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Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Executive Committee Meetings

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

12 September 1978

United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Thirty-third Session

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.12 (A/33/12)


1. The activities of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) during the period under review1 were again affected by conflicts and tensions in various parts of the world which gave rise to new problems of refugees and displaced persons in need of protection and material assistance, notably in Africa and Asia.

2. In the field of international protection, the main preoccupation of the High Commissioner has been the problem of asylum the prevention of refoulement and the protection of refugees in respect of their basic rights. On the one hand, Governments have shown increasing concern for greater international protection of refugees; while on the other hand, numerous difficulties have been encountered in a number of countries as regards the granting of asylum, and in several areas there have been serious infringements of the fundamental rights of refugees.

3. The growth in the number, variety and dimensions of refugee problems has called for a corresponding increase in UNHCR's material assistance activities in order to meet the urgent needs of new refugees, many of whom arrive in the country of asylum in a destitute condition. At the same time UNHCR is pursuing the implementation of programmes designed to provide permanent solutions to existing problems.

4. While priority must obviously be given to meeting the immediate needs of refugees and displaced persons - since this may make the difference between life and death for many people - the primary aim of UNHCR is to help them to resume a normal existence as soon as possible and, in the case of refugees, to promote permanent solutions for them by helping them to return voluntarily to their country of origin, where feasible, to resettle in another country, or to establish themselves in the country of first asylum. The High Commissioner has considered ways and means of speeding up the implementation of these three possible solutions to the problems of refugees. As regards voluntary repatriation, this could be facilitated to a considerable extent by the creation of conditions in the countries of origin that would encourage refugees to return in the case of resettlement, through Governments making available a larger number of resettlement opportunities as rapidly as possible; and as regards local settlement, the promotion of more rapid integration, inter alia, by facilitating the acquisition of the nationality of the country of asylum. The High Commissioner believes that action along these lines would be in the best interests of refugees and Governments alike and would enable UNHCR to achieve permanent solutions for more refugees and thereby reduce the global cost of assistance activities.

5. In view of the rapid expansion of UNHCR's activities, close attention has had to be paid to maintaining an effective administrative structure, both at headquarters and in the field.

6. In the context of its resolution 32/197 of 20 December 1977, concerning the restructuring of the economic and social sectors of the United Nations system, the General Assembly, inter alia, requested "all organizations and bodies within the United Nations system to implement these recommendations within their respective spheres of competence"

7. The High Commissioner has followed closely the developments on restructuring undertaken following the establishment by the General Assembly, through its resolution 3362 (S-VII) of 16 September 1975, of the Ad Hoc Committee on the Restructuring of the Economic and Social Sectors of the United Nations System for the purpose of preparing detailed action proposals in this regard. These efforts were to be directed principally towards making the United Nations system more responsive to the "requirements of the provisions of the Declaration and the Programme of Action on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order as well as those of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States".

8. In view of the special nature of the activities of UNHCR in favour of refugees and displaced persons, and taking into account the fact that his work is not related to operational activities for development, which were the main concern of the Ad Hoc Committee, the High Commissioner felt that the proposals on restructuring could be of only indirect relevance to his Office. However, being sympathetic to the over-all restructuring effort, the High Commissioner participated, as required, in consultations which took place while the work of the Ad Hoc Committee was in progress. He later participated in the discussions within the framework of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC) covering the implementation of the recommendations contained in General Assembly resolution 32/197 and its annex.

9. While the nature of UNHCR activities does not lend itself to the over-all scope of the Assembly recommendations, consultations took place on the implementation of paragraph 31 of the annex to resolution 32/197 regarding "a single annual United Nations Pledging Conference for all United Nations operational activities for developments". It was assumed by ACC that UNHCR was not covered by the provisions of paragraph 31. The position taken by ACC is reflected in its report to the Economic and Social Council. Similarly, as regards the Assembly recommendation for a single official to be designated by the Secretary-General at the country level, the High Commissioner took note of the implications in terms of improved coherence and a more effective integration of the various sectoral inputs within each country. While the High Commissioner hopes that this arrangement will increase the impact of material assistance activities, it goes without saying that his mandatory duties in terms of protection of refugees, which are the cornerstone of the Statute of his Office, are not affected.

10. The High Commissioner further noted that the proposed arrangements regarding a single designated official would not, as stated in the aforementioned ACC report to the Economic and Social Council, affect the lines of authority between the representatives of organizations at the country level and their executive heads. In view of the nature of UNHCR's work, the High Commissioner, while supporting the over-all efforts to implement the recommendations of the General Assembly, does not feel that there is need for him to make a special report to the Economic and Social Council on the subject in the context of paragraph 7 of the Assembly resolution 32/197.


A. Introduction

11. While there have been some positive developments in the international protection of refugees during the period under review, the over-all picture has been one of challenge to the international community requiring both sustained endeavours to improve the status of millions of persons within the competence of the Office and attention to newly arisen and developing situations. In some circumstances the immediate security of refugees has called for an urgent response within the framework of international solidarity.

12. The need for international protection derives from the exceptionally vulnerable situation in which the refugee finds himself. The international protection of refugees is based primarily on the Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner (General Assembly resolution 428(V), annex) and the 1951 Convention2 and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.3 While the Statute establishes the authority of the High Commissioner to protect refugees on behalf of the international community, the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol give the force of international law to the standards for the treatment of refugees, as therein defined. Under the Convention and Protocol, contracting States undertake to co-operate with the Office in the exercise of its functions and, in particular, to facilitate its duty of supervising the application of the provisions of these instruments.

13. In addition to the facilitation of voluntary repatriation, where feasible, and to direct intervention concerning the immediate security of the refugee in matters such as the grant of at least temporary asylum and the prevention of refoulement, expulsion and abusive detention, international protection is primarily directed towards (a) finding a country prepared to grant asylum on a more than temporary basis; and (b) ensuring that treatment in the country of residence conforms as far as possible to internationally accepted standards, with the over-all objective of promoting the progressive assimilation of the refugees within the new community. A subsidiary objective, with which UNHCR is increasingly concerned, is the promotion of measures enabling the refugee's immediate family members to join him in the country of residence.

14. The High Commissioner has greatly appreciated the support of the General Assembly in the performance of his protection function, as expressed by its resolutions in successive years. It is also particularly gratifying for him to have received the increasing support of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, which has repeatedly emphasized the primary importance of the international protection of refugees in the work of UNHCR. The establishment of a Sub-Committee of the Whole on International Protection, which held its second meeting during the twenty-eighth session of the Executive Committee, has made a valuable contribution to the furtherance of international protection by serving as a forum for examining current problems and recommending appropriate solutions. Its work on basic topics, such as asylum, non-refoulement, expulsion of refugees and the determination of refugee status, facilitated formulation of the conclusions on international protection subsequently adopted by the Executive Committee, which have already proved of great practical value.4

B. Principles of protection and refugee rights

1. Asylum

15. For someone who leaves his country as a refugee, asylum is the essential and most urgent need. During 1977, various States throughout the world, mainly in Africa, admitted a total of approximately 700,000 asylum-seekers, a figure which includes both individual refugees and groups. The grant of asylum has nevertheless continued to be problematical in certain respects. Thus, in some countries, it has only been granted on a temporary basis, while opportunities for more durable asylum have had to be sought elsewhere. In a number of instances, asylum has not been granted even temporarily, with sometimes very serious and even tragic results for those concerned.

16. In this respect, the recent Executive Committee's conclusions on asylum included an appeal to Governments to follow or to continue to follow liberal practices in granting permanent, or at least temporary, asylum to refugees arriving directly in their territory and, in a spirit of international solidarity, to co-operate with the High Commissioner in the performance of his functions, especially with respect to asylum, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 428 (V) of 14 December 1950.

17. In Africa, where the OAU Convention of 1969 Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa includes several important provisions relating to asylum, most States confronted with refugee situations have continued liberally to admit asylum-seekers. A number of these States have generously welcomed large groups of refugees, providing opportunities on a durable basis, particularly for rural settlement. In some other States, the practice of asylum has tended to be more restrictive, with the result that it has often been granted only temporarily. In yet other States, including some States parties to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, certain groups of asylum-seekers have been admitted or tolerated, but not formally recognized as refugees.

18. In southeast Asia, one State confronted with substantial influxes of displaced persons has continued generously to admit large numbers of asylum-seekers, usually on a temporary basis. Throughout southern and eastern Asia, the problem of persons leaving the Indo-Chinese peninsula in small boats has persisted. As of 31 March 1978, the total number of such persons known to UNHCR was nearly 27,000, of whom some 20,000 had already been resettled or accepted for resettlement, leaving a caseload of more than 6,700. Some States concerned have been granting temporary asylum more readily in such cases, on a UNHCR undertaking to be responsible for maintenance and active promotion of the resettlement of those involved. The occasional refusal of temporary asylum in such circumstances has often had particularly serious consequences, with, in some cases, asylum-seekers having to remain on their boats in inhuman conditions for protracted periods. In some cases, such asylum-seekers have lost their lives owing to the unseaworthiness of their vessels, after having been obliged to continue their voyage.

19. The fact that some States concerned have been unwilling to grant temporary asylum to such people has further compounded the problem, in that captains of passing ships who have come to the rescue of those in distress have had difficulty in landing them at the nearest port of call. In this respect, the High Commissioner, together with the Secretary-General of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO), made a joint appeal, through the International Chamber of Shipping, to ship-owners to issue instructions to their ship's masters enjoining scrupulous observance of the obligations of international instruments regarding rescue at sea. The High Commissioner has continued vigorously to appeal to the competent authorities, where necessary, to permit the landing of persons so rescued for temporary asylum pending their resettlement.

20. In Latin America, while in some countries significant numbers of Latin American refugees have been granted lasting asylum, in other countries they have mostly been able to find asylum only on a temporary basis. In one country, measures for the regularization of the position of aliens will result in over half of the group of Latin American refugees remaining on a durable basis, while the others will need to be resettled elsewhere. In Europe, the liberal attitude of Member States regarding persons seeking asylum was reaffirmed by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in a declaration relating to territorial asylum.

21. The role of a large number of countries, particularly in the Americas, Europe and Oceania, in generously admitting for resettlement on a durable basis refugees and displaced persons who had been granted only temporary asylum elsewhere, has continued to make a major contribution to the solution of problems of asylum. This has in many cases facilitated more liberal practice as regards temporary asylum on the part of States primarily affected.

22. It will be recalled that the United Nations Conference on Territorial Asylum, which met at Geneva from 10 January to 4 February 1977, did not complete its mandate in the time allocated and recommended that the General Assembly, at its thirty-second session, consider the question of convening at an appropriate time a further session of the Conference. The matter was duly considered by the Third Committee, the relevant report of which notes as follows:

"The statements made in the Committee indicated that while there was a need to reconvene the Conference, it was equally clear that careful and detailed preparation was required. On the basis of information provided by the High Commissioner that consultations with Governments were continuing in this regard, the Chairman proposed that the High Commissioner keep the Secretary-General informed of progress made in these consultations so that, at its next session, the General Assembly might have more information available to it to decide on the appropriate time to reconvene the Conference."5

At the time of writing, the High Commissioner is continuing his consultations with Governments. He will inform the Secretary-General of progress in due course.

2. Non-refoulement

23. Protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution is the most important component of both refugee status and asylum and finds expression in the principle of non-refoulement. During the period under review, this fundamental humanitarian principle was emphasized both at the twenty-eighth session of the Executive Committee and at the thirty-second session of the General Assembly. The relevant conclusion of the Executive Committee6 reaffirmed the fundamental importance of the principle of non-refoulement both at the border and within the territory of a State - of persons who may be subjected to persecution if returned to the country of origin, irrespective of whether or not they have been formally recognized as refugees. In resolution 32/67 on the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the General Assembly urged Governments to facilitate the efforts of the High Commissioner in the field of international protection, inter alia, by following humanitarian principles with respect to the granting of asylum and ensuring that these are scrupulously observed, including the principle of non-refoulement of refugees.

24. While the practice of the majority of States is in accordance with the principle of non-refoulement, a number of cases of refoulement have come to the notice of the High Commissioner, sometimes too late for an intervention to be made. Moreover, application of the principle of non-refoulement has, on occasions, continued to give rise to technical difficulties, notably where there has been no established formal procedure for determining refugee status. In this respect, the essential need for scrupulous observance of the principle of non-refoulement has to be emphasized with regard to all asylum-seekers, irrespective of whether or not they have been formally recognized as refugees under the Statute of the Office, the 1951 Convention or the 1967 Protocol.

3. Expulsion

25. The expulsion of refugees, a matter closely related to the problem of asylum, was also dealt with by the Executive Committee. This question has continued to be of concern during the period under review in that, on a number of occasions and for a variety of reasons, several States have found difficulty in permitting refugees to continue to remain in their territory and considered it necessary to resort to or envisage expulsion. Grounds for expulsion have included the illegal entry of the refugee concerned, national security implications and, frequently, considerations of a political nature. The High Commissioner has thus often been placed in the difficult position of having to request the stay of an expulsion order, while seeking, usually on an emergency basis, alternative countries of asylum, in order to prevent the hardship which expulsion necessarily implies for a refugee who cannot readily find admission to another country.

