Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Twelfth Session
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.11 (A/3585/Rev.1)
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
1. The present report refers to the activities of my Office between May 1956 and May 1957. The main items covered are the problem of Hungarian refugees, the international protection of refugees and the programme of the United Nations Refugee Fund.
2. In accordance with the provisions of its Statute, the activities of the Office have been based on the principle that its work should be of an entirely non-political character, but humanitarian and social, and its duty is to provide international protection and promote permanent solutions for refugees to help them to resume a normal life.
3. The greatest problem which arose during the past year was the emergency caused by the influx of new refugees from Hungary into Austria and Yugoslavia. By the end of April, the number of these refugees had exceeded 190,000.1 The General Assembly entrusted to my Office the task of co-ordinating emergency relief and of appealing, jointly with the Secretary-General, for financial assistance and the granting of resettlement opportunities to the Hungarian refugees. In dealing with this emergency, the main object of the Office has been to ensure that the refugees were provided with food and accommodation and given resettlement opportunities and that, at the same time, the Governments which had first granted them asylum were relieved of the disproportionate burden they had assumed. The League of Red Cross Societies undertook to meet, to a considerable extent, the operational needs of the emergency in Austria and, through the Yugoslav Red Cross, to supply the basic needs of the Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia, while the resettlement of the refugees was largely organized by the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration. As a result of the combined efforts of Governments, international and inter-governmental organizations and voluntary agencies working for refugees, about 142,0001 of these refugees have been resettled in countries of second asylum. Moreover, emergency relief and care and maintenance have to a large measure been assured, although a considerable burden is still borne by the countries which first gave asylum to these refugees.
4. It is, nevertheless, anticipated that some Hungarian refugees will remain in Austria and will have to be integrated with international assistance in that country. Until further resettlement opportunities can be found for them, a certain number will also remain in Yugoslavia.
5. The international protection of refugees, which is one of the principal tasks entrusted to my Office under the terms of its Statute, has been continued and intensified. The Office has focused its main attention in this field on promoting the admission of refugees to countries of asylum and resettlement; on facilitating, in the case of those who wish to return to their country, repatriation and ensuring that their decision is in fact a voluntary one; on safeguarding their rights, improving their conditions of residence and legal status; on facilitating their travel and on assisting them to become naturalized so that they may enjoy the full rights of citizens.
6. These tasks have increased owing to the Hungarian refugee emergency. Repatriation missions visited the countries of asylum. In all cases, a representative of the Office accompanied these missions and acted as a neutral observer. To speed up the resettlement of the Hungarian refugees, a certain number of Governments agreed, at my request, to waive the normal selection criteria. In most countries these refugees have been granted special facilities with regard to the right of access to employment.
7. At the time of writing, the UNREF programme had made considerable progress. Projects for permanent solutions, the settlement of difficult cases and emergency aid in an amount of $6,154,118 are being implemented, and some 30,000 refugees are benefiting from the programme. This number would have been greater if all the projects in the Plans of Operations for 1955 and 1956 could have been implemented according to plan. The delay in implementation was due to the shortfall in governmental contributions to the Fund of approximately $2,700,000 for the years 1955 and 1956, to the influx during 1956 of a considerable number of new refugees, and to technical difficulties inherent in the carrying out of the programme.
8. The emphasis of the programme has been placed on the reduction of the camp population and, to this end, a major proportion of the funds available has been allocated to housing projects in Austria and Germany, where a relatively high proportion of refugees live in camps.
9. To ascertain how the objectives of the programme can best be reached, a reappraisal of the programme is being submitted for the consideration of the UNREF Executive Committee at its fifth session. The decisions taken by the Committee in this connexion will be found in the report on its fifth session, which is contained in annex II to the present report.
10. No mention is made in the present report of resolution 727 (VIII), under the terms of which the General Assembly decided to review, not later than at its twelfth session, the arrangements for the Office after 31 December 1958. At the request of certain Governments, this question was placed on the provisional agenda of the fifth session of the UNREF Executive Committee. The Committee's views are contained in its report, which may be found in annex II below.
11. The recommendation of the Executive Committee that the General Assembly should take into account the problem of the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong when considering the future arrangements for the Office may be found in paragraph 107 of the report on its fourth session (annex I below).
Chapter I THE PROBLEM OF HUNGARIAN REFUGEES
A. Summary of the problem and results achieved
12. In the following sections a description is given of the state of the problem of Hungarian refugees on 1 May 1957 and the action taken by my Office to implement the resolutions of the General Assembly. An account is then given of action taken in Austria and Yugoslavia. Finally, an analysis is made of the special problem of unattached youth and of the eligibility of Hungarian refugees under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
13. The problem of Hungarian refugees was considered by the General Assembly at its second emergency special session and at its eleventh regular session. It adopted three resolutions (1006 (ES-II),1129 (XI) and 1039 (XI), under which it entrusted to my Office the tasks of making appeals to meet the needs of the Hungarian refugees, of co-ordinating the provision of emergency aid and of preparing a comprehensive assessment of their needs.
14. On 28 October 1956, the first considerable number of refugees from Hungary arrived in Austria. On 4 November, the rate of influx increased sharply and it is estimated that, by the following day, 10,000 Hungarian refugees had crossed the frontier. The peak of the influx was reached during the week of 20 to 26 November, during which more than 46,000 Hungarian refugees arrived in Austria. By 1 May 1957, the total influx into Austria had amounted to approximately 174,000. Hungarian refugees also entered Yugoslavia from the end of October 1956, but the influx only assumed large proportions in the second week in January 1957. By 1 May 1957, a total number of 19,067 Hungarian refugees had entered Yugoslavia. The total influx up to 1 May 1957 into both Austria and Yugoslavia thus amounted to about 193,000.2 As of the same date, it is estimated by the Austrian Government that there were about 35,300 Hungarian refugees remaining in Austria, while in Yugoslavia there remained 14,305 refugees in camps or centres.
15. The resettlement of Hungarian refugees from Austria has been organized by Governments in most cases with the help of the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM). The Yugoslav Government has also recently authorized officials of the Migration Committee to operate in Yugoslavia within the framework of the activities of my provisional Branch Office. Details of Hungarian refugees admitted to countries of second asylum are given in the table contained in paragraph 20 below.
16. The response of countries of asylum, particularly European countries, to the requirements of the emergency in Austria was immediate and effective. The mass evacuation of Hungarian refugees successfully reduced the strain on Austria and is largely responsible for the fact that a solution of the whole Hungarian refugee problem is now almost in sight.
17. Repatriation missions from Hungary have visited camps and centres throughout Austria and Yugoslavia to interview refugees seeking repatriation. An observer from my Office has been present during these interviews to ensure that the refugees are given complete freedom of decision and are not subjected to any form of pressure. In Yugoslavia, refugees whose repatriation is being arranged are assembled in one centre and my observer again attends to ensure that any refugee wishing to change his decision and remain in Yugoslavia is permitted to do so.
18. Up to 1 May 1957, 4,470 Hungarian refugees had been repatriated directly from Austria and 2,222 from Yugoslavia. In addition, it is estimated that about 2,800 Hungarian refugees had been repatriated from countries of second asylum.
COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF NEEDS
19. In accordance with General Assembly resolution 1039 (XI) of 23 January 1957, I submitted to the UNREF Executive Committee at its fourth session a comprehensive assessment of the needs of the Hungarian refugees in both Austria and Yugoslavia. The estimates of future expenditure contained in these documents were noted with appreciation by the Committee, which authorized me, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to use them as the basis for any further appeals that we might consider necessary.
JOINT APPEALS WITH THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
20. Two appeals have been issued by my Office, in consultation with the Secretary-General, under General Assembly resolution 1129 (XI) of 21 November 1956. These appeals have covered not only financial contributions but also resettlement offers. The following table shows both the results of the financial appeal and the numbers of refugees who left Austria and Yugoslavia for countries of second asylum up to 1 May 1957. Subsequent repatriations or movements to other countries of asylum are not accounted for in this table.
(Note: table not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
21. In addition to the financial contributions promised or paid to the Secretary-General or to my office, it is known that governmental contributions amounting to $8,491,160 have been promised or paid directly to the Austrian Government. This figure includes $7,692,310 anticipated net proceeds from the sale of United States agricultural surpluses.
22. Up to 1 May 1957, the Secretary-General had paid $500,000 directly to the Austrian Government, and my Office had paid, committed or reserved, a total amount of $6,366,263.11, broken down as follows:
|Hungarian refugees in Austria||US $|
|Adaptation and furnishing of camps||2,976,153.00|
|Care and maintenance||2,309,846.00|
|Total for Hungarian refugees in Austria||5,941,770.76|
|Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia|
|Adaptation of centres||124,492.35|
|Total for Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia||174,492.35|
|Reception in Belgium of Hungarian refugees from Yugoslavia||$ 100,000.00|
|Grand Total||$ 6,366,263.11|
23. As of 1 May 1957, the uncommitted balance of funds received by my Office amounted to $4,005.06 (excluding profit on exchange) and contributions promised but not yet received (including the estimated value of contributions in kind) amounted to $2,774,706.
24. It was estimated by my Office, as of 1 May 1957, that the outstanding balance of expenditures for Hungarian refugees by the Austrian Government up to 31 December 1957 would amount to $993,415. The outstanding balance of the Yugoslav Government up to the end of 1957 is estimated at $7,191,500. A permanent solutions programme in the amount of $4,500,000 for Hungarian refugees remaining in Austria is being submitted for approval to the UNREF Executive Committee at its fifth session.
B. Hungarian refugees in Austria
CO-ORDINATION OF EMERGENCY AID
25. Emergency aid supplied by the League of Red Cross Societies and the voluntary agencies was of the greatest importance in the reception of refugees in the area of the Austro-Hungarian frontier. Supplementary assistance was also given by many agencies to refugees both in camps and in private accommodations. Food, clothing, blankets and medical supplies were delivered in large quantities at a cost believed to amount to several million dollars. Within Austria, my Branch Office co-ordinated the efforts of the many voluntary agencies in conjunction with the Austrian Ministry of the Interior. The co-ordination of this international effort was effected by my Office in Geneva. A special co-ordinating committee was set up, including representatives of the International Red Cross, the League of Red Cross Societies, the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, the administration of the United States Escapee Programme (USEP) and the voluntary agencies working for refugees.
26. In order to provide emergency accommodation for the Hungarian refugees, the Austrian Government has been compelled to adapt large numbers of disused buildings at a considerable cost. Refugees have also been accommodated by Austrian provincial governments and voluntary agencies in hotels, boarding houses and similar institutions. Donations from the fund organized by the Lord Mayor of London and from the United Nations Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland enabled 14,500 Hungarian refugees to be lodged in such accommodation when the emergency was at its peak.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
27. The responsibility for providing care and maintenance to the Hungarian refugees fell in the first place on the Austrian Government. During November 1956, however, the League of Red Cross Societies undertook to provide part of the care and maintenance needs of 20,000 refugees. From 15 December 1956, the League assumed the responsibility for providing food, clothing and first aid for Hungarian refugees in designated camps. This commitment has been progressively extended, with some financial assistance from my Office, to cover all camps with accommodation for more than 500 refugees. For the period from 1 July to 30 September 1957, this responsibility will be taken over by the Austrian Red Cross, assisted by the League of Red Cross Societies.
28. Although my Office made an initial contribution of $413,000 and has subsequently held the sum of $1 million in reserve in case the resources of the League of Red Cross Societies should prove insufficient, the great majority of the expense entailed in the League's care and maintenance operation has been borne by the League itself and the national Red Cross societies. The funds required came mostly from public appeals in many countries. The League of Red Cross Societies has thus proved itself to be capable of meeting the operational needs of a refugee emergency and also of channelling popular support in many countries to the care of refugees.
29. Besides the basic needs for accommodation and care and maintenance, there are certain other needs of the Hungarian refugees which have had to be met. In particular, it has been found essential to withdraw unattached young refugees from the social and moral dangers of camp life while they are awaiting emigration or integration. To meet such needs the UNREF Executive Committee, at its fourth session, approved the use of $290,000 for long-term projects, to which the sum of $100,000 was subsequently added. Under these projects, counsellors are being provided to assist Hungarian refugees, case-workers are dealing with unattached refugee youth, scholarships are being given for young refugees and a preliminary study is being made of a housing programme.
30. A special programme designed both to meet the long-term needs of refugees awaiting emigration, particularly young refugees, and to assist the integration of those refugees who wish to remain in Austria or who cannot be resettled in other countries, is being submitted to the UNREF Executive Committee at its fifth session. Under this proposed programme, which will cost $4,500,000, aid will be supplied to special groups, including youths, university students and intellectuals, and accommodation will be provided by the adaptation of existing buildings and by the construction of new houses.
C. Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia
ESTABLISHMENT OF A PROVISIONAL BRANCH OFFICE
31. On 21 December 1956, the Yugoslav Government requested my Office for financial assistance in dealing with the problem of Hungarian refugees. On 28 December, it stated that it would be prepared to receive a representative of my Office who might wish to acquire direct information on the needs of the refugees. A member of my Office visited Yugoslavia from 8 to 21 January 1957.
32. On 11 February 1957, the Yugoslav Government stated that it would agree to the establishment of a provisional Branch Office in Belgrade, to be maintained during the emergency brought about by the influx of Hungarian Refugees. The functions of the provisional Branch Office, which was opened on 15 February 1957, are to promote the resettlement of Hungarian refugees and to co-ordinate arrangements for the distribution of emergency assistance.
33. The Yugoslav Government has authorized officials of ICEM and representatives of a number of international voluntary agencies to operate in Yugoslavia within the framework of the activities of my provisional Branch Office with a view to giving supplementary assistance and to facilitating the resettlement of the refugees.
CO-ORDINATION OF EMERGENCY AID
34. Emergency aid is being supplied to Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia by the Yugoslav Red Cross and by the voluntary agencies, whose representatives are operating within the framework of the activities of my provisional Branch Office. The distribution of relief supplies is carried out by the Yugoslav Red Cross under the direction of a special co-ordinating committee, with my representative as Chairman and including representatives of the Yugoslav Government and the Yugoslav Government and the Yugoslav Red Cross.
35. The Yugoslav Government accommodated the Hungarian refugees partly in camps and centres and partly in tourist hotels which were empty during the winter. These hotels, however, have had to be emptied for the tourist season, and existing centres have been expanded and new centres prepared. Considerable costs have been incurred, both for the adaptation and furnishing of centres and also for the readaptation of the hotels from which the refugees had been moved.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
36. The League of Red Cross Societies has made a very considerable contribution towards the cost of care and maintenance borne by the Yugoslav Government. In consultation with my Office, it has been arranged that the League of Red Cross Societies will provide from 1 March to 30 September 1957 basic food, clothing and medical supplies for up to 17,000 refugees, distribution being undertaken by the Yugoslav Red cross. It is estimated that the contributions of the League of Red Cross Societies during this period, supplemented by assistance through the voluntary agencies, will save approximately $500,000 to the Yugoslav Government.
Chapter II SPECIAL EMERGENCIES
37. At its fourth session, the UNREF Executive Committee established an emergency reserve of $50,000 to be used by my Office in unforeseen circumstances pending the possibility of consulting member governments of the Executive Committee on such further measures, as the circumstances might require.
38. As a result of the events which took place in the middle East at the beginning of 1957, a number of persons left Egypt for certain countries of temporary asylum in Europe, where they are now regarded as coming under the mandate of my Office. The cost of their care and maintenance proved a considerable burden to the Governments of these countries and to the voluntary agencies which gave assistance.
39. I consequently made a first contribution of $30,000 to the voluntary agency mainly responsible for this assistance and a second contribution of $42,105 out of further funds which were placed at my disposal for this purpose by one Government.
Chapter III INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION
A. International instruments affecting refugees
1951 CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF REFUGEES
40. Since May 1956, the following States have ratified the 1951 Convention: the Republic of Ireland on 30 November 1956 and Liechtenstein on 8 March 1957.
41. Ireland and Liechtenstein have both, in accordance with article 1 B of the Convention, declared that the words: "Events occurring before 1 January 1951" shall mean "events occurring in Europe or elsewhere before 1 January 1951".
42. In addition, the Government of Morocco made a declaration to the Secretary-General, on 7 November 1956, to the effect that it assumed the obligation arising out of the ratification of the 1951 Convention by the French Government and that it considered itself, therefore, a party to the Convention.
43. The following twenty-one States are therefore now parties to the Convention: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ecuador, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Holy See, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
44. The Government of the United Kingdom made a declaration to the Secretary-General, on 24 October 1956, to the effect that application of the Convention would extend, with certain reservations, to the following territories: British Solomon Islands Protectorate, Cyprus, Dominica, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Gambia, Gilbert and Ellice Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, Kenya, Mauritius, St. Vincent, Seychelles, Somaliland Protectorate, St. Helena and Zanzibar.
CONVENTION ON THE DECLARATION OF DEATH OF MISSING PERSONS
45. The Secretary-General has drawn up a Protocol extending the period of validity of the Convention on the Declaration of Death of Missing Persons which expired on 23 January 1957 for a further period of ten years. The Protocol has so far been signed by the Governments of Israel and Pakistan and came into force, upon the latter signature, on 22 January 1957.
CONVENTION RELATING TO THE STATUS OF STATELESS PERSONS
46. The Government of Norway ratified this Convention on 19 November 1956. Norway is the second country to ratify the Convention, which requires six ratifications or accessions in order to come into force.
UNIVERSAL COPYRIGHT CONVENTION
47. During the period under review, the following additional States ratified or acceded to Protocol No. 1 to the Universal Copyright Convention which provides for the assimilation of stateless persons and refugees resident in a contracting State to nationals of that State for the purposes of the Convention: Liberia, on 27 April 1956; Portugal, on 25 September 1956; Ecuador, on 5 March 1957; Cuba, on 18 March 1957; and Austria on 2 April 1957.
CONVENTIONS OF THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE
48. The following additional ratifications took place: on 3 April 1956, Belgium ratified the European Interim Agreement on Social Security other than Schemes for Old Age, Invalidity and Survivors, and the European Interim Agreement on Social Security Schemes relating to Old Age, Invalidity and Survivors, including the Protocols applying these instruments to refugees; on 7 May 1956, these instruments were also ratified by the Federal Republic of Germany.
49. The European Convention on Social and Medical Assistance, together with the Protocol applying this Convention to refugees, was ratified by Belgium on 24 July 1956, and by the Federal Republic of Germany on 24 August 1956.
50. The ratification by Germany of the above three instruments has since been extended to apply to West Berlin.
B. Admission and expulsion
51. By a decree published on 29 December 1956, the Government of Argentina modified its previous legislation regarding immigration, and established a new procedure to legalize the status of aliens who have entered the country illegally. It is anticipated that this decree will benefit not only refugees who are already in that country and who need to regularize their position, but also those wishing to immigrate to Argentina.
DETERMINATION OF ELIGIBILITY
52. The procedure for the determination of eligibility of refugees instituted by the Austrian Government in February 1956 has remained in force. This procedure could not be applied to the Hungarian refugees, approximately 174,0003 of whom entered Austria between October 1956 and 1 May 1957. A special registration card was issued to these refugees by the Austrian authorities, who agreed that, in view of the circumstances in which refugees in this group had left their country of origin, they would be considered as coming within the terms of article 1 of the 1951 Convention, unless it were proved otherwise. This arrangement enabled the Austrian authorities to carry out the registration of the large number of new refugees without delay.
53. Those among the new Hungarian refugees who remain in Austria will be required to register and will be documented in the same way as other refugees in Austria.
54. Besides the Hungarian refugees, the number of refugees who entered Austria during 1956 showed a considerable increase compared with previous years. Approximately 5,000 refugees sought asylum in Austria during 1956; the figures for the preceding four years had been in the region of 2,000 annually.
55. During 1956, my Branch Office in Belgium received 10,900 applications for recognition of refugee status, compared with 3,000 during 1955. Only 200 of these requests were made by newly arrived refugees; the remainder were received from refugees sur place. This marked increase can be attributed, firstly, to the decision published by the Belgian Government that refugees claiming the benefits of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees had to be declared eligible by my Branch Office and, secondly, to the new German indemnification laws for victims of Nazi persecution, which require refugee applicants to produce an eligibility certificate in order to qualify for certain benefits.
56. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the procedure is still in force whereby refugees who entered Germany after 1 July 1950 have to apply for recognition to a Federal Recognition Board. Decisions of the Board are subject to revision. In the case of negative decisions by the Appeals Board, the matter may be brought before the Administrative Court at Ansbach, against decisions of which it is possible to appeal to the higher administrative courts in Munich and Berlin.
57. In the course of 1956, 2,275 applications for admission to refugee status were considered, in addition to a certain number of applications submitted in the previous year. These applications concerned a total of 3,363 persons, 813 of whom were determined to be eligible and 680 ineligible, while applications from 1,870 persons were eliminated for miscellaneous reasons.
58. The need is felt in Germany for increased legal assistance to individual refugees in submitting applications for eligibility and in dealing with the complicated procedure for appeals.
