however, maintained or introduced new measures curtailing the granting of social and economic rights to asylum-seekers. Such measures were the subject of extensive consultations between UNHCR and concerned States.

7. Documentation

48. Most States parties to the 1951 United Nations Convention issue travel documents to refugees in the form and under the conditions provided for in article 28 of that instrument. Although such documents are generally issued with a clause enabling the holder to return to the issuing country within the period of the travel document's validity, they are issued in some cases without a return clause or with one of a more limited duration. This practice has given rise to considerable difficulty for the holder and has necessitated representations by UNHCR to the concerned authorities.

49. During the reporting period, refugee identity documents (sometimes printed by UNHCR) continued to be issued to refugees in a large number of countries. In many instances, such identity documents have facilitated the planning of appropriate and adequate assistance measures.

50. In most instances, identity documents issued to refugees not only establish their identity but also attest to the holder's refugee status, enabling the refugees concerned to benefit from the various rights available to them under the international refugee instruments, national legislation and administrative regulations and also to protect them from restrictive measures which may be applied to aliens in general.

8. Naturalization

51. Article 34 of the 1951 United Nations Convention calls upon Contracting States to facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees to make every effort to expedite naturalization proceedings and to reduce, as far as possible, the costs of such proceedings. Such action by States is particularly valuable for refugees for whom voluntary repatriation can no longer be envisaged and who are sufficiently integrated into their country of asylum. During the reporting period, considerable numbers of individual refugees were naturalized. In a few instances, national authorities also offered naturalization to large groups of refugees and in one country several thousands of refugees availed themselves of this opportunity.

9. Family reunification

52. UNHCR has continued to enjoy the co-operation of a large number of Governments in its endeavours to reunite refugees with close family members and several thousands of persons were thus able to join family members who had found asylum abroad. The majority of these persons was assisted under the Orderly Departure Programme in South-East Asia.

53. One major problem encountered by refugees seeking reunion with family members left behind in their country of origin is that of obtaining passports and exit visas for the concerned family members in some countries. In such cases, UNHCR intervened with the Governments concerned and, during the period under review, 88 close family members who had initially been refused exit permits, were allowed to join their relatives abroad. Some States have refused to accept, for purposes of family reunification, persons not belonging to the immediate family nucleus. Although it was encouraging to note that during the period under review a few States adopted a more flexible and generous policy in this context, in many parts of the world refugees seeking family reunification still face numerous difficulties.

C. Voluntary repatriation

54. It is generally accepted that voluntary repatriation, whenever feasible, is the most desirable solution to any given refugee situation. It is not, however, an easy solution to attain. It normally presupposes the elimination, or at least the mitigation, of the cause of fear or the danger which had led the refugees to leave their home country. It often also requires the willingness of the country of origin to readmit its nationals and to co-operate with the country of asylum in arranging for the refugees' safe return. In many situations of large-scale influx, voluntary repatriation would appear to be the only appropriate solution, provided, of course, that the necessary conditions are established in the country of origin. In facilitating it, UNHCR's primary task is to ensure, as a corollary to the principle of non-refoulement, that the voluntary character of repatriation is respected and that no refugee is returned against his will.

55. During the period under review, refugees continued to return to a number of Latin American countries, primarily Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and Chile, following political changes in the first three countries and a declaration of partial amnesty in the fourth. In Central America, a tripartite commission composed of representatives of the Governments of El Salvador and Honduras and of UNHCR was established to explore the possibilities of promoting the voluntary repatriation of refugees to the former country. During the reporting period, many hundreds had returned spontaneously and on an individual basis. Even larger numbers of Nicaraguans and some Guatemalans had also returned voluntarily to their respective countries of origin. In Africa over 80,000 Ethiopians, some 50,000 Ugandans and 20,000 Chadians returned to their country of origin. Elsewhere, smaller groups of individuals also returned, most of them spontaneously, to their respective home countries. In Asia, however, the number of repatriating refugees remained small.

56. During the reporting period, the principle of voluntary repatriation received special attention in a number of forums. It was discussed and reconfirmed as an ideal durable solution to refugee situations in the American hemisphere in a resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States.9 Similar support for voluntary repatriation was expressed at a meeting of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee.

57. Following consultations with the Chairman of the Executive Committee, UNHCR convened a Seminar on Voluntary Repatriation in San Remo, in association with the International Institute of Humanitarian Law. This issue was discussed extensively by the Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection and the Executive Committee at its thirty-sixth session when the Committee adopted a conclusion on voluntary repatriation,10 which reconfirmed the significance of the conclusions adopted by the Executive Committee at its thirty-first session and stressed the essentially voluntary character of return.

D. Determination of refugee status

58. The determination of refugee status is an important element in ensuring that refugees are in a position to take advantage of their various rights. Formal procedures for determining refugee status are essential and their importance has been emphasized by the United Nations General Assembly and the Executive Committee. While neither the 1951 United Nations Convention nor the 1967 Protocol indicate the type of procedures to be adopted by States, it has been recognized that all procedures for determining refugee status should meet the basic requirements set out in the conclusion on the Determination of Refugee Status, adopted by the Executive Committee. at its twenty-eighth sessions11

59. During the reporting period, legislation and administrative regulations dealing with determining procedures for refugee status came into force in two additional countries, bringing the number of States that have adopted such procedures to 45. Several countries are actively reviewing, or considering the establishment of, such procedures. Although considerable progress has thus been made in this area, the majority of State signatories to the 1951 United Nations Convention and the 1967 Protocol have still not adopted formal procedures to determine refugee status. It is hoped that more States will soon do so in order to facilitate the determination of refugee status in an efficient, fair and humane manner.

E. International refugee instruments

60. A primary task entrusted to UNHCR by the General. Assembly consists of promoting the conclusion and ratification of international conventions for the protection of refugees, supervising their application and proposing amendments thereto. Prominent amongst such international conventions are the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. Which define and elaborate the minimum standards for the treatment of refugees. Following the accession in early 1986 by the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, the number of States parties to one or both of the two basic refugee instruments has now risen to 98. It is hoped that all States Members of the United Nations will in due course become parties to these basic international refugee instruments.