26. The very serious consequences which expulsion may have for a refugee and his immediate family living with him were recognized in the relevant conclusion of the Executive Committee,7 which recommended that, in line with article 32 of the 1951 Convention, such measures should only be taken in very exceptional cases and after due consideration of all the circumstances, including the possibility of the refugee being admitted to a country other than his country of origin. In the same conclusion,8 it was also recommended that, in cases where the implementation of an expulsion measure taken for reasons of delinquency might prove impracticable, States should consider giving refugee delinquents the same treatment as national delinquents and examine the possibility of elaborating an international instrument in that regard.

4. Personal safety of refugees

27. While measures to ensure the physical protection of refugees are primarily the responsibility of the Governments of the countries of residence, the personal safety of refugees continues to be of the utmost concern to the High Commissioner. The Office has therefore continued to investigate and intervene systematically with the competent national authorities in cases where refugees have been in danger.

28. In a limited number of countries, individual refugees and refugee groups have been subject to harassment and intimidation, physical violence, abduction, torture and even murder. In one particular country, where a substantial number of refugees remain in detention, UNHCR has continued its endeavours to gain access to them, often unsuccessfully, and to promote, in accordance with a particular constitutional provision, the release and departure of those for whom visas have been obtained. The practice whereby lists of names of refugees have been regularly submitted to the competent authorities, principally with a view to avoiding their forcible return to their country of origin, has also been continued.

29. In some cases, where the fact that certain refugees and asylum-seekers were being held in abusive detention came to the notice of the Office, démarches have been effective in obtaining their release. However the High Commissioner is acutely aware that there may be incidents, especially in frontier areas where refugees are at risk, of which he does not hear or which cannot be adequately investigated. Certain known incidents have indicated that subordinate organs of the security services in some States have been operating across national frontiers to the detriment of refugees originating from such countries. When cases of this nature have come to the notice of the High Commissioner, he has intervened with the competent authorities in the country of residence of the refugees concerned.

30. The Executive Committee, in its relevant conclusion,9 expressed its grave concern at the continuation of infringements of the elementary rights of refugees and recognized the urgent need for the efforts of the High Commissioner in the field of international protection to be continued and intensified, particularly in areas where such rights were endangered.

5. Economic and social rights

31. The right of the refugee to take up employment in his country of residence and to enjoy social security benefits comparable with those normally enjoyed by nationals is provided for by articles 17 and 24 of the 1951 Convention. These provisions are of the greatest practical importance in facilitating the integration of the refugee into the new community. Despite the unfavourable economic conditions in certain areas, progress continues to be achieved towards implementation of the standards defined in these articles, both in countries which are parties to the 1951 Convention and/or 1967 Protocol and also in other countries where asylum - seekers have been admitted for permanent settlement.

32. Thus, in many African countries, refugees are able to take up employment on the same basis as nationals. In Kenya, executive sanction has recently been given to the implementation of legislation giving refugees the right to employment without a work permit. In Asia, a group of displaced persons in Malaysia has been given favourable treatment with regard to employment. Also, in Japan, the Government decided to permit displaced persons who are in the country to obtain employment. In Latin America, work permits became obtainable for recognized refugees authorized to reside in Ecuador on a durable basis. In Europe and countries where refugees are normally granted immigrant status, the situation with regard to work permits is generally favourable.

33. Unfavourable practices regarding the employment of refugees are, however, found in several countries. Thus, in one African country, measures furthering the employment of nationals in preference to aliens have had an adverse effect on the employment of refugees, while in one South American country refugees are not permitted to take up employment and are liable to expulsion if found working. Restrictions on the right to work can mean considerable hardship for the refugees concerned, in addition to involving the authorities in the country of residence and UNHCR in heavy financial commitment by way of subsistence allowances.

34. In Europe, where the protection of refugees as regards social security and employment benefits is generally favourable, various bilateral agreements as a result of which refugees and stateless persons are treated on the same terms as nationals have been concluded and/or come into force between several countries, such as Austria and Belgium, the Federal Republic of Germany and Sweden". and the Federal Republic of Germany and Spain.

C. International instruments10

1. Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner

35. With the emergence in recent years of new refugee problems in a large number of countries, many of which are not parties to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, the Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner has assumed increasing importance. The Statute, together with subsequent resolutions of the General Assembly, defines the mandate entrusted to the High Commissioner by the international community. It owes its practical significance to the fact that it is universal in scope and supports the action of UNHCR irrespective of a State's adherence to the Convention or Protocol. Apart from its importance in those countries which are not parties to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, the Statute is also the basis for protection in those countries where refugees are excluded from the application of these instruments on account of the geographical limitation or the 1951 dateline.

2. 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees

36. During the period under review, Costa Rica, Djibouti, the Dominican Republic, and Sao Tome and Principe have acceded to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. With these new accessions, the total number of States parties to these instruments has now risen respectively to 72 and 67 and the High Commissioner has been informed that a number of other States are actively considering accession. It will be recalled that the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol constitute the most important codification of the rights of refugees yet attempted at the international level and provide that refugees shall in many respects receive the same treatment as nationals.

3. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention

37. There have been no further accessions to the OAU Convention of 1969 Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, the total of States parties remaining at 18. This Convention complements at the regional level the provisions of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol and includes several important provisions favourable to the grant of asylum. It also includes provisions regarding voluntary repatriation.

4. Other international legal instruments of relevance to refugees

38. An important development during the period under review was the adoption by the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law applicable in Armed Conflicts of Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (the "Red Cross Conventions") which includes provisions of benefit to refugees and stateless persons. Article 73 of Protocol I provides that persons who before the beginning of hostilities were considered stateless persons or refugees under the relevant international instruments, accepted by the parties or the national legislation of the State of refuge or the State of residence, shall be protected persons within the meaning of Parts I and III of the Fourth Convention, in all circumstances and without any adverse distinction. Article 74 imposes an obligation on the High Contracting Parties and the Parties to the conflict to facilitate in every possible way the reunion of families dispersed as a result of armed conflict and to encourage in particular the work of the relevant humanitarian organizations. Article 85, which deals with the repression of breaches, provides that acts described as grave breaches in the Conventions shall constitute grave breaches of the Protocol, if committed against persons protected, inter alia, by article 73.

39. With the accession of Switzerland to the Convention on the Recovery Abroad of Maintenance of 1956, the total of States parties to this instrument has risen to 40. It will be recalled that this Convention is of Practical relevance to the situation of split refugee families.

40. During the period under review there have been no further accessions to other international legal instruments concerning refugees, such as the 1957 Agreement and 1973 Protocol relating to Refugee Seamen and the European Agreement of 1959 on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees.

5. Promotion of international instruments

41. Promoting the conclusion and ratification of international conventions for the protection of refugees is one of the functions with which the High Commissioner is entrusted under the Statute of his Office. In such respect, the Executive Committee noted that a large number of States had still not become parties to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, and recommended that the High Commissioner undertake a concerted and determined initiative at the highest level to promote further accessions.11 It also recommended that such an initiative should extend to promoting withdrawal of the geographical limitation still maintained by certain States in respect of their obligations under these instruments. Subsequently, the General Assembly, in resolution 32/67, as in resolutions to similar effect adopted in previous years, urged Governments to facilitate the efforts of the High Commissioner in the field of international protection, inter alia, by considering accession to the relevant international and regional instruments established for the benefit of refugees. The initiative specifically recommended by the Executive Committee was launched during the period under review.

42. With a view to ensuring that the interests of refugees were adequately safeguarded in the draft instruments under consideration, the Office participated in meetings of the Special Committee of Governmental Experts to prepare a draft Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education in Arab States and at the Third Session of the Preparatory Intergovernmental Committee on the Revision of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. The Office has also continued to follow developments concerning the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly on the Drafting of an International Convention against the taking of Hostages and, within the Council of Europe, the European Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism.

6. Implementation of international instruments

43. While accession to the relevant international instruments, particularly the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, is of primary importance, it is not in itself sufficient to ensure effective implementation of internationally accepted standards for the treatment of refugees. In several instances, the necessary legislative and administrative measures of implementation have not been taken or remain incomplete.

44. By article 35 of the 1951 Convention and the corresponding article II of the 1967 Protocol, contracting States undertake to co-operate with the Office in the exercise of its functions and particularly in facilitating its duty of supervising the application of the provisions of these instruments. UNHCR is currently in touch with Governments of contracting States with regard to various aspects of implementation.

45. Adequate implementation of the relevant international instruments usually implies a long-term continuous promotional effort to bring about the necessary modification and development of municipal law. The representation of the High Commissioner in each country where there is a significant refugee problem is also from this point of view an essential requirement. In this respect, the High Commissioner welcomes the support given to his policy of strengthening UNHCR protection activities, as expressed by the Executive Committee in its relevant conclusion.12

7. Determination of refugee status

46. The determination of refugee status was examined in depth by the Executive Committee on the basis of a report submitted to the Sub-Committee of the Whole. Although in itself a technical requirement, the determination of refugee status is normally an essential prerequisite for the application of the relevant legal instrument in any given individual case. Neither the 1951 Convention nor the 1967 Protocol indicates the procedure to be adopted for the determination of refugee status, leaving it to each contracting State to establish the procedure which it considers appropriate. While there is necessarily considerable diversity in procedure from one country to another, it is considered desirable that such different national procedures should meet a number of common basic requirements enumerated in the relevant conclusion of the Executive Committee.13 In the same conclusion,14 the hope was also expressed that the Governments of those contracting States which had not yet established such procedures would do so in the near future and give favourable consideration to the participation of UNHCR in appropriate form.

47. Progress has continued to be made in this field during the reporting period. In Djibouti, the Government, in consultation with UNHCR, established a commission and procedure for determining refugee status, and in Greece such a procedure has been established and detailed discussions concerning its implementation have been held with the competent authorities. Refugee status determination procedures providing for UNHCR participation have also been established in two principal countries of resettlement, namely Australia and Canada. The Office has been in touch with the competent authorities in a number of other countries regarding the possibility of establishing such procedures and has continued to cooperate with Governments within the framework of existing procedures.

48. Following the recommendation of the Executive Committee, the Office is preparing a study on the question of the extra-territorial effect of the determination of refugee status. Upon the recommendation of the Executive Committee, the Office is also preparing, for the guidance of Governments, a handbook relating to the procedures and criteria for determining refugee status.

D. Travel and identity documents

49. The Office has continued to encourage and facilitate the issue of Convention travel documents, as provided for in article 28 of the 1951 Convention. In appropriate cases, UNHCR has offered advice and, where necessary, technical assistance in the printing of such documents, which have now been published in Arabic, English and French. UNHCR representatives co-operate with the competent authorities in many States regarding the issue of Convention travel documents and, in some instances where States are not in a position to issue such documents, the representatives seek the issuance of alternative documentation. The travel document issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross has often proved most useful where the States concerned have not been parties to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol.

50. The absence of adequate identification of a refugee can create practical difficulties for him in his relations with the authorities. In this respect, article 27 of the 1951 Convention provides that contracting States shall issue identification papers to refugees lawfully staying in their territory who are not in possession of a valid travel document. During 1977, with the assistance of UNHCR, identity cards were issued by the competent authorities in Djibouti and in the north Kivu region of Zaire; while in Gabon, a UNHCR Chargé de Mission has been assisting the authorities with a view to holding a census of refugees and the issuance of documentation certifying their status. Several other States have continued their practice of issuing identity documents to refugees within their territory.

E. Reunification of refugee families

51. During the period under review, the most notable fields of endeavour as regards the reunification of refugee families have continued to be in South America and Europe. More than 900 family members from one country in South America were reunited with their refugee heads of family in the respective countries of residence, bringing the total of such reunifications since September 1973 to over 5,800. There being no appreciable obstacles in the way of relatives leaving the country concerned, such cases were mostly handled within the framework of UNHCR's resettlement activities. In Europe, approaches were made with a view to facilitating family reunification in nearly 100 cases. Also during 1977, the necessary exit permits were granted in more than 80 cases, in respect of a total of 155 refugee family members. In Africa, measures were taken to promote the reunification of refugee families in a small number of individual cases in several countries. In Asia, the UNHCR office in one country has provided assistance in helping to arrange the transportation of family members in possession of both exit and entry visas.

52. The need for preserving the unity of the refugee family is an aspect of the international protection of refugees to which the Office has always paid the closest attention. Its significance as an essential right of the refugee and the fact that it is constantly threatened were emphasized by the Conference of Plenipotentiaries which adopted the 1951 Convention. The Final Act of the Conference recommended that Governments should take the necessary measures for the protection of the refugee's family, especially with a view, inter alia to ensuring that the unity of the family is maintained, particularly in cases where the head of the family has fulfilled the necessary conditions for admission to a particular country.

53. The fundamental importance of the principle of family reunion was again emphasized by the Executive Committee, the relevant conclusion15 of which reaffirmed the co-ordinating role of UNHCR in promoting the reunification of separated refugee families through appropriate interventions with Governments and with intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and noted with satisfaction that some measure of progress had been achieved by UNHCR's efforts in this field. As already mentioned, the importance of the reunification of dispersed families was also recognized in the recently adopted Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949.