59. The figures quoted above do not include the Hungarian refugees who were granted asylum in Germany between October and 31 December 1956. These refugees were registered at transit centres, where they were interviewed, provisionally recognized as refugees under the terms of the 1951 Convention, and issued with a certificate to this effect, valid for four months. When they acquire a fixed place of residence, the Hungarian refugees have to apply for recognition of their status in writing, but do not have to appear before the Eligibility Board. Those determined eligible are granted all the rights provided for by the 1951 Convention.
60. In Germany, the problem of illegal entrants from countries of second asylum to which attention was drawn in previous reports has become less acute. Efforts were made with the help of the voluntary agencies, the USEP administration, and the German authorities to solve the small number of cases which arose during 1956 through emigration and integration. My representative in Germany is endeavouring to have the legal status of these refugees clarified.
61. In view of the large number of requests from refugees in France for certificates of eligibility to support their claims for indemnification as victims of Nazi persecution, the task of establishing requests for such certificates has been entrusted to the Ministère des anciens combatants et victimes de guerre, which transmits the requests to the competent eligibility authority.
62. Since October 1956, spouses and minor children of eligible Spanish refugees resident in France are also considered by the Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides as refugees according to the Convention, following the principle of family unity.
63. In Italy, there was a considerable increase during 1956, particularly during the second half of the year, in the influx of new refugees, reaching an average of approximately 1,000 per month; there was, consequently, an increased number of applications for refugee status.
64. In addition, a considerable number of victims of Nazi persecution have applied to my Branch Office in Italy to be recognized as refugees, in order to benefit under the German laws on indemnification.
65. During 1956, the joint Eligibility Commission examined 1,198 cases in Rome, of which 850 were declared 108 ineligible, 234 were held in suspense and six referred to the Plenary Commission. In Trieste and Udine, of 3,303 cases examined by the Eligibility Commission, 2,833 were declared eligible and 470 ineligible; in Cremona, of 896 cases examined, 816 were declared eligible and eighty ineligible.
66. As reported above, the Government of Morocco has assumed the obligations arising form the ratification of the 1951 Convention by the French Government, and considers itself a party to that Convention. Under the terms of an agreement concluded between the Moroccan Government and my Office on 7 November 1956, the Government has assumed responsibility for the refugees within its territory. An Office for Refugees and Stateless Persons, which determines eligibility and delivers eligibility certificates and travel documents to refugees, has been established in Morocco by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. An Appeals Board, consisting of a representative of the Ministry of Justice and my honorary representative at Rabat, has also been set up to consider appeals against eligibility decisions taken by the Office for Refugees and Stateless Persons. My honorary representative acts as adviser to the Moroccan Government on refugee matters in general.
67. In the Netherlands, a Royal Decree containing regulations for the recognition of the eligibility of refugees and regulating expulsion was issued on 10 January 1957. During 1956, my Branch Office in the Netherlands issued 865 certificates of eligibility, entitling the holders to the benefits of the 1951 Convention.
68. In Greece, refugees entering the country illegally are first interviewed and then placed in a reception centre for a period of approximately three weeks while a security check is made. If the results are satisfactory, refugee status is granted, otherwise the refugees are brought to trial and, if they wish, provided with a defending lawyer by the Greek Red Cross.
69. No decision of a Greek court is valid unless it is signed by both prosecuting and defending lawyer. The UNHCR Branch Office in Athens is allowed to send a representative to attend such trials as observer.
70. In Austria, domiciliary bans are now imposed only if a refugee has committed a criminal offence. This penalty is no longer imposed in cases of illegal frontier crossing.
71. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the practice continues of issuing expulsion orders to refugees who have entered the country illegally from another country of asylum, and to refugees who, because of criminal activities, are considered a threat to the security of the country. These expulsion orders, however, are seldom put into effect. For this reason, a proposal has been made, on the basis of a recent court decision, that expulsion orders should no longer be issued unless they can actually be implemented. My representative is endeavouring to obtain prior notification from the German authorities in all such cases.
72. The Appeals Committee in France has in the past been considered competent by the Ministry of the Interior only in respect of appeals against expulsion. By a decision of 21 December 1956, the Ministry of the Interior recognized the Appeals Committee competent also to consider appeals against measures taken in lieu of expulsion such as assigned residence.
73. In Luxembourg, a procedure has been agreed between the Luxembourg Government and my Branch Office whereby no refugee is expelled without prior consultation with my representative.
C. Rights of refugees in their countries of residence
RIGHT TO WORK
74. The Austrian Government, when it ratified the 1951 Convention, made a reservation to the effect that article 17, paragraphs 1 and (a) should be considered as recommendations. My Office has been in continuous contact with the Austrian authorities in this matter. As a result of administrative measures taken by the Austrian Government, the following categories of refugees have now been exempted from the requirement of an employment permit in order to take up paid employment: Volksdeutsche refugees; refugees who have been resident for three or more years in Austria; refugees whose spouse or children have Austrian nationality; and refugees who entered Austria during the last three years with the consent of the Austrian authorities for the purpose of family reunion.
75. Other categories of refugees still require employment permits, but the local authorities have been instructed to issue such permits upon application to refugees eligible under the 1951 Convention, so that they may be enabled to take advantage of employment opportunities on the same terms as Austrian nationals. This treatment also applies to the newly-arrived Hungarian refugees.
76. In France, the measures previously reported for the liberalization of access to employment for refugees continue to prove satisfactory. During their first year of residence, newly-arrived Hungarian refugees are given special facilities and are issued with a card entitling them to work in their profession in the department where they are resident. For their second year of residence, this entitlement is extended to the whole of France. After three years' residence, they will be authorized to exercise any profession in any part of France.
77. The Italian authorities grant work and residence permits to refugees included in UNREF projects for integration into the local economy in Italy.
78. Furthermore, the Italian Government has agreed, with certain reservations, to apply to provisions of article 17 of the 1951 Convention to refugees who, on 27 March 1957, were living out of camps in Italy and who otherwise fulfilled the conditions laid down in this article. The Italian Government has also agreed to grant to these refugees facilities for access to self-employment.
79. In Argentina, as a result of steps taken by my representative for Latin America, the University of Buenos Aires has decided that the validity of professional diplomas held by refugees which lack the authentication normally required may be established by a statement sworn before court.
80. In Belgium, as a result of efforts made by my Branch Office, under the terms of a Decree published on 5 July 1956, refugee students have been granted the same rights to scholarships as nationals, whereas previously only refugees who had been students in Belgium for five years had these rights.
81. In France, the Government awarded 220 scholarships for refugees in 1956, representing a cost of 45 million French francs. These were awarded through the Service social d'aide aux émigrants. A number of special scholarships for Hungarian refugees are to be awarded during 1957.
82. The sum of 2 million French francs placed at the disposal of the French Government from liquidation funds of the International Refugee Organization for aid to refugee students has been spent during 1956 to provide scholarships for the students.
83. In Germany, a new law concerning social security benefits was promulgated on 16 April 1956. The law provides for different treatment for Germans and foreigners as regards unemployment benefits, but gives homeless foreigners the same rights as German nationals. Other non-German refugees became entitled to these benefits on 1 September 1956, after the European Social Security Agreements had come into force in Germany, provided they had resided in Germany for at least six months.
LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN INDIVIDUAL CASES
84. As a result of the increased number of refugees arriving in Austria and, in particular, the influx of Hungarian refugees, the number of cases of refugees applying to my Branch Office in Vienna for legal assistance has considerably increased.
85. My Branch Office in Bonn, too, reports the need for increased individual legal assistance in the Federal Republic of Germany.
86. Considerable interest is being shown in legal assistance by the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations interested in Migration, which appointed working groups to deal with this matter. My office is represented on these working groups by an observer. Furthermore, provision for legal assistance is included in a certain number of projects within the UNREF programme which have already been authorized by the UNREF Executive Committee. It is hoped that these efforts will lead to the provision of greater facilities for legal assistance to refugees, for which a considerable need exists.
87. In Austria, 60,135 refugees of German ethnic origin had acquired by the end of 1956 Austrian nationality under the terms of the Option Law of 2 June 1954. Some 30,000 acquired Austrian nationality under this Law in 1956, including over 19,000 between 1 July and 31 December 1956; during the same period, over 1,000 foreign-speaking refugees obtained Austrian nationality by naturalization. The period for applying for Austrian nationality under the Option Law expired on 30 June 1956.
88. Some 1,000 refugees were naturalized in Belgium in 1956, several thousand in France, over 4,000 in Germany, and some 800 in Greece. Over 500 refugees acquired Italian nationality during 1956, including a certain number of refugees of Italian ethnic origin, who became Yugoslav citizens as a result of the Peace Treaty of 10 February 1947, and reacquired Italian citizenship through a special procedure established by the Italian authorities.
89. It is estimated that, in other European countries, some 10,000 refugees were naturalized during 1956. This number includes approximately 1,000 refugees in the Netherlands, some 4,500 in Sweden, and about 3,200 in the United Kingdom.
E. Travel documents
90. The travel documents provided for by the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees are now issued by the following signatory Governments: Austria, Belgium, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. A general undertaking to recognize all travel documents issued in accordance with the Convention has been given by the following states, non-parties to the Convention: Argentina, Ceylon, China, Colombia, Cuba (for transit only), Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Portugal and Venezuela. A number of other Governments have signified their recognition of the documents so far issued.
91. By a Decree of 13 September 1956, the Government of Chile has undertaken to put into effect the provisions of the Agreement relating to the Issue of a Travel Document to Refugees of 15 October 1946, and will issue to refugees resident in Chile the document provided for by that Agreement.
92. Details were given in the last report to the General Assembly of the action taken by the Council of Europe, in co-operation with my Office, to facilitate the travel of refugees and of the resolution adopted by the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe on the subject. A number of measures taken by Governments in implementation of this resolution were reported.4
93. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has set up a committee of experts for the simplification of frontier formalities, including frontier formalities for refugees.
94. During the period under review, the following further action has been taken by European Governments towards the facilitation of refugee travel.
95. In the Federal Republic of Germany, an Ordinance was published on 12 May 1956, providing that holders of travel documents issued in accordance with the 1951 Convention, or with the London Travel Document Agreement of 1946, by States with which the German Federal Government has diplomatic relations, and whose nationals do not require a visa for return to their country of nationality, are exempt from the requirement of an entry visa, provided the travel document contains a return clause, and the refugee enters German territory not later than four months before the expiry of that clause.
96. France has concluded bilateral agreements with Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, similar to the agreements existing between the countries of the Benelux Union, exempting refugees from the requirement of an entry visa. According to these agreements, refugees holding a valid travel document issued under the provisions of the 1951 Convention by one of the signatory countries can travel to the other signatory country without the requirement of a visa, for a stay not exceeding three months. These agreements, concluded on 15 February 1957, will come into force on 15 May 1957. It is hoped that other European countries will adopt similar measures in the near future for the exemption of refugees from the requirement of visas.
97. The French Government has waived the requirement of entry and exit visas for refugees resident in France who hold the Convention travel document.
98. The Government of Austria has undertaken to grant entry visas free of charge to refugees travelling to Austria on a visit, or in transit for another destination, provided they hold a travel document issued in accordance with the 1951 Convention by a State which has adopted a similar practice.
99. The Government of Norway grants entry visas free of charge to refugees holding refugee travel documents issued by States whose nationals do not require visas for entry into Norway.
F. Special problems of legal protection
INDEMNIFICATION OF VICTIMS OF NAZI PERSECUTION
100. In the Federal Republic of Germany, a new law for indemnification of Nazi victims was promulgated on 29 June 1956. This law contains certain improvements on previous legislation, but the provision concerning persons persecuted for reasons of nationality is still inadequate as compared with the provisions for other categories of persons who have suffered damage to body or health.
101. During 1956, a special fund of DM.50 million was established by the German authorities for the benefit of persons who had been persecuted for racial reasons, but who at the time of persecution did not belong to the Jewish faith.
102. The need is felt for increased legal assistance to individual refugees in making their claims for indemnification for injuries or damage suffered for Nazi persecution.
INTERNATIONAL TRACING SERVICE
103. My Branch Office in Germany continues its close co-operation with the International Tracing Service, which is administered by the International Committee of the Red Cross, under the supervision of an inter-governmental commission on which my Office is represented by an observer. During 1956, the service received 39,572 inquiries concerning persons who had suffered persecution, displaced persons and refugees; 95,680 requests for certificates needed for indemnification proceedings; 22,591 requests for death certificates; and 236 requests for historical and statistical data.
104. During the same period, the service issued 105,107 reports on persons who had suffered persecution, displaced persons who had suffered persecution, displaced persons and refugees; 129,611 certificates for indemnification purposes; 1,538 death certificates; and 267 reports on historical and statistical data.
Chapter IV PROMOTION OF REPATRIATION AND RESETTLEMENT
105. Under the terms of its Statute, my Office should facilitate the voluntary repatriation of refugees who come within its mandate. The Office is not authorized by the General Assembly to undertake operational tasks connected with the repatriation or resettlement of refugees, nor has it been provided with funds for these activities.
106. In accordance with the terms of the Statute and the provisions of resolution 925 (X) adopted by the General Assembly at its tenth session, the Office has continued to apply due safeguards to ensure the protection of those refugees who are given the opportunity of being repatriated. At my request, the Governments of the countries of residence of refugees inform the Branch Offices of any intended visit of a repatriation mission, and invite them to send a representative to accompany the mission, in the capacity of an impartial observer, to see that no undue influence is exercised on the refugees from any side.
107. In the case of individual refugees applying to the Office or one of its Branch Offices for repatriation, they are referred to the appropriate authorities of their country of origin.
108. According to information received by the Office, it is estimated that some 2,700 refugees within the mandate, excluding new refugees from Hungary, returned to their countries of origin in the course of 1956, as shown in the following breakdown:
|Near and Middle East||40|
109. A certain number of camps in Austria and Germany were visited by repatriation missions. In all cases, my Branch Offices were invited to send a representative to accompany the mission as a neutral observer.
110. My Office has continued to promote the resettlement of refugees wherever possible. Negotiations between the Office and European Governments have resulted in the development of intra-European resettlement schemes enabling permanent solutions to be found for approximately 2,500 refugees. Furthermore, support has been given to measures initiated by other agencies and organizations to facilitate the resettlement of refugees within Europe and overseas.
111. Since the submission of my report to the General Assembly at its eleventh session, there has been a considerable increase in the rate of resettlement of refugees. The number of refugees within the mandate of my Office who emigrated under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration rose from 19,919 in 1955 to 36,531 in 1956, an increase of over 80 per cent. In the first two months of 1957 a further 2,954 refugees emigrated with the assistance of ICEM. These figures do not include Hungarian refugees who left their country of origin after 28 October 1956.
112. In the following table details are given of the numbers of refugees transported by ICEM during 1956:
Area of emigration
|Country of Immigration||Austria||Germany||Greece||Italy (including Trieste)||Netherlands||Hong-Kong||Others||Total 1 January 31 December 1956|
|Total 1 January 1956 31 December 1956||10,087||8,958||1,628||2,275||90||1,142||12,351||36,351|
|Union of South Africa.||1||5||19||25|
|United States of America||6,751||7,875||1,287||1,187||11||79||5,401||22,591|
113. The increase in the number of refugees resettled can be attributed largely to the accelerated implementation of the United States Refugee Relief Act of 1953 in the period preceding its expiry on 31 December 1956. A further contributing factor has been the development of the intra-European migration schemes referred to above, particularly those of the Governments of Sweden and Belgium.
114. The intra-European migration schemes have offered particularly favourable opportunities to refugees who do not come within the category of "difficult cases" but who are nevertheless unable, because of physical or social handicaps, to participate in normal migration programmes. Such schemes for difficult-to-(re)settle cases sometimes require the provision of a small resettlement grant to help establish a family which is economically weak or to provide for a period of rehabilitation in the country of immigration. A project in an amount of $50,000 to provide such grants was authorized for implementation by the UNREF Executive Committee at its fourth session.
115. My Office, in conjunction with the administration of the United States Escapee Programme, has been able to negotiate resettlement schemes under which 401 refugees have been admitted to Belgium from Greece, seventy-four from Turkey and approximately 150 from Italy. Many of these refugees came within the difficult-to-(re)settle category.
116. During 1956, the Swedish scheme for the admission of a thousand refugees, announced in the previous report to the General Assembly,5 was successfully concluded. Under this programme the Government of Sweden admitted, without resettlement grants from UNREF, refugees suffering from tuberculosis and their dependants, as well as physically and socially handicapped family units. In the autumn of 1956, a Swedish mission visited Greece and Turkey at the suggestion of my Office and selected an additional twenty-five refugees suffering from tuberculosis, together with their dependants, for treatment and permanent settlement in Sweden.
117. Resettlement of 205 refugees in France and 407 refugees in the Netherlands was carried out during 1956 under schemes negotiated by my Office.
Chapter V PROGRAMME OF THE UNITED NATIONS REFUGEE FUND
118. The UNREF programme for permanent solutions and emergency aid authorized by General Assembly resolution 832 (IX) has now been in operation for nearly two years. Nearly all the projects in the UNREF Plan of Operations for 1955 have been implemented. The greater part of the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) is still in the course of implementation, and a beginning has been made with the implementation of the Revised Plan of Operations (1957).
119. In accordance with the policy adopted by the High Commissioner's Advisory Committee at its fifth session and by the UNREF Executive Committee, emphasis has been placed on the reduction of the number of refugees in camps. To intensify this policy, a plan for the closure of a specified number of camps has been drawn up in Austria, Germany and Greece. In Italy, the influx of new refugees has prevented such a plan from being carried out. In these four countries the refugee camp population, many of whom have been put into new camps, excluding new Hungarian refugees, which was approximately 84,800 at the beginning of 1955, had decreased to 50,330 by January 1957, as is shown in the following table:
|As of 1 January 19566a||As of 1 January 1956a||As of 1 January 1957b|
a Revised figures.
b Excluding new Hungarian refugees.
120. At the time of writing, $8,611,238 of the overall target for UNREF of $16 million for governmental contributions has been pledged or received. As of 31 December 1956 there was a shortfall of $2,696,303 in governmental contributions for 1955 and for 1956. A special contribution of $1,353,180 made by the Swedish Government has made it possible to put into effect a considerable number of outstanding projects within the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) and to begin the implementation of the Revised Plan of Operations (1957). If contributions are maintained at this present level during the remaining period of the programme, there will remain at the end of 1958 a shortfall of approximately $2,700,000.
121. At the request of the UNREF Executive Committee, a report on the effects of the shortfall on the reduction of the camp population was submitted to the General Assembly at its eleventh session5 and the UNREF Executive Committee, at its fourth session, requested that a complete reappraisal of the UNREF programme should be made, to be considered at its fifth session (A/AC.79/72).
122. As of 1 April 1957, 29,414 refugees, including 9,066 in camps, were benefiting from the UNREF programme. Of these, 10,573, including 3,339 in camps, may be regarded as firmly settled. This number is smaller than had been anticipated, owing to the delay incurred in the implementation of the projects.
Contributions to the Fund for 1956
123. At its second session the UNREF Executive Committee agreed on the principle of taking over into the annual target for governmental contributions the shortfall of the preceding year. The combined financial target for 1956 was accordingly fixed at $5,946,303.6 As of 1 May 1957, the following governmental contributions to UNREF for 1956 had been received in the total amount of $3,250,000, in addition to an amount of $167,674 which had been received from non-governmental sources:
Governmental contributions to UNREF for 1956
|Germany (Federal Republic of )||23,810|
|United States of America||1,300 000|
|United States of America||194,000|
Implementation of the of Operations for 1955 and 1956
124. At the time of writing, projects within the Plan of Operations for 1955 and the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) in an amount of $6,154,1187 have been put into effect. They include projects in amounts of $4,427,058 for permanent solutions, $1,038,790 for the settlement of difficult cases, $523,472 for the Shanghai Operation and $164,798 for emergency aid. These amounts include projects in the amount of $1,406,691 financed from non-governmental sources. A more detailed account of the implementation of the programme by countries and types of assistance may be found in the following sections of this chapter.
Revised Plan of Operations (1957)
125. The UNREF Executive Committee, at its fourth session, established the combined financial target for 1957 at $7,096,303, and decided that the value of unimplemented projects within the Plan of Operations (1956) should be taken over into the Revised Plan of Operations (1957).
126. The allocation for projects approved by the Executive Committee for the Revised Plan of Operations (1957) were as follows:
|Permanent solutions projects||5,121,489|
|Settlement of difficult cases||1,217,266|
An amount of $1,089,478 was left unallocated.
127. At its fourth session, the Executive Committee approved the Revised Plan of Operations (1957) and authorized for implementation, as funds became available, projects requiring a contribution of $4,066,040 from UNREF, including an amount of $310,009 from non-governmental funds. Additional projects in the amount of $1,749,786 are being submitted to the Executive Committee at its fifth session which would increase to $5,815,826 the total value of projects authorized for implementation in the Revised Plan of Operations (1957).