61. The Office also continued its efforts to encourage the withdrawal of reservations introduced by States in respect of the 1951 United Nations Convention and the 1967 Protocol. In particular, UNHCR sought to obtain the withdrawal of the geographical limitation which is still maintained by seven States.

62. The standards for the treatment of refugees and the rights to be accorded to them, as defined in the 1951 United Nations Convention and the 1967 Protocol, have been supplemented and further developed by provisions contained in various instruments adopted at the regional level. The adoption and acceptance by States of such additional standard-setting instruments is of prime importance in providing protection to refugees and in identifying solutions to today's refugee situations. In this context, the recent ratification by two African States of the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa has brought the total number of States adhering to this important regional instrument to 32. The Office is also following with great interest the efforts undertaken by the League of Arab States to prepare a draft convention on refugees in Arab countries.

F. Promotion, advancement and dissemination of the Principles of refugee law

63. UNHCR continued to strengthen its activities in the field of the promotion, advancement and dissemination of the principles of refugee law. As in previous years, the Office has continued a close and fruitful collaboration with the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, which was particularly commended by the Executive Committee at its thirty-sixth session for its collaboration with UNHCR. In July 1985, as mentioned in paragraph 57 above, a Seminar on voluntary Repatriation was organized, gathering prominent experts in the field of International Law, who agreed on a set of principles that were later embodied in conclusions adopted by the Executive Committee at its thirty-sixth session and subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations at its fortieth session. In August 1985, a Seminar on Current Problems of International Protection of Refugees was convened, at which experts from Indo-Chinese countries exchanged views and experiences.

64. In September 1985, a meeting of experts from European socialist countries was convened at Budapest in co-operation with the Hungarian Red Cross. The experts reviewed current humanitarian problems and examined a number of refugee issues, leaving the door open to further developments in this part of the world for the well-being of refugees. Also during that month, on the occasion of the Institute's Tenth Round Table on Current Problems of International Humanitarian Law, problems of refugees were examined, particular attention being paid to the results of the July Seminar on Voluntary Repatriation.

65. Promotion of refugee law and principles was also pursued during the period under review through the organization at UNHCR headquarters of short intensive training sessions intended for high government officials responsible for refugee matters in specific countries facing major refugee problems.

66. UNHCR also continued to maintain close contact with regional intergovernmental organizations with a view to promoting the development of refugee law at the regional level. For this purpose, the Office collaborated closely with, inter alia, the Council of Europe, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Asian African Legal Consultative Committee (AALCC).

67. Increased promotional activities were also undertaken by UNHCR Field Offices which, among other activities, organized training courses for government officials and seminars and refugee law courses at local universities and published information brochures relating to protection of refugees and refugee law. A fundamental component of the promotion activities of UNHCR is the publication of its magazine Refugees (see para. 174 below). Finally, progress was achieved in developing the UNHCR Refugee Documentation Centre into an important resource facility for UNHCR staff and scholars of refugee law and integration.


A. Introduction

68. During 1985, UNHCR continued to co-operate actively with concerned Governments and with the international community in efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees throughout the world.

69. UNHCR's promotion of durable solutions remained the primary and long-term objective of the assistance programmes of the office. UNHCR responded to requests for emergency assistance to many new arrivals and continued to pursue care and maintenance programmes for refugees for whom no immediate solution could be implemented. whenever feasible, relief-oriented programmes have also included measures aimed at promoting basic self-sufficiency activities among refugees.

70. UNHCR's efforts to improve the management of assistance programmes have included the training of UNHCR staff in applying modern management tools and techniques, the organization of programme management workshops for UNHCR's implementing partners and regional seminars on refugee-related issues, the development and adoption of a sound project monitoring and reporting system and the further use of policy and operational guidelines embodied in various manuals and specialized instructions.

71. Total UNHCR expenditure in 1985 amounted to $472.8 million, as shown in table 1 of the annex. Of that total, voluntary funds expenditure represented $457.8 million, including $281.9 million under General Programmes and $175.9 million under Special Programmes. Voluntary funds expenditure has thus increased by approximately 10 per cent between 1984 and 1985, reflecting additional refugee assistance requirements, particularly in Africa and the Americas.

72. The following paragraphs provide a summary of the major areas of assistance as well as an overview of major developments in each of the geographical areas covered by the four UNHCR Regional Bureaux. Detailed information on the levels of expenditure for each country or area programme is given in tables I and 2 of the annex.

B. Major trends in assistance

1. Emergency response

73. Emergencies requiring quick action may result from new influxes into a country of asylum, or from a deterioration of internal conditions affecting existing refugee situations. Assistance was a major aspect of UNHCR's involvement in emergencies, and the Emergency Fund, which allows the High Commissioner to allocate up to $10 million annually for needs arising in such cases, was frequently used.12

74. In 1985, $5,898,500 was obligated from the Emergency Fund, as shown in table 4 of the annex. Ninety-eight per cent of these funds were used in Africa; $3 million was utilized to finance emergency assistance in the Sudan while $2 million was allocated for relief assistance to returnees in Ethiopia. Mozambican refugees in Zambia, Chadian refugees in Benin and refugees and other persons of concern also benefited from allocations from the Emergency Fund. A small amount was utilized to assist displaced persons in Lebanon.

75. The Emergency Unit continued to play a catalytic role in strengthening UNHCR's emergency response and preparedness capabilities, through developing procedures, systems and training in this field, and offering managerial support and advice in actual refugee emergencies. An Emergency Management Training Programme, designed to train staff of UNHCR and its operational partners in skills related to refugee emergency management, was initiated by the Unit. A series of profiles on countries receiving large numbers of refugees was launched profiles on Ethiopia, Pakistan and the Sudan were completed in 1985. A plan of operations for the Sudan was prepared. A guide to in-kind contributions was also drawn up. The Handbook for Emergencies was widely distributed in English, French and Spanish. A large number of health, field and nutritional kits were distributed.