F. Voluntary repatriation

54. The facilitation of voluntary repatriation of refugees is one of the basic functions entrusted to the High Commissioner under the Statute of his Office. During the period under review, UNHCR has continued to lend its administrative and, when necessary, financial assistance in various countries to several hundred refugees and refugee families who expressed the wish to return home. In 1977, there was no collective repatriation of any significant size. However, the Office has been instrumental in facilitating the voluntary repatriation of individuals and groups, particularly to countries which became independent in recent years, e.g., Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique. As reported in chapter III below, UNHCR has continued to facilitate the economic and social reintegration of considerable numbers of refugees who repatriated in earlier years.

55. Organized repatriation, whether of individuals or groups, entails a declaration of voluntary repatriation by the refugees concerned, the acceptance by the State of origin of their readmission, and the administrative and/or financial assistance of UNHCR to facilitate their return.

56. As in previous years, UNHCR has engaged in a significant number of démarches to have applicants for voluntary repatriation accepted by the Governments of the countries of origin. These démarches have not always been successful. There have been several instances where Governments of countries of origin were not prepared to accept their nationals back, on account of security or political considerations or difficulties relating to economic and social reintegration. Such difficulties have been encountered particularly in countries which have recently acceded to independence, or which have still to solve problems resulting from military conflicts in which they have been engaged, sometimes over a substantial number of years. It hardly needs to be emphasized that, as in other aspects of international protection (e.g. the granting of asylum, the prevention of refoulement, the readmission for durable settlement and the reunification of families), the positive results which can be obtained by UNHCR depend ultimately on the active support of Governments.

57. In addition to voluntary repatriation facilitated by UNHCR, the Office is aware that voluntary repatriation sometimes takes place spontaneously without any international assistance; for example, in one area of central Africa, several thousand refugees reportedly returned to their country of origin in this manner.

G. Naturalization

58. For those refugees for whom voluntary repatriation is not feasible, even in the long term, naturalization represents the ultimate phase of integration within their countries of residence. Article 34 of the 1951 Convention provides that contracting States shall "as far as possible facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees" and "in particular make every effort to expedite naturalization proceedings and to reduce as far as possible the charges and costs of such proceedings".

59. The Office's efforts to promote the naturalization of refugees continue to be directed primarily towards:

(a) removing legal difficulties in the way of naturalization of refugees and enabling refugees to qualify for naturalization earlier than aliens are generally permitted to do so;

(b) exempting refugees from legal requirements for naturalization with which compliance is often problematical, such as the proof of release from or loss of their former nationality;

(c) the exemption from or reduction of naturalization fees in appropriate cases.

60. Progress has continued to be achieved in this field in various countries. In Belgium, a UNHCR-aided project has helped provide refugees in need with the financial and administrative assistance necessary to obtain naturalization. In the Federal Republic of Germany, where nearly 2,700 refugees were granted I citizenship in 1976 and the number of those naturalized during 1977 continued to increase, new directives for expediting naturalization procedures have reduced from 10 to 7 years the requirement of continuous residence for the naturalization of refugees and stateless persons. In Spain, a law was passed facilitating the naturalization of persons from a certain country in Africa with which there are historical links, among whom there are a number of refugees.

H. Statelessness

61. International endeavours to assist stateless persons - many of whom are refugees - led to the adoption of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. The former instrument is modelled on the 1954 Convention and provides for the granting to stateless persons of a status which is similar, although in some respects less favourable, to that accorded to refugees under the 1954 Convention. Costa Rica acceded to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons in November 1977, and the total of States parties to this instrument has therefore risen to 32.

62. The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which entered into force on 13 December 1975, provides, inter alia, that a contracting State shall grant to persons in its territory who would otherwise be stateless its nationality - either by operation of law at birth or by application at a later date - on satisfying one or more of the specified conditions. In facilitating the acquisition of nationality at birth, this Convention is also of value in helping to avoid perpetuation of refugee status. During the period under review, Costa Rica, Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany acceded to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and the number of States parties to this instrument has therefore risen to nine.

63. Pursuant to General Assembly resolutions 3274 (XXIX) and 31/36, UNHCR acts as the body to which a person claiming benefit of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness may apply for examination of his claim and assistance in presenting it to the appropriate authority.

I. Indemnification

64. Pursuant to its agreement with the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany of 5 October 1960, UNHCR has continued to make payments from the small reserve still available after the closure of the UNHCR Indemnification Fund which had been created for the benefit of refugees who had suffered persecution under the National-Socialist regime for reason of their nationality. This reserve accrues from reimbursements by the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany in respect of initial payments under any one of the earlier UNHCR funds, where the beneficiaries were subsequently found to qualify for larger payments under indemnification legislation of the Federal Republic. The reserve is available for payments to persons who at any time between 8 May 1945 and 31 December 1965 were refugees in the sense of the 1951 Convention and who were detained in a concentration camp for over 90 days on account of their nationality.

65. Under the 1960 Indemnification Agreement, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany continued to provide compensation payments to the group of those national persecutes who had suffered permanent damage to their health; during 1977 more than DM 24.5 million was spent for this purpose.

66. As at 31 December 1977, a total of over DM 410 million had been paid by the Federal Republic of Germany, pursuant to the above-mentioned agreement, to refugees or former refugees who had been persecuted on account of their nationality; more than 3,200 such persons were in receipt of monthly indemnification pensions.

67. The UNHCR Branch Office in Germany has continued to co-operate with the competent German authorities with a view to promoting a settlement of the remaining claims.

J. Registration of assets of Asians of undetermined nationality from Uganda

68. Following discussions earlier in the year, an agreement on compensation payable to Asians of undetermined nationality was concluded with the Government of Uganda in August 1977. Of the total of 1,700 claims submitted through the Office, 959 were accepted by the Government as qualifying for some measure of compensation. The assets subject to compensation were estimated at nearly Uganda shillings 40,510,000. Of this sum, nearly Ugandan shillings 510,000 were immediately paid to UNHCR, while the balance is to be paid, also in convertible currency, by half-yearly instalments without interest over a period Of 10 years. The first instalment has been distributed among the beneficiaries.


69. In accordance with its Statute and the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, the primary objective of UNHCR's assistance activities is to help refugees to achieve permanent solutions to their problems and to assist displaced persons to resume a normal existence. The three main permanent solutions for refugees are voluntary repatriation, resettlement through migration and local settlement in the country of asylum. Assistance activities had again to be considerably expanded in 1977 to cover newly emerging refugee problems and to meet the needs of continuing influxes of refugees, especially in Africa and Asia.

70. In Africa, with the return to their homes and rehabilitation of many thousands of uprooted persons in Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, and later in Angola, UNHCR has been able gradually to phase out the Special Programmes for persons in these three countries. The ensuing reduction in the caseload was, however, more than offset by serious new problems, notably those of Ethiopian refugees in Djibouti, a major influx of Zimbabweans, large numbers of student refugees from South Africa, an influx of Zairian refugees into Angola and increasing numbers of Namibian refugees. More recently, UNHCR was called upon to help refugees and displaced persons in the Ogaden. In Asia, there was a continuing influx of Indo-Chinese displaced persons arriving, mainly by sea, in Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia and in the Far East, while in Lebanon UNHCR undertook a programme of assistance to internally displaced Lebanese.

71. At the same time, continuing assistance was required to achieve permanent solutions for large groups of refugees and displaced persons in Africa and Asia and to provide relief assistance for refugees granted temporary asylum pending their permanent settlement.

72. In Latin America, relief assistance for refugees was still required, pending resettlement or integration.

73. In Cyprus, the High Commissioner continued to discharge his function as Co-ordinator of United Nations Humanitarian Assistance for needy displaced Cypriots numbering nearly 200,000.

74. In view of the aforementioned developments, as well as the increasing cost of projects, UNHCR's expenditures rose from some $90 million in 1976 to nearly $111 million in 1977.

75. The assistance programmes, which are described in chapters III to VI of this report, are now designated as General Programmes and Special Programmes. The General Programmes include the former annual programme and the High Commissioner's Emergency Fund, while the Special Programmes cover UNHCR's special operations of humanitarian assistance and all other trust funds, including the Refugee Education Account. This form of presentation, which was endorsed by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme at its twenty-eighth session, represents a further step towards streamlining and harmonizing the activities of UNHCR.

76. As indicated in annex II, table 1, the total of $111 million expended by UNHCR in 1977 included $23.6 million for the General Programmes and $87.3 million for the Special Programmes. Some $41.4 million were expended in Cyprus, over $35.6 million in Africa, nearly $20 million in Asia, some $5.4 million in Latin America and $2.5 million in Europe (excluding Cyprus).

77. As in the past, the host country in many cases carried a significant part of the burden of assistance to refugees. In addition to the funds provided by UNHCR, sizable supporting contributions were made within the country of asylum, mainly in the form of land and services.

78. The growing diversity of refugee situations called for a wide range of assistance activities and for varying combinations of such activities. Relief assistance, particularly under Special Programmes, represented a major component of assistance programmes and absorbed a sizable share of funds. It was required whenever a large-scale new refugee emergency arose, pending the achievement of durable solutions. This type of assistance also constituted an indispensable element of the Special Programmes for displaced persons, pending their re-establishment.

79. Voluntary repatriation again proved to be the best solution for many refugees, thousands of whom benefited from UNHCR assistance in returning to their homelands in former colonial territories. Small numbers of individual refugees were also assisted in their voluntary repatriation.

80. The need to find resettlement opportunities for ever-growing numbers of refugees, and particularly for those in Asia and Latin America, remained a major preoccupation of UNHCR during 1977. Thanks to the generosity of many Governments, a total of 5,373 refugees were resettled during the year. Large numbers of refugees, however, including handicapped refugees, still await an opportunity to make a new life in a country of permanent settlement. The co-operation of some Governments in admitting refugees in need of urgent resettlement through speedy procedures has proved very useful. It would, however, be helpful if the number of countries able to participate in the resettlement programme for "emergency cases" could be increased, as recommended by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme at its twenty-eighth session.16

81. Local settlement continued to provide a solution for the great majority of persons of concern to UNHCR, particularly in Africa. This took the form mainly of rural settlement, since the majority of refugees and displaced persons are of an agricultural background. Such assistance measures, although frequently of a long-term nature, are designed to promote the self-sufficiency of the refugees and eventually their integration in the country of asylum.

82. During 1977, educational assistance to refugees was again concentrated mainly on countries in Africa. Of a total of 3,260 refugees who benefited from post-primary educational assistance projects, African refugees represented 92 per cent. Emphasis continued to be placed on vocational training and technical training courses, and refugees are counselled to pursue such training whenever this seems advisable and enrolment in appropriate courses is possible. Special measures were required to meet the educational needs of refugee students from southern Africa in view of their growing numbers. Details of these assistance measures are given in the relevant section of chapter III of this report. UNHCR continued to benefit from assistance from UNESCO with regard to its educational assistance programmes. In addition to consultations with UNESCO, three UNESCO associate experts were seconded to UNHCR to assist with the planning and implementation of refugee education projects at UNHCR headquarters and in the field.

83. At its twenty-eighth session, the Executive Committee approved a financial target of $35,209,000 for the General Programmes for 1978.


A. General developments

84. The total number of refugees of concern to UNHCR in Africa at the end of 1977 was estimated at nearly 1.5 million, an increase of some 300,000 over the previous year owing to new influxes into various countries, as described in the country review below. In addition, there were approximately 1.8 million displaced persons of concern to UNHCR, for whom Special Programmes of humanitarian assistance have been undertaken.

85. There were several major developments in 1977 which called for an expansion of UNHCR's assistance activities in Africa. These concerned particularly the arrival in various countries in southern Africa of South African refugee students following the Soweto riots in 1976; growing numbers of refugees from Namibia and Zimbabwe, mainly into Mozambique and other countries of southern Africa; a large-scale influx of Zairian refugees into eastern Angola; and increased numbers of refugees from Ethiopia, notably into Djibouti.

86. Other sizable groups of refugees to whom UNHCR continued to provide assistance under the General Programmes were Angolan refugees in Zaire, Ethiopians in the Sudan and refugees from Burundi in the United Republic of Tanzania. Under its Special Programme of humanitarian aid, UNHCR continued its assistance to Sahrawis in Algeria.

87. A phasing-out or reduction of UNHCR's activities was introduced wherever it was considered that the main objectives of its assistance had been achieved. This was the case for certain rural settlement projects financed from General Programmes through which refugees had been able to achieve a reasonable level of self-sufficiency. Likewise, the repatriation and rehabilitation programmes for refugees to former colonial territories were largely completed, with the exception of the repatriation of Angolan refugees in Zambia and Zaire.

88. Part of UNHCR's assistance to refugees from colonial territories was channelled through national liberation movements recognized by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), pursuant to the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly. Funds were accordingly made available to the African National Congress (ANC), Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), Patriotic Front/ZANU, Patriotic Front/ZAPU and South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), for relief aid, educational assistance, health facilities and other forms of assistance.