Contributions pledged or promised for 1957
128. As of 1 May 1957, the following Governments had contributed or signified their intention to contribute to UNREF in the amounts stated below:
|Governmental contributions||Promises $||Pledges $||Payments $||Total $|
|United States of America||600,000bb||600,000|
a Equivalent of Canadian $ 183,000.
b Appropriation for first part of 1957.
In addition, an amount of $408,304 has been received from non-governmental sources, including a special contribution of $365,822 by the United Nations Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
A. Permanent solutions
129. At the beginning of 1956, out of 148,760 refugees in Austria there were some 82,800 non-settled refugees, including 35,800 refugees living in camps.
130. One of the most significant developments in Austria has been a considerable reduction in the number of refugees within the mandate of my Office, mainly resulting from the naturalization of a larger number of refugees under the Federal Act of 2 June 1954. The total number of refugees decreased from 148,760 on 1 January 1956 to 111,5009 on 1 January 1957. The number of refugees within the mandate living in camps decreased from 35,800 on 1 January 1956 to 19,8508 on 1 January 1957.
131. The influx of Hungarian refugees into Austria temporarily retarded the implementation of the UNREF programme, since it necessarily demanded the attention of all the governmental and non-governmental officials concerned with the refugee problem. The Hungarian refugee influx particularly affected plans for the closure of camps, because those scheduled for closure had to be kept open to admit the new refugees. This situation has now been remedied; dates have been fixed for the closure of fifteen camps before or by the end of 1958. It should be remembered, however, that there is still in Austria a considerable number of refugees outside camps who live in sub-standard accommodation.
Summary of projects included in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956)
132. The UNREF Executive Committee approved an allocation of $1,160,000 from UNREF to be devoted to permanent solutions projects in Austria under the Revised Plan of Operations (1956). To this amount was added the sum of $1,001,725 taken over from the Plan of Operations for 1955, making a total of $2,161,725 for 1956.
133. The total allocation was broken down into the following categories of projects:
|Establishment in agriculture||320,000|
|Rehabilitation of handicapped refugees||93,462|
|Aid to university students||20,000|
|Aid to high school pupils||16,205|
|Integration counselling and placement||59,477|
|Case workers in camps||10,000|
|Assistance for naturalization||10,000|
|German language training||7,692|
134. The most important requirements for the refugees in Austria were still considered to be the provision of housing, credit facilities and opportunities in agriculture. It was found necessary to include a new type of project for the rehabilitation of handicapped refugees, particularly those in the camps, who, if they were given proper training and prosthetic appliances, would be able to obtain employment in light industries. The projects for integration counselling implemented in 1955 had proved their value, and further projects were presented for a slightly increased amount. There was a continuing need for vocational training projects as well as projects for high school pupils, and for aid to students. Counselling projects were continued and reinforced by a special project for case-workers in the camps with a high proportion of foreign refugees.
Implementation of projects in the Plans and Operations for 1955 and 1956
135. Permanent solutions projects included in the UNREF Plan of Operations for 1955 and in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956), requiring contributions from UNREF amounting to $2,230,658 are being implemented. The total UNREF contributions to these projects include $534,759 granted by the Netherlands Committee for Aid to Refugees, $164,269 from other non-governmental funds, $17,000 from the balance of the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund and $1,514,630 from governmental contributions.
136. The breakdown of projects in the course of implementation is as follows:
|Establishment in agriculture||200,000|
|Rehabilitation of handicapped refugees||88,677|
|Aid to university students||39,544|
|Aid to high school pupils||24,231|
|Integration counselling and placement||84,055|
|Case workers in camps||10,000|
|Assistance for naturalization||10,000|
|German language training||7,692|
137. As of 1 April 1957, 8,612 refugees had benefited from these projects and 5,343 of these had been firmly settled. Of the total number of beneficiaries, 3,483 belonged to the camp population.
138. On 1 January 1956, there were, among 216,000 refugees within the mandate of my Office residing in Germany, some 81,860 non-settled refugees, of whom 26,860 were living in camps. In spite of the continued influx of refugees from the Eastern zone of Germany and of Volksdeutsche from Eastern European countries, a further decrease in unemployment has been reported. The admission of almost 15,000 new Hungarian refugees has not considerably affected the situation of other refugees. The lack of adequate housing located in areas where there are employment opportunities is still the major obstacle to the integration of the refugees, but there is also a great need for integration counselling and various types of vocational training and rehabilitation for the more difficult cases.
Summary of projects included in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956)
139. At its second session, the UNREF Executive Committee approved an allocation of $370,024 from UNREF for projects for permanent solutions in Germany under the Revised Plan of Operations (1956). The total allocation was broken down into the following categories of projects:
|Rehabilitation of handicapped refugees||14,286|
|Aid to university students||5,000|
|Integration counselling and placement||21,762|
140. The needs of the refugees in Germany in 1956 remained similar to those existing in 1955. In the light of experience gained in 1955, the programme was slightly modified. Housing remained the principal requirement if the camps were to be closed and, therefore, absorbed the major part of the allocation for Germany. A new type of project was introduced to provide rehabilitation for handicapped refugees, enabling them to take up employment. The allocation for aid to university students was reduced, as this type of project was not intended to be a recurring one, but was to assist refugees to continue or complete studies already begun. The project started in 1955 for small loans to enable refugees to establish themselves in independent occupations filled a great need, and it was decided to continue it in 1956, but on a smaller scale in view of the reduction of the over-all allocation for Germany.
Implementation of projects in the Plans of Operations for 1955 and 1956
141. Permanent solutions projects included in the UNREF Plan of Operations for 1955 and in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956), requiring contributions from UNREF amounting to $662,794, are being implemented. The total UNREF contributions to these projects include $7,650 from the balance of the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund, $563,430 from governmental contributions to UNREF and $91,714 from other contributions.
142. The breakdown of projects in the course of implementation is as follows:
|Rehabilitation of handicapped refugees||14,286|
|Aid to university students||20,357|
|Integration counselling and placement||48,079|
143. As of 1 April 1957, 4,522 refugees had benefited from these projects and 1,538 of these had been firmly settled. Of the total number of beneficiaries 3,027 belonged to the camp population.
144. At the beginning of 1956, the number of non-settled refugees in Greece was estimated to be some 8,700, including 1,900 in camps, while the total number of refugees within the mandate of my Office was estimated at 14,500. Under the projects included I the Plans of Operations for 1955 and 1956, provisions were made for the refugee camp population ineligible for assistance from the USEP administration. In the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) a number of projects were designed to help refugees living outside camps, of whom some 6,000 were estimated to be non-settled on 31 December 1956. The condition of these refugees is often as precarious as that of the camp population. More rapid progress is being made in the implementation of projects in this country now that the Preselection Service, which is responsible for the selection of refugees for all UNREF projects, is operating smoothly.
Summary of projects included in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956)
146. At its second session, the UNREF Executive Committee approved an allocation of $600,000 for permanent solutions projects in Greece under the Revised Plan of Operations (1956). To this amount was added the value of $440,251 taken over from the Plan of Operations for 1955, making a total of $1,040,251 for 1956. The total allocation was broken down into the following categories of projects:
|Establishment in agriculture,||140,700|
|Establishment in crafts and trades,||342,875|
|Consolidation of economic and social position in urban areas,||467,563|
|Aid to university students,||16,927|
|Pre-selection of refugees,||22,062|
In addition, a special project in an amount of $7,495 was submitted for the rehabilitation of handicapped refugees, to be financed from non-governmental contributions.
146. The main needs of the refugees in Greece who cannot be resettled overseas continued to be the provision of employment and of accommodation. In view of the general economic and social situation of the country, special individual attention needed to be given to each family and, in this connexion, the project for pre-selection was particularly important.
147. Projects were drawn up in consultation with the Greek authorities to establish refugees in agriculture, or in crafts, trades or businesses in urban areas. It was considered necessary to continue the project for vocational training and, on a reduced scale, the project for aid to university students.
Implementation of projects in the Plans of Operations for 1955 and 1956
148. Permanent solutions projects included in the UNREF Plan of Operations for 1955 and in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956), requiring contributions from UNREF amounting to $930,403, are in the course of implementation. The total UNREF contributions to these projects include $230,425 from the contribution of the Netherlands Committee for Aid to Refugees, $3,278 from the balance of the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund and $696,700 from governmental contributions.
149. The breakdown of projects in the course of implementation is as follows:
|Establishment in agriculture||118,333|
|Placement in industrial employment||67,500|
|Establishment in crafts and trades||387,975|
|Consolidation of economic and social position|
|of refugees in urban areas||254,271|
|Rehabilitation of handicapped refugees||7,495|
|Aid to university students||38,663|
|Pre-selection of refugees||41,684|
150. As of 1 April 1957, 356 refugees had benefited from these projects of whom 183 had been firmly settled. Of the total number of beneficiaries, 194 belonged to the camp population.
151. Within the total of 19,000 refugees within the mandate of my Office residing in Italy, including Trieste, at the beginning of 1956 there was an estimated number of 10,670 non-settled refugees, of whom 3,878 were living in camps.
152. In view of the national problems of over-population and unemployment, permanent solutions for refugees in Italy must be found mainly through resettlement. A special effort is being made for those refugees in Italy who are difficult to resettle owing to their age or other handicaps. For those who cannot be resettled, integration projects have been prepared and are now in the course of implementation. These projects are mainly for the benefit of refugees living in camps. Arrangements are also being discussed with the Italian authorities whereby refugees living outside camps will obtain regular residence and employment permits.
Summary of projects included in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956)
153. At its second session, the UNREF Executive Committee approved an allocation of $450,000 for projects for permanent solutions in Italy under the Revised Plan of Operations (1956). To this amount was added the value of $67,104, taken over from the Plan of Operations for 1955, making a total of $517,104 for 1956. The total allocation was broken down into the following categories of projects:
|Promotion of resettlement||80,400|
|Establishment in crafts and trades||260,000|
|Rehabilitation of handicapped refugees||22,600|
154. Since resettlement remains the most suitable solution for the problems of the refugees in Italy, further projects were elaborated for the study of individual cases and the search for emigration opportunities. For those refugees who were not likely to be able to emigrate, projects were drawn up for local establishment in crafts and trades, including selection and counselling of candidates, provision of vocational training, medical care, placement in employment and granting of loans. Projects were also adopted for the placement and care of tubercular and post-tubercular refugees.
Implementation of projects in the Plans of Operations for 1955 and 1956
155. Permanent solutions projects included in the UNREF Plan of Operations for 1955 and in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956), requiring contributions from UNREF amounting to $386,196, are being implemented. The total UNREF contributions to these projects include $1,400 granted by the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, and $384, 796 from governmental contributions.
156. The breakdown of projects in the course of implementation is as follows:
|Promotion of resettlement||120,664|
|Re-establishment of refugee families in Belgium||20,400|
|Establishment in crafts and trades||207,100|
|Rehabilitation of handicapped refugees||24,000|
157. As of 1 April 1957, 1,044 refugees had benefited from these projects and 494 of these had been firmly settled. Of the total number of beneficiaries 642 belonged to the camp population
Belgium and France
158. As its second session, the UNREF Executive Committee had approved, within the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) a total allocation of $350,000 towards permanent solutions projects for those refugees in these countries who, owing to physical or economic handicaps, could not be integrated without special assistance.
159. The total allocation of $70,000 for Belgium was broken down as follows:
|Employment counselling and placement||20,000|
|Rehabilitation of handicapped refugees||30,000|
The projects for employment counselling and placement in the amount of $20,000 and for the rehabilitation of handicapped refugees in the amount of $30,000 are in the course of implementation. A project in an amount of $4,000 for integration counselling, included in the Plan of Operations for 1955, has now been completed.
On 1 April 1957, a total of 1,231 refugees had benefited from the above-mentioned projects, 622 of whom had been firmly settled.
161. Permanent solutions projects, requiring contributions from UNREF amounting to $163,005 within the total allocation of $280,000, are being implemented in accordance with the following breakdown:
|Establishment in crafts and trades||28,571|
|Integration of refugee intellectuals||16,663|
|Rehabilitation of handicapped refugees||117,771|
162. As of 1 April 1957, 134 refugees had benefited from the projects for establishment in crafts and trades and integration of intellectuals, all of whom have been firmly settled. A considerable number of refugees will shortly benefit from the rehabilitation projects.
B. Settlement of difficult cases
163 Action on behalf of difficult cases has been continued.
164. As indicated in my report presented at the eleventh session of the General Assembly, it has been found necessary to extend the definition of difficult cases to include refugees in the age group sixty to sixty-five for whom no other permanent solution can be envisaged than their settlement as difficult casse.9
165. After a noticeable slowing down in the pace of resettlement of refugees of European origin in China in the earlier part of 1956, the movement of difficult cases holding visas for settlement in European countries was resumed in the later part of the year. As a result, more openings in institutions were offered to this group of refugees, including an offer from the Government of Australia to admit twenty aged refugees from China for settlement in institutions in that country.
166. The UNREF Executive Committee approved an allocation of $594,000 from UNREF to be devoted to the settlement of difficult cases under the Revised Plan of Operations (1956). An amount of $356,510 was taken over from the Plan of Operations (1955) making a total of $950,510 broken down as follows:
|Jordan, Lebanon, Syria||28,800|
167. The projects for settlement of difficult cases in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) followed the lines of those in the Plan for 1955. They provide for settlement in institutions in the countries of residence, and, where this is not possible, in other countries. Annuities have been given to small numbers of difficult cases in Greece and Italy who are not suitable for settlement in institutions.
168. A considerable number of difficult cases still reside outside camps, particularly in Austria, where a survey has been started to obtain detailed information on the characteristics of the group and on the type of solution that will be required.
169. Settlement opportunities for the chronically sick, and especially for the mental cases, continue to be very scarce, as the institutions providing appropriate medical care in various European countries are filled with nationals of these countries. The French Government has agreed to the admission of ten chronically sick and paralysed European refugees from China into an institution in that country.
170. There are still thirty-one identifiable mental cases and 178 chronically sick and physically handicapped cases among the refugees of European origin in China who are in urgent need of institutional settlement. In an endeavour to procure more openings for this type of patient, UNREF contributions towards their settlement have had to be increased.
IMPLEMENTATION OF PROJECTS IN THE PLANS OF OPERATIONS FOR 1955 AND 1956
171. Difficult cases projects in the UNREF Plans of Operations for 1955 and 1956, requiring direct contributions from UNREF in an amount of $1,038,790, are being implemented.
172. The Governments of European countries have made a most valuable indirect contribution to UNREF by admitting difficult cases for settlement on their territory and assuming the responsibility for their permanent maintenance and medical care. The total expenditure and commitments of the Governments of the countries of reception in respect of difficult cases admitted on their territory in the course of 1956 has been estimated at $1,927,500.
173. Considerable progress was made in solving the problem of difficult cases in Egypt by building a Home for Aged Refugees in Cairo, and through the admission of an additional number of cases for settlement in institutions in Switzerland. The Government of Switzerland has also admitted a small group of refugees from Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, thus reducing the number of difficult cases in these countries.
174. The number of refugees who have benefited from local settlement projects within the UNREF Plans of Operations for 1955 and 1956 is given in the table below. The comparatively small number of actual beneficiaries is due to the fact that many of these projects involve the building of new homes or structural alterations to existing institutions and have therefore not yet been fully implemented.
175. The following table indicates the number of refugees actually resettled outside their countries of residence under the UNREF Plans of Operations for 1955 and 1956.
Countries of resettlement
|Country of departure||Belgium||Denmark||France||Netherlands||Norway||Sweden||Switzerland||Total|
|Jordan, Lebanon and Syria||5||5|
176. As of 1 April 1957, 639 refugees, including forty-one dependants, had already benefited under these projects. This number includes 197 refugees settled in institutions in their countries of residence, 382 settled in other countries, and sixty aged refugees for whom annuities have been provided.
177. In addition, the Governments of Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom admitted 312 difficult cases, with 136 family members, into institutions in their territories, without requiring UNREF grants.
C. Shanghai operation
178. Revised estimates, based on registration by the voluntary agencies, showed that, as of 1 January 1956, there remained 16,900 refugees of European origin in China within the mandate of my Office, after 546 had been resettled from China in the course of 1955.
179. Under the joint operation carried out by my Office and the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration on behalf of refugees of European origin in China, provision is made for financial assistance in China to the most needy, for care and maintenance of those who are in transit through Hong Kong, and for resettlement.
180. The responsibility for assistance to the refugees of European origin in China formerly registered with the International Refugee Organization, was taken over from my Office in Shanghai in May 1956 by the China People's Relief Association which has continued some of the services to refugees which were previously provided by the UNHCR Office in Shanghai. This organization provides emergency aid to the most needy refugees and is bearing the cost of the Emergency Staging Centre at Shanghai. Arrangements for the resettlement of European refugees from China are now made by the joint UNHCR/ICEM Office in Hong Kong, which is also responsible for the financing of care and maintenance of these refugees in Hong Kong pending their resettlement.
181. Movement of these refugees was considerably slowed down in the earlier part of 1956 owing to increasing difficulties in obtaining exit permits. In the second half of 1956, this difficulty was removed. A considerable increase in the number of refugees who may be resettled from China is expected during the current year.
182. The UNREF Executive Committee approved, within the Revised Plan of Operations (1956), an allocation of $331,120 including $273,520 for direct expenditure and $57,600 for assistance through voluntary agencies. A part of these funds has become available for other projects in view of the take-over by the China People's Relief Association.
183. Projects in the amount of $273,520 are in course of implementation. Between 1 January 1955 and 1 April 1957, some 3,500 refugees have benefited or are benefiting from emergency aid, of whom 2,045 have been resettled overseas.
184. As a result of the acceptance by the Netherlands Government of some of the refugees remaining in the Shanghai Emergency Staging Centre, it has been possible to reduce the number of its inmates to seven, for whom it is hoped that resettlement opportunities will also be found.
185. It is expected that, of the 7,500 European refugees in China at present holding visas for resettlement in other countries, 3,000 will obtain exit permits during 1957, in which case additional funds will be required for the financing of their resettlement.
D. Emergency aid
186. The programme for emergency aid to the most needy refugees has been continued during 1956 along the lines of the programme contained in the Plan of Operations for 1955. The Executive Committee approved within the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) a total allocation of $105,564, broken down according to the countries of residence of refugees as follows
|Jordan, Lebanon, Syria||16,000|
187. Most of these projects provide for medical assistance and supplementary feeding, except in Italy, where the emergency aid project consists of a medical insurance scheme.
IMPLEMENTATION OF PROJECTS IN THE REVISED PLAN OF OPERATIONS (1956)
188. Projects for emergency aid in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956), requiring an UNREF contribution of $98,138, are being implemented.
189. As of 1 April 1957, a total of 4,338 refugees were or had been benefiting from emergency aid projects, included in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956), of whom 1,113 refugees were in Italy, 1,287 in Greece and 833 in Turkey. It is expected that, as the programme for permanent solutions develops, particularly in Greece and Italy, the number of refugees requiring emergency aid may decrease in the course of 1957.
Chapter VI GENERAL ACTIVITIES
A. Relations with specialized agencies of the United Nations
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANISATION
190. My Office was represented at the Preparatory Technical Maritime Conference, held by the ILO in London from 19 September to 2 October 1956, which considered a draft convention concerning the form and contents of seafarers' national identity documents and their reciprocal recognition. Upon suggestions made by the Office, provisions which may be of special benefit to refugees were included in this draft convention, which will be submitted to a special maritime session of the International Labour Conference to be held early in 1958.
UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION
191. The Office has maintained liaison with UNESCO on matters of common concern, particularly with regard to the exchange of information and documentation on assistance to refugee scholars and students, and with regard to the evaluation and authentification of certificates and diplomas held by refugees who are unable to refer to the authorities of the countries where such certificates and diplomas were issued. The Director-General of UNESCO agreed to attach to the Branch Office in Vienna an educational advisor to assist my representative in the planning of educational projects for young Hungarian refugees.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
192. Co-operation with WHO has proved particularly valuable in connexion with the emergency situation of Hungarian refugees in Austria. Pursuant to the terms of General Assembly resolution 1006 (ES-II), my Office sought WHO's advice on the requirements for medical care of Hungarian refugees arriving in Austria. When the situation had been investigated locally by a WHO medical officer, the WHO Regional Office for Europe, at the request of the Austrian Government and in consultation with my Office, sent a team of experts to Austria to advise the local authorities on health problems of refugees in camps. The team included an expert who made a special study of the psychological difficulties experienced by some refugees as a result of their uprooting. A report on the findings of this survey was transmitted to the authorities and agencies concerned with the reception and movement of refugees and to the Governments of the countries in which they were being resettled.
B. Relations with inter-governmental organizations and the United States Escapee Programme
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
193. The liaison between the Council of Europe and this Office has developed most satisfactorily during the period under review. The Council has given considerable support to the action undertaken in favour of Hungarian refugees. Shortly after the beginning of the emergency a special meeting of the Population Committee, which was attended by representatives of my Office, was held in Vienna in November 1956. Upon the recommendation of the Committee that the greatest possible financial contributions should be made by Members of the United Nations which were also members of the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers decided, by its resolution (56) 20, to make available for assistance to Hungarian refugees an amount of Fr. Frs. 100 million, being the unused balance of governmental contributions to the 1955 budget of the Council of Europe. In addition, a token contribution of Fr. Frs. 1 million was made by the Special Representative for National Refugees and Over-population from the Resettlement Fund.