2. Care and maintenance

76. Political, physical, environmental or socioeconomic factors often preclude the rapid identification and implementation of durable solutions or measures which would make refugees self-sufficient within a short time. In such circumstances, and at the request of the host Government, UNHCR provides intermediate assistance in the form of care and maintenance. This may include the provision of food, shelter, water, health services and sanitation, clothing, household utensils and equipment, and primary education. Whenever feasible, care and maintenance programmes also include vocational training or income-generating activities that prepare refugees for a more productive life and promote a certain degree of self-reliance in reception centres or refugee villages.

77. In 1985, the largest single care and maintenance programme was the assistance programme for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, for which $46.5 million were obligated under the 1985 General Programme. Over $10.5 million of this amount was devoted to income-generating and self-sufficiency measures.

78. An amount of $34.4 million was obligated in 1985 under the General Programme for Indo-Chinese refugees in East and South-East Asia, of which $20.9 million was for care and maintenance of refugees in Thailand pending the identification of a more durable solution which, in most cases, was resettlement in a country outside the region.

79. In Somalia, a total of $10.6 million was allocated for care and maintenance of Ethiopian refugees during 1985.

80. In Central America, $15.5 million was obligated for care and maintenance activities, because progress towards local integration programmes in Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua remained relatively slow.

3. Self-sufficiency activities

81. The promotion of self-reliance aims at reducing the financial burden on the host Government and on the international community at large; it also seeks to allow refugees to help themselves and to limit the need for prolonged care and maintenance programmes.

82. The implementation of appropriate self-sufficiency activities was actively pursued in all major care and maintenance programmes. In Zaire, for example, under a joint ILO/UNHCR project, over 40 self-sustaining refugee co-operative ventures were completed in the Bas-Fleuve region. In the Sudan, income-generating projects for both urban and rural refugees continued to be implemented.

83. In 1985, such self-reliance activities as well as projects aimed at the development of small-enterprise were reviewed in Lesotho, Kenya, Somalia and the Sudan. The objective of this exercise was to define parameters for sound planning, to improve project management and, if necessary, to expand these activities or to set up time-frames for phasing out or scaling down assistance inputs. The implementation of the findings and recommendations arising from these reviews had already started in late 1985.

4. Durable solutions

84. The primary objective of all UNHCR assistance activities is the achievement of durable solutions through voluntary repatriation, local integration in the country of first asylum or, when these are not practicable, resettlement in another country. In 1985, over $84.9 million obligated under the General Programmes for all types of assistance was used directly for the promotion of one of the three durable solutions. Some $7.9 million was made available under Special Programmes for rehabilitation assistance to returnees in their countries of origin.

85. Voluntary repatriation During 1985, the Office continued to promote and support efforts towards the voluntary repatriation of individuals or groups of refugees. In South-East Asia, 236 persona were repatriated from Thailand to the Lao People's Democratic Republic under UNHCR's auspices. This brought to 2,839 the total number of persons who had been repatriated voluntarily with assistance from UNHCR since the inception of the programme in 1980. Returnees to the Lao People's Democratic Republic continued to benefit from assistance designed to facilitate their reintegration in their home villages.

86. Owing to the severe impact of the drought and crop failure in the Hararghe region of Ethiopia, UNHCR had to suspend plans for rehabilitation assistance to returnees and to concentrate on emergency relief assistance in the form of basic food rations and health care to some 190,000 persons - the most needy - among the 317,000 returnees at a cost of some $7.85 million.

87. Over 38,000 Ugandan refugees have been voluntarily repatriated from the Sudan (some 15,000) and Zaire (some 23,000) under the auspices of UNHCR at a cost of $604,112. By June 1985, an estimated 55,000 Tigrayans had returned of their own accord from Eastern Sudan to Tigray. The voluntary repatriation of 500 Angolan refugees from Zambia was also facilitated in 1985 at a cost of $120,000.

88. The voluntary repatriation of refugees in Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico and Northern and Western Latin America continued throughout 1985 at a total cost to UNHCR of $120,000.

89. Local-integration: Where voluntary repatriation is not feasible for the foreseeable future and the host Government is agreeable, local settlement or local integration projects assist refugees to attain a level of self-sufficiency comparable to that of the local population. In urban and semi-urban environments, assistance is normally given to individual refugees. This may include, inter alia, the provision of housing, social amenities, education, language courses and the purchase of professional tools and equipment. Large rural groups of refugees are assisted mainly through the creation of rural settlements with the objective of making them self-reliant communities. Expenditure on local settlement activities in 1985 amounted to some $64.5 million.

90. Resettlement has continued to be promoted in the absence of other durable solutions. Resettlement assistance is also often provided for special groups of refugees, such as those separated from their families and disabled refugees in need of rehabilitation in countries where facilities for such treatment are more readily available.

91. During 1985, a total of 58,351 Indochinese refugees were resettled) of these 28,483 were Vietnamese, 24,178 Kampuchean and 5,690 Lao. Several countries introduced restrictive selection criteria, sometimes allowing only immediate and economically-dependent relatives to qualify for resettlement. Nevertheless an additional 24,940 Vietnamese left Viet Nam under the Orderly Departure Programme for family reunion abroad.

92. RASRO (the Rescue at Sea Resettlement Offers Scheme) became operational on 1 May 1985 with contributions of resettlement places from 15 countries. A grand total of 3,018 refugees were rescued in 1985, 408 of whom were disembarked and resettled under DISERO (the Disembarkation Resettlement Offers Scheme) from vessels flying flags of convenience or of countries unable to admit refugees for resettlement.

93. Over 16,000 persons of various origins in Europe benefited from resettlement opportunities offered by the traditional countries of immigration. A total of 1,800 refugees were resettled from Africa, over 2,000 from the Middle East and some 500 from the Americas. Since 1981 some 6,800 persons have been resettled under specific programmes of assistance for disabled refugees and their families.

94. Expenditures incurred by UNHCR for the promotion (5f resettlement and for the transportation costs of refugees to countries that were not in a position to assume such costs themselves amounted to some $15.9 million under General Programmes.