89. As indicated in annex II, table 1, expenditures under UNHCR's General Programmes in Africa totalled over $13 million, including $1.3 million from the Emergency Fund. The largest component of expenditure (nearly $10 million) was for local settlement, mainly in agriculture. Expenditures under UNHCR's Special Programmes in Africa totalled nearly $22.5 million. This included over $12 million made available through the UNHCR as coordinator of the United Nations Programme of Humanitarian Assistance to Angola, and nearly $1.3 million for United Nations assistance to the Sahrawis in Algeria. An amount of nearly $2 million was provided in Mozambique for the Special Programme for the repatriation and resettlement of returning refugees and displaced persons. In addition, some $1,580,500 were made available for higher secondary and further educational assistance from the Refugee Education Account. An amount of $170,000 was provided from the United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa for assistance as required to individual refugees.

B. Main developments in various countries

1. Algeria

90. In response to a request from the Government of Algeria for international aid for the Sahrawis in the Tindouf area, the High Commissioner, who had been requested to ensure the co-ordination of humanitarian assistance for this group, appealed to Governments late in 1976 to give their support to a $5.7 million programme, as well as to donate 10,000 tons of food.

91. According to estimates by the Algerian authorities, the Sahrawis numbered between 45,000 and 50,000 persons, mainly women and children, living in some 20 camps in the Tindouf area.

92. As in 1976, food was a major item of assistance to these refugees who live in conditions of hardship in a region which offers no possibility of agricultural production. Other items included medicine, tents, clothing, lorries, blankets and basic equipment to improve their living conditions. UNHCR expenditures for this assistance totalled over $1,274,500 in 1977, making a total of some $3,648,700 since 1976. This assistance, provided through the Algerian Red Crescent, was supplemented by donations of food from governmental and non-governmental sources valued at $864,770.

93. Under UNHCR General Programmes in Algeria, assistance mainly in the form of monthly allowances and medical care was again provided to aged and handicapped refugees of European origin, numbering some 500. Subsistence and housing allowances were also provided to small numbers of Latin American refugees. Commitments for these various forms of assistance totalled $42,200 in 1977.

2. Angola

94. In his capacity as co-ordinator of the United Nations Programme of Humanitarian Assistance to Angola, as designated by the Secretary-General in 1976, the High Commissioner continued, until the end of 1977, the task of assisting with the resettlement and rehabilitation of Angolans returning to their homes from neighbouring countries where they had lived as refugees during the years of conflict, or who had been displaced within the country itself. As co-ordinator of this Programme, the High Commissioner appealed to the international community in August 1976 for $32.5 million in cash and 48,000 tons of food supplies. In response to this appeal, contributions in cash and kind totalling $16.8 million had been made available to UNHCR as at the end of 1977. A number of additional projects covering outstanding needs with respect to agriculture, health and social welfare were to be financed from a special contribution from the Organization of African Unity.

95. UNHCR's assistance in 1977 to returning refugees and displaced persons in Angola followed a pattern similar to that of the previous year. It included the provision of essential items such as agricultural implements, seeds and roofing materials to facilitate reinstallation, as well as substantial relief supplies to meet immediate needs. By the end of 1977, some 38,000 tons of food had been pledged, including substantial supplies from the World Food Programme (WFP) stocks and from the European Economic Community. Other relief items provided in 1977 included blankets, cloth and domestic utensils. In view of difficulties in communications within the country, substantial assistance was also required to facilitate the transportation of both people and supplies. Expenditures by UNHCR in 1977 for the purposes of this Special Programme totalled some $12.1 million.

96. Another major development in 1977, requiring substantial assistance under UNHCR's General Programmes, was the sudden influx, reported in May by the Government of Angola, of over 200,000 Zairian refugees from the Shaba province of Zaire arriving in the Angolan provinces of Lunda and Mexico where living conditions were already extremely difficult as a result of the severe damage suffered prior to independence. In consultation with the Angolan authorities, two fact-finding missions took place in order to assess priority needs of the refugees. These were followed by an airlift of food and other relief supplies by UNHCR, in co-operation with the League of Red Cross Societies, the Swedish Government and the Angolan authorities.

97. In view of the extreme hardship prevailing in the area and the continuing influx of large numbers of refugees from Zaire, further emergency assistance on a substantial scale was required throughout the period under review. It included further supplies of food, medicine, medical equipment, blankets, clothing, cooking utensils, soap and other basic items. Assistance measures planned for a second phase would also include provision of agricultural implements, seeds and building material and the construction of simple dispensaries and health centres.

98. Other assistance under UNHCR's General Programme in Angola in 1977 included medical care for some 20,000 needy Namibian refugees, which was provided in consultation with the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO). It involved the supply of medicaments and equipment for a hospital in the Cassinga region.

99. Expenditures under UNHCR's General Programme for assistance in Angola in 1977 totalled some $2.4 million including $500,000 from the Emergency Fund. This included $2,014,000 for assistance to Zairian refugees, of which $500,000 were drawn from the Emergency Fund. The relief supplies thus provided by UNHCR were supplemented by large-scale contributions of food and other commodities from World Food Programme stocks, by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other sources. An amount of $300,000 was expended for assistance to other refugees in Angola, mainly Namibians.

3. Djibouti

100. In July 1977, the Government of Djibouti requested UNHCR to assist in meeting the needs of refugees from Ethiopia who had started to arrive in the Republic of Djibouti shortly before independence. There were at the time some 4,300 refugees, most of whom were accommodated in two camps, Dikhil and Ali-Sabieh, while about 1,000 were living in the capital. By 31 December 1977 their number had increased to 9,000 and the influx was still continuing.

101. Immediate allocations of funds were made to provide emergency assistance to the refugees in the camps, the purchase of food, hospital beds, kitchen utensils and vehicles, including maintenance and running costs, and to improve living conditions for individual refugees in the capital. Contributions in kind in the form of food supplies, tents, blankets, cloth, medicine and an ambulance were made available by voluntary agencies. Trust funds were also made available by Governments for relief supplies and air transport of contributions in kind.

102. UNHCR expended nearly $496,000 in 1977 under the General Programmes for assistance to refugees in Djibouti, mainly for local settlement, while $116,000 in the form of trust funds was expended under the Special Programmes.

103. The World Food Programme will provide food supplies for 4,500 refugees during a six month period from March 1978.

4. Egypt

104. With a new influx of refugees, mainly from Ethiopia, the number of refugees in Egypt increased in 1977 to some 4,500. Other groups included stateless Armenians, refugees of European origin and new African refugee students, many of them from South Africa. UNHCR's expenditures under its General Programmes, totalling over $252,000, again related mainly to local settlement assistance in the form of monthly grants, supplementary and medical assistance, particularly for the aged and newly arrived refugees. Resettlement assistance was provided to a small number of refugees for whom counselling was especially important. Expenditures under the Special Programmes, totalling nearly $174,000, covered mainly educational grants for scholarships at various levels.

5. Ethiopia

105. There was little change in the number of refugees in Ethiopia in 1977, estimated at the end of the year at 10,950, mostly of Sudanese origin. Some are from the northern area of the Sudan and have located at Ganduar, while others are from southern Sudan and have settled in the Gambela area. A small number of individual refugees of various origins settled in and around Addis Ababa.

106. UNHCR's activities in Ethiopia in the first part of 1977 were mainly directed towards completing its assistance to new refugees having arrived in 1976 in the Gambela area, for whom an emergency programme had been launched with the support of WFP and UNICEF in order to meet their immediate needs and promote more durable solutions. By mid-1977 these refugees were harvesting their first crops and could be considered self-sufficient. Administration of the settlement was thus handed over to the Ethiopian authorities.

107. Efforts were continued throughout 1977 to find an appropriate long-term solution to the problem of the Sudanese refugees residing temporarily at Ganduar, pending their possible voluntary repatriation. However, in view of continuing uncertainty, plans were resumed for their settlement in agriculture on a new site made available by the Ethiopian Government near Bahr Dar in central Ethiopia.

108. The situation of individual refugees in Addis Ababa again posed considerable problems in view of a continued lack of suitable employment and educational opportunities. Those for whom voluntary repatriation was feasible were given assistance for this purpose. For many others, however, supplementary assistance was still required to meet immediate needs in respect of medical care, clothing and accommodation.

109. An amount of $350,300 was expended under UNHCR's 1977 General Assistance Programme in Ethiopia, including nearly $292,000 for local settlement assistance and $53,800 for supplementary aid. Expenditure of $76,000 through Special Programmes included $12,500 in grants from the Refugee Education Account.

6. Kenya

110. By the end of 1977 the total refugee population was estimated at 6,000 following sizable new influxes of refugees from Uganda, who now total 4,000, the remainder being small groups of refugees from various countries living mainly in urban areas.

111. To meet the immediate needs of the increasing numbers of Ugandan refugees, whose presence poses serious problems for the Government of Kenya, funds were allocated from the High Commissioner's Emergency Fund to provide initial grants and later supplementary aid in the form of monthly allowances. Assistance measures provided for under the 1977 General Programme included the construction of a reception centre for processing new arrivals and the establishment of a rural settlement to enable the refugees to become self-supporting.

112. Other groups of refugees received initial grants, supplementary aid, counselling, education and resettlement assistance, as well as grants for local settlement to assist them in becoming self-supporting. South Africans in transit in Kenya also benefited from assistance financed by the United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa.

113. UNHCR assistance projects continued to be implemented mainly by the Joint Refugee Services of Kenya, which also contributed funds from its own resources.

114. In addition to an allocation of some $181,000 from the High Commissioner's Emergency Fund, UNHCR expended a total of nearly $329,000 under its 1977 General Programme, of which $211,000 were for local settlement assistance including primary education and initial measures for the construction of a reception centre. In addition, over $215,000 were expended under the Special Programmes.

7. Mozambique

115. UNHCR continued implementation of the two programmes in Mozambique in 1977, the General Programme for Zimbabwean and other refugees, and the Special Programme for the repatriation and resettlement of returning refugees and displaced persons which was started in 1975. The Government is the implementing agent for all UNHCR projects in Mozambique.

116. The influx of Zimbabwean refugees into Mozambique continued at an accelerated rate in 1977, the total population of the three settlements established by the Government at Doroi (Manica province), Tronga (Sofala province) and Mavudzi (Tete province) rising from 27,000 at the end of 1976 to some 42,000 by 31 December 1977. The latter figure includes 7,000 refugees transferred from transit centres run jointly by the Government and the Patriotic Front (ZANU) following the destruction of two of the centres by Southern Rhodesian forces.

117. In view of the greatly increased caseload, the initial UNHCR allocation of $350,000 under the 1977 General Programme was increased to $1.2 million to meet urgent needs for relief supplies, in particular enriched foods to overcome malnutrition, medicine, clothing and blankets. Further assistance, totalling approximately $l million, was provided from trust funds as well as donations in kind. Charter flights to transport these supplies were organized in co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross and UNICEF.

118. Following interagency missions to the settlements in which the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF, WFP, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNHCR participated, efforts in 1977 were oriented towards improving the over-all infrastructure through the construction of communal buildings and classrooms, replacement of the water supply system and the purchase of vehicles, including ambulances.17 Only slow progress was made in these sectors, however, in view of the remote location of the settlements, poor access roads and a severe shortage of transport and building materials. On the other hand, there were encouraging developments in agriculture. In the Doroi settlement, accommodating 24,000 refugees, land under cultivation increased from 150 to 600 hectares.

119. The World Food Programme again provided supplies for the refugees, the value of which in 1976 and 1977 totalled nearly *4.5 million. UNICEF contributed medicine, educational supplies and vocational training equipment to a value of over $68,000, while WHO included refugees in its mass vaccination projects. Sizable contributions in cash and kind were received from non-governmental organizations, notably the Swedish International Development Aid, the Lutheran World Federation, CARITAS and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

120. The Memo agricultural centre, established in the Gaza province in 1976 to provide occupations for 100 individual refugees of various nationalities from urban centres, was enlarged in 1977 to include 500 Zimbabweans. As the area is fertile and cultivation has progressed well, development of the centre into a rural settlement to accommodate up to 1,000 refugees is planned.

121. Individual refugees, mainly some 300 South Africans, were assisted while in transit in Maputo.

122. UNHCR expenditures in Mozambique in 1977 under the General Programme amounted to over $1.3 million, of which some $1.2 million were for rural settlement assistance.

123. The Special Programme for the repatriation and resettlement of returning refugees and displaced persons in Mozambique, undertaken by the High Commissioner in 1975 upon the request of the then transitional Government of Mozambique and in consultation with the Secretary-General, was completed in 1977. Thanks to the generous response of the international community to the High Commissioner's appeal, this $7,150,000 Programme was fully financed. The Programme assisted some 800,000 returnees and some 500,000 displaced persons. UNHCR provided direct assistance to some 27,000 former refugees in their repatriation. Under the Programme, relief aid, including food supplies from the World Food Programme, was provided to the returning refugees who were also assisted in their settlement on the land through the provision of tractors, trucks, agricultural tools and seeds. Assistance was also provided in the health sector through the provision of medicine, the construction of a child welfare centre, running costs of a hospital and medical equipment for health centres in the northern provinces.

124. UNHCR thus assisted in the attainment of short-term objectives within the over-all government programme for the development of former reception centres into communal villages, benefiting some 80,000 persons returning to the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Tete.

125. The World Food Programme, contributing food supplies to a value of $3.7 million over the period March 1975 to July 1978, co-operated closely with UNHCR in implementing this Programme. The World Health Organization included returnees in its vaccination campaigns.