194. The Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe recommended, in resolution 114 of 8 January 1957, that the Committee of Ministers should invite Governments to make a special effort to contribute the largest possible amount to my Office for assistance to Hungarian refugees, especially those in Austria. It also recommended that the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration should be granted the necessary means for the transportation of these refugees to other countries.
195. The Consultative Assembly also adopted a recommendation, No. 123, to the effect that information should be obtained on the position of Hungarian refugee students residing in member countries, to enable the Committee of Ministers to study means by which these refugees could continue their university training.
196. A report on the activities of my Office was presented to the Consultative Assembly at its eighth session. Upon the recommendation of the Committee on Population and Refugees, the Consultative Assembly, in its resolution No. 117, adopted on 11 January 1957, expressed its appreciation of the results achieved through the UNREF programme, and urged States members of the Council of Europe to take the action necessary to enable UNREF to reach the targets fixed for governmental contributions in 1956 and 1957.
197. As in previous years, the Council of Europe was represented by an observer at meetings of the UNREF Executive Committee. My Office was invited to attend meetings of the Consultative Assembly of the Population Committee and of the Advisory Committee of the Special Representative for National Refugees and Over-population, and other meetings where matters affecting the interests of refugees were discussed.
198. In consultation with my Office satisfactory arrangements were also made for the inclusion of clauses for the benefit of refugees in the draft European Conventions on Extradition.
INTER-GOVERNMENTAL COMMITTEE FOR EUROPEAN MIGRATION
199. During the period under review close cooperation has continued between my Office and ICEM.
200. In moving 36,531 refugees within my mandate in the course of 1956, the Committee made an invaluable contribution towards the solution of the refugee problem. Many of these refugees were transported to the United States under the terms of the United States Refugee Relief Act of 1953, or to other countries under bilateral agreements concluded between those countries and countries of emigration. Special mention should also be made of the co-operation between the Committee and my Office in connexion with intra-European migration schemes initiated and sponsored by the Office. Under these schemes, refugees were admitted to the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. ICEM assisted in the selection of the refugees concerned and organized their movement.
201. During the latter part of 1956, plans for a survey of the difficult and difficult-to-(re) settle cases living outside camps in Austria were drawn up by this Office, in collaboration with ICEM. When the survey is completed, the dossiers on these cases which have been prepared and classified by the survey team will be retained in the Documentation Centre established by ICEM in Glasenbach, Austria. The dossiers will be under regular review and readily accessible for consultation when solutions to the problems of the cases concerned are being sought. It is anticipated that the carrying out of the survey, which had to be temporarily suspended owing to the new problem caused by the influx of Hungarian refugees, will be resumed in May 1957.
202. There has been very close co-operation between the Migration Committee and this Office in connexion with the influx of Hungarian refugees into Austria, particularly with regard to their resettlement in other countries. Regular and almost daily consultations between the Committee and this Office at Headquarters and in the field have considerably facilitated the task of co-ordinating assistance for Hungarian refugees and have enabled resettlement opportunities to be fully exploited.
203. The Migration Committee was authorized by its Council, at its sixth session, to make the necessary arrangements for co-operation with my Office in the resettlement of Hungarian refugees from Yugoslavia.
ORGANIZATION FOR EUROPEAN ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION
204. The Office has continued to co-operate with the Organization for European Economic Co-operation in an endeavour to extend to refugees the action promoted by OEEC to liberalize the movement of manpower between its member States. The Government of France has made a proposal, in connexion with the implementation of this extension, which would require the increase to three years of the period of validity of the return clause contained in 1951 Convention travel documents issued to refugees who take up employment in another member country. As a result of representations made by UNHCR, the following States, in addition to France, have signified their willingness to accept this proposal: Luxembourg, Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Italy and, subject to certain conditions, Switzerland, Greece and the United Kingdom. The Netherlands Government already issues the Convention travel document valid for return during a period of three years. The proposal of the Government of France is to be discussed at a future session of the Manpower Committee of OEEC.
UNITED STATES ESCAPEE PROGRAMME
205. The work of the USEP administration has continued to be of great value for those refugees within my mandate who are eligible for its assistance, particularly in the field of resettlement. Of the 36,531 refugees resettled by ICEM in 1956, 12,062 were moved with financial assistance from USEP.
206. Throughout 1956 there has been close collaboration between my Office and the USEP administration, particularly in the development of intra-European resettlement schemes which provided for resettlement opportunities for refugees in the difficult-to-(re)settle category from Greece, Italy and Turkey.
207. During the period under review regular meetings of senior officials of USEP and the Office, as well as of ICEM, have been held to co-ordinate action in common fields. During the Hungarian refugee emergency, these tripartite meetings were expanded to include voluntary agencies and other organizations actively engaged in assistance to the Hungarian refugees.
C. Relations with voluntary agencies
208. As in previous years, my Office has maintained the closest relations with the voluntary agencies working for refugees. Regular meetings are held at headquarters with organizations members of the Standing Conference of Voluntary Agencies working for Refugees, and also between my representatives and the co-ordinating councils of voluntary agencies which have been established in several countries. The voluntary agencies are playing a particularly useful part in the preparation and implementation of the UNREF programme. Many of the projects included in the programme are initiated by the voluntary agencies or established in consultation with them and are implemented by their field staff.
209. A special tribute should be paid to the generous and effective contribution made by the non-governmental organizations toward the solution of the emergency caused by the sudden influx of Hungarian refugees. Particular mention should be made in this connexion of the League of Red Cross Societies and the national Red Cross societies for the efficient manner in which they organized the care and maintenance of Hungarian refugees in Austria and mobilized popular support for the refugees.
210. A most valuable contribution is also being made to the solution of the problem of Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia by the League of Red Cross Societies and several voluntary agencies who have so far sent twelve of their staff members into that country to assist in the processing for the emigration of the refugees and to carry out social welfare work.
D. The closing of Tinos Camp
211. It was reported to the General Assembly at its eleventh session that the Nobel Peace Prize for 1954 had been awarded to the High Commissioner's Office, and that the sum of approximately $33,000 received under this award would be devoted to closing the refugee camp on the Greek island of Tinos and providing permanent solutions for all its inmates.
212. At the end of 1955, there were forty-two refugee families living in this camp, comprising ninety-seven persons, mostly refugees from Romania. These refugees were maintained from a small grant from the Greek Government supplemented by food provided under an UNREF emergency aid project and from United States surplus stocks. The Danish Red Cross and a voluntary agency in Denmark also made gifts of food and clothing.
213. The Greek Government approved the Office's plans for the closure of Tinos camp, and undertook to co-operate in establishing as many as possible of the inmates elsewhere in Greece. The Norwegian Refugee Council and the Swiss Aid to Europe each undertook to make a contribution of $10,000 towards projects to benefit these refugees. One of the international voluntary agencies operating in Greece agreed to give special priority in its programme for resettlement abroad to refugees from the camp.
214. A special counsellor was appointed by my Branch Office in Athens to investigate each case and to review the possibilities for re-establishment in order to determine the most appropriate solution for each refugee. Three main types of solution were adopted: emigration to countries outside Greece; integration into the Greek economy by establishment in agriculture, industrial employment, crafts or trades and by the provision of housing; and, thirdly, the settlement of difficult cases either in the Tinos Old People's Home or in an institution in Athens. Some of the refugees were able to benefit from projects already included in the UNREF Plan of Operations, while for others special projects had to be devised.
215. By the end of March 1957, solutions had been found for the problems of fourteen families, mainly through emigration, establishment in small businesses and placement in institutions. Another thirteen families had by then also been established, under projects financed from UNREF.
216. Projects have been prepared for the resettlement of the remaining fifteen families, mainly for establishment in trades and in small businesses. For five of these families individual projects are being drawn up, to be financed from the special Nobel Prize funds, while solutions for the other ten families will be found through existing UNREF projects.
217. It is anticipated that all the refugees will have left Tinos Camp by the end of June 1957.
E. Camp adoption scheme
218. The camp adoption scheme was started in 1954 to encourage the interest of local communities in refugee problems and to stimulate private initiatives in favour of the refugees in the camps. Several communities in the United Kingdom had already shown an active interest in refugee camps at the time the scheme was launched; since then, the scheme has continually expanded and has now been taken up by a number of communities and organizations in other countries, particularly Denmark, Sweden and Canada. The co-operation and interest of women's organizations of different kinds is a special feature of recent developments. Mention should also be made of the valuable co-operation of a number of non-governmental organizations in facilitating the formalities connected with the transport and reception of gifts destined for the camps.
219. In the United Kingdom, the activities of adopting groups are to some extent centralized through the Adoption Committee for Aid to Displaced Persons for camps in Germany, and through the British Council for Aid to Refugees for those in Austria. The adopting groups co-operated energetically in the United Nations campaign of autumn 1956 in aid of refugees, and a part of the proceeds has been allotted to them for certain purposes in connexion with camp adoption, such as maintaining a travelling case-worker, equipping a vocational training centre, or endowing places for difficult cases in a tuberculosis sanatorium.
220. The activity of the adopting groups varies from sending personal letters and parcels to more substantive help. One national organization has collected several thousand pounds for loans to refugees in their camp to enable them to participate in housing schemes, and has arranged for the money to be administered as a revolving loan fund. Another organization, through individual case work and financial help, has succeeded in finding a solution for each of the refugees residing in a Greek camp at the time it was adopted. Another community has provided money for a much needed dispensary, with an attendant nurse, for a refugee centre. An important contribution has also been made by " The Wings of Friendship", a movement having as its object to appeal to business firms and industrial concerns for tools, machinery, materials, vitamins and other donations in kind to help the refugees. The basic value of gifts contributed through this movement during 1956 is estimated to be some £21,000.
221. The policy of my Office is to link the camp adoption scheme wherever possible with the UNREF programme for camp closure, and to encourage new groups to adopt camps not listed for early closure, as well as newly-established homes for aged refugees. Adopting groups are encouraged to transfer their interest to another camp or an old people's home when the camp in which they are interested is closed.
222. The total number of camps effectively adopted as of 1 April is sixty, in some cases more than one adopting group being associated with a particular camp.
F. Award of the Nansen medal
223. The Nansen Medal Award Committee, established in 1955 by the late High Commissioner, Dr. G. J. van Heuven Goedhart, met in Geneva on 16 July 1956 to designate a candidate to receive the medal for that year. The Committee decided to award the medal for 1956 to Mrs. Dorothy Houghton, a United States citizen who has played a leading role in many national and international programmes to assist refugees, and a former President of the United States General Federation of Women's Clubs. The Committee also decided to award a special posthumous medal to Dr. van Heuven Goedhart, in recognition of his devoted interest in the cause of refugees and his outstanding efforts towards the solution of their problems.
224. On 3 September 1956, at a ceremony held in the Council Chamber of the Palais des Nations, the Nansen Medal Award Committee presented the Nansen Medal for 1956 to Mrs. Dorothy Houghton, and the special Nansen Medal to Mrs. van Heuven Goedhart.
G. Public Information
225. The UNREF Executive Committee, at its third session, authorized an amount of $13,300 to be spent on information activities designed to increase public interest in the refugee problem and to support fundraising activities promoted by the Office. This was used to finance a number of publications, photographs, films and broadcasts, in co-operation with the United Nations Department of Public Information and other agencies, such as broadcasting corporations and television organizations.
226. Publications prepared in support of the fundraising campaigns launched in the United Kingdom by the United Nations Association, and in New Zealand by the Council of Organizations of Relief Services Overseas, included a folder of which 300,000 copies were distributed mainly in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, an illustrated booklet entitled "Challenge to Your Conscience" of which 15,000 copies were distributed in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, and a filmstrip with accompanying booklet explaining the nature of the refugee problem and the purpose of UNREF.
227. My Office prepared printed reference documents in English, French, German and Spanish and, in co-operation with UNESCO, a special edition of the UNESCO Courier concerned entirely with the refugee problem. The French publication Faim et Soif devoted a special number to refugee work. Reprints of both these publications in English, French and Spanish were given a very wide dissemination in Europe, Latin America and North America.
228. The interest aroused by these publications and by press releases and feature articles resulted in a marked increase in the number of articles in the daily and weekly press and in radio and television programmes about the refugee problem, which, in turn, noticeably affected current public opinion in favour of assistance to refugees.
229. At the end of 1956, a special illustrated report was published in narrative style on the results of the first two years of the UNREF Permanent Solutions Programme; 6,000 copies were placed with voluntary agencies and non-governmental organizations for world-wide distribution.
230. Following events in Hungary in the autumn of 1956, the Office collaborated with the Department of Public Information in an operation to support the appeals made by the Secretary-General and UNHCR for help for Hungarian refugees. The Department established an information team to report, by means of film, photographs and radio, on the international action undertaken to relieve the emergency. At the height of the crisis, daily reports were broadcast from Vienna in five languages, which were transmitted by stations in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, the Latin American countries, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
231. The film made by the Department of Public Information, depicting the arrival of Hungarian refugees in Austria and arrangements for their reception and eventual resettlement, was placed on television networks in Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
ANNEX I REPORT OF THE UNREF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE10 (Fourth session - Geneva, 29 January to 4 February 1957)
1. The UNREF Executive Committee held its fourth session from 29 January to 4 February 1957 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. All the Governments members of the Executive Committee were represented, as follows:
|France||United Kingdom of Great|
|Federal Republic of||Britain and Northern Ireland|
|Greece||United States of America|
2. The Governments of Canada, China, Egypt, Hungary, Sweden and Yugoslavia were represented by observers, as was the Sovereign Order of Malta.
3. The International Labour Organisation, the Council of Europe, the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, and the Food and Agriculture Organization were also represented by observers.
Opening of the session and election of officers
4. The session was opened by Dame May Gurwen (United Kingdom), Vice-Chairman of the third session of the Executive Committee, the Chairman of the third session not being present.
5. The Committee elected the following officers:
|Chairman:||Mr. N. Tuncel (Turkey)|
|Vice-Chairman:||Mr. J. Cappelen (Norway)|
|Rapporteur:||Mr. N. Currie (Australia|
6. The Chairman paid tribute to the memory of the late Mr. G. J. van Heuven Goedhart, and extended a welcome to Mr. A. Lindt, the newly elected High Commissioner for Refugees.
7. Mr. Adrian Pelt, Director of the European Office of the United Nations, welcomed the representatives on behalf of the Secretary-General and wished them success in the task they had before them. He particularly welcomed Mr. A. Lindt, and assured him of every support from the European Office in his work.
Statement by the High Commissioner
8. The High Commissioner, in his opening remarks, paid tribute to the late Dr. G. J. van Heuven Goedhart, whose devotion and foresight in planning the UNREF programme was now bearing fruit.
9. The problems facing his Office had been increased by the influx of Hungarian refugees into Austria and Yugoslavia. The Office's policy was to do everything possible, in collaboration with the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, to stimulate the emigration of the Hungarian refugees from their country of first asylum.
10. Another emergency problem with which his Office was faced was that of the refugees from Egypt who came within the mandate of the Office, and he was following the developments of this problem with much concern.
11. In spite of these emergencies, it was the policy of the Office to go ahead with the UNREF programme, and the generous contribution11 by Sweden of 7 million kroner would be of very considerable help in implementing the programme in 1957. During the last year some 6,00 refugees had been helped by the programme, which had acquired considerable impetus during the last three months. The report he had submitted to the General Assembly at its eleventh session on the short-fall in governmental contributions had now been superseded by events and a re-appraisal of the position was required.
12. As far as the Shanghai Operation was concerned, he was glad to report that refugees were still able to leave China, and the operation could therefore be continued. Finally, the High Commissioner made a plea to all Governments to follow the example of those which had generously admitted difficult cases, whose numbers were still considerable.
Adoption of the agenda
13. In view of the presence in Geneva for a limited time of his Excellency Minister Helmer, Minister of the Interior of the Federal Republic of Austria, a request was made that the general debate on the question of Hungarian refugees should be placed early in the Agenda. The following agenda was accordingly adopted:
1. Election of officers;
2. Adoption of the agenda;
3. Report on the fourth session of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee (A/AC.79/53);
4. The problem of Hungarian refugees (general debate);
5. UNREF progress report (A/AC.79/48 and Add.1 and 2);
6. Provisional financial statements of the United Nations Refugee Fund for the year 1956 (A/AC. 79/51);
7. UNREF Revised Plan of Operations (1957) (A/AC.79/45 and Add.1, A/AC.79/46 and Add. 1);
8. Plan of Administrative Expenditure for 1957;
9. Amendment to the financial rules for voluntary funds governing the administration of the UNREF programme (A/AC.79/50);
10. The problem of Hungarian refugees (A/AC.79/49, A/AC. 79/49/Add.1, A/AC.79/52, A/AC.79/54);
11. Chinese refugees in Hong Kong (A/AC.79/47, A/AC.79/55, A/AC.79/56);
12. Any other business.
14. It was agreed that the question of refugees from Egypt (A/AC. 79/58) should be discussed under the item "Any other business".
II REPORT ON THE FOURTH SESSION OF THE STANDING PROGRAMME SUB-COMMITTEE
15. The Committee took note of the report on the fourth session of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee (A/AC.79/53 and A/AC.79/PSC/5) and decided to consider the various sections of this report at the same time as the relevant items of the agenda.
III UNREF PROGRESS REPORT
16. The Committee had before it the UNFER progress report up to 31 December 1956 submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.79/48 and Add.1 and 2; Corr.1 and 2), which contained an account of the projects implemented and in the course of implementation, broken down according to country and type of programme, with an indication of the number of beneficiaries and of the participating international and national agencies.
17. The High Commissioner pointed out that one of the salient facts which the report made evident was that the UNREF programme was a programme for individual human beings. That very fact was the reason why the programme was necessarily somewhat complicated in many of its operational details. Patient and experienced case work was an indispensable factor for, in dealing with individual human beings, there was no such thing as a general solution. Valuable experience had now been gained which would show where the future plan needed to be changed or modified. The report bore witness to co-operative tripartite action between Governments, voluntary agencies and the Office. The High Commissioner wished to place on record his thanks and appreciation to the Governments and the many voluntary agencies without whose close collaboration it would have been impossible to carry out the programme.
18. While general appreciation of the report was expressed, some representatives stated their concern at the slow start which the programme had made. They laid special emphasis on the importance of speeding up implementation in certain countries, and on the desirability of preserving an appropriate ratio between the foreign and Volksdeutsche refugee beneficiaries, taking account of the relatively greater difficulties which faced the foreign refugees in becoming fully integrated.
19. One representative considered that, since both the duration of the UNREF programme and its funds were limited, all the problems of all the refugees could not be solved within the remaining period of the mandate. It was essential therefore to concentrate on the primary objective of the programme, namely, the closure of camps.
20. The High Commissioner assured the Committee that the objective of closing camps was kept constantly in mind by his Office. As the Revised Plan of Operations (1957) showed, certain camps had been definitely listed for closure during 1957. The Austrian Government had shown itself prepared to try to adhere to these plans for camp closure despite the urgent necessity of finding accommodation for Hungarian refugees.
21. The Committee heard with interest a statement by the representative of Belgium concerning his Government's contribution towards the solution of the refugee problem.
22. The Committee took note of the progress report.
IV PROVISIONAL FINANCIAL STATEMENTS OF THE UNITED NATIONS REFUGEE FUND FOR THE YEAR 1956
23. The Committee had before it document A/AC.79/51, containing the provisional accounts of UNREF for 1956, and was informed that the final accounts, together with the report of the United Nations Board of Auditors, would be submitted at the fifth session.
24. In reply to a request for early presentation of the final accounts, the secretariat undertook to present them as soon as possible after the meeting of the Board of Auditors.
25. Attention was drawn to the fact that accounts for contributions and expenditures in connexion with refugees from Hungary, although kept within the framework of UNREF, were maintained entirely separately.
26. The Committee took note of the provisional financial statements of the United Nations Refugee Fund for the year 1956.
V STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE STANDING CONFERENCE OF VOLUNTARY AGENCIES WORKING FOR REFUGEES
27. The President of the Standing Conference of Voluntary Agencies working for Refugees expressed a welcome to the High Commissioner on taking up office and, on behalf of the thirty-eight agencies which the Standing Conference represented, appreciation for the continuance of the cordial and close relations which had always existed between the voluntary agencies and the High Commissioner. Their relations had become even closer in the emergency created by the influx of new refugees from Hungary, and new patterns of collaboration in the agencies' activities had been evolved which would lead to more efficient action in the future in favour of the refugees.
28. It would be difficult to pay adequate tribute to the selfless devotion and tireless efforts which the staffs of governmental, inter-governmental and voluntary agencies had made during the emergency. Addendum I to document A/AC.79/49 indicated something of what the agencies were doing but, in addition, there was a multitude of smaller bodies in countries of first or second asylum who were contributing to the common effort, but whose services remained anonymous.