5. Social services in pursuit of durable solutions

95. Counselling and community services: During 1985, the thrust of counselling and community services provided to refugees in both urban and rural areas was directed at making refugees self-reliant as quickly as possible. Social workers in UNHCR Offices and the staff of UNHCR's implementing partners provided social counselling to individual refugees, families and groups. Guidance was offered on education and training, employment, self-employment and income-generating activities, Social counsellors also contributed to the implementation of care and maintenance projects.

96. In the rural settlements and reception centres, social workers have continued to act as catalysts for community development activities and to increase refugee participation. The involvement of social workers in the preventive health care and nutrition programmes, in the planning and implementation of self-sufficiency measures and in the counselling of urban refugees was intensified. in addition, special programmes to meet specific needs, e.g. in Thailand and Malaysia to aid the recovery of refugee victims of pirate attacks through counselling and community intervention, were implemented.

97. Education: in 1985, elementary education continued to be provided in local government schools or in specially established settlement schools. UNHCR had more than 113 programmes worldwide in post-primary, vocational/technical and academic education. In-service training, literacy programmes, special skills training and language training still constitute the main activities under non-formal educational assistance programmes.

98. Assistance was provided to enable nearly 16,000 refugee students to study at the secondary and tertiary levels. An amount of some $10.6 million was spent in 1985 for this educational assistance programme. Approximately 24 per cent of the students took technical training courses while 67 per cent attended secondary academic schools and 9 per cent university. Renewed emphasis was put on orienting students towards technical training considered likely to lead to employment.

99. Assistance to handicapped refugees: UNHCR strengthened its efforts to ensure that handicapped refugees benefit from medical facilities and services in their respective countries of asylum. The needs of some 5,719 handicapped refugees were met at a cost of $774,985 obligated under General Programmes in 1985. In addition some 51 severely handicapped refugees who could not be rehabilitated locally were referred to medical centres abroad at a cost of $100,000 obligated under Special Programmes, while some 270 others were resettled in Europe, North America and Australia.

6. Procurement operations

100. The Procurement Unit is responsible for the purchase of supplies and the contracting of services to support UNHCR's assistance programmes throughout the world. The Unit provides technical advice on procurement matters and also facilitates the transportation of commodities.

101. Since the inception of the Unit, UNHCR has ensured the application of professional procurement methods while maintaining public accountability and fair competitive bidding. In 1985, goods and services worth $83 million were purchased from 58 countries for assistance to refugees in 42 African, Asian, European and Latin American countries.

7. Phasing-out and Phasing-in of assistance

102. Once one of the three durable solutions has been successfully achieved and refugees have become self-sufficient, international assistance ceases and the host Government assumes overall responsibility for the further economic and material needs of the refugees. Prior to phasing-out its assistance, UNHCR endeavours to create self-sustaining structures and services in refugee communities, with these and self-sufficiency activities incorporated into the regional community development plans. The ongoing development and consolidation of refugee settlements in southern Sudan is a good illustration of an integrated rural settlement programme. In certain cases, however, renewed aid or phasing-in of fresh post-hand over assistance becomes necessary because a settlement's infrastructure or economic viability has been severely damaged by unforeseen circumstances. UNHCR is now focusing greater attention on establishing the most appropriate schedules for phasing-out UNHCR assistance, identifying potential post-hand over problems, and phasing-in new non-UNHCR sources of assistance.

8. Ongoing evaluation of assistance activities

103. UNHCR has continued a wide range of evaluation activities, including self-evaluation, for all projects and a limited number of more in-depth evaluations of selected projects, programmes and activities. Both approaches seek to provide managers at all levels with information on programme and project results that can be used to improve planning and implementation. Among the more significant evaluations carried out during the year were those of UNHCR emergency preparedness and response in eastern Sudan and of refugee enumeration systems used in UNHCR.

C. Regional developments in Africa

104. During 1985, expenditure in Africa under UNHCR voluntary funds reached some $US 225.8 million of which $97.0 million was obligated under General Programmes and $128.8 million under Special Programmes. Detailed statistics on expenditure by country and area are provided in tables 1 and 2 of the annex.

105. The programme for emergency relief launched in late 1984 by a special appeal continued throughout 1985 in order to assure the provision of desperately needed assistance to persons of concern to the Office in the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Somalia and the Sudan. Total expenditure for this emergency programme throughout the 1985 calendar year amounted to $US 77.76 million.

106. In Ethiopia, immediate relief assistance was provided in Hararghe throughout 1985 to 190,000 particularly destitute returnees (see para. 86 above). For the longer term, UNHCR appealed for funds in December 1985 to assist the returnees in their rehabilitation, as well as to create conditions conducive to further voluntary repatriation. The number of refugees assisted in the Gambela/Itang region of south-west Ethiopia increased to some 85,000 by the end of 1985. The relief programme, started in 1983, continued whilst plans to start a rural settlement on land made available by the Government are still being considered.

107. Renewed influxes of refugees into northern Somalia, particularly towards the end of the year, caused serious concern. Increased supplies of food and medicines were made available at the temporary sites and more suitable sites for the centres are being identified. Meanwhile, the commencement of the implementation of the local settlement programme, the promotion of self-sufficiency activities and the enumeration of the more established refugee population, estimated as a planning figure by the Government at some 700,000 were adversely affected by financial problems related to the funding of UNHCR General Programmes.

108. In the Sudan, the refugee situation changed considerably during 1985. In eastern Sudan, there was a poor harvest in the established refugee settlements where at least partial food self-sufficiency had been hoped for. UNHCR, in co-operation with the World Food Programme, had to revert to the provision of full food aid for some 130,000 refugees in these settlements. A large-scale emergency assistance programme was implemented for new arrivals from Ethiopia, over 220,000 of whom were registered during the year, joining some 160,000 who had arrived in the last months of 1984. In western Sudan, an influx from Chad necessitated the provision of relief assistance to some 75,000 persons by the end of 1985. In southern Sudan, the consolidation of the Ugandan refugee settlements has been proceeding satisfactorily despite difficulties due to security conditions.