126. The short-term objectives of the Programme have thus by and large been achieved. Longer-term programmes for the further development of the former reception centres into communal villages will continue to receive the support of UNICEF, WFP and UNDP.

8. Southern Africa (Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland)

127. UNHCR's activities in southern Africa were considerably expanded in 1977 in order to meet the needs of the increasing numbers of student refugees from South Africa entering Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland following the Soweto riots in June 1976, as well as to provide relief assistance to the large numbers of Zimbabwean refugees entering Botswana, most of whom had sought temporary asylum there on their way to other countries.

128. As mentioned in the last report,18 a United Nations mission on emergency assistance for South African refugees, appointed by the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 31/126, visited Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland in February 1977. The mission recommended a series of emergency measures calling for a capital expenditure of some $7 million and a recurring annual expenditure of some $1.4 million aimed at providing the three countries with the necessary infrastructure and support for the reception and education of South African student refugees.19

129. In view of UNHCR's statutory functions and international responsibility for assistance to refugees, the Secretary-General appointed the High Commissioner as coordinator within the United Nations system of assistance to South African student refugees. In June 1977 the High Commissioner appealed to the international community for financial support for programmes totalling $16 million for assistance to southern African refugees. The programme of assistance for South African student refugees in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland formed the basis of the appeal which was also designed to meet the over - all needs of South African, Zimbabwean and Namibian refugees in various African countries. The High Commissioner also appealed to African countries to make places available in schools and universities for student refugees from southern Africa.

130. Botswana registered some 22,300 new arrivals in 1977, of whom 21,800 were Zimbabweans and 277 South Africans. These influxes were, however, partly offset by the movement to other African countries of some 18,000 Zimbabwean and 550 South African refugees, most of whom were transferred under the auspices of their respective national liberation movements, while some 250 left to continue their studies in other countries. The total refugee population in Botswana at 31 December 1977 was thus estimated at some 4,800, of whom 4,000 were Zimbabweans, 500 South Africans and the remainder of various nationalities.

131. The number of registered refugees in Lesotho, mainly South Africans, totalled 135 at the end of 1977. There are, however, a large number of unregistered South African student refugees, estimated by the Government at up to 6,000, who are continuing their education at primary and secondary schools there.

132. The total of registered refugees in Swaziland, mainly South Africans, numbered 130 at the end of 1977, some 150 having departed during the year for other African countries. However, as in Lesotho, considerable numbers of unregistered South African refugee students, estimated by the Government to number several thousand, have been admitted to Swazi schools.

133. UNHCR action to assist refugee students under the Special Programmes for southern Africa included the projects recommended in the Secretary-General's reports on assistance to South African student refugees, A/32/65 and Add.1. The construction of a student hostel at the Botswana University College and the creation of additional capacity in secondary schools in Lesotho as well as assistance to the National University of Lesotho had been initiated by early 1978; the transit and educational facilities to be constructed in Botswana and Swaziland were still at the planning phase at that time and were due to be implemented later in 1978. UNHCR also provided funds for the construction in Botswana in 1977 of a transit centre for 1,000 Zimbabwean refugees at Selebi-Pikwe and for the improvement of the existing Francistown Centre, as recommended in the Secretary-General's reports to the Security Council on Assistance to Botswana, documents S/12307 and S/12421.

134. Other assistance measures in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland included care and maintenance costs, counselling, travel costs to enable refugees to benefit from educational opportunities in other countries, education assistance, including scholarship costs where required, and expansion of classrooms and facilities in schools and universities.

135. In Botswana, pending completion of the school construction projects referred to above, an educational research centre was established providing classroom and library facilities and offering correspondence courses under professional guidance.

136. UNHCR expended a total of some $927,000 in 1977 under its Special Programmes in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, including some $85,400 made available by the United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa.

137. Assistance measures under the General Programmes in these three countries included immediate relief for new refugees, supplementary aid, counselling, education and local settlement assistance.

138. A total of over $582,000, of which nearly $430,000 were allocated from the Emergency Fund, was expended by UNHCR under its General Programmes in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.

9. Sudan

139. With a substantial increase in 1977 in the number of Ethiopian refugees, the refugee population in the Sudan was estimated at about 150,000 by the end of the year. Other refugee groups comprised 4,500 Zairian refugees, who are now fully self-sufficient, and a number of Ugandans. Many of the Ethiopian refugees have settled spontaneously among the local population, mainly in Kassala Province, and share the health, educational and other services provided to nationals. UNHCR's assistance was to meet the needs of those living in established settlements and of new arrivals, including those who have been living at temporary sites.

140. Following the completion in 1976 of a survey by experts of potential settlement sites in Kassala Province, measures were taken by the Sudanese Government, in co-ordination with UNHCR, for the settlement in agriculture of an additional 30,000 Ethiopian refugees, many of whom had been living at the temporary site of Wad-el-Hileiwu near the border. Some were moved to the Qala-en-Nahal settlement, administered by the Government since 1975, where UNHCR gave further assistance, mainly in building schools. Some will be accommodated in various settlement sites near Um Gargur in the presidential decree area designated by the Government for refugee settlements, while others are to be settled in or near existing agricultural schemes, offering them gainful employment. UNHCR's assistance included help in making transfer arrangements, in meeting subsistence needs pending establishment, in providing means to build huts and permanent buildings, and in ensuring an adequate water supply and other amenities. The administration of the scheme was facilitated by the establishment of a UNHCR suboffice at Gedaref. Some 6,000 refugees were moved to established settlements in 1977. At the end of the year a permanent site for the settlement of a further 5,000 Ethiopian refugees was designated by the Government at Abu Raham.

141. The number of refugees in Khartoum increased substantially during the year. Many of them came from urban centres and were unsuited for inclusion in schemes for settlement in agriculture while others came to seek better employment and educational opportunities. Counselling and supplementary assistance were provided to over 7,000 of these refugees. Educational assistance was also provided, including programmes of vocational training in the Kassala Province for which UNESCO provided two experts responsible for evaluation.

142. Expenditure under UNHCR's General Programmes in the Sudan in 1977 totalled approximately $1,372,000, including $922,000 for rural settlement and $288,000 for lower secondary education. An amount of some $280,000 was expended under Special Programmes including projects financed from the Education Account.

10. United Republic of Tanzania

143. With natural population growth and a small influx of refugees from Uganda during the year, the total refugee population increased from 154,000 in 1976 to 163,500 in 1977, of whom 133,700 were from Burundi, 24,400 from Rwanda, some 3,700 from Uganda and refugees of various origins mainly from Malawi, Zaire, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia. As in previous years, UNHCR's activities in the United Republic of Tanzania focused mainly on local settlement assistance.

144. Most of the refugees from Burundi are accommodated at the Ulyankulu and Katumba settlements which, with populations of over 62,000 each, have become the largest refugee settlements in Africa. In view of the overpopulation of the settlements, initially intended for much smaller numbers, which has raised serious problems notably with respect to the water supply, viability studies of both settlements were undertaken in 1977. On the basis of these studies, it has been decided to reduce the population at Ulyankulu to 30,000 by transferring refugees to a new settlement at Mishamo in 1978.

145. Meanwhile, good progress was made in implementing the emergency water development project at Ulyankulu with the construction of 250 wells, 2 additional dams and a pipeline. A rural dispensary and three primary schools were also built - largely from locally-produced materials - and construction work was started on two more schools. At the Katumba settlement construction work was undertaken to improve the water supply and other amenities. Two permanent primary schools were completed and progress made on three additional schools. Both settlements having become self-supporting in food, the distribution of food rations from the World Food Programme supplies was phased out in the course of the year.

146. At the Kigwa settlement for Ugandan refugees most of the community education complex and the water supply system were completed, despite a shortage of building materials. In the latter part of 1977 food rations were distributed to new arrivals only, as the settlement attained self-sufficiency in food production and harvested maize and tobacco as cash crops. It is expected that responsibility for the administration of the settlement may be taken over by the Government of Tanzania in 1978.

147. Other forms of assistance provided by UNHCR in the United Republic of Tanzania mainly concerned help to individual refugees in need, especially South African refugee students.

148. The construction of the secondary school at Tunduru, financed from trust funds made available to UNHCR, had to be postponed until 1978 for technical reasons. Implementation of this project is supervised by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA).

149. Expenditures by UNHCR in 1977 under its General Programme amounted to nearly $2.3 million, of which some $2,247,700 were for local settlement. Expenditures for Special Programmes amounted to some $313,000.

11. Zaire

150. Further influxes of refugees from Angola occurring in the course of 1977 brought the total number of refugees in Zaire to an estimated 530,000 by the end of the year, of whom some 500,000 were Angolans. Other groups included 18,000 Rwandese and 11,300 refugees from Burundi, both groups having decreased by comparison with the previous year, owing mainly to voluntary repatriation.

151. UNHCR's assistance to Angolan refugees, located for the most part in Bas-Zaire, had been primarily directed prior to 1977 at meeting their needs in terms of food, health and education, while seeking the most appropriate longer-term solution for them in consultation with the Zairian authorities. However, as the influx of Angolans continued to gain momentum in 1977, it was decided to give priority to measures to enable the refugees to achieve self-sufficiency through their local settlement in agriculture. Two sites were made available by the Government in the latter half of 1977 in the Lukula area in the Bas-Fleuve subregion. With the Agence Internationale de développement rural (AIDR) acting as UNHCR's operational partner, work rapidly began in clearing land, building huts, transporting building materials, constructing Provisional schools and a dispensary and providing access to wells. By the end of February 1978 some 4,000 refugees had been established on the new sites, and their number was steadily increasing. Meanwhile, substantial relief assistance was required for new arrivals, mainly in the Cataractes subregion, whose number had reached 60,000 by early March 1978 - many of them women and children deprived of any means of subsistence - pending completion of plans for their settlement in agriculture.

152. UNHCR's assistance to refugees from Burundi in 1977 mainly concerned further development of the Mutambala settlement in the Kivu province, where over 2,000 refugees are being settled. This assistance, also implemented by AIDR, comprised initial distribution of food, tools and basic equipment, completion of classrooms and a dispensary, development of a road network and improvement of the water supply. Continued assistance, mainly in the fields of education and health, was also given by UNHCR to groups of refugees in Kivu province who remained outside the Mutambala settlement.

153. Individual refugees, mainly in urban areas of Zaire, were provided by UNHCR with specific assistance such as food, clothing, medical care, vocational training, or aid towards establishment in trade, as appropriate. Educational grants for courses at various levels were made to refugee students from Burundi and Rwanda.

154. An amount of nearly $2 million was expended by UNHCR under its General Programmes in Zaire, of which $1.2 million was for assistance to Angolan refugees, supplemented by substantial donations of food. $652,000 was made available for the Mutambala settlement for refugees from Burundi. Under the Special Programmes, expenditure from the Education Account totalled some $141,000.

12. Zambia

155. There was a continuing influx of refugees, mainly Zimbabweans, into Zambia during 1977. According to government estimates the total refugee population numbered some 64,000, including 29,700 Angolans, some 30,000 Zimbabweans, 2,700 Namibians, and smaller groups of South Africans, Zairians and Ugandans.

156. A number of the nearly arrived refugees were transferred to the Meheba rural settlement - now the only UNHCR-assisted settlement in Zambia - whose population had increased to over 12,700 by the end of the year. Some 470 Zairians repatriated voluntarily from the settlement in 1977. UNHCR's assistance to the settlement, which accommodates mainly Angolan refugees and is administered under a tripartite agreement with the Government and the Lutheran World Federation/Zambian Christian refugee Service, was directed towards expanding facilities to accommodate the new arrivals and to promoting the self-sufficiency of the population with a view to the eventual transfer of the settlement to the Government. Such measures included the provision of agricultural equipment and fertilizers, improvement of communal amenities, such as water supply and road network, and assistance with respect to health and education. A number of self-sufficiency projects were implemented, such as the establishment of poultry farms, fish ponds and carpentry workshops, while bakery, sewing and milling co-operatives as well as home-craft courses were organized for women. Crops of maize, cassava, beans, sweet potatoes, ground-nuts, vegetables and tobacco were grown for local consumption and as a means of revenue. The distribution of food rations from WFP supplies was limited to new arrivals. The construction of 79 houses for handicapped refugees was completed in 1977. With the increase of population, the accommodation offered by the settlement's two primary schools proved insufficient for both pupils and teaching staff, and plans have been made to provide additional classes.

157. Increased measures of assistance were also required for the caseload of individual refugees in urban centres, for whom employment prospects are extremely limited, and who were in urgent need of care and maintenance assistance to meet immediate needs. Individual refugees received advice and guidance from the counselling service established in 1976 under an agreement between the Christian Council of Zambia/All Africa Conference of Churches, the International University Exchange Fund and UNHCR. In addition, plans were made by the Government, in consultation with UNHCR, to renovate and re-open a former reception centre at Makeni, on the outskirts of Lusaka, to accommodate new asylum-seekers, unemployed and destitute refugees and those in transit.