29. Some of the agencies represented in the Standing Conference had special concerns for special categories of refugees, for example, the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong, or the Arab refugees in the Middle East, but all were anxious that the claims of the "old refugees" should not be forgotten. The President of the Standing Conference made a special appeal to the Governments represented in the UNREF Executive Committee to bear the needs of those refugees in mind in planning their immigration policies.
30. In conclusion, he announced the intention of the Standing Conference to call a two-day meeting in the spring to work out a concerted plan designed, through the most effective utilization of all ideas and available resources, to prevent the sudden influx of Hungarian refugees from giving rise to a new long-term refugee problem.
VI REVISED PLAN OF OPERATIONS (1957)
31. The Committee first considered the analysis of implementation of the UNREF Plan of Operations for 1955 and of the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) (part I of the Revised Plan of Operations (1957); A/AC. 79/ 45 and Add.1).
32. The High Commissioner drew the attention of the Committee to the fact that the total amount of UNREF contributions to projects implemented within the Plan of Operations for 1955 was $2,991,135; of this amount, $1,857,974 represented governmental contributions and $1,133,162 non-governmental contributions.
33. The total amount of UNREF contributions to projects implemented within the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) was $3,418,495. Of this amount, $3,134,668 consisted of governmental contributions and $283,832 of non-governmental contributions.
34. The High Commissioner further explained that, following the procedure adopted by the UNREF Executive Committee at its second session, the combined target for governmental contributions for 1957 should consist of the original target for that year, i.e., $4,400,000, to which should be added the short-fall in governmental contributions for 1956 amounting to $2,696,303, making a total of $7,096,303, as recommended in paragraph 7 of document A/AC.79/45/Add.1.
35. The Executive Committee noted the unanimous recommendation made by the Standing Programme Sub-Committee to this effect (para. 29 of the Sub-Committee's report) and endorsed it. The target for 1957 will therefore be $7,096,303.
36. With regard to the proposal contained in paragraph 8 of document A/AC.79/45/Add.1, that the UNREF target for 1957 should be increased by $1 million to finance a number of long-term projects to benefit new refugees from Hungary residing in Austria, it was decided to deal with this question under items 4 and 10 of the agenda.
37. The Executive Committee then considered part II of the Revised Plan of Operations (1957) (A/C.79/46 and A/AC.79/46/Add.1, part A).
38. The Committee discussed the suggestion contained in paragraphs (v) and (vi) of the introduction to document A/AC.79/46, in conjunction with paragraphs 33 and 34 of the report of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee, and endorsed the recommendation of the Sub-Committee that the High Commissioner should submit to the Executive Committee, at its fifth session, a revised document on the effect of the shortfall in governmental contributions. also showing the impact of the problem of refugees from Hungary and including a re-appraisal of the UNREF programme.
39. With regard to the point raised in paragraph (x) of the introduction, namely, whether approved country allocations should be maintained in the case of countries where there was a serious delay in implementation of the programme, or where projects for the full value of the annual allocation could not be submitted, the Executive Committee agreed that, when such circumstances arose, the Committee should re-examine the question of the annual country allocation. The existing allocations would be reviewed, if necessary, by the Committee at its fifth session. In this connexion, the High Commissioner mentioned that it was hoped that effective machinery for the implementation of the projects for permanent solutions in Greece would shortly be established. The projects for the settlement of difficult cases and for emergency aid in that country were being implemented according to plan, although the withdrawal of USEP assistance from Romanian refugees of Greek ethnic origin had placed an extra burden on the emergency aid programme.
40. In connection with paragraph (xii) of the introduction, the Committee discussed the position which arose if a project which had been authorized for implementation had obviously to be delayed. It agreed that the High Commissioner might, in consultation with the Government of the country concerned, suspend or cancel any such project. The consequence of this would be that the funds thereby released would be devoted to the next project in the approved order of priority (category A or B). It was not permissible, without a decision of the Executive Committee or the Standing Programme Sub-Committee, for the funds concerned to be devoted to a project which had been approved in category C.
41. In the course of the discussion it was recalled that, at its third session, the Executive Committee had authorized the High Commissioner to consult the members of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee in writing, if funds became available which would justify a transfer of additional projects from category C to category B.
42. The Committee examined the projects submitted for approval in the light of the recommendations made by the Sub-Committee in its report (para. 3956).
Projects for permanent solutions
43. The reservations which had been made in the Sub-Committee on some of the projects were withdrawn, with the proviso that the High Commissioner should continue to seek assurances from the Governments of those countries which had not yet given them, that they would assume full financial responsibility should any of the refugees within the scope of the UNREF programme still require assistance upon expiry of the programme.
44. Some delegations expressed serious doubts as to the desirability of continuing to include projects for aid to university students which, although valuable in themselves, meant the diversion of funds from projects which would have a more direct effect on the reduction of the camp population. Several delegations strongly supported the retention of these projects. The Committee noted that the principle would be observed of allowing only those students to benefit who were already well advanced in a course of study which they could not complete without help from UNREF. It expressed the opinion that preference should be given to helping those students whose studies would enable them to become firmly established.
Projects for settlement of difficult cases
45. In connexion with projects DC/4/EUR2 DC/3/ M-EA/EUR12 and DC/15/CHI/EUR2, the High Commissioner asked the Committee's authority to raise the maximum grant to $1,200 for the settlement of chronically sick cases. This authorization was granted by the Committee.
46. The reservations which had been made in the Sub-Committee on certain projects in this section were withdrawn, fuller information having been furnished to the interested delegation.
Projects for emergency aid
47. The High Commissioner stressed the importance which his Office attached to project EA/2/RAC/1957 for an emergency reserve of $50,000. He cited the recent emergency caused by the influx of refugees from Hungary, and stated that it was most important to keep a certain amount in reserve which could be used immediately for any future emergency. At the request of several delegations, he undertook to notify the members of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee as soon as he had made use of these funds in an emergency.
48. The Committee approved all the projects contained in part II of document A/AC.79/46 and in part A of document A/AC.79/46/Add.1.
Order of priority for projects approved
49. The Committee then considered part III of document A/AC.79/46, together with part B of document A/AC.79/46/Add.1.
50. The Committee heard with much pleasure an announcement by the representative of the United Kingdom of a grant of $351,009 made to UNREF by the United Nations Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as a result of a nation-wide campaign. This grant was to be used for the implementation of a number of selected projects in the Revised Plan of Operations (1957), including projects for permanent solutions in Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy and Turkey, and projects for the settlement of difficult cases in Egypt, Greece and Turkey. The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, and the High Commissioner expressed thanks and appreciation to the people of the United Kingdom for this most generous contribution.
51. The High Commissioner explained that the order of priority proposed had been carefully worked out in consultation with the governments of the Countries concerned, and that changes in the order would upset a balance which had been established between different country programmes. The reservations which had been formulated in the Sub-Committee on the inclusion of certain projects in category B/1957 were withdrawn, in consideration of supplementary information furnished to the delegations concerned.
52. The Committee adopted the proposal of the Sub-Committee to include project EA/2/RAC/57 for a special emergency reserve of $50,000 after item 8, and project PS/24/GER/1957 after item 38 in category B/1957.
53. It was pointed out that, while some of the projects which were to be financed from the contribution of the United Nations Association in the United Kingdom were already recommended for authorization in category B/1957, other projects had only so far been recommended for inclusion in category C/1957 and had, therefore, not yet been included in the priority list. The High Commissioner, therefore, proposed that, in the final list of priorities, all projects to be financed from the grant of the United Nations Association in the United Kingdom should be listed in category A/1957 in conformity with the practice followed in similar cases at earlier sessions. The remaining projects would be listed in categories B/1957 or C/1957 in accordance with the decisions of the Committee.
54. The Executive Committee authorized for implementation, with the above changes, projects recommended for inclusion in categories A/1957 and B/1957 and approved their order of priority as shown in the list in Appendix I to this report.
VII PLAN OF ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENDITURE AND SUPPLEMENTARY PLAN FOR 1957
55. In considering the UNREF Plan of Administrative Expenditure for 1957 (A/AC.79/PSC/R.21) and the Supplementary Plan (A/AC.79/PSC/R.21/Add.1), the attention of the Executive Committee was drawn to section IV of the report of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee (A/AC.79/53), where it was noted that the Sub-Committee had unanimously decided to recommend the adoption of the first but had merely agreed to take note of the second of these documents.
56. The Deputy High Commissioner drew a distinction between the current budget of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Plan of Administrative Expenditure for the UNREF programme. In view of the foreseeable impact of the Hungarian crisis, the general Assembly at its eleventh session, had approved an increase of $93,000 in the current UNHCR budget. The increase covered six additional Professional posts and eleven General Service posts considered to be essential to meet the additional work devolving on the Office in the international protection of a large group of new refugees.
57. The original UNREF Plan of Administrative Expenditure (A/AC.79/PSC/R.21), which showed an increase of only $22,730 over the budget for 1956, necessitated by the increase of regular work resulting from the development of the UNREF programme, had been prepared before the advent of the Hungarian refugee emergency. The Supplementary Plan of Administrative Expenditure was designed to cover the charges deriving from the emergency assistance which, according to resolution 1006 (ES-II) adopted by the General Assembly on 9 November 1956, was to be afforded to the refugees from Hungary and in connexion with which the High Commissioner had been assigned a co-ordinating role. The only Branch Office which it was proposed should be strengthened was, therefore, that in Austria.
58. In reply to a question, it was explained that posts in connexion with the ordinary legal and administrative protection functions of the High Commissioner's Office were provided for in the regular UNHCR budget adopted each year by the General Assembly. Additional necessary posts for this service had been provided for out of the increased budget already mentioned.
59. It was further explained that the possible approval by the Executive Committee of the expansion of the UNREF target by $1 million for long-term projects for new refugees from Hungary would not entail a further increase of administrative costs. It was estimated that the expanded staff covered by the Plan of Administrative Expenditure and the Supplementary Plan now before the Committee would, if required, be able to carry the additional workload involved in the elaboration and supervision of such projects.
60. The Executive Committee adopted the UNREF Plan of Administrative Expenditure and Supplementary Plan for 1957.
VIII AMENDMENT TO FINANCIAL RULES FOR VOLUNTARY FUNDS
61. The Committee had before it document A/AC.79/50 relating to two amendments to the financial rules for voluntary funds which had been proposed at its third session. Owing to the improved financial situation at the end of 1956, the amendment proposed to rule 3 was no longer considered necessary. The proposed amendment to rule 8.1 was designed to empower the High Commissioner to enter into obligations against contributions firmly pledged. It had been substantially approved by the Committee at its third session, and had subsequently been accepted by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions with a minor verbal change.
62. The Executive Committee adopted the amendment to rule 8.1 of the financial rules for voluntary funds as set forth in document A/AC.79/50.
IX THE PROBLEM OF HUNGARIAN REFUGEES
Hungarian refugees in Austria (general debate)
63. The Austrian Minister of the Interior, Mr. Helmer, referred to the continuous influx of Hungarian refugees, whose number now exceeded 170,000, and who continued to arrive in Austria despite winter conditions and measures designed to prevent them from leaving their country. He stated that his Government was determined to uphold the right of asylum for all refugees, but that the burden imposed on his country by the reception and care of so many persons was becoming too heavy to be borne alone. His country had spent 240,000,000 Austrian schillings for the provision of accommodation, care and maintenance and transportation. Available funds had now been almost exhausted and care and maintenance was at present costing approximately $80,000 per day. The January expenditures were not covered by any budgetary provisions.
64. Mr. Helmer thanked the High Commissioner, the voluntary agencies and ICEM for the assistance they had already given, and expressed gratitude to those countries which had accepted refugees from Austria.
65. The United States of America had admitted more refugees from Austria than any other country, but he had to draw attention to certain unintentional consequences of the United States immigration laws applicable to Hungarian refugees. Since visas could only be given to refugees in their country of first asylum, many Hungarian refugees were refusing to leave Austria for countries in Europe for fear of losing their chance of immigration into the United States and, if they had already been moved to another country in Europe, they attempted to return to Austria in order to apply for the necessary visas. Consequently, a number of European countries were reluctant to admit further Hungarian refugees from Austria, and the process of re-settlement in these countries had become increasingly difficult. Mr. Helmer therefore addressed an urgent appeal to the United States Government to reconsider its immigration regulations with a view to allowing Hungarian refugees in European countries other than Austria to enter the United States.
66. Mr. Helmer felt that all freedom-loving countries should accept Hungarian refugees from Austria on a quota system and that funds should immediately be raised to reimburse Austria for her care and maintenance costs on the same quota basis. Austria most urgently requested the UNREF Executive Committee to recommend Governments to accept these principles. Countries of resettlement should accept refugees from Austria exclusively on the basis of numbers and not according to political, professional or health considerations, since any such selection would tend to leave the old and sick persons in Austria. Mr. Helmer pointed out that the situation was urgent and that action should be taken before the psychological depression induced by camp life had affected the Hungarian refugees in Austria.
67. Many representatives expressed their appreciation and admiration for the great efforts of the Austrian Government in assisting the refugees from Hungary and sympathy for the difficulties described in minister Helmer's statement. Representatives also made statements in amplification of the information on offers of assistance through financial contributions and admission of refugees, contained in the revised annexes I, II and III of document A/AC.79/49, demonstrating the extent of the contributions made by their countries towards the solution of the problem of refugees from Hungary. Details of these statements may be found in the summary records of the 27th and 28th meetings of the Committee.
68. Representatives agreed with Minister Helmer that the problem of the Hungarian refugees in Austria should be treated as an international problem, and not as a local matter arising out of the accident of geographical situation. Although much assistance had already been contributed from international sources, the considerable number of Governments which had not yet contributed should be made aware of the urgent need for further assistance.
69. Statements on their respective activities and their views on certain specific problems of the Hungarian refugees were made by the observer for the Sovereign Order of Malta, the representatives of the International Conference of Catholic Charities, the International Social Service (speaking also on behalf of the International Union for Child Welfare), the International Federation of Christian Trade Unions and the World University Service, as well as the High Commissioner's representative in Austria.
70. Mr. H. Beer, representing the League of Red Cross Societies, described the activities of his organization to help the Hungarian refugees in Austria, reported in document A/AC.79/52. He stated that, under present plans, the care and maintenance operation of the League of Red Cross Societies would be extended in the early part of February 1957, by which time it would cover camps with a capacity of 44,000 refugees. Tentative plans under discussion with the Austrian authorities foresaw a further extension to about 50,000 refugees by 1 March 1957. His organization was aware of the growing problem of the refugees in Yugoslavia.
71. The Committee expressed its deep appreciation for the outstanding efforts and achievements of the League of Red Cross Societies. Recognition of these efforts was also expressed by the observer from Hungary.
72. General concern, however, was expressed at the statement made by the League of Red Cross Societies in paragraph 23 of document A/AC.79/52 that, in view of its many other world-wide obligations, it could not continue its operations in Austria after 30 June 1957. The unanimous wish of the Executive Committee was expressed that the League should continue its operations in Austria after that date, since it seemed likely that the emergency created by the influx of refugees from Hungary would continue beyond that date.
73. Mr. de Rougé, Secretary-General of the League of Red Cross Societies, explained that certain Red Cross societies had placed a date-limit of 30 June 1957 on the activity of their personnel in Austria. The League would, nevertheless, continue to interest itself in the problem after that date, and to supply the basic necessities of the refugees as long as possible. It would remain in contact with the High Commissioner and examine the situation in the light of events that might occur during the coming months. The League's commitment could only be extended beyond 30 June 1957 by its Executive Committee, which was due to meet in April.
74. The Secretary of State of the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, Mr. Grubhofer, amplified Mr. Helmer's suggestion that resettlement should be arranged on a quota system, and proposed that countries of resettlement should accept refugees up to a number equivalent to 1 per 1,000 of their own population. On this basis, countries in Western Europe and overseas would take a very much larger total of refugees than they had already offered to accept. He felt that no country should have difficulty in assimilating the proposed number of refugees.
75. Several representatives supported Minister Helmer's appeal to countries of overseas resettlement to grant immigration facilities to refugees moved from Austria to countries of second asylum. The representative of Italy drew attention to the fact that the possibility of resettling refugees in a given country depended not only on the demographic situation of that country, but also on its economic and social position. The representative of the United States of America stated that the President of his country had requested Congress to increase by 65,000 the annual immigration quota. Moreover, the Administration had asked that the quota system should be rendered more flexible and that arrangements should be made for the continued admission of refugees from communist tyranny. Further, he announced that additional contributions were being made to ICEM for the movement of refugees.
76. Mr. Tittman, Director of ICEM, pointed out that, up to the present date, 104,529 Hungarian refugees had been moved from Austria and 64,930 were still left in that country. He explained that the estimates of ICEM for the resettlement of Hungarian refugees from Austria quoted in paragraphs 28 and 29 of document A/AC.79/49 had been revised since the preparation of that document. It was now expected that 54,000 Hungarian refugees would be moved from Austria during 1957 to countries other than the United States. Of these, 24,000 would go to overseas and 30,00 to European countries. It was anticipated that the majority would have been moved by 30 June 1957. The rate of movement was likely to be affected by financial considerations and openings for resettlement.
77. When it was announced that the observer from Hungary wished to make a statement, the representatives of Australia, the United States and the Netherlands reserved their Governments' positions as to the right of the Hungarian observer to represent Hungary in the Committee.
78. The observer from Hungary stated his Government's point of view that the refugees had fled from Hungary because of fear spread by hostile propaganda. His Government was willing to accept the refugees who wished to return, and had declared an amnesty for this purpose. It was the primary task of refugee organizations to facilitate and promote the voluntary repatriation of refugees. All unaccompanied children up to the age of eighteen years should be sent back to Hungary if their parents so requested.
79. The observer from Hungary requested the Executive Committee to adopt the main proposals put forward in the memorandum presented to the Secretary-General on 15 January 1957 by his country's permanent Representative to the United Nations.13 He proposed that the sum of $150,000 suggested in document A/AC.79/49 for projects for refugee youths in Austria should be cancelled and that other amounts suggested for the integration of refugees should be reduced. The sums concerned should be used for the repatriation of unaccompanied children and refugees of school age. The High Commissioner should ensure that the necessary funds to cover the costs of repatriation to Hungary were available from the United Nations or from other sources.
80. The representative of Austria replied that no propaganda had issued from his country to influence refugees to leave Hungary. Voluntary repatriation had always been allowed. Approximately 2,000 refugees had already been repatriated. The presence in Austria of a repatriation mission from Hungary was based not on law but on the goodwill of the Austrian Government. Its entry had been authorized after the advice of the High Commissioner had been taken and the mission had already been received by Minister Helmer. No refugee had been compelled to leave Austria. The representative of Austria stated that the repatriation of minors was governed not by international law, but by reciprocal agreements, and that no such agreement existed between his country and Hungary.
81. The High Commissioner stated the policy of his Office on the two questions of repatriation and the treatment of unaccompanied children. The text of this statement is annexed to the summary record of the 32nd meeting.
Hungarian refugees in Austria (discussion of document A/AC.79/49)
82. Introducing the discussion of document A/AC.79/49, the High Commissioner pointed out that, under the terms of General Assembly resolutions 1006 (ES-II) and 129 (XI) and resolution 1039(XI) on his annual report to the eleventh session, his Office had been assigned the three tasks of co-ordinating assistance to refugees from Hungary, of making appeals, in consultation with the Secretary-General, for assistance to these refugees, and of developing a comprehensive assessment of the needs of Hungarian refugees with the concurrence of the UNREF Executive Committee in order that a target might be set for further appeals.
83. The High Commissioner stated that the calculations in document A/AC.79/49 were based on the expenditures incurred or estimated by the Austrian Government. They were based on 70,000 refugees remaining in Austria for the first six months of 1957 and 35,000 in the second half of the year, but he expressed the hope that these figures would prove too high.
84. The representative of the United States of America questioned the necessity of setting aside $250,000 for emergency assistance in the area of the Austro-Hungarian frontier and $100,000 to finance projects submitted by the voluntary agencies for refugees in camps outside the operation of the League of Red Cross Societies. He felt that other resources were available to meet these needs.
85. The High Commissioner suggested reducing the sum set aside for emergency assistance in the border area to $100,000 and contributing the balance of $150,000 to the Austrian Government for its proportion of the care and maintenance costs in camps where the League of Red Cross Societies was already operating. He gave an assurance that the $100,000 to be spent through the voluntary agencies would be used only for projects for which no other money could be obtained from any source.
86. The representative of Australia questioned the assumption that 70,000 refugees would require maintenance during the first six months of 1957, particularly in view of the most recent figures for influx and the estimates made by ICEM of resettlement possibilities. He also expressed his doubts on the expenditure for military barracks proposed by the Austrian Government.
87. At the suggestion of the representative of the United States the Committee noted with appreciation the estimates of the needs of the Hungarian refugees in Austria prepared by the High Commissioner, as contained in document A/AC.79/49, and authorized him, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to use these estimates as the basis for any appeals that they might deem necessary.