109. As a result of continued unrest and insecurity in the central, south-western and western regions of Uganda, UNHCR had to suspend the implementation of its rural settlement operations - particularly the expansion of facilities at Kyaka II after July 1985.

110. UNHCR assistance to 42,856 South African refugees residing in various countries in southern Africa comprised subsistence allowances, scholarships and the promotion of self-sufficiency, either in rural settlements or through individual income-generating activities. The southern African liberation movements recognized by the OAU received further support through international procurement of agricultural equipment for their farms in Angola and the United Republic of Tanzania. UNHCR continues to assist some 76,300 Namibian refugees in Angola, Zambia and other countries in Africa.

111. By the end of the reporting period, a significant number of projects established under the second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa were being implemented or reviewed for later implementation.

D. Regional developments in the Americas and Europe

112. In 1985, the overall refugee population in Latin America remained relatively unchanged, with a slight increase in numbers registered in Costa Rica and Honduras being compensated for by the repatriation of Argentinians and Uruguayans. UNHCR's activities were concentrated mainly in Central America and Mexico where, at the end of 1985, 112,000 refugees were being assisted.

113. In Mexico, about 18,500 Guatemalan refugees in the Campeche and Quintana Roo states were achieving self-sufficiency on land provided by the Mexican Government. In the state of Chiapas, about 21,000 refugees continued to receive care and maintenance assistance while awaiting a more durable solution.

114. In Honduras, about 20,700 Salvadorian and 530 Guatemalan refugees continued to receive assistance in the camps. Some 5,300 Nicaraguan Ladino refugees received assistance in two Honduran villages while the search for a suitable resettlement area in the region continues. About 13,300 Nicaraguan refugees of Indian origin became partially self-sufficient in Mosauitia.

115. In Costa Rica, 19,411 refugees had been assisted by the end of 1985. The local integration of Salvadorian and Nicaraguan refugees of urban background was relatively successful. The integration of approximately 5,300 Nicaraguan refugees of rural background was still in its early stages and of this number about 4,000 were still receiving assistance in reception centres at the end of 1985.

116. The arrival of refugees and asylum-seekers into Western European countries, particularly through irregular channels from outside the region, continued to be a matter of increasing concern to Governments in these countries. In order to identify the problems and propose practical solutions, UNHCR convened the Consultations of 28 to 31 May 1985 (see para. 18 above). Further to this, an informal meeting was organized by the Swedish Government in Stockholm on 25 and 26 November 1985.

117. The number of persons seeking asylum in European countries increased in 1985 from 103,500 persons to a total of around 165,000 persons by the end of the year. The influx of asylum-seekers during 1985 was largest in the Federal Republic of Germany, with over 73,000 persons, followed by France, Sweden and Switzerland. Italy and Turkey granted transit facilities to asylum-seekers, while maintaining the geographical reservation to the 1951 United Nations Convention.

118. During 1985, UNHCR continued to contribute to a number of projects in western European countries, particularly in the fields of legal and social counselling for asylum-seekers, assistance to handicapped refugees and the promotion of self-help activities to facilitate durable solutions. Some 1,690 persons, mainly originating from Latin America were repatriated voluntarily under UNHCR's auspices.

119. UNHCR financial obligations in the Americas and Europe totalled $US 52.2 million in 1985, of which $48.5 million was under General Programmes and $3.7 million under Special Programmes.

E. Regional developments in East and South Asia and Oceania

120. By the end of 1985, the total number of Indochinese refugees in camps and centres in countries of asylum in the region stood at 159,665 of whom 34,143 were boat people. The largest refugee population was in Thailand which hosted 93,257 Lao, 31,761 Kampucheans and 5,395 Vietnamese. Other countries and territories providing temporary asylum to significant numbers of Indochinese refugees included Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. In addition, two refugee processing centres, at Bataan (Philippines) and Galang (Indonesia), were providing temporary accommodation for nearly 11,559 Indochinese refugees who had already been accepted for resettlement and were in transit to third countries. There were also an estimated 20,000 persons benefiting from UNHCR assistance in Viet Nam.

121. Resettlement in third countries remained the most viable solution for large numbers of Indochinese refugees. However, Kampucheans and Lao who return to their home countries from Thailand in either organized or spontaneous repatriation movements have benefited from UNHCR assistance designed to facilitate their return and reintegration.

122. Following the arrival in Papua New Guinea of some 10,500 refugees from the province of Irian Jaya (Indonesia), UNHCR, at the request of the Government of Papua New Guinea, launched a programme of assistance at a number of sites along the border, pending the identification of an appropriate durable solution. This programme, which is implemented by the authorities of Papua New Guinea, provides basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, medicines and domestic supplies.

123. During 1985, a total of $TJS 61.6 million was obligated for assistance to refugees in East and South Asia and Oceania under the General Programmes and $9.7 million under Special Programmes. Of the total obligated, some $39.9 million was used for multi-purpose assistance for Indochinese refugees in the region.

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

124. Afghans in Pakistan continued to represent the single largest refugee concentration in the world. The UNHCR humanitarian assistance programmes for these refugees in 1985 was based on assessed needs, available resources and implementation capabilities.. The world Food Programme continued its essential role as food aid coordinator for Afghan refugee programmes in Pakistan.

125. In 1985, UNHCR further shifted t e emphasis of its assistance programme from care and maintenance towards self-help and self-reliance. The Office continued to fund projects designed to provide employment and training opportunities for Afghan refugees. Vocational training and income-generating projects, funded by UNHCR and implemented principally by non-governmental organizations, continued in Baluchistan and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Implementation of the UNHCR/World Bank project improved and by the end of 1985 the target for the second year of the three-, year project had largely been achieved, notably in respect of its refugee labour component. Some of the refugees who arrived in Pakistan during 1985 were assisted in the Mianwali district in the Punjab. At the end of the year there were approximately 110,000 refugees in that province.