158. The influx of refugees from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia - many of them students - necessitated the establishment of new projects in the fields of education, temporary care and maintenance and medical care, for implementation by the liberation movements concerned. Some 6,000 Zimbabwean refugees are young children, assisted by Patriotic Front/ZAPU, for whom urgent relief measures were required. In July 1977 an allocation was made from the Emergency Fund to cover an airlift of clothing, blankets and food, as well as procurement of 8, mobile clinic and purchase of beds and mattresses. Relief aid was also provided to some 500 Zimbabwean refugees assisted by Patriotic Front/ZANU. Another project covered the construction of an extension of the ZAPU emergency school near Lusaka designed to accommodate 3,000 pupils and to provide primary education and rehabilitation facilities.

159. Some 200 South African refugees received subsistence allowances, medical care, payment of school fees and travel fares.

160. UNHCR's expenditures under its General Programmes of assistance in Zambia in 1977 totalled $1,024,000, including $500,000 for the ZAPU emergency school and some $228,000 for local settlement assistance, supplemented by generous assistance from the Zambian Government. It also included an amount of some $196,000 from the Emergency Fund for the benefit of new Zimbabwean refugees arriving in Zambia. Expenditures under UNHCR's Special Programmes amounted to $840,500, mainly to meet educational and other needs of refugees from southern Africa.

13. Other countries in Africa

161. There were approximately 198,000 refugees of concern to UNHCR in various other African countries at the end of 1977.

162. In central and west African countries there are some 129,000 refugees of concern to UNHCR, of whom 90,000 in Gabon. In Gabon, the High Commissioner assigned a charge de mission at the end of 1977 to assist the authorities in assessing the situation of the large numbers of refugees from Equatorial Guinea and in determining assistance measures required to meet their needs. Assistance included emergency relief, education and local settlement assistance and legal aid.

163. The majority of the refugees in Nigeria are South African student refugees who have been granted educational opportunities by the Nigerian Government. Most of these students need individual attention and counselling. UNHCR assistance projects for these refugees are administered by the UNDP Resident Representative and voluntary organizations.

164. In Senegal, where there are some 5,000 refugees, UNHCR continued to provide various forms of assistance through multipurpose projects administered by the National Committee for Aid to Refugees. Refugees in other countries in central and west Africa, i.e. Benin, the Central African Empire, Chad, Congo, Gambia, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Togo, the United Republic of Cameroon and Upper Volta, continued to receive UNHCR assistance through multipurpose projects administered by the UNDP resident representatives in the respective countries.

165. A total amount of some $1,160,000 was expended in central and west African countries in 1977 under the General and Special Programmes, of which $101,000 in Gabon, $397,000 in Ghana, $201,000 in Nigeria and $176,000 in Senegal.

166. The number of refugees in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda remained unchanged at 50,000, 7,500 and 112,000 respectively. UNHCR assistance measures in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda were again concentrated on improving and consolidating the rural settlements established under earlier programmes and assisting needy refugees in urban centres through emergency aid, counselling, educational assistance at secondary, vocational training and university levels as well as medical and other assistance. A total of some $495,000 was expended for such assistance in 1977 under both General and Special Programmes, of which $197,000 in Burundi, $195,000 in Rwanda and $103,000 in Uganda.

167. Expenditures under the General Programmes for assistance measures for refugees in Morocco and Tunisia, amounting to some $7,135 and $11,416 respectively, benefited mainly aged refugees and refugee students.


A. Latin America

1. Introduction

168. On 31 December 1977, the total refugee population in the area was approximately 108,000 persons, of whom some 29,000 were of Latin American origin and slightly less than 80,000 of European origin. The latter group has gradually reduced over the years due to natural decrease, the absence of new arrivals and the automatic acquisition of citizenship by children born in Latin America. The total number of refugees of Latin American origin, on the other hand, remained more or less constant, since resettlement to other parts of the world during 1977 was offset by new arrivals. The problems faced by these refugees have continued to demand the close attention of UNHCR.

169. Assistance has mainly been required in Argentina, which has received the largest number of refugees in recent years. In some asylum countries many refugees live precariously, having been granted temporary asylum only, without residence status or permission to work. In such cases, resettlement elsewhere has remained the main solution. Sustained efforts towards this goal resulted in the resettlement in 1977 from Latin America of 4,292 refugees and dependents of refugee heads of family abroad, making a total of 18,338 since the beginning of this operation in late 1973. Most of these movements - to 46 countries of resettlement - have been undertaken in co-operation with the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, which has provided transport assistance. At the end of the year some 5,000 refugees and family members of refugee heads of family abroad were still awaiting an opportunity to settle permanently in another country. Pending resettlement and local settlement when feasible as a durable solution, temporary assistance measures have again figured prominently in UNHCR's programme in Latin America.

170. In order to meet the urgent needs of the large numbers of refugees in the area, UNHCR's representation has been further strengthened with the assignment, early in 1977, of a charge de mission in northern Latin America. This was followed towards the end of the year by the establishment of a Regional Office based in Costa Rica, supplementing the two existing Regional Offices in Buenos Aires and in Lima.

2. Argentina

171. At year's end the number of refugees registered with UNHCR stood at under 8,000, a reduction of more than 3,000 compared with 1977, resettlement opportunities and other solutions with or without UNHCR involvement having outnumbered new registrations. The majority (over 80 per cent) of the case load were Chilean, the remainder mainly Uruguayan. Owing to the relatively high cost of living in Argentina and the large number of refugees requiring assistance (a monthly average of over 4,200), UNHCR had again to sustain high expenditure in providing for the care and maintenance of refugees pending the implementation of durable solutions. Such assistance was dispensed by the Comisión Coordinadora de Acción Social, a co-ordinating body set up by several ecumenical organizations and voluntary agencies, in co-operation with the Government and UNHCR. Counselling, education assistance and help towards durable solutions, such as housing or establishment in professions or trades, were provided to refugees.

172. During 1977 the Argentine authorities were engaged in determining which refugees might stay in Argentina and those who would be required to leave, following the enactment late in 1976 of a Government decree requiring all persons residing illegally in Argentina and who were unable to return to their countries of origin for political, social, racial or religious reasons to register with the authorities. In the course of the year, 2,300 refugees were resettled from Argentina. It was estimated, however, that opportunities would be required for at least another 2,500 in view of the above-mentioned factors. It seemed likely, on the other hand, that a larger number of refugees would be able to settle permanently in Argentina than in previous years.

173. Assistance to European refugees - particularly the old and those in special need - was extended through various voluntary agencies and included monthly allowances, medical care and rehabilitation as well as placement in old-age homes.

174. Total UNHCR expenditure in Argentina amounted in 1977 to nearly $3.6 million, of which $2.4 million were for supplementary aid, some $540,000 for resettlement and nearly $290,000 for local settlement.

3. Chile

175. Since the closing in 1976 of the last of the safe havens created in Chile in the wake of the events of September 1973 to shelter refugees pending their resettlement, UNHCR's role was mainly limited in 1977 to reuniting family members still in Chile with refugee heads of family already resettled in another country. This action had brought about the reunion of some 5,800 persons by the end of 1977, including some 900 in 1977, most of them under UNHCR auspices. An over-all total of some 8,300 refugees have thus been resettled from Chile. With the full co-operation of all countries concerned, efforts continued, meanwhile, to promote the reunion of the 11,200 members of refugee families still waiting to leave. Legal assistance, counselling and supplementary aid were again provided to those arriving in Santiago from the provinces pending their departure for final destinations.

176. Assistance of various kinds, including medical aid, shelter and supplementary assistance, was extended to the 16 remaining members of a group of 50 refugees from a neighbouring country granted asylum in Chile in 1976. Following applications on their behalf by UNHCR to the Chilean authorities, all members of the residual group were resettled or repatriated voluntarily during the course of the year.

177. Assistance to Latin American refugees in Chile was channelled through a voluntary agency, the Fundación de Ayuda Social de las Iglesias Cristianas, while various non-governmental organizations gave assistance to European refugees in the form of professional establishment, annuities, counselling and legal aid.

178. Total UNHCR expenditure in Chile was considerably lower than in 1976, amounting to some $467,000, of which $341,000 were for transportation costs incurred in family reunion, $26,000 for local settlement, and $32,000 for supplementary aid.

4. Peru

179. UNHCR has been engaged 4-n a major resettlement operation in Peru with a view to resettling the Chilean refugees who had been admitted to the country on a transit basis only, without right to work. By the end of 1977, a total of 2,672 of these refugees had been resettled under UNHCR auspices, of whom 224 left in 1977. Although the remaining caseload in 1977 was small, the problem they presented was acute, since many had been awaiting resettlement opportunities for up to four years in enforced idleness and were becoming increasingly restless regarding their future prospects. In view, moreover, of the steadily declining rate of departures, a renewed resettlement drive was undertaken in 1977 and by the end of the year fewer than 150 persons were still awaiting resettlement opportunities.

180. Total UNHCR expenditure 'in Peru in 1977 amounted to nearly $430,000 of which some $243,000 served to provide basic necessities, including shelter, food and medical care to refugees awaiting departure. The assistance was mainly channelled through the Comisión Ecuménica de Acción Social.

5. Other Latin American countries

181. The total refugee population in countries other than Argentina, Chile and Peru was estimated at year's end at 64,000, of whom 45,000 were of European origin, living mainly in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Movements of refugees of Latin American origin were varied and took place, inter alia, towards Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela. European refugee beneficiaries, many of them aged and handicapped, received annuities as well as medical and institutional care, while others were assisted with housing subsidies and establishment in crafts and trades. Assistance to Latin American refugees varied according to their situation and the country in which they were receiving asylum. Resettlement, supplementary aid and local settlement were the main measures extended, together with counselling and legal assistance as required.

182. Expenditures in Latin America other than in Argentina, Chile and Peru totalled $852,700, of which $145,000 went towards local settlement measures and $397,400 towards supplementary aid including shelter, food and medical care.

183. Over-all UNHCR expenditures in Latin America in 1977 amounted to some $5.3 million, of which more than $3 million were for supplementary assistance and over $1 million for resettlement.

B. North America

184. UNHCR's co-operation with the Governments of Canada and of the United States, both major countries of resettlement for refugees, is assured through its Branch Office in Ottawa and Regional Office in New York, the latter being also responsible for maintaining close relations with the United Nations and members of its system.

185. Assistance to refugees both in Canada and in the United States is mainly provided through governmental institutions and voluntary agencies, with very limited financial participation on the part of UNHCR. On the other hand, measures have been taken to strengthen UNHCR's action in a consultative capacity, notably on matters relating to the granting of refugee status.

186. The largest groups to whom resettlement opportunities were offered in 1977 by Canada and the United States were displaced persons from Indo-China. By the end of the year, the number admitted by Canada had reached almost 7,000 since 1975, including 330 "boat people". The United States, for its part, had accepted some 31,500 during the same period, including nearly 6,400 "boat people" in addition to those who had been admitted earlier. Other groups admitted for resettlement in 1977 included Armenians and Assyrians from Lebanon, refugees originating in the Caribbean area and Latin American refugees.


A. General developments

187. UNHCR continued throughout 1977, the implementation of several special programmes of assistance to large numbers of refugees and displaced persons in. countries in Asia, undertaken at the request of the Governments concerned, pursuant to the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly. Details of these activities are given in section B below.

188. In the Lao People's Democratic Republic and in Viet Nam, where large-scale population movements had taken place, priority was given to rehabilitation projects to facilitate the settlement of those returning or having returned to their homes. In Lebanon, large-scale emergency assistance was still required, particularly in the first part of the year, and it was not until later that rehabilitation measures could be planned. In Thailand and other countries in South-Fast Asia, care and maintenance needs of the many thousands of Indo-Chinese displaced persons continued to call for large-scale expenditure of funds.

189. Resettlement in third countries was essential as the most suitable long-term solution for many of the displaced persons, especially those in Malaysia and Thailand and those arriving by sea in various countries of South - East Asia, on whose behalf the High Commissioner made appeals to Governments for both temporary and permanent asylum. During 1977 some 25,000 displaced persons from Indo-China were resettled in various countries, mainly in France and the United States. A cumulative total of some 27,000 of these persons arrived by sea in countries in South-East Asia, the majority of whom were resettled elsewhere thanks to generous resettlements opportunities made available by 34 countries. By 31 March 1978, a total of 106,300 Indo-Chinese displaced persons in various countries still awaited permanent settlement.

190. UNHCR's expenditures in 1977 under its Special Programme in Asia totalled nearly $18,560,000, while expenditures under the General Programmes totalled some $1,148,000. Of the latter amount, over $600,000 was expended in Malaysia to meet urgent needs of refugees living in the State of Sabah.

B. Main developments in various countries

1. Lao People's Democratic Republic

191. Continued efforts were made by UNHCR in 1977 at the request of the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic to provide assistance in rehabilitating the displaced and uprooted population of the country - a task which had begun in 1974. The programme involved the return to their home villages of many thousands of families by road, river or air, for which special measures were required in terms of transportation and initial installation assistance. Of some 121,000 persons who returned to their villages in 1977, some 105,000 received assistance from UNHCR.

192. To meet immediate needs, household equipment and tools were distributed to new returnees enabling them to begin their task of reconstruction as rapidly as possible. Since cultivation could not begin until the fields had been reclaimed and irrigated urgent food supplies were also needed. Substantial supplies of rice were therefore provided by UNHCR for this purpose and appropriate measures were taken to ensure their speedy distribution to those in need.