88. The Committee then considered part II of document A/AC.79/49, in which it was recommended that certain long-term projects should be started immediately and that the combined target for UNREF for 1957 should be increased by $1 million to provide projects for permanent solutions for those Hungarian refugees who could not be resettled and who would require international assistance for their economic integration in Austria. The High Commissioner pointed out that the amounts required for these projects were additional to the emergency assistance and care and maintenance, the estimates of which were shown in part I of the document.
89. Several representatives stated that, although the maximum should be done for Hungarian refugees, in view of the limited funds available for the UNREF programme it was essential that permanent solutions for the other refugees within the mandate of UNHCR should have priority. While they considered that, within the list of projects submitted to the Committee, certain projects would no doubt be valuable, they felt that no decision should be taken until a complete survey had been made of those Hungarian refugees who were likely to remain in Austria.
90. Other representatives argued that a considerable number of Hungarian refugees would remain in Austria and would, no doubt, require assistance for their integration. In order to enable the Office of the High Commissioner to carry out the necessary planning and draw up specific projects for the approval of the Committee at its next session, it was essential for the Committee accordingly to increase the financial target of UNREF.
91. The High Commissioner explained that, while it was essential to pursue the UNREF programme for other refugees within his mandate, measures should be taken for the economic integration of Hungarian refugees before the adverse effects of prolonged camp existence had rendered their integration more difficult.
92. The United States representative questioned the principle of including under the UNREF programme a new category of refugees, since General Assembly resolution 832 (IX), which had authorized the UNREF programme in October 1954, provided that the programme should apply to the specific group of refugees described in the late High Commissioner's report to the ninth session.14
93. The High Commissioner pointed out, however, that these refugees had been defined in paragraph 164 of that report as "... refugees who are not assimilated into the economies of the countries in which they reside and, in particular, those refugees who are still condemned to live in camps". It was clear from this definition that the primary objective of the UNREF programme was to solve the problem of refugees in camps. Furthermore, under the provisions of General Assembly resolution 1039 (XI) of 23 January 1957 on the report presented at the eleventh session, the High Commissioner was to prepare, in consultation with the Secretary-General, a "comprehensive assessment of the needs, both material and financial, of the Hungarian refugees". This assessment was taken to refer, not merely to the necessity for emergency assistance and care and maintenance, but to all needs. The representative of the United States disagreed with this interpretation of General Assembly Resolution 832 (IX).
94. The Executive Committee subsequently agreed that, as an alternative to the proposals in part II of the document under discussion, certain projects in paragraph 91 should be regarded as coming within the programme of emergency assistance described in part I, and should therefore be financed from such funds as would be obtained through the special appeals of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General. This applied particularly to the project for counsellors and camp case workers in an amount of $75,000, the youth projects in an amount of $150,000 and the suggested housing study in an amount of $65,000, totalling $290,000. In addition, the Committee approved the suggestion that housing projects should be offered for adoption by Governments and private organizations. In so far as difficult cases among the Hungarian refugees required immediate settlement, this could be provided from funds available for emergency assistance to these refugees. Studies of the long-term needs of the Hungarian refugees in Austria should, however, be continued in conjunction with the Austrian authorities, and should form the basis of recommendations to be submitted by the High Commissioner to the fifth session of the Executive Committee.
Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia (discussion of document A/AC.79/54)
95. The observer from Yugoslavia described the difficulties facing his Government. On 30 January 1957, the total influx amounted to 14,105 refugees accommodated in twenty-six reception centres. The total expenditure for these refugees had amounted to $1,108,763. The most serious problem was that of accommodation, particularly since hotels now used for this purpose would have to be emptied at the beginning of the tourist season in April. Yugoslavia urgently needed financial assistance and support for the promotion of resettlement of those refugees who wished to emigrate. In spite of its difficulties, the Government would continue to grant asylum to refugees and would assist the integration of those refugees who wished to establish themselves in Yugoslavia.
96. The High Commissioner stated that the estimates contained in document A/AC.79/54 were based on figures supplied by the Government of Yugoslavia. In view of the rate at which refugees were still arriving in Yugoslavia, the estimate of an average figure of 22, 000 Hungarian refugees during the first six months of 1957 might prove too low. He felt that countries of resettlement should provide openings for these refugees as well as for those in Austria. His Office had made a contribution of $50,000 to the Yugoslav Red Cross out of funds contributed for the Hungarian refugees in order both to defray some of its expenses and to direct attention to the problem in Yugoslavia.
97. The representative of Austria and the Observer from Yugoslavia declared their Governments' willingness to accept Hungarian refugees from each other's territory in order to re-unite families.
98. The representative of France stated that his Government would grant asylum to all Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia seeking permanent resettlement in France.
99. The representative of the United Kingdom said that, in view of her country's heavy commitment to the refugees in Austria, the United Kingdom would not be able to admit numbers of refugees from Yugoslavia, but would give consideration to compassionate cases.
100. On the suggestion of the representative of the United States, the Executive Committee noted with appreciation the estimates of needs for the Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia, prepared by the High Commissioner and contained in document A/AC.79/54, and asked him, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to use these estimates, together with those in document A/AC.79/49, in fixing a target for a future appeal. It was understood that a single appeal would be issued covering the needs of the refugees in both Austria and Yugoslavia.
101. The representative of Brazil introduced a draft resolution, co-sponsored by the Netherlands and Switzerland, concerning the serious difficulties caused by the problem of Hungarian refugees to countries of first asylum, notably Austria and Yugoslavia. Amendments to the draft resolution were submitted by various representatives and were accepted by the sponsors. The following resolution was then adopted unanimously:
"The UNREF Executive Committee,
"Recalling General Assembly resolution A/RESOLUTION/398/[1006 (ES-II)] and A/RESOLUTION/409 [1129(XI)],
"Recognizing that the fate of the Hungarian refugees constitutes a challenge to the conscience of humanity,
"Having taken note of the data relating to the problem of Hungarian refugees submitted by the High Commissioner,
"Recognizing that this problem causes most serious difficulties to certain countries of first asylum, notably Austria and Yugoslavia, in spite of the substantial contributions being made by many other countries,
"Taking into account the need to ensure family unity,
"Taking note of the statements made on behalf of the Austrian Federal Government by Minister of the Interior Oskar Helmer and Secretary of State Franz Grubhofer,
1. "Declares that the care of refugees is a burden to be shared by the whole world in accordance with the capacities of the respective countries:
2. "Supports the appeals made by the High Commissioner for Refugees in order that the countries of first asylum be enabled to meet the costs of the Hungarian refugee problem, and that countries which are in a position to do so accept the settlement in their territories of an increased number of refugees."
102. The Secretary of State of the Austrian Ministry of the Interior, Mr. Grubhofer, reiterated the urgency of financial help being brought to Hungarian refugees and stated that his Government was in favour of contributions being channelled through the Office of the High Commissioner, for whose assistance in the emergency his Government was most grateful. The High Commissioner expressed the hope that all Governments would act on the further appeal which would be issued by the Secretary-General and himself, but reserved his right to make appeals through diplomatic channels to Governments for financial aid or the promotion of resettlement.
Summary of decisions
103. In the course of its discussion of the problem of the Hungarian refugees in Austria and its consideration of documents A/AC.79/49 and A/AC.79/54, the Committee reached the following decisions, besides adopting the resolution quoted in paragraph 101 above:
(a) It expressed the wish that the League of Red Cross Societies should continue its operations in Austria after 30 June 1957:
(b) It noted with appreciation the estimates of the needs of the Hungarian refugees in Austria and Yugoslavia prepared by the High Commissioner as contained in documents A/AC.79/49 and A/AC.79/54, and authorized him, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to use these estimates as the basis for any appeals that they might deem necessary;
(c) It agreed that projects proposed in part II of document A/AC.79/49 should not be financed out of contributions to UNREF. Certain of these projects, however, involving a total sum of $290,000, could appropriately be financed out of contributions to the appeals made by the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General;
(d) It approved the suggestions that housing projects for Hungarian refugees in Austria should be offered for adoption by governments and private organizations, and that any immediate help that might be necessary for difficult cases among these refugees be provided from funds available for emergency assistance;
(e) It agreed in principle that future contributions for Hungarian refugees could be used to assist both Austria and Yugoslavia, the allocation of funds being left to the High Commissioner. It was understood that, as regards Austria, he should be guided by the priorities listed in paragraph 83 of document A/AC.79/49.
X CHINESE REFUGEES IN HONG KONG
104. The document presented to the Committee in its advisory capacity (A/AC.79/47) had been drawn up in accordance with paragraph 144 of the report on the Committee's third session15 which recommended that a short summary should be prepared on the question of the eligibility of these refugees, that the High Commissioner should inquire from the United Kingdom Government whether the present situation of these refugees was such as to warrant taking special measures, and that he should report at the next session whether funds were available to help them.
105. The committee first heard and appeal for assistance to these refugees from the representative of the United Nations Association of Hong Kong, the details of which are included in the summary record of the 34th meeting and in document A/AC.79/56. A statement by the World federation of United Nations Associations had also been presented in document A/AC.79/55.
106. The observer from the Government of the Republic of China exhorted the Committee to face the problem and take a decision, which had been repeatedly shelved, and which would enable the international community to accept its humanitarian obligation in bringing help to the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong. In the opinion of his government, these refugees were undoubtedly within the mandate of UNHCR according to article 6 B of the statute, since in practical terms they were not able to avail themselves of the protection of the Government of the Republic of China. To refuse them the status of refugees on legalistic grounds was to defeat the purpose of the Charter of the United Nations and the statute of the Office of the High Commissioner. The legal considerations set forth in the report of Dr. Hambro had been summarized in document A/AC.79/47, but the views of the author himself were given in the concluding chapter of the report where he suggested that:
"These refugees are of international concern, and it is inconsistent with the large measure of international interest in other groups of political refugees that this important group should fail to receive international assistance on account of a legal technicality."
He therefore urged most strongly that the Committee should at its present session give a positive opinion to the High Commissioner on the question of eligibility and that an immediate start should be made to bring relief to the most needy cases among these refugees.
107. The United States representative pointed out that his Government was helping groups of non-European refugees in various ways and that assistance to them was indicative of a sympathetic attitude to the problems of refugees everywhere. While there was certainly universal sympathy for the plight of the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong and agreement on the urgent need to furnish some help, two hitherto insuperable obstacles remained: the unsolved question whether these refugees came within the mandate of the High Commissioner, and the lack of financial means. The Executive Committee had been forced to recognize that it could not reach any clear agreement on the question of eligibility. Moreover, funds were not available even to carry out in its entirety the limited UNREF programme. The best possible course was to refer the question to the General Assembly. He therefore proposed the following draft resolution:
"The Executive Committee,
"Acting in its advisory capacity to the High Commissioner for Refugees,
"Having considered the problem of the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong,
"Agrees that it is unable to reach a clear decision in the matter of the eligibility of Chinese refugees in Hong Kong for assistance;
"Recognizes that there are no uncommitted funds now available for assistance to these refugees;
"Nevertheless considers that the plight of these refugees is such as to be of concern to the international community; and
"Therefore suggests that the General Assembly, at its twelfth session, examine the question of the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong when considering the High Commissioner's future activities."
108. A number of delegations, in supporting the resolution, expressed the concern of their Governments that the problem of this large group of refugees should be faced, and the appropriate means of bringing aid to them be found. Some representatives pointed out that the question of eligibility was complicated by the divergent attitudes of states as to the legitimate Government of China.
109. The representative of the united Kingdom, in agreeing to the resolution, drew attention to the views of his Government set forth in paragraphs 21 - 27 of document A/AC.79/47, and particularly to the necessity for the administration of any grant to be agreed between the representative of the High Commissioner in Hong Kong and the Government of Hong Kong.
110. The High Commissioner said it was his understanding that his mandate was a global one and required him to assist refugees in whatever continent they might be. He would welcome the action now proposed to try to bring about a decision on a question which had too long been in suspense. It was his earnest hope that if, at a future date, he were authorized to consider the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong as within his mandate, he would also be given the financial means to give them some effective assistance.
111. The Chairman declared the resolution adopted.
112. The observer from the Republic of China reserved the position of his Government concerning the resolution, in view of the fact that the twelfth session of the General Assembly was nearly a year ahead and that there was no guarantee that the Assembly would give the matter its attention.
113. The Chairman pointed out that the resolution on the question of the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong constituted an advice given by the Committee to the High Commissioner. Furthermore, the resolution would be brought to the attention of the Economic and Social Council and, subsequently, of the General Assembly at its twelfth session, as part of the report on the fourth session of the Executive Committee which would be annexed to the Annual Report of the High Commissioner to the Assembly. The matter would thus be brought before the General Assembly without the necessity of a special request for it to be placed on the agenda.
XI OTHER BUSINESS
The situation of refugees who had recently left Egypt
114. At the request of several representatives, the High Commissioner submitted a document (A/AC.79/58) giving briefly the information available on the number and situation of refugees who had recently left Egypt.
115. At the suggestion of the representative of Iran, the Committee considered that, since the High Commissioner had not requested its advice on this subject, it should limit itself to taking note of the declaration made by the High Commissioner in his opening statement (A/AC.79/SR.27) and of document A/AC.79/58.
116. The observer form Egypt reserved the position of his Government with regard to the contents of this document.
117. The statements made by the High Commissioner, the representative of Iran and the observer from Egypt on this subject are contained in Appendix III to the present report.
Membership of the UNREF Executive Committee
118. The representative of Australia drew attention to the fact that, according to resolution 565 (XIX) adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its nineteenth session, the membership of the Executive Committee was subject to review at the twenty-third session of the Council. In this connexion, he proposed that the Government of Canada should be added to the members of the Committee. The demonstrated interest of Canada in the solution of refugee problems and the contribution that it had made towards the settlement of refugees made Canada admirably suitable to serve on the Committee.
119. The Committee unanimously supported the proposal, whereupon the observer from Canada expressed the thanks of his Government and its willingness to be proposed as a member of the Executive Committee.
120. The High Commissioner welcomed the suggestion and undertook to transmit it to the Economic and Social Council at its twenty-third session.
Terms of reference of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee
121. The representative of the United States raised the question of the functions and competence of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee had been set up to perform a precise but limited task, which was to relieve the Executive Committee of the necessity of studying the plan of operations in detail. Many of the items which had been placed on the agenda of the Sub-Committee were, in his view, outside its sphere of competence, and led to a duplication of its work with that of the Executive Committee.
122. Several representatives expressed their support for that point of view. It was pointed out that the functions of the Sub-Committee were laid down in resolution No. 2 adopted by the Executive Committee at its first session and had been quite precisely defined. With regard to a suggestion that the Sub-Committee might hold its meetings concurrently with those of the Executive Committee, attention was drawn to paragraph B of the resolution specifically requesting the Sub-Committee to meet immediately before each session of the Executive Committee. Moreover, it was thought essential that the Sub-Committee should have sufficient time to examine the programme thoroughly and make a careful report to the Executive Committee.
123. The Committee recognized that, in order to examine thoroughly the plan of operations, the Sub-Committee should also study the progress report to obtain an over-all view of the projects. The Committee also agreed that the "appropriate preparatory work" assigned to the Sub-Committee in paragraph A (1) of the terms of reference implied the right to make suggestions or recommendations which might facilitate its work.
124. The Executive Committee decided that, in conformity with the terms of reference laid down for the Sub-Committee, the agenda for the latter in sessions immediately preceding those of the Executive Committee should, in the future, be confined to the study of the progress report and the plan of operations.
(Note: Statistical and financial tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
Appendix II RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED DURING THE FOURTH SESSION THE UNREF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Resolution (No. 4) concerning the problem of Hungarian refugees
The UNREF Executive Committee,
Recalling General Assembly resolution A/RESOLUTION/398 and A/RESOLUTION/409,
Recognizing that the fate of the Hungarian refugees constitutes a challenge to the conscience of humanity,
Having taken note of the data relating to the problem of Hungarian refugees submitted by the High Commissioner,
Recognizing that this problem causes most serious difficulties to certain countries of first asylum, notably Austria and Yugoslavia, in spite of the substantial contributions being made by many other countries,
Taking into account the need to ensure family unity,
Taking note of the statements made on behalf of the Austrian Federal Government by Minister of the Interior Oskar Helmer and Secretary of State Franz Grubhofer,
1. Declares that the care of refugees is a burden to be shared by the whole world in accordance with the capacities of the respective countries;
2. Supports the appeals made by the High Commissioner for Refugees in order that the countries of first asylum be enabled to meet the costs of the Hungarian refugee problem, and that countries which are in a position to do so accept the settlement in their territories of an increased number of refugees.
Resolution (No.5) concerning Chinese refugees in Hong Kong
The UNREF Executive Committee,
Acting in its advisory capacity to the High Commissioner for Refugees,
Having considered the problem of the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong,
Agrees that it is unable to reach a clear decision in the matter of the eligibility of Chinese refugees in Hong Kong for assistance,
Recognizes that there are no uncommitted funds now available for assistance to these refugees,
Nevertheless considers that the plight of these refugees is such as to be of concern to the international community, and
Therefore suggests that the General Assembly at its twelfth session examine the question of the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong when considering the High Commissioner's future activities.
Appendix III STATEMENTS MADE BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER, THE REPRESENTATIVE OF IRAN AND THE OBSERVER FROM EGYPT IN CONNEXION WITH DOCUMENT A/AC.79/58
Statement by the High Commissioner (made at the 27th meeting)
Another emergency problem is now arising: that of refugees from Egypt. There is no doubt in my mind that those refugees from Egypt who are not able, or not willing, to avail themselves of the protection of the Government of their nationality fall under the mandate of my Office.
They may have no nationality or they may have lost their nationality, or, for valid reasons may not be willing to avail themselves of the protection of their country of nationality. I am therefore ready to exercise the legal and diplomatic functions of my office in their favour. I am following with concern the development of this question, and it is partly because of these various emergency situations which we can see developing before us that I have proposed in the plan of operations the creation of an enlarged emergency reserve. I think the amount proposed can perhaps be criticized for being too small in relation to the potentialities of the present situation.
Statement by the representative of Iran (made at the 34th meeting)
Upon the request of several delegations, the High Commissioner submitted to us document A/AC.79/58, which contains some information and statistics. In view of the statement made by the High Commissioner in one of the previous meetings of the Committee and of the information contained in the document which I have just mentioned, I do not believe that a problem arises for discussion. The High Commissioner did not ask the Committee to act either in its executive or in its consultative capacity. This is why, in the opinion of my delegation, all that is necessary for the Committee is for it to take note of the document.
Statement by the Observer from Egypt (made at the 34th meeting)
The Egyptian delegation wishes entirely to reserve its position with regard to the action that might be taken on document A/AC.79/58, submitted by the High Commissioner, on the subject under discussion and I would like these reservations to be specifically mentioned in the record.
ANNEX II REPORT OF THE UNREF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (Fifth session - Geneva, 3 to 7 June 1957)
The UNREF Executive Committee held its fifth session from 3-7 June 1957 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. All the Governments members of the Executive Committee were represented, as follows:
|France||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|Germany, Federal Republic of||United States of America|
2. The Governments of Egypt, Hungary, Sweden, Syria and Yugoslavia were represented by observers, as was the Sovereign Order of Malta.
3. The Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Labour Office, the council of Europe and the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration were also represented by observers.
Opening of the session and election of Officers
4. The session was opened by Mr. N. Tuncel (Turkey), Chairman of the fourth session of the Executive Committee.
5. The Committee elected the following officers:
|Chairman||Mr. J. Cappelen (Norway)|
|Vice-Chairman||Mr. A. Valladao (Brazil)|
|Rapporteur||Mr. N. Currie (Australia|
6. The Chairman welcomed to the Committee the representative of Canada, which country had been elected a member at the twenty-third session of the Economic and Social Council. He referred to the outstanding part played by Canada in assisting refugees through both the International Refugee Organization and the Office of the High Commissioner.
7. Mr. G. Palthey, Deputy Director of the European Office of the United Nations, welcomed the representatives on behalf of the Secretary-General. He wished them success in their task and expressed the hope that permanent solutions would be found for all the refugees still living in camps.
Adoption of the agenda
8. The Chairman pointed out that item 12 of the provisional agenda, which had been included at the request of the Norwegian government, and item 13, were submitted to the Executive Committee in its advisory capacity.