126. In the Islamic Republic of Iran the number of Afghan refugees is estimated by the authorities at 1.8 million persons, of whom more than 50 per cent reside in the provinces of Khorasan and Sistan-Baluchistan. The remainder live in 10 other provinces. During 1985, a total of $US 9.1 million was obligated to finance programmes implemented by the Council for Afghan Refugees in the following sectors: health, nutrition, water and sanitation, reception infrastructure, household and personal equipment, transport And logistics and agriculture and livestock.

127. Despite the precarious situation, the UNHCR Regional Office in Beirut continued to provide assistance to some 2,900 refugees living in Lebanon. Basic emergency assistance at a cost of $US 100,000 was also provided to some 20,500 families who were uprooted from their homes as a result of continuing strife in Lebanon.

128. In 1985, 1,800 refugees of Eritrean origin living on the Red Sea coast in the Yemen Arab Republic were provided with basic assistance in the sectors of health, education, agriculture, shelter, community development and income-generating activities.

129. UNHCR continued as the coordinator of United Nations Humanitarian Assistance for Cyprus, providing aid to persons displaced within the island as a result of the events of 1974.

130. Total voluntary funds expenditure in the Middle East and South-West Asian region amounted to $US 86.9 million in 1985, of which $56.7 million was obligated under General Programmes and $30.2 million under Special Programmes.


A. Co-operation between UNHCR and other members of the United Nations system

131. UNHCR has continued to develop various programmes and activities to meet the needs of refugees in close co-operation with other members of the United Nations system.

132. The World Food Programme (WFP) has continued to provide the bulk of refugees, food needs in many parts of the world. In addition, WFP has in certain situations provided assistance for refugees involved in productive activities. In August 1985, UNHCR and WFP signed a joint memorandum aimed at strengthening co-operation between the two agencies in regard to various aspects of refugee food assistance, following which UNHCR and WFP undertook joint missions to Pakistan and Somalia to assess refugee food needs. During 1985, WFP approved the supply of some 490,000 metric tonnes of emergency food aid to refugees.

133. Following the establishment in 1984 of joint guidelines and procedures between UNHCR and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in relation to longer term assistance to refugees, UNDP is providing assistance in the Sudan for the establishment of a water point maintenance unit and for integrated development planning. In addition, UNDP has continued to administer various projects on behalf of UNHCR in those countries where UNHCR is not represented.

134. Co-operation between UNHCR and the International Labour Organization (ILO) has continued to focus on ways of enabling refugees to become more self-reliant. Current activities in which ILO participates include small enterprise development projects, co-operation development projects and vocational training projects in Burundi, Costa Rica, Kenya, Lesotho, Pakistan and the Sudan. UNHCR continues to benefit from the secondment of an ILO expert in income-generating activities.

135. Co-operation between UNHCR and the World Bank continued with the exploration of possibilities for further joint ventures, in particular regarding a proposed second income generating and vocational training project in Pakistan.

136. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has been mainly associated with UNHCR programmes in Pakistan involving primary health care, water supplies and basic sanitation. The arrangement for a joint appointment of a UNHCR-World Health Organization (WHO) health coordinator in Pakistan continued in 1985. UNHCR also continued to benefit from the secondment of a WHO public health/nutrition adviser. The joint activities of the two organizations in Cyprus have continued.

137. The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) has continued its involvement with UNHCR in family planning programmes in Hong Kong. Similarly, the arrangement between the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements'(Habitat) and UNHCR for the secondment of a physical planner/construction engineer to provide technical advice on matters relating to refugee settlements continued in 1985.

138. The memorandum of understanding between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UNHCR has been renewed for a period of two years, until 31 December 1987. In accordance with the terms of the memorandum, UNESCO associate experts continue to work both at UNHCR headquarters and in the field.

139. Following an agreement reached between the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and UNHCR in December 1984, the IMO provided a maritime expert in 1985 to assist in tasks relating to anti-piracy and rescue at sea operations. The co-operation will continue in 1986.

140. The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) has continued to participate actively in refugee programmes through the provision of some 45 volunteers. These volunteers are working in Djibouti, Honduras, Malaysia, Somalia and the Sudan.

141. The Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator (UNDRO) has worked in close contact with UNHCR in its response to the African emergency. Close contact was also maintained and possibilities for co-operation explored with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

142. The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) has undertaken a survey of the social conditions of Guatemalan refugees in Mexico. UNHCR also continues to benefit from the support of the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa (UNETPSA) and the United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa (UNTFSA) with regard to training facilities and assistance to refugees from southern Africa. Assistance has been granted by UNHCR to the United Nations Institute for Namibia in Zambia and close co-operation continues with the United Nations Council for Namibia. Refugees have also benefited from fellowships awarded by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

143. UNHCR has worked closely with the United Nations Office for Emergency Operations in Africa to ensure that UNHCR's emergency programmes were properly coordinated within the overall response of the United Nations system. A UNHCR staff member was seconded to the Office in New York.

144. UNHCR was fully represented at the 1985 World Conference marking the end of the United Nations Decade for Women, which was held at Nairobi. The Secretary-General's report to the Conference included details of UNHCR's assistance to refugee women and their children.

145. A catalogue of educational projects to benefit refugee youth was compiled to highlight UNHCR's participation in the International Youth Year 1985. UNHCR was also represented at the 1985 UNESCO World Youth Congress.

146. UNHCR also continues to collaborate with other United Nations agencies and actively participates in global endeavours of the United Nations system (such as the Decade of Disabled Persons, the Vienna International Plan on Aging, the International Youth Year, the International Year of Peace, etc.).

B. Relations with other intergovernmental organizations

147. During the period under review, UNHCR has cooperated closely with the of African Unity through various organs of the latter, such as the Committee of Fifteen, the Co-ordinating Committee for Refugees and the OAU Bureau for refugees.

148. UNHCR contributed actively towards the formulation of recommendations relating to refugees and displaced persons as well as the victims of natural disasters, which were ultimately included in the African Economic Recovery Programme adopted by both the OAU Summit and the United Nations General Assembly in 1985.