193. Meanwhile, plans for longer-term rehabilitation were under preparation, particularly in areas of widespread devastation. At the request of the Government, UNHCR provided assistance in a number of sectors of greatest need.

194. Expenditure for these various forms of aid totalled $1,532,000 in 1977, including as major items $675,000 for costs involved in the return movement to the villages and provision of resettlement kits and $405,000 for emergency food supplies.

2. Lebanon

195. The emergency phase of UNHCR assistance to internally displaced Lebanese ended in mid-1977. In June 1977 the High Commissioner appealed to Governments for contributions towards a programme for the return of the displaced persons and their rehabilitation in their villages of origin. Twenty-five such villages were selected in consultation with the Lebanese Government. This programme did not seek to cover the repair of all damaged or destroyed homes, but rather to act as a catalyst. Like the emergency phase, it was carried out within the framework of United Nations assistance in Lebanon.

196. UNHCR's special action in Lebanon received complementary assistance from other members of the United Nations system, notably the World Health Organization, which continued to procure medical supplies; UNICEF, through the development of water resources for domestic use in rural areas and the provision of school equipment; the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which made fertilizers available to the Lebanese Government; and the World Food Programme which developed "food for work" projects in villages on the Government priority list.

197. Expenditure under UNHCR's special humanitarian programme in Lebanon amounted in 1977 to $1,055,000, of which $642,000 were for relief supplies, $150,000 for transport costs and $185,000 for initial measures under the return and rehabilitation programme in two villages.

198. UNHCR's activities in Lebanon under its General Programmes were again affected by events in the area, which impeded the implementation of measures to assist the local settlement or resettlement elsewhere of refugees in Lebanon. Efforts in 1977 were thus essentially directed to re-establishing effective counselling services and to providing immediate assistance as required.

3. Thailand

199. Of all the countries of asylum in South-East Asia, Thailand has continued to receive the largest influx of displaced persons from the Indo-Chinese peninsula. Their number stood at 97,600 on 31 December 1977, as compared with nearly 77,000 at the end of 1976. Departures to countries of resettlement during the year totalled 14,021, making a total of over 50,000 since 1975 when UNHCR's assistance was first sought by the Government of Thailand. Of the displaced persons still in Thailand, nearly 79,000 were from the Lao People's Democratic Republic, 15,000 from Democratic Kampuchea and 3,600 from Viet Nam.

200. UNHCR's assistance activities, based on an agreement with the Government of Thailand, were directed towards care and maintenance of the existing caseload, the immediate needs of new arrivals and measures to facilitate the resettlement of those wishing to emigrate to third countries. In view of the large numbers involved, arrangements had been made to accommodate the displaced persons in Thailand in temporary relief centres constructed in various provinces on sites chosen by the Thai Government.

201. Many of those arriving since the inception of the operation, especially those who came by boat from Viet Nam and whose number had reached 6,697 by the end of the year, were destitute and in need of immediate relief such as food, shelter, clothing and medical care, until their transfer to a relief centre, or pending the processing of their resettlement applications. Assistance to displaced persons in the Bangkok area was administered by the Relief and Welfare Committee.

202. As in the previous year, care and maintenance of the displaced persons represented an essential item of UNHCR's special assistance programme in Thailand. It was implemented by the Operations Centre for Displaced Persons, set up in June 1975 under the direction of the Ministry of the Interior, with which close co-operation was maintained by UNHCR staff both in Bangkok and in the field. The assistance provided included food supplies, mainly rice, meat, dried fish, salt, fish sauce and cooking oil, the repair and improvement of amenities within the centres, medical supplies complementing those provided by the Thai Red Cross Society and other voluntary agencies, arrangements for hospital treatment as required, as well as clothing, household utensils, mosquito nets and other basic equipment. In the course of the year, preparations were also made for the implementation of several self-reliance projects in activities such as market gardening or cottage industries.

203. Sustained efforts were made, meanwhile, to secure resettlement opportunities for those wishing to settle elsewhere, and arrangements were made to facilitate inland travel prior to departure. As in previous years, assistance was provided by the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration, which organized transportation to the countries of resettlement. Over 14,000 displaced persons were thus resettled in 1977 from Thailand, including over 5,800 "boat people", thanks to opportunities made available, notably by Australia, Canada, France and the United States.

204. Expenditure under UNHCR's Special Programme in Thailand totalled nearly $9,084,000 in 1977, of which some $5,360,000 were for care and maintenance and nearly $2.9 million for assistance towards resettlement. Supplementing this assistance, food-stuffs, medicines and other relief commodities were made available through the World Food Programme and voluntary agencies.

4. Viet Nam

205. At the request of the Government, continued assistance was provided by UNHCR in 1977 within the context of a Special Programme for the rehabilitation of its displaced and uprooted population. In consultation with the authorities, this assistance was mainly directed to consolidating earlier rehabilitation efforts, which began in 1974, and to meeting specific needs related to permanent settlement for which no other adequate source of aid was available. As in 1976, UNHCR'S assistance was focused on needs in the most devastated provinces Nghe Tinh, Binh Tri-Thien, Dong Nai, Song Be and Tay Ninh.

206. Agricultural assistance again figured prominently in UNHCR's activities in Viet Nam. With the help of the Indian Red Cross, 180 Murrah buffaloes were provided for the establishment of a buffalo breeding farm in the Nghe Tinh province. The farm is intended to help restore food production, breed buffaloes for traction and serve as a training centre. Elsewhere additional agricultural machinery was made available by UNHCR to facilitate the rehabilitation of displaced persons in rural areas. Continued assistance was also made available to a poultry-breeding farm at the Tuy Phuong Agricultural Centre at Chem near Hanoi, designed not only as a production unit but also as a training centre.

207. In view of the importance of fishing as a means of livelihood in Viet Nam, further assistance was again provided by UNHCR to assist displaced persons in the coastal areas, particularly in Minh Hai and Say Ky. The assistance took the form of supplies of equipment.

208. Needs of an emergency nature which UNHCR was asked to help meet in 1977 included further supplies of shelter material, clothing and medical equipment. Urgent supplies of food were also required in view of the serious shortage which occurred in 1977 resulting from the post-war conditions in the country combined with unfavourable weather. Needs were most acute in the Nghe Tinh province, where displaced persons constitute 75 per cent of the population. These needs were met through generous contributions in kind, made available in response to the High Commissioner's request.

209. UNHCR's expenditures for assistance in Viet Nam totalled nearly $3,475,000 in 1977, including $1,415,000 for assistance towards the rehabilitation of displaced fisherman, $590,300 for agricultural assistance and $500,000 for constructing and equipping hospitals and dispensaries.

5. Other countries and areas in Asia

210. In the period under review, UNHCR faced a continued need to provide humanitarian assistance to thousands of Indo-Chinese displaced persons, who were uprooted from their homes following the events of recent years in the Indo-Chinese peninsula. This assistance has been provided under a Special Programme designed to meet immediate needs of care and maintenance and to promote suitable longer-term solutions, in co-operation with Governments concerned and with intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.

211. In this context, the problem of displaced persons arriving by boat in various countries bordering the South China Sea has continued to receive special attention. Protection aspects of this problem have been considered in chapter I of this report under the section headed "Principles of protection and refugee rights". By the end of 1977 the number of these displaced persons had reached some 15,500, including those rescued by passing ships. Thanks to the opportunities generously made available by Governments in response to the High Commissioner's appeals for permanent resettlement, the majority of them were able to leave for third countries by 31 December 1977. The remaining caseload, for whom opportunities were still being sought, numbered 4,250 at the end of the year.

212. Expenditures under UNHCR's Special Programme of assistance to displaced persons from Indo-China in various countries amounted in 1977 to $4.5 million, including $1.4 million for travel for those admitted to other countries for resettlement. The assistance provided is described in the country or area summaries below, which also cover activities in 1977 under UNHCR's General Programmes in the countries concerned. Expenditures for the latter totalled some $1,148,000, of which nearly $620,000 were for assistance to refugees in Malaysia.

213. Other refugees who have benefited from assistance under UNHCR's General Programmes in Asia included individuals in various countries such as India, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and the Yemen Arab Republic, for whom measures to meet immediate needs or to facilitate longer-term solutions were implemented.

(a) Hong Kong

214. Over 1,000 displaced persons arrived in Hong Kong by boat in 1977, many of them having been rescued at sea. Resettlement opportunities were made available for over 700 of this number. Pending departure care and maintenance costs were met by UNHCR, acting in co-operation with the Hong Kong authorities Expenditures under the Special Programmes for this purpose totalled some $702,000.

215. Assistance while awaiting resettlement was also provided by UNHCR under its General Programmes to European refugees in transit in Hong Kong. This assistance was implemented, as in previous years, by the World Council of Churches at a cost to UNHCR of $175,000.

(b) Indonesia

216. The arrival in 1977 of an additional 657 displaced persons from Indo-China brought their total to 923, of whom 744 were accepted for resettlement. At the request of the Indonesian Government, care and maintenance costs, amounting to some $275,000 pending departure, were met by UNHCR from Special Programme funds.

(c) Japan

217. Agreements were concluded by UNHCR with a number of voluntary agencies to ensure the care and maintenance of displaced persons arriving in Japan, whose number rose to 1,197 of whom 828 had been accepted for resettlement by the end of 1977. To ease their situation while awaiting departure, authorization to seek temporary employment has been granted by the Japanese Government. UNHCR's expenditures for assistance dispensed by the voluntary agencies totalled over $1,004,000 in 1977.

(d) Malaysia

218. The number of new arrivals from Indo-China to Malaysia increased rapidly during 1977, from 1,100 at the beginning of the year to 6,974 by 31 December. Many were accepted for resettlement in third countries. However, further arrivals early in 1978 have brought the caseload of those given temporary asylum to 4,216. To ensure more efficient co-ordination of assistance, the Malaysian Government, in consultation with UNHCR, decided to group the displaced persons in centres at Kuala Trengganu and at Pulau Tengah.

219. In addition to helping meet temporary care and maintenance costs and facilitating resettlement from Malaysia, UNHCR has also been called upon to assist with the local settlement of a group of displaced persons, mostly originating from Democratic Kampuchea. This programme, implemented by PERKIM (Malaysian Muslim Welfare Organization) and the Malaysia Red Crescent Society, included language courses and training in carpentry, weaving and sewing designed to furnish a means of livelihood. Expenditure by UNHCR in 1977 for these various forms of assistance totalled some $872,000 from Special Programme funds.

220. Assistance under UNHCR's General Programme in Malaysia in 1977 was mainly for the benefit of Filipino refugees in the State of Sabah, where many thousands had sought asylum. Urgent measures were required for a group of 5,000 of these refugees, living in great hardship in Kota Kinabalu and in Labuan. These included the provision of relief items, housing, water supply and other communal facilities, to be followed by the supply of fishing equipment and the construction of classrooms and dispensaries. To meet urgent needs, a total of $620,000 including an allocation of $400,000 from the Emergency Fund, was made available under the General Programme.

(e) Philippines

221. Arrangements for caring for displaced persons arriving in the Philippines and accommodated in the José Fabella Centre were implemented by the Department of Social Services and Development, under an agreement with UNHCR, pending their resettlement overseas. Against 1,206 new arrivals in 1977, there were 833 departures to permanent homes elsewhere. At the end of the year opportunities were still required for 556 persons. Individual groups outside the Fabella Centre were provided by UNHCR with counselling and local settlement assistance. Some $195,000 were expended by UNHCR in 1977 in the Philippines under its Special Programmes.

(f) Singapore

222. New arrivals in Singapore of displaced persons from Indo-China totalled 331 in 1977, almost all of whom were able to resettle elsewhere. Expenditure by UNHCR for their benefit totalled $94,000 in 1977.

223. Assistance of a similar kind from Special Programme funds was also provided to small numbers of displaced persons who arrived by sea in the Republic of Korea and Macao in the course of the year, most of whom were subsequently able to leave for permanent resettlement elsewhere.


A. Assistance in various countries

224. There were considerable influxes of refugees into several countries in Europe in 1977. However, taking into account departures for resettlement overseas as well as naturalizations and natural decrease, the over-all total of refugees in Europe remained at some 546,000 at the end of 1977.

225. Countries in Europe continued to play a significant role in the task of assisting refugees, both in terms of financial contributions to UNHCR programmes and in providing resettlement opportunities for refugees, notwithstanding economic difficulties and continuing high levels of unemployment in many countries.

226. As in past years, UNHCR's assistance to refugees in Europe was of a marginal nature since these refugees benefited fully from social security facilities provided by Governments in the various countries of asylum. Valuable complementary assistance was also provided by the well-established non-governmental organizations, which played an important part in facilitating the integration of refugees within their host communities.