The Committee adopted the following agenda:
1. Election of officers;
2. Adoption of the agenda (A/AC.79/65/Rev.1);
3. Report on the fifth session of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee (A/AC.79/77);
4. UNREF progress report for the period up to 1 April 1957 (A/AC.79/66);
5. New and revised projects and adjustment of priorities for the Revised Plan of Operations (1957) (A/AC.79/67 and Add.1, 2 and 3, A/AC.79/21/Add.5);
6. Tentative target and country allocations for the Revised Plan of Operations (1958) (A/AC.79/68 and Add.1);
7. Amendment to Plan of Administrative Expenditure (A/AC.79/69 and Add.1);
8. UNREF financial statements for 1956 and Auditors' report thereon (A/AC.79/70);
9. Provisional UNREF financial statements for January - April 1957 (A/AC.79/71);
10. Re-appraisal of the UNREF Programme (A/AC.79/72 and Add.1, and A/AC.79/76);
11. Report and further recommendations on the problem of Hungarian refugees (A/AC.79/73 and Add. 1 and 2, and Annexes/Rev.1);
12. Review by the General Assembly of the arrangements for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (A/AC.79/75);
13. Facilitation of travel by refugees (A/AC.79/74);
14. Any other business.
Statement by the High Commissioner
9. The High Commissioner made an introductory statement in which he expressed the opinion that the three main questions before the Committee were the problem of Hungarian refugees, the re-appraisal of the UNREF programme and the review by the General assembly of arrangements for his Office.
10. Because of an outstanding display of international solidarity, progress towards a solution of the problem of Hungarian refugees in Austria had exceeded expectations. Of 174, 000 arrivals, 140, 000 had been resettled by the end of April 1957, emergency relief and care and maintenance had been assured for all the refugees and the financial difficulties facing the Austrian Government had been largely overcome. He wished to pay special tribute to the League of Red Cross Societies which had undertaken the care and maintenance of refugees in camps. Of the 30,000 Hungarian refugees believed to be still in Austria, 16,000 were in camps supplied by the League. The advice of the Committee was sought on a permanent solutions programme to assist the integration of the 8,000 to 10,000 Hungarian refugees expected to remain in Austria at the end of 1957. A part of the contributions for assistance to Hungarian refugees announced by the Governments of the Netherlands and Switzerland would be earmarked for this purpose.
11. The position in Yugoslavia was less satisfactory: resettlement opportunities for 8,500 Hungarian refugees existed, but 6,500 resettlement offers were still needed if all the Hungarian refugees who wished to do so were to be able to move to other countries. Furthermore, it was estimated that, by the end of 1957, and amount of more than $7 million would be required to meet the expenses of the Yugoslav Government in caring for these refugees.
12. The High Commissioner emphasized his anxiety that the Hungarian refugees should not be left for an unduly long time in camps awaiting a final solution. He hoped that a solution for all of them could be found in 1957. If the special efforts made on their behalf would stimulate Governments to make a similar effort for the other refugees, it might be possible to achieve the closure of all refugee camps by the end of 1958.
13. Referring to his re-appraisal of the UNREF programme submitted at the request of the Executive Committee, he pointed out that, unless the present short-fall in governmental contributions were made up before the end of 1958, there would remain at that time an estimated 30,000 refugees in camps. Of these, some 17,500 would not be eligible for assistance under the United States Escapee Program and, in addition to the estimated short-fall of $2,700,000, a sum of $4,800,000 would be necessary to find permanent solutions for the greater part of these refugees. In addition, it would be essential for the immigration criteria of resettlement countries to be liberalized if the camps were to be closed. There would also remain the problems of non-settled refugees living outside camps, refugees of European origin in China and the increasing number of difficult cases.
14. The third main question before the Committee on which its advice was sought was the forthcoming review by the general Assembly of the arrangements for the Office after 31 December 1958. The High Commissioner felt certain that the advice of the Executive Committee in this matter would be valuable to the Economic and Social Council and to the General Assembly.
II. FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION
Contributions to the United Nations Refugee Fund
15. The Committee learned with appreciation from the representative of Austria that his Government would make a contribution of $ 6,000 to UNREF for 1957, and from the representative of the Federal Republic of Germany that his Government would contribute $ 200,000 to the Fund during 1957.
Amendments to Plan of Administrative Expenditure for 1957
16. The Executive Committee considered amendments to the Plan of Administrative expenditure for 1957 (A/AC.79/ 69 and Add.1). The Committee adopted the proposals contained in these documents on the understanding that the increased expenditure of $8,700 proposed for the provisional Branch Office at Belgrade for 1957 would not be a charge on the regular UNREF budget, but would be met from funds contributed for assistance to Hungarian refugees.
Financial statements of the United Nations Refugee Fund for the year 1956 and the report of the board of Auditors thereon
17. The Committee was informed by the High Commissioner that an account of the repayment of loans to refugees, for which a 100 per cent reserve had been made in the financial statements, would be included in the document concerning the repayment of all loans granted under the UNREF programme to be submitted to the Committee at its seventh session.
18. It appeared from the report of the Board of Auditors that the Board had been unable to certify without qualification the amounts recorded for the expenditure of the Shanghai Office; the High Commissioner explained that his Office no longer maintained any staff in Shanghai and that this expenditure would, therefore, not recur. The Committee adopted the financial statements for 1956 and took note of the Report of the board of Auditors.1
Provisional financial statements of the United Nations Refugee Fund for the period 1 January - 30 April 1957
19. The Committee considered document A/AC.79/71, containing UNREF provisional financial statements for the first four months of 1957.
20. In reply to a question, the High Commissioner informed the Committee that, as mentioned in document A/AC.79/45/Add.1, an amount of some $911,000 received in 1956 was to be used to finance projects within the Revised Plan of Operations (1957), and that $1,288,281 of the contribution made by the government of Sweden during 1956 had been allocated to the 1957 target. The Committee took note of the provisional financial statements for 1957.
III. PROGRAMME OF THE UNITED NATIONS REFUGEE FUND
Report on the fifth session of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee
21. The Committee took note of the report on the fifth session of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee (A/AC.79/77 and A/AC.79/PSC/6) and decided to consider the various sections of this report in conjunction with the relevant items of the agenda.
22. At various times during the discussion of the UNREF programme, members of the Committee expressed the opinion that the emphasis of the programme should continue to be placed on the achievement of solutions for the refugees living in camps and on the closure of camps. Representatives urged that, in Austria, priority in the allocation of UNREF funds should be given to foreign refugees rather than to refugees of German ethnic origin, who were considered to be in a less difficult position. To this end the camp closure programme should, as far as possible, be focused on those camps with the largest proportion of foreign refugees.
23. There was general agreement in the Committee with the policy followed by the Office of the High Commissioner in emphasizing the provision of housing as the most effective means of enabling refugees to become firmly established. Members of the Committee also recognized the need for increased individual assistance in the form of counselling and rehabilitation to enable the growing proportion of difficult-to-settle refugees to benefit from the programme.
UNREF progress report
24. The Committee considered the UNREF progress report covering the period up to 31 March 1957 (A/AC.79/66), which contained an account of the projects implemented and in the course of implementation, broken down according to country and type of project with an indication of number of beneficiaries and of the implementing Agencies.
25. The Committee noted the report and expressed appreciation of the progress achieved in the implementation of all phases of the UNREF programme and of the efforts made by the High Commissioner to speed up the closure of camps.
26. The Committee endorsed the recommendation submitted by the Standing Programme Sub-Committee that future progress reports should be shortened so far as was possible, without loss of clarity, particularly by condensing or referring to information contained in previous documents or by including more detailed information in an annex to the report.
New and revised projects and adjustments of priorities for the Revised Plan of Operations (1957)
27. The Committee considered document A/AC.79/67 and Add.1, 2 and 3. The first of these documents contained in part I new and revised projects requiring additional UNREF contributions in the amount of $1,685,171. Part II contained proposed adjustments to the order of priorities of projects in the Revised Plan of Operations (1957), taking into account the new and revised projects and the amount of funds estimated to be available before the end of 1957. Additional projects were submitted in add. 1 and 2, and add. 3 contained two new projects for housing, replacing projects previously approved by the Executive Committee but which the French Government suggested should be withdrawn.
28. The Committee considered the documents project by project. Detailed information given on a certain number of projects may be found in the records of the 36th and 37th meetings and in the report of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee (A/AC.79/77).
29. Several representatives expressed satisfaction at the fact the housing programme in Austria was specially designed for refugees in a relatively weak economic position.
30. In the course of the consideration of two projects for assistance in the payment of naturalization fees for refugees in Austria, the representative of Austria recalled that, since 1945, nearly 258,000 refugees had been naturalized in Austria, including 44,300 foreign refugees. The Committee suggested that the representative should take up with his Government the possibility of exempting refugees within the mandate of the High Commissioner from payment of naturalization fees.
31. During the consideration of projects for permanent solutions in Italy, the representative of Italy stressed that solutions for the problems of refugees granted asylum in Italy must be considered in the light of the demographic and employment situation in that country. He pointed out that, in addition to the supporting contribution made from Italian sources to these projects, the Italian Government was making an indirect contribution in the form of arrangements whereby the position of refugees with regard to their residence and employment in Italy would be regularized. The representative also drew attention to the increasing number of refugees seeking asylum in Italy, and emphasized that Italy must be considered as a country of first asylum only, the ultimate burden of the refugees to be shared by the international community as a whole.
32. The representative of Italy stated that the prolonged stay of refugees in countries of first asylum constituted a financial burden on the Government concerned and had adverse psychological effects on the refugees themselves. This difficulty, which was of great concern to his Government, could be avoided if countries of resettlement would further speed up the admission of refugees and liberalize their selection criteria. He also drew attention to the problem of stateless persons who felt compelled to leave a country where they had been living for many years and were not allowed to take out their property. They thus became a charge on the economy of the country in which they sought to establish themselves, a situation which could be remedied if they were allowed to transfer their assets from the country of previous residence. The Committee took note of the statement of the Italian representative.
33. The representative of France concurred with the statement of the representative of Italy, especially with regard to the problem of the transfer of assets of stateless refugees.
34. Projects for permanent solutions in Italy were approved, on the understanding that first priority would be given to projects specially designed for the camp population, and that particular attention would be paid to the small number of refugees remaining in camps and not eligible for assistance under the United States Escapee Program, as well as to refugees who were not of Italian ethnic origin.
35. The High Commissioner announced that, although project SH/6/1957 for medical assistance to refugees of European origin in China was necessary for humanitarian reasons, he would withdraw it from the list of projects to be financed from governmental funds. He had hopes of obtaining funds from non-governmental sources to finance this project. The Committee agreed that the heading "Shanghai Operation" in the UNREF programme should be amended to read "Hong Kong Operation". This would require an amendment to rule 7.1 of the financial rules (A/AC.79/10/Rev.2).
36. The Committee approved the new and revised projects which had been submitted to it, project PS/103/AUS for assistance to refugees returning from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics being withdrawn. The Committee also adopted the proposed order of priorities, the final version of which is contained in appendix I to this report. The representative of Italy requested that project PS/14/ITA for the setting up of an emigration centre at Latina should be given a priority high enough to allow it to be implemented immediately.
Revision of projects in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956)
37. The Committee also approved the proposed revision of projects in the Revised Plan of Operations (1956) submitted to it in document A/AC.79/21/Add.5, as well as the revised order of priority of these projects.
Tentative target and country allocations for the Revised Plan of Operations (1958)
38. The Committee considered document A/AC.79/68 and addendum 1. The High commissioner explained that the allocation of $5,100,000 proposed for 1958 was the estimated portion of the $16 million target for the four years' period 1955-1958 which would be unfulfilled by the end of 1957. Allocations under the main headings of the programme were in the same ratio as in previous Plans of Operations. Of the $3,650,000 earmarked for permanent solutions, $1,500,000 were allocated for projects in Germany and the same amount for projects in Austria, the two countries with the largest refugee camp population. In these two countries, the main emphasis was on projects for housing and for individual assistance to refugees in camps who came within the category of handicapped and difficult-to-settle cases.
39. In Greece and Italy, it was expected that the remaining refugee camp population coming within the scope of the UNREF programme would soon be settled. Projects were envisaged for the neediest refugees living out of camps, since they were likely to have difficulty in becoming integrated in view of the limited possibilities of obtaining employment in these countries.
40. The representative of Greece expressed the disappointment of his Government at the reduction of the allocation for projects for permanent solutions in Greece from $600,000 in 1957 to $300,000 in 1958. His Government thought that this amount was insufficient in view of the limited economic possibilities of the refugees remaining in Greece and of the constant influx of new refugees into his country, and had counted on receiving a larger allocation. His Government offered its full co-operation and was prepared to assist financially in a programme for all needy refugees living out of camps.
41. The High Commissioner explained that the limited funds available must be used in the first place to achieve solutions for the refugees in camps.
42. The increased allocation for permanent solutions projects in Germany was accepted by the Committee on the understanding that these projects would be designed for the refugees in camps and be based on adequate statistical data concerning these refugees.
43. The Committee approved the tentative target of $5,100,000 for the Revised Plan of Operations (1958), the country allocations contained in paragraph 8 of document A/AC.79/68 as amended in Add.1, and the proposed allocations for each category of projects.
44. The High Commissioner drew attention to the increasing cost involved in the settlement of difficult cases, and was authorized by the Committee to increase to $1,500 the maximum UNREF grant for the settlement of chronically sick refugees coming within the category of difficult cases.
Re-appraisal of the UNREF Programme
45. The Committee considered document A/AC.79/72 submitted to it at its request. This document contained an analysis of the effects on the UNREF programme of the short-fall in governmental contributions and of the influx of refugees from Hungary, a re-appraisal of the methods of the UNREF programme in the light of the experience so far gained, and a forecast of the probable situation of the non-settled refugee population in various countries at the end of 1958.
46. The High Commissioner explained that, allowing for a short-fall of $2,700,000 in governmental contributions, permanent solutions would have to be found upon the termination of the UNREF programme for 14,000 refugees still living in camps and not eligible for USEP assistance. The total cost of achieving these solutions was estimated at $7,500,000, broken down into an amount of $2,700,000 representing the anticipated short-fall and a sum of $4,800,000 over and above the UNREF target. The total amount required could be effectively spent in two years after the implementation of the UNREF programme for 1958.
47. The dissolution of the remaining refugee camps was not, however, the only problem which would still have to be faced after the end of 1958. There would still remain the problems of non-settled refugees living outside camps, of refugees of European origin in China and of emergency aid to the most needy cases.
48. In Addendum I to document A/AC.79/72 the High Commissioner proposed two possible lines of approach in case it were decided to deal with the problem of the residual camp population. On the one hand, it might be possible to make a concerted effort to solve the camp problem within the present life of UNREF. This would involve raising in 1958 sufficient funds to cover the present short-fall in governmental contributions and a further amount of $4,800,000. The implementation of the necessary projects could be carried out during the following two years, and completed by the end of 1960. Alternatively, the problem might be met by a prolongation of UNREF beyond 1958. In this event the necessary funds would not be available before 1959 and the implementation of the programme could not be completed before the end of 1961.
49. The High Commissioner pointed out that the General Assembly had delegated to the former Advisory Committee the responsibility for deciding upon the UNREF target. He considered that the UNREF Executive Committee, as successor to the Advisory Committee, was competent to decide upon a modification of the financial target. Prolongation of UNREF, on the other hand, could only be decided upon by the General Assembly.
50. Various arguments were advanced for and against both suggested approaches to the problem. In favour of an intensification of the programme in 1958, it was suggested that the problem would thus be dealt with more rapidly and more economically. In favour of a prolongation of UNREF, the argument was advanced that, in practice, the necessary funds were unlikely to be forthcoming before the end of 1958.
51. There was general agreement that the camps could not be closed without increasing the $16 million target and that this situation, as reflected in document A/AC.79/72/Add.1, should be brought urgently to the attention of all Governments members of the Committee. It was further noted that, even after the closure of the camps, there would still remain many refugees outside camps for whom permanent solutions had not been found.
52. Some representatives suggested that a further programme might be developed along new lines, and that new sources of funds might be found.
53. The representatives felt that they were not in a position to make a decision on the matter without further study and consultation with their Governments.
54. The Committee therefore decided to hold a special session on 11 July 1957 to continue the discussion of this matter. The High Commissioner agreed to submit to Governments members of the Committee a short document summing up the issues involved and covering, in addition to the problem of the residual camp population, the other problems expected to remain outstanding at the end of 1958.
55. In paragraphs 130 and 131 of document A/AC.79/72 it was suggested that a survey of the non-settled refugee population should be made in various countries to obtain accurate data on which to base plans for assistance to these refugees during the period after 1958. The acute need for such statistical material was emphasized by several representatives. Upon the proposal of the representative of the United States, the Committee requested the High Commissioner to prepare a special analysis of the non-settled refugees in the countries in Europe in which the UNREF programme was being carried out, consistent with the views and desires expressed by members of the Executive Committee during its fifth session. The Committee further requested the High Commissioner to prepare a detailed plan to implement this project by 1 October 1957 and to submit this plan to the Standing Programme Sub-Committee for final approval. The Committee decided that this project should be placed in category B/1957/Rev.1, with a high priority. It authorized the Standing Programme Sub-Committee to approve at its discretion any such plan submitted by the High Commissioner, provided that the total cost of the project did not exceed $50,000. The Committee also agreed that the approval of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee for this project should be sought in writing.
IV. THE PROBLEM OF HUNGARIAN REFUGEES
56. The Committee considered the report and further recommendations on the problem of Hungarian refugees (A/AC.79/73 and Add.1 and 2, and annexes/Rev.1.). The report gave an account of the action taken by the Office of the High Commissioner on behalf of Hungarian refugees in Austria and Yugoslavia, and of the response to the joint appeals made by the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner. It also included a brief analysis of the position of Hungarian refugees who had been admitted to certain other European countries.
57. Section I of the document included a proposal for a permanent solutions programme costing $4,500,000 for Hungarian refugees expected to remain in Austria, submitted in accordance with a recommendation made by the Executive Committee and recorded in paragraph 94 of the report on its fourth session.16
58. The financial estimates contained in section III and addendum I of the report submitted by the High Commissioner indicated that, in addition to funds paid or promised for assistance to Hungarian refugees as of 1 May 1957, a further $9,910,209 would be required to meet the outstanding balance of the Austrian and Yugoslav Governments, and to cover the cost of the proposed permanent solutions programme in Austria.
59. Members of the Committee expressed satisfaction at the progress made towards solving the problem of Hungarian refugees. The Committee paid tribute to the countries which had generously granted asylum to the refugees from Hungary and unanimously expressed its thanks to the League of Red Cross Societies for the League's decision to continue to assist in the provision of care and maintenance in Austria until 30 September 1957, in accordance with the request made by the Executive Committee at its forth session.
60. In the course of the debate the representatives of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, Israel, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland and Venezuela supplemented the information contained in the document before the Committee by giving further details of their expenditure for Hungarian refugees and of the numbers and situation of the refugees admitted to their territories. An account of their remarks may be found in the summary records of the 38th and 39th meetings. These statements illustrated the considerable indirect financial contribution that was being made in many countries through the admission and integration of Hungarian refugees. It was also made clear that the total amount contributed in some countries for assistance to Hungarian refugees could not be indicated since a large proportion of the funds concerned was donated by the public and channelled through the national Red Cross societies and other non-governmental organizations.
61. When it was announced that the observer from Hungary wished to make a statement, the representatives of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands and the United States reserved the position of their Governments on the right of the Hungarian observer to represent Hungary.
62. The observer from Hungary stated that the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the UNREF Executive Committee had neglected the duty laid down in the statute of the Office of facilitating the repatriation of Hungarian refugees, which was the main solution to the problem. His Government was particularly concerned over the fate of Hungarian minors who, in accordance with various rules of private international law, were subject to the law of Hungary. They did not come within the terms of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. They could not be considered to fear persecution in their country, since an amnesty was granted to all minors who returned home. He proposed that the High Commissioner should be requested by the Committee to make arrangements with countries which had admitted Hungarian refugees to facilitate their repatriation and, in particular, the return of minors to their families.
63. The High Commissioner in reply made a statement, the text of which may be found in appendix II below.
64. The representative of Austria stated that those Hungarian refugees who wished to be repatriated had been given the possibility of returning to their country. Some 4,700 Hungarian refugees had so far been repatriated from Austria. The representative of Switzerland stated that Hungarian refugees who wished to be repatriated had their fare paid by the Swiss Government as far as the Hungarian border.
Hungarian refugees in Austria
65. The Committee considered the proposal for a permanent solutions programme costing $4,500,000 for the Hungarian refugees likely to remain in Austria at the end of 1957, whose number was tentatively estimated at 8,000 to 10,000
66. The members of the Committee unanimously agreed that a permanent solutions programme for these refugees would be necessary. Several representatives, however, doubted whether the number of refugees remaining in Austria would be as high as was estimated in the High Commissioner's report. On the other hand, the representative of Austria stated that, according to the information available to his Government, the figure would be considerably higher. The High Commissioner explained that several thousand refugees would certainly wish to be integrated in Austria, but that their number could not at present be accurately assessed, since it would vary according to the resettlement opportunities available. In addition, there was a certain number of refugees, tentatively estimated at 2,000, who would be unable to leave Austria since they did not meet the selection criteria of countries of resettlement.
67. Upon the proposal of the representative of the United States, the Committee decided that, in view of the prevailing uncertainty as to the number of refugees likely to remain in Austria at the end of 1957, the amount to be allocated for a permanent solutions programme should be reduced from $4,500,000 to $3,500,000, on the understanding that discretion was left to the High Commissioner with regard to project allocations, and that the situation would be reconsidered by the Executive Committee at its seventh session.