149. The OAU and UNHCR have had consultations concerning the evolution of the situation in southern Africa with a view to resettling those South African refugees who cannot remain on the territories of the front-line States.

150. UNHCR also participated in various meetings of the Council of Ministers held to prepare the OAU Summit, which the High Commissioner attended in July 1985.

151. UNHCR continued to co-operate with the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration (ICM) in all regions. ICM's access to concessional travel rates and other arrangements permitted substantial savings to be made in the transportation of refugees accepted for resettlement in third countries.

152. UNHCR maintained regular contacts with the Organization of American States (OAS) and in particular with the OAS Under-Secretary for Legal Affairs and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Based upon a specific recommendation of the Cartagena Colloquium, the joint programme for the study on the legal condition of refugees, asilados and displaced persons in the member States of the OAS continued into its Fourth year, focusing on the problems related to refugee mass influx situations. As in previous years, UNHCR attended the OAS General Assembly which adopted by consensus two comprehensive resolutions on refugees endorsing the Cartagena Declaration and inviting member States to continue their efforts in favour of refugees and their voluntary repatriation. UNHCR also contributed to the Thirteenth International Law Course organized annually by the Inter-American Juridical Committee in Rio de Janeiro by giving two lectures on subjects of its concern.

153. During 1985, UNHCR continued to co-operate closely with the League of Arab States by maintaining regular contact with the Permanent Observer of the League in Geneva and by sending missions to the headquarters in Tunis.

154. UNHCR also continued to develop its co-operation with the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Apart from regular contact between officials of the two organizations, a UNHCR delegation attended the Meeting of Ministers of the Islamic Conference held at Fez (Morocco) in January 1986, where a resolution commending UNHCR was adopted. UNHCR continued to act as focal point for humanitarian questions in the framework of co-operation between the United Nations system and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

155. The European Parliament took an active interest in various refugee situations and particularly their human rights aspects, such as the granting or denial of asylum. The same issues were of special concern in UNHCR's close relation with the Council of Europe.

156. The European Community provided a strong and continuous support to UNHCR in relation to its emergency programmes in Africa. This support was in addition to the generous food-aid contributions and the financing of income-generating and local integration projects in several areas of the world.

C. Co-operation with liberation movements

157. In accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions, close co-operation has continued with the liberation movements recognized by the OAU and the United Nations. Several UNHCR programmes for Namibian and southern African refugees are implemented by the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), the African National Congress (ANC) and the Pan African Congress of Azania (PAC). SWAPO, the ANC and the PAC all participated as observers in the thirty-sixth session of the Executive Committee.

D. Relations with non-governmental organizations

158. Non-governmental organizations have continued to provide essential support to UNHCR's activities for the benefit of refugees. The responsibility for the implementation of roughly one third of UNHCR-funded assistance programmes is entrusted to national or international non-governmental organizations. Moreover, in the donor and resettlement countries, NGOs help to sensitize the public to refugee issues and play an important advocacy role with Governments.

159. UNHCR has devoted considerable efforts to maintaining existing dialogue with non-governmental organizations as well as to developing increased contacts. Leading non-governmental organizations partners were invited to meet the High Commissioner at an informal meeting on 12 February 1986. On this occasion non-governmental organization discussed their existing co-operation with UNHCR and made proposals as to how this relationship could be strengthened. A number of annual events continued to provide opportunities for agencies to familiarize themselves with UNHCR policies and programmes. These included briefings on specific refugee situations, the annual UNHCR/NGO Consultative Group on International Protection and the first UNHCR/NGO Consultative Group Meeting on Assistance. The latter meeting was held in June 1985, in response to an ICVA request; discussion focused on the follow-up to the second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa, refugee aid and development, contractual arrangements with UNHCR, co-ordination in emergency situations and durable solutions. For the third consecutive year, in order to respond to the growing interest of non-governmental organizations in the work of the Executive Committee, UNHCR held a pre-Executive Committee meeting which brought together 76 non-governmental organizations and served as a forum for an exchange of views of key refugee questions.

160. The Office continued to maintain fruitful contacts with umbrella agencies which, through their members, are involved in a wide range of activities rendering valuable services to refugees. Further close collaboration was sought with non-governmental organization operational partners providing vital services in areas such as food distribution, health, logistics and supplementary feeding. Largely as a result of the African Emergency, UNHCR initiated an Emergency Management Training programme (see para. 75 above) in which emergency managers from non-governmental organizations participated.

161. UNHCR continued to maintain close links with the International Red Cross, including the International Committee of the Red Cross on protection matters and the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and national Red Cross Societies, on operational questions. UNHCR was represented at the monthly Meeting on Disasters and Emergencies hosted by the League in Geneva.

162. At the ICVA General Conference, held in Dakar in May 1985, at which UNHCR was represented, non-governmental organizations urged that additional resources be made available to facilitate durable solutions for refugees and stressed the need for development projects in refugee impacted countries, particularly in Africa. In response to non-governmental organization suggestions on this occasion, a joint ICVA/UNHCR Workshop on Development Approaches to Refugee Situations was held in Puidoux, Switzerland, in December 1985, which studied, inter alia, ways of involving refugees in productive activities at an early stage in order to counter the "dependence syndrome".

163. In its efforts to expand and diversify non-governmental organization contacts, the Office participated in various meetings, including the Forum of Agen, a gathering of European non-governmental organizations experienced in emergency relief and also in development, which was attended by 70 non-governmental organizations of which 17 were UNHCR implementing partners. Non-governmental organization interest in specific regional situations was reflected in events such as the ICVA Round Table on Costa Rica and Mexico, held in San José, Costa Rica, in November 1985.

164. As a consequence of the build-up to, and impetus provided by, the Nairobi World Conference of 1985, non-governmental organizations interest focused on the special problems of refugee women and the potential resource they represent in assistance programmes. Accordingly, UNHCR and 23 leading non-governmental organizations from Europe and North America participated in a Seminar on Refugee Women in the Netherlands, in May 1985.