227. The influx of both European and non-European refugees and displaced persons into countries in Europe increased during 1977. On the one hand, European refugees continued to seek and receive asylum in various countries, while at the same time further numbers of non-European refugees, mainly from Indo-China and Latin America, and also from Africa, were accepted for permanent settlement by many countries. Indo-Chinese displaced persons constituted the largest group settling in Europe in 1977. France continued to admit approximately 1,000 Indo-Chinese monthly, making an over-all total of 40,000 admitted by the end of 1977, while many other countries also carried out schemes for the settlement of these persons. Nearly 1,000 refugees from Latin America were admitted for permanent settlement in Europe in 1977, mainly in Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In view of the particular needs of these groups of refugees, their admission was accompanied by special measures to facilitate their integration including arrangements for reception as well as facilities in respect of accommodation, employment, vocational training and language courses.

228. Several European countries continued to provide transit facilities for groups of refugees and individuals seeking permanent settlement overseas. Arrangements for these movements were made in close co-operation with UNHCR, especially as regards medical examinations and documentation.

229. Special emphasis was again placed on providing adequate counselling services to refugees, particularly those of non-European origin, to ensure that they received qualified advice and guidance. This type of assistance constituted an important element of UNHCR's assistance programmes in Europe. Aged and sick refugees, mainly in Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey, who have suffered most severely from the rising cost of living continued to receive special assistance, largely in the form of annuities.

230. A UNHCR Branch Office was opened in Portugal during the period under review for the purpose of coordinating assistance to displaced persons from former Portuguese territories, not in possession of Portuguese nationality, and to other groups of concern to UNHCR.

231. A total of $1,822,000 was expended by UNHCR in various European countries in 1977 under its General Programmes and over $7001,000 under the Special Programmes.

B. United Nations humanitarian assistance for Cyprus

232. At the request of the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner continued throughout 1977 to act as coordinator of United Nations humanitarian assistance for Cyprus - a function he has performed since August 1974, following the events of that summer in the island. This assistance was required to bring continued help to persons who were still displaced and in need, including some 155,500 Greek Cypriots, 37,250 Turkish Cypriots and 700 Maronite Cypriots.

233. With the continued help of WHO, WFP and the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), further substantial supplies of food and medical consignments have been made available throughout the island. Further measures were also taken to reactivate farms, small businesses and local crafts, and to promote a number of low-cost housing projects to replace the temporary accommodation used hitherto. The needs of groups, such as the very young, the handicapped and the old, requiring specific forms of assistance once more received the special attention of the coordinator. Contributions pledged to the United Nations programme in Cyprus through UNHCR totalled nearly $100 million, including contributions in kind, as at 31 March 1978.

234. Major financial commitments for these various forms of assistance, totalling over $41.4 million in 1977, included $19,466,306 for shelter, $3,510,636 for medical supplies, $3,015,000 for local purchase of food to supplement over 3,950 tons of provisions in kind, $2,980,001 for supplementary assistance to diverse groups, $2,839,157 for the construction and equipment of educational facilities, $2,007,236 for agriculture and $503,294 for transport, including purchase of vehicles. These various forms of assistance were financed from generous contributions again made available by donors wishing to channel their assistance through UNHCR.

235. Although the situation of displaced and needy persons in Cyprus improved in the course of the year, the continued need for humanitarian assistance led the Secretary-General to request the High Commissioner to continue his role of coordinator.

236. Further information concerning humanitarian activities carried out by the United Nations in Cyprus in the course of 1977 may be found in the relevant chapters of the progress reports submitted by the Secretary-General to the Security Council in the months of June (S/12342) and December (S/12463).


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

237. In 1977, UNHCR maintained close co-operation with other members of the United Nations system at the headquarters level and in the field, as regards both the international protection of refugees and material assistance programmes. The Office participated in meetings of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC) and the governing bodies of other United Nations agencies and programmes. UNHCR was represented at meetings of United Nations bodies on questions relating directly or indirectly to UNHCR's activities in favour of refugees and displaced persons, such as human rights, migrant workers, technical co-operation among developing countries, procurement in the third world and poverty-oriented rural development. UNHCR was also represented at the first session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and looks forward to developing close co-operation with this organization, whose activities might have particular relevance to rural settlement programmes for refugees. Members of the United Nations system were represented at sessions of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme and at interagency meetings sponsored by UNHCR.

238. In the course of 1977, the United Nations system was concerned with problems of Namibian, South African and Zimbabwean refugees. The Secretary-General sent two interagency missions to assess needs in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, and the recommendations of the missions were taken into account in drawing up programmes of assistance for refugees in the area. In his capacity as coordinator within the United Nations system of assistance to South African refugee students, the High Commissioner convened an ad hoc interagency meeting in December 1977 to co-ordinate assistance to refugees in southern Africa as well as plans for future joint action.

239. As in the past, UNHCR continued to benefit from the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In countries where the Office is not directly represented, UNDP resident representatives continued to administer UNHCR projects, and have also acted on behalf of UNHCR through approaches to the authorities on urgent matters. Resident representatives also provide invaluable support to UNHCR field staff, particularly when new offices are opened, through their contacts with the authorities in the country and their knowledge of local customs and conditions. UNHCR representatives throughout the world have likewise co-operated with their counterparts in United Nations programmes on various aspects of their activities, in particular as regards the co-ordination of assistance measures for refugees.

240. In 1977, the World Food Programme (WFP) again supplied millions of dollars worth of foodstuffs in the form of rations for, inter alia, newly arrived refugees in Djibouti, Namibians and displaced persons in Angola, Zimbabweans in Mozambique and Zambia as well as displaced persons in Viet Nam. Whenever a long-term settlement project for a group of refugees is envisaged, a large WFP food component permits UNHCR to invest in assistance other than local food purchase during the transition stage until refugees become self-sufficient. UNHCR and WFP co-operate in phasing out emergency aid and replacing it by food-for-work projects to facilitate the integration of refugees and displaced persons.

241. UNICEF made available assistance in kind to refugees during emergency situations in a number of countries, while its concern for the educational needs of refugee children engendered more long-term benefits.

242. Pursuant to the decision of the General Assembly in resolution 31/169 to proclaim 1979 as the International Year of the Child, UNHCR is co-operating closely with the IYC secretariats in New York and Geneva. In view of the particularly vulnerable position of refugee children, special efforts are planned to improve their situation, notably in the fields of education, housing, medical and social care. Towards achieving this goal, an appeal for funds will be made to the national IYC commissions which have been or are in the process of being established in most countries.

243. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have co-operated in planning arrangements for vocational training courses for refugees.

244. Close contact has been maintained with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with a view to promoting the teaching of refugee law, with particular reference to the Conference on the University Teaching of Human Rights, to be held in Vienna in September 1978. UNHCR has benefited from the advice of experts seconded by UNESCO.

245. The World Health Organization (WHO) has assisted refugees and displaced persons in a variety of ways. Groups of concern to UNHCR automatically benefit from WHO programmes for national health in countries where such programmes exist; for example, refugees were included in WHO vaccination projects. In addition, WHO has contributed towards UNHCR's assistance programmes through the assessment of costs and the procurement of medication and medical equipment.

246. Experts made available by UNICEF, WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have participated in missions to countries in Africa to determine the viability of potential sites for rural settlements for refugees. Sectors such as optimum land usage, development of water systems and rudimentary sanitary control are investigated by interagency missions before a decision is taken to establish a new settlement.

247. UNHCR is co-operating with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) with a view to the inclusion of an article in the revision of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property which would extend the benefits of the Convention to refugees and stateless persons.

248. Regular consultations are held with the United Nations Education and Training Programme for Southern Africa (UNETPSA), the United Nations Council for Namibia and the United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa to ensure that qualified southern African refugee students ire awarded scholarships, to the extent possible.

249. UNHCR continued to maintain contacts with the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator (UNDRO) on matters of mutual concern.

B. Relations with other intergovernmental organizations

250. UNHCR has further strengthened its co-operation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU), notably on questions regarding refugees from southern Africa. UNHCR was represented at sessions of the Council of Ministers and at the fourteenth summit Conference of Heads of State and Government. The Secretary-General of the OAU attended the twenty-eighth session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme. UNHCR was also represented at a meeting of the OAU Liberation Committee.

251. The Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration continued to provide transportation assistance, notably for the resettlement of large numbers of European and Latin American refugees and of Indo-Chinese displaced persons.

252. The European Economic Community has again given generous support for UNHCR assistance programmes by providing large quantities of food supplies, value d at some $9.6 million, in Angola, Cyprus, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Zaire.

253. The Council of Europe has continued to demonstrate its traditional concern for the protection of refugees and, as mentioned in chapter I, has also adopted a declaration relating to territorial asylum.

254. Relations were strengthened at various levels between UNHCR and other regional organizations, such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the Le ague of Arab States and the Asian African Legal Consultative Committee.

C. Co-operation with liberation movements

255. In conformity with the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, UNHCR has continued to co-operate with African liberation movements recognized by the OAU and the United Nations, notably the African National Congress (ANC), the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), the Zimbabwe Africa People's Union (ZAPU) and the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO).

D. Relations between UNHCR and non-governmental organizations

256. UNHCR has further strengthened its traditional partnership with the non-governmental organizations working in the field of assistance to refugees, which represent a large reservoir of funds, expertise and personnel, and which continue to provide invaluable support for UNHCR's activities in favour of refugees and displaced persons.

257. At the international level, UNHCR has worked closely with tile main coordinating bodies of the voluntary agencies, principally the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council and with the International Council of Voluntary Agencies at Geneva. UNHCR has, furthermore, established working relations with over 100 voluntary agencies at both the international and national levels.

258. Several voluntary agencies have continued to serve as UNHCR'S operational partners in the execution of assistance programmes, in many cases providing significant staffing and financial resources. The voluntary agencies also give support to UNHCR by raising funds from the private sector for assistance to refugees. These amounted to $5,455,000 during 1977. As regards international protection, closer links have been established with agencies which are active in the field of the protection of human rights. In the context of their general concern for human rights, non-governmental organizations have taken an interest in the development of refugee law. In some countries they have played a vital role in the further development of refugee legislation and in assistance to refugees in overcoming legal difficulties. UNHCR has co-operated closely with the International Committee of the Red Cross in the field of international protection.

259. UNHCR participated in a round table on moving populations, organized by the League of Red Cross Societies at Geneva in March 1978, the first forum for direct consultations between national Red Cross Societies and international agencies dealing with problems of refugees and migrants.

260. UNHCR has co-operated closely with a number of academic and professional institutions concerned with various aspects of the international protection of refugees, notably the Association for the Study of the World Refugee Problem, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, the International Institute of Human Rights, the Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, the International Commission of Jurists and the World Peace through Law Centre in Washington.

261. Nansen Medal Award: In recognition of outstanding work on behalf of the uprooted, the Nansen Medal for 1977 was presented to the Malaysian Red Crescent Society. As an operational partner of UNHCR and in conjunction with governmental authorities and PERKIM (Muslim Welfare Organization of Malaysia), the Malaysian Red Crescent Society has provided material assistance to displaced persons and refugees from Indo-China who have been permitted to stay in Malaysia pending their permanent settlement in other countries.


A. Introduction

262. As mentioned throughout this report, 1977 witnessed a large growth in refugee problems, necessitating an increase of some $6 million in the 1977 General Programmes, bringing the target to $24,320,000, and the establishment of a financial target of $35,209,000 for the 1978 General Programmes.

263. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, at its twenty-eighth session in October 1977, drew attention to UNHCR's increasing financial requirements and urged all Governments to participate in the financing of the High Commissioner's humanitarian activities and to increase substantially the level of their contributions. This concern was reiterated at a special meeting of permanent representatives in Geneva of States members of the Executive Committee, convened by the High Commissioner in January 1978 to discuss the critical financial situation facing UNHCR with regard to its 1978 programmes.

264. Thanks to the generosity of some Governments, which made further substantial contributions, the shortfall in the original target of the 1978 programmes was considerably reduced by 31 March 1978. With an increasing influx of refugees and the emergence of new refugee situations in the first quarter of 1978, however, UNHCR's financial situation has remained serious, and considerable efforts are required to assure the funding of essential UNHCR assistance projects in 1978.

265. Table 3 of annex II shows contributions to the UNHCR General and Special Programmes for the years 1977 and 1978, which were paid or pledged as at 31 March 1978.

266. Total expenditures for all UNHCR assistance activities in 1977, comprising both the General and Special Programmes, amounted to $110,972,000.

B. General Programmes

267. Total contributions from Governments, United Nations agencies and voluntary organizations towards the revised financial target of $24,320,000 for the 1977 General Programmes amounted to $20,494,914. These contributions, together with balances from previous years' programmes, ensured the full financing of the 1977 General Programmes.

268. A financial target of $35,209,000 for the 1978 General Programmes was approved by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme at its twenty-eighth session. As at 31 March 1978, contributions totalling $22,927,257 had been announced.

C. Special Programmes

269. As at 31 March 1978, total contributions to Special Programmes in 1977 and 1978 amounted to $89,670,595 and $12,596,365 respectively. These amounts include contributions to the UNHCR Refugee Education Account and to the various special activities listed below, which were continued during the reporting period:

(a) United Nations humanitarian assistance for Cyprus;

(b) Assistance to displaced persons in the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic;

(c) Assistance to displaced persons in Thailand and other countries in Asia;

(d) Assistance to returning refugees and displaced persons in Mozambique;

(e) UNHCR programme of humanitarian assistance to Sahrawi refugees in the Tindouf region of Algeria