68. The representative of the United States also suggested that a number of projects, particularly those concerning Hungarian refugee youths, students and intellectuals, might be financed by private organizations, and urged the High Commissioner to give his attention to this possibility.
Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia
69. The observer from Yugoslavia described the measures taken by his Government to assist the Hungarian refugees who had sought asylum in its territory. The Government had been compelled to borrow the sum of three billion dinars from the National Bank to meet its expenditures for Hungarian refugees but this sum was already almost exhausted. The international assistance received by his country was slight in relation to the expenditures it was incurring. It was now estimated by the Yugoslav Government that re-settlement would reduce the number of Hungarian refugees in Yugoslavia to about 6,200 by 30 September 1957. It was essential that other Governments should accelerate the movement of refugees and make further re-settlement possibilities available.
70. Mr. P. Brémont, the High Commissioner's representative in Yugoslavia, outlined the action taken by the provisional UNHCR Branch Office in Belgrade to deal with the problem of Hungarian refugees. He described the arrangements made for co-ordinating emergency aid and for superintending voluntary repatriation, and the action taken for the re-settlement of refugees. He gave an account of the work of ICEM, USEP and the voluntary agencies within the framework of the activities of the provisional Branch Office.
71. At the suggestion of the representative of the Netherlands, the Executive Committee noted with great satisfaction the progress made towards the solution of the problem of Hungarian refugees. It stressed the necessity of efforts being continued to achieve a final solution in 1957, and urged the High Commissioner to continue his valuable efforts to this end. It requested the High Commissioner to continue to provide members of the Committee with the useful statistical data submitted on the problem, and invited him to approach Governments with a view to the continuation and intensification of their contribution to the solution of the problem by admitting more refugees and making financial contributions in order to relieve the countries of first asylum wherever this proved necessary.
V. REVIEW BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE OFFICE OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER
72. The Committee, acting in its advisory capacity, considered a report by the High Commissioner concerning the review by the General Assembly of the arrangements for his Office, in accordance with paragraph 2 of Assembly resolution 727 (VIII). This report (A/AC.79/75) contained a review of the functions of the Office, of its achievements to date and of the extent of the residual problem.
73. In introducing the item, the representative of Norway stated that, in addition to a certain number of tasks bound to remain outstanding even after the completion of the UNREF programme, such as material assistance, there would be a continuing need for international protection as long as there were refugees within the mandate of the High Commissioner. Their total number at the present time was well over 1 million, including some 145,000 refugees who it was anticipated would still be unsettled by the end of 1958. His Government considered it essential, therefore, that the mandate of the Office of the High Commissioner should be prolonged beyond the end of 1958.
74. The representative of the Holy See considered that the refugee problem was at present too acute to allow an interruption in the activities of the Office. He drew attention to the problem of new refugees who need assistance from an international organization as long as they are not completely absorbed in a new national community. This would not necessarily mean that the prolongation of the UNREF programme. He also considered that the mandate of the High Commissioner should be widened and more clearly defined.
75. During the ensuing discussion, representatives paid tribute to the Office of the High Commissioner for the work it had accomplished since its inception, and emphasized the continuing need for international assistance to refugees. All representatives agreed that, in view of the present state of the refugee problem, the Office should be prolonged for a further period beyond 31 December 1958.
76. A discussion arose as to whether the Committee should express an opinion to the Economic and Social Council on how long this further period should be. Some representatives felt that, since the future scope of activity of the Office could not as yet be precisely determined, it would not be appropriate for the Committee to recommend any specific period. Several representatives considered that there would be various advantages if the Committee were to recommend a definite period. Most representatives expressed a preference for a period of five years as had been the case when the Office was previously prolonged in 1953, while others favoured a period of four years. There was general agreement that provision should be made for a further review at least one year before the expiration of the period finally decided upon.
77. Some representatives suggested that the terms of reference of the Office of the High Commissioner might be modified. Most members of the Committee felt, however, that it was not feasible for the Committee, at its present session, to give any consideration to the terms of reference embodied in the statute.
78. The representative of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs emphasized the need for continuing the Office and drew attention to the effect which uncertainty as to continued international assistance would have on the morale of refugees.
79. The Committee unanimously decided to recommend that the Office of the High Commissioner should be continued for a further period beyond 31 December 1958, most delegations preferring a five-year period under similar conditions to those contained in General Assembly resolution 727 (VIII) and that provision should be made for a further review of the arrangements at least one year before the expiration of the extension finally decided upon by the Assembly.
VI. FACILITATION OF TRAVEL FOR REFUGEES
80. The Committee had before it document A/AC.79/74, setting out the measures which had so far been taken by Governments to facilitate travel by refugees, and the action taken by the High Commissioner to encourage these measures.
81. The High Commissioner explained why it was important for refugees to be able to travel outside their country of residence, and referred to the administrative and financial difficulties which still existed in this matter. His Office had tried to ensure that refugees could obtain an internationally recognized document, and be exempted as far as possible from the requirement of a visa for temporary travel. Where this was not possible, the aim was to speed up the procedure for the issue of visas and the waiving or reduction of visa fees. He referred to the useful action taken by the Council of Europe to achieve these ends.
82. In the course of the discussion, several representatives gave details of the measures taken by their Governments to facilitate travel for refugees. The representative of Belgium declared that his Government, which had been one of the first to conclude bilateral agreements to exempt refugees from the requirement of a visa for temporary travel, was prepared to consider the conclusion of further agreements of this type. The representative of Switzerland announced that a bilateral agreement between his country and France to exempt refugees from visa requirements for temporary travel was being considered. The representative of the Netherlands announced that, from 28 May, his Government was issuing to refugees the travel document specified by the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, 1951. The Netherlands Government was, furthermore, in negotiation with the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany concerning a bilateral agreement of the waiving of the visa requirement for temporary refugee travel. The representatives of Denmark and the United Kingdom gave the reasons why their Governments did not consider it feasible to waive the visa requirement in the case of refugees entering their countries. Several representatives stated that their Governments were willing to consider the conclusion of agreements for the exemption of refugees from the requirement of visas, or other measures for the facilitation of their travel.
83. The Committee took note of the report of the High Commissioner, and expressed appreciation of the efforts made to facilitate travel by refugees. It recommended that the High Commissioner should continue his efforts in this direction, especially in conjunction with action taken by the Council of Europe and the Organization for European Economic Co-operation for the simplification of frontier formalities.
VII. SPECIAL STATEMENTS
84. Mr. H. Tittmann, Director of the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, associated himself with the pleas which had been made for continued and increased assistance to refugees. He was gratified at the close co-operation which had developed between the Office of the High Commissioner, the administration of the United States Escapee Program, the voluntary agencies and his own organization. This co-operation had been highlighted by the combined effort made to solve the Hungarian refugee problem. Mr. Tittmann also gave an account of the numbers of refugees coming within the mandate of the High Commissioner whom the Migration Committee had helped to resettle.
85. Mr. Elfan Rees, speaking on behalf of the Standing Conference of Voluntary Agencies working for Refugees, stressed the importance of the co-ordinating role played by the High Commissioner in organizing the assistance to Hungarian refugees, and expressed thanks to all those who had supported the voluntary agencies in their efforts towards the solution of this problem. He hoped that solutions would also soon be found for the other refugees. He assured the Committee that the voluntary agencies would continue to do all within their power to assist the High Commissioner in his task.
86. Mr. D. Wood, also speaking on behalf of the non-governmental organizations interested in migration, gave an account of the conference "The Refugee Today and Tomorrow" recently held in Geneva, in which seventy voluntary agencies had participated, and which had also been attended by many of the Governments members of the Executive Committee.
87. The observer from Egypt stated that he was not clear on the term "refugees from Egypt" to which reference had been made by one of the representatives of non-governmental organizations who had addressed the Committee. The observer gave the Committee statistical data on the categories of persons who had recently left Egypt and on the position under Egyptian legislation of persons residing in Egypt.
88. The representative of Israel pointed out that, since the question of refugees from Egypt was not on the agenda, he would limit himself to correcting certain of the facts and figures quoted by the observer from Egypt. He mentioned, in particular, that his country alone had admitted to its territory, since November 1956, nearly 15,000 Egyptian Jewish refugees, the great majority of whom, although technically stateless, had resided in Egypt for many generations and had now been forced to leave this country, while all their property has been sequestrated.
89. The representative of France reserved the position of his Government with regard to the statement made by the observer from Egypt. He pointed out that over 2,300 stateless persons from Egypt had been granted asylum in France.
(Note: Statistical and financial tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
Appendix II STATEMENT MADE BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER (at the 41st meeting)
I should like to make a brief statement on the question of repatriation and the problem of unattached minors among the Hungarian refugees. I can all the more be brief as I stated my position of principle, with regard to those two questions at the fourth session of the Executive Committee.
May I first stress two points which seem to me to be basic:
(1) I should like to repeat that I consider article 2 of the statute of my Office, according to which its functions are humanitarian and social and of an entirely non-political character, as fundamental.
(2) The Hungarian refugees, the minors as well as other refugees, are under the territorial jurisdiction of the country which has given them asylum. Any decisions concerning these persons have, therefore, to be taken by the authorities of these countries by virtue of their sovereign rights.
In this matter, the role of my Office in the exercise of its functions is to advise and assist Governments. My office cannot take any decision concerning the movement of these persons, be it for repatriation or for resettlement.
Turning to repatriation, I have already stated at the last meeting of the Executive Committee that the functions of my Office are two-fold: international protection and "the seeking of permanent solutions for the problem of refugees by assisting Governments to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of refugees or their assimilation within new national communities". These two functions are closely inter-connected. This was emphasized in resolution 925 (X) of the General Assembly, in which the High Commissioner was asked to continue his work of seeking permanent solutions through voluntary repatriation, re-settlement and integration, under due safeguards as far as the free choice of the refugees is concerned, in accordance with his responsibilities under the statute of his Office to provide international protection. It was repeated and stressed again in resolution 1039 (XI) of the General Assembly. The arrangements for repatriation and the visits of repatriation missions are a matter to be decided by the Governments of the countries in which the refugees find themselves and subject to the agreements which they may have concluded with the countries of origin of the refugees in the exercise of their sovereignty. Whenever Hungarian repatriation missions have interviewed refugees in countries of asylum they have been accompanied by an impartial observer from my Office, whose task it has been to ensure that no undue pressure from any side is exercised upon refugees, and that repatriation is in fact voluntary. While a certain number of refugees have declared their desire for repatriation as a result of visits of repatriation missions, another not inconsiderable number have already returned to Hungary independently and of their own free will. I have quoted the available figures of refugees who have been repatriated from the various countries of asylum, in paragraphs 4, 70 and 97 to 104 of document A/AC.79/73 as well as in addendum 2 to this document. Whenever a refugee wishing to be repatriated has applied to my Office, he has been referred to the competent authorities and given such assistance as may be necessary to bring him into contact with the authorities of his country of origin, and his repatriation has, in this way, been facilitated.
On the question of repatriation costs, I referred in my statement at the fourth session of the Executive Committee to the relevant provisions of the statute. The Hungarian observer, shortly before this meeting, handed me a list of refugees who wish to be repatriated but seem to have difficulty in doing so. I shall take this matter up through diplomatic channels with the authorities of the countries of residence of the refugees.
Coming now to the question of unattached youth among the Hungarian refugees, I repeat the statement I made earlier, that decisions concerning the movement of such youth are the responsibility of the competent authorities of the countries of asylum. In the exercise of its function of international protection, my Office is trying to advise and assist the competent authorities. In my statement at the last session of the Committee, I mentioned that "a procedure has been worked out with the International Committee of the Red Cross whereby the International Committee of the Red Cross has agreed to investigate in each case of an unaccompanied child whether or not the parents are living in Hungary and whether the parents wish the child to be returned". I was subsequently informed that the envisaged procedure with the participation of the ICRC could not be implemented at present; I therefore immediately instructed my Branch Offices to discuss with the competent authorities the measures necessary to enable them to take decisions concerning the movement of these minors. A number of minors had, however, already been returned to Hungary before these new developments took place.
The projects mentioned in document A/AC.79/73 for case workers for unattached youth are explicitly designed to ensure social care for these minors and to speed up the decisions of the competent authorities. The Agency will collect the relevant data in each case, including information on parental authorizations for the movement of the minors, and will, on the basis of this case-to-case investigation, make appropriate recommendations. This project should therefore also help to speed up the repatriation of those minors for whom repatriation is decided upon by the competent authorities. In all its work concerning the unattached minors among the Hungarian refugees, my Office has been conscious that this is a grave humanitarian problem. Every effort is being made to see that minors are placed in special homes and institutions in order to avoid any moral dangers with which they may be threatened and to speed up the decisions concerning their movement. My Office is guided by these humanitarian principles, by the principles of family reunion and the best interests of the minor, in all its work concerning these minors.
ANNEX III REPORT OF THE UNREF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE* (Sixth (special) session - Geneva, 11 July 1957
1. The UNREF Executive Committee held its sixth (special) session on 11 July 1957 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. The following Governments, members of the Executive Committee, were represented:
|France||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|Germany Federal Republic of|
|Greece||United States of America|
2. The Governments of Hungary, Sweden and Yugoslavia were represented by observers, as was the Sovereign Order of Malta.
3. The Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Labour Office, the Council of Europe and the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration were also represented by observers.
Opening of the session and election officers
4. The session was opened by Mr. J. Cuppelen (Norway), Chairman of the fifth session of the Executive Committee.
5. Before starting its business, the Committee honoured the memory of the late Pierre Jacobsen, Deputy Director, and the late Roberto Rossi-Longhi, Chief of the Department of Plans and Liaison, of the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration by standing in silence for one minute.
6. The Committee elected the following Officers:
|Chairman||Mr. J. Cappelen (Norway)|
|Vice-Chairman||Mr. A. Patriota (Brazil)|
|Rapporteur||Mr. N. Currie (Australia)|
Adoption of the agenda
7. The Committee adopted the following agenda:
1. Election of officers;
2. Adoption of the agenda;
3. Future arrangements for the UNREF programme (A/AC.79/81).
Future arrangements for the UNREF programme
8. The Committee considered a document on future arrangements for the UNREF programme (A/AC.79/81) submitted to it by the High Commissioner. This document summarized the implications of the alternatives suggested by the High Commissioner, namely an intensification of the UNREF programme on the one hand, or its prolongation on the other. The document contained the High Commissioner's estimate that $4,800,000 would be required, over and above the present target of $16 million for governmental contributions, if permanent solutions were to be found for the estimated 14,000 refugees eligible for NUREF assistance who would remain in camps at the end of 1958.
9. Several representatives expressed the opinion that intensification of the UNREF programme was the preferable alternative, both for humanitarian and for economic reasons. Permanent solutions for refugees in camps would thus be provided more rapidly and at less cost. Other representatives thought that, to complete the purposes of the UNREF programme, it would be necessary not only to intensify it but also to prolong it beyond 31 December 1958.
10. There was some discussion as to how the intensification of the programme might be brought about, since such intensification would require a substantial increase in the rate of contributions to the Fund. Several representatives indicated that their Governments were considering increasing their contributions to the Fund to enable intensification of the programme. In this connexion, several representatives considered that the target of $16 million might be increased in accordance with the estimates contained in document A/AC.79/81 of the amount required to permit the closure of all remaining camps.
11. The representative of Norway informed the Committee that his Government envisaged the possibility of making a special contribution to UNREF which it would consider in connexion with the additional contributions forthcoming from other Governments. The representative of Switzerland said that his Government also envisaged the possibility of making a special contribution to UNREF, and the representative of the United Kingdom announced that Her Majesty's Government was prepared in principle to make a special final contribution to effect an early closure of all camps. The representative of Iran stated that his Government was considering the possibility of making a contribution to UNREF. The representative of Italy announced that his Government had decided to make a contribution. These statements were welcomed by the High Commissioner.
12. One representative was of the opinion that the Committee should confine itself to endorsing special efforts to make up the shortfall of $2,700,000. In view of the average contributions received in the fund in the course of its first three years of existence, he did not see how it would be possible for a target exceeding that of $16 million to be reached before the end of 1958. Furthermore, it would be necessary, in his opinion, for the Committee to have more detailed statistical information about the residual group of refugees and more detailed proposals for a programme on their behalf before considering the specific amount which may be required to achieve solutions for them.
13. He also added that, with the limited amount of funds available, it would be essential for efforts to be directed in the first instance towards the closure of the remaining camps. The members of the Committee agreed that the programme should continue to be concentrated primarily on the closure of camps. Some representatives pointed out that the programme had been intended not only for the refugee camp population, but also for non-settled refugees outside camps whose situation was in some cases very difficult. They considered that in any effort to intensify the programme, due account should be taken of the need also to assist the non-settled refugees living outside camps.
14. Several representatives stressed the considerable financial difficulties involved in the intensification of the programme, and emphasized the importance of exploring all means of obtaining additional funds from both governmental and non-governmental sources.
15. Three representatives informed the Committee that their Governments were not in a position to express themselves on the possible increase of the target beyond $16 million or to give any undertaking regarding a contribution towards the additional funds required for intensification of the programme.
16. In answer to various points raised in the discussion, the High Commissioner stated to the Committee that there was among the residual case-load a certain number of refugees who might still be able to emigrate. Once all possibilities had been ascertained n this direction, it would be possible to know the precise number of refugees for whom integration would be the only solution. On that would also depend the precise amount of funds required in order to complete the closure of camps.
17. With regard to the raising of funds, he had been encouraged by the effort accomplished on behalf of the Hungarian refugees. He was in favour of an intensification of the programme, which would require one all-out financial effort by Governments instead of repeated annual contributions.
18. The High Commissioner further explained that a relatively high proportion of refugees living outside the camps had benefited from the programme, in view of the decisions taken by the Executive Committee at its previous session that non-settled refugees living outside camps in certain countries with demographic and social problems should benefit from certain types of projects, whereas in some of these countries a major part of the camp population was being assisted by the administration of the United States Escapee Program.
19. The Committee then considered a draft resolution submitted to it by the representative of the United States (A/AC.79/L.14). The resolution, as amended in the light of the comments made in the course of the debate, was adopted unanimously by the Committee. Its text is contained in the appendix to this report.
20. The High Commissioner informed members of the Committee that, in accordance with the decision taken by the Committee at its fifth session, project PS/1/EUR for a survey of the non-settled refugee population in various countries, in an amount of $50,000 had been submitted to members of the Standing Programme Sub-Committee in writing for their approval and that seven Governments had signified their approval to date. In planning the survey, it had now become apparent that, in order to achieve its purpose, it would be necessary to take samples of the refugee population in the countries where the survey was to be carried out. An additional expenditure of $30,000 was involved, for which the High Commissioner requested the Committee's approval. The Committee accepted the proposal.
Appendix RESOLUTION (NO.6) CONCERNING THE INTENSIFICATION OF THE UNREF PROGRAMME (adopted at the 43rd meeting on 11 July 1957)
The UNREF Executive Committee.
Recognizing that there have been unavoidable delays in the initiation and carrying out of the UNREF programme authorized by General Assembly resolution 832 (IX),
Having considered the High Commissioner's estimates in document A/AC.79/72 of the number of refugees remaining in camps, and of the financial implication of solving the camp problem,
Recognizing the importance of achieving permanent solutions for the refugees in camps as quickly as possible.
1. Requests the High Commissioner to continue to give priority to projects benefiting these refugees;
2. Further requests the High Commissioner to intensify to the fullest extent possible his programme of permanent solutions in order to benefit the maximum number of refugees remaining in camps, without losing sight of the need to continue to seek solutions for the problems of refugees outside camps;
3. Considers that, since this intensification of the programme of the High Commissioner will be practicable only to the extent that adequate funds are made available to the Fund, appropriate efforts should be made to obtain the funds required for this purpose from Governments members of the United Nations and of the specialized agencies, especially those Governments which have not yet contributed to UNREF.
1 Figure subject to revision.
2 Figure subject to revision.
3 Figure subject to revision.
4 Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Session, Supplement No.11 (A/3123/Rev.1) paras.234, 239.
5 Ibid, Supplement No. 11A (A/3123/Rev.1/Add.1)
6 Adjusted figure.
7 Including $121,667 for the resettlement of difficult cases outside their country of residence and $378,986 for projects in course of negotiation.
8 Excluding new refugees from Hungary.
9 Official Records of the General Assembly Eleventh Session, Supplement No. 11 (A/3123/Rev114.
10 Transmitted to the General Assembly in accordance with para.6 of Economic and Social Council resolution 565 (XIX) of 31 March 1955.
11 Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Session, Supplement No. 11A (A/3123/Rev.1/Add.1).
12 Provisional symbol pending implementation.
14 Official Records of the General Assembly, Ninth Session, Supplement No. 13. (A/2648).
15 Official Records of the General Assembly, Eleventh Session, Supplement No. 11(A/3123/Rev.1) Annex II.
16 See annex I above.