E. Nansen Medal Award

165. The Nansen Medal for 1985 was awarded to His Eminence Paulo Evaristo Cardinal Arns, the Archbishop of Sao Paulo, in recognition of his untiring efforts to improve the lot of refugees and address the root causes of their problems.

166. In accepting the Award, Cardinal Arns announced that the $US 50,000 prize that accompanies the Award would be allocated to the protection, legal assistance and counselling work of UNHCR in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras.


167. UNHCR Voluntary Funds expenditure was $459 million in 1985 as compared $445 million in 1984. Some $282 million was spent on General Programmes ($346 million in 1984) and $177 million on Special Programmes and other Trust Funds ($99 million in 1984). This changed pattern resulted from the emergency Special Programmes required to respond to the critical situation in Africa.

168. Continued generous financial support was crucial to UNHCR's ability to maintain its operations. Contributions from a total of 76 Governments, 67 non-governmental and 7 intergovernmental organizations, along with funds received from private sources, provided $393 million in contributions - some $69 million or 21 per cent more than in 1984. UNHCR is most grateful for the exceptional financial support given in 1985 by many Governments, including some who contributed to UNHCR's programmes for the first time or who resumed contributions after a gap of some years. Nevertheless, for the first time in the history of UNHCR, the essential General Programmes of assistance to refugees were not fully funded, and expenditure had to be reduced and programmes cut. Final income for General Programmes fell short of the approved requirement by some $12 million.

169. Following a General Programme appeal issued in January 1985, nine Special Appeals/Reports relating to the emergency situation in Africa were issued during the year. Further Special Appeals were issued for a recovery programme for returnees to Ethiopia and the Orderly Departure Programme from Viet Nam. During 1985, members of the Executive Committee and interested donors were also kept informed of the funding requirements and financial situation of the Office through periodic information letters from the Director of External Affairs. Reports on major UNHCR programmes were issued to provide information on the progress of assistance activities and related expenditures.

170. At its thirty-sixth session, the Executive Committee approved the amount of $330.4 million for General Programmes in 1986. As at March 1986, the total Voluntary Funds requirements for 1986 for the General Programmes and current Special Programmes were estimated to be in the order of $488 million to cover emergency assistance in Africa and a number of other Special Programmes, including the Refugee Education Account.

171. As at 31 March, total contributions in 1986 for both General and Special Programmes amounted to $171,998,824. Table 3 of the annex details those contributions for 1985 and 1986 which had been paid or pledged as of that date. UNHCR is acutely aware of its dependence on voluntary contributions and efforts are continuing to explore new sources of contributions and to reduce funding requirements while delivering adequate assistance to refugees. The need to pursue durable solutions is fully recognized by UNHCR and is implicit in 1986 programme priorities.

172. The High Commissioner greatly appreciates the considerable financial support provided by the international community. However, UNHCR can only fulfil its mandate if adequate resources are made available through voluntary contributions. The High Commissioner, therefore, relies on the international community to maintain its. support and generosity so that effective help can be given to refugees through the full funding and implementation of the programmes approved by the Executive Committee.


173. UNHCR has continued its efforts to promote greater public awareness and understanding of the world-wide refugee problem through the production and distribution of varied information material, co-productions of such material with the media and numerous non-governmental organizations, daily supply of oral and written information to media representatives (journalists, radio and television channels) and through the organization of special events such as an itinerant media seminar to South-East Asia and a Round Table on Refugee Women. In addition, the Office continued to fulfil its responsibility for the continuation of the public information programme for the second International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa. UNHCR Representatives and Public Information Officers in the field continued to keep the press in their respective countries informed, and requests from journalists and television crews for UNHCR assistance in reporting on refugee situations around the world continued to increase.

174. The magazine Refugees continued to provide up-to-date information on refugee problems world-wide. it was published monthly in English, French and Spanish and special editions were published in Arabic, German and Italian. Other publications included a catalogue of projects for the International Youth Year, a catalogue of information material, photo and thematic posters, a world refugee map and a mini-poster calendar. A series of 10 "country fact-sheets" provided detailed and regularly updated information on UNHCR's assistance programmes in Central America and Mexico, South-East Asia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, the Sudan, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zaire, and Southern and West Africa. Other language versions of these materials were produced as demand warranted.

175. Throughout the year the photo-library distributed some 38,000 photographs (black and white and colour slides) to the media, schools and non-governmental organizations. In addition to servicing external demand, the photo-library continued to provide support for all UNHCR's information publications and to arrange exhibitions.

176. During the period under review, UNHCR produced two documentary films "Ave Maria - Refugee Women and Children" and "Another Chance", a film on a vocational training school for refugee youths on Pulau Bidong, Malaysia. In addition, UNHCR continued and intensified its policy of film co-productions with major television networks on refugee situations around the world. These co-production agreements, which contain provisions that the resulting films must be telecast at "prime time" and the spare footage given to UNHCR for non-commercial use, continue to prove very useful.

177. The public information material described above, along with calendars and education kits, were also provided in various languages to non-governmental organizations to support their fund-raising projects and information campaigns.

(Note: Financial and statistical data tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)

1 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, No. 2545, p. 137.

2 Ibid, vol. 606, No. 8791, p. 267.

3 Article 14 of the Universal Declaration on HUMAN Rights, adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly in its resolution 217 A (iii) of 10 December 1948.

4 Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights (Islamic Council for Europe) of 19 September 1981.

5 Official Records of the General Assembly, Fortieth Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/40/12/Add.1), para. 115 (I) (j).

6 Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-second Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/32/12/Add.1), para. 53 (4) (c).

7 Ibid, para. 53 (5) (c).

8 Official Records of the General Assembly, Fortieth Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/40/12/Add.1), para. 115 (I) (g)-(h).

9 Organization of American States, Document AG/doc. 2000-85, of 7 December 1985.

10 Official Records of the General Assembly, Fortieth Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/40/12/Add.1), para. 115 (5).

11 Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-second Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/32/12/Add.1), para. 53 (6).

12 General Assembly resolution 35/41 B of 25 NOVEMBER 1980 ON THE REPORT OF THE united Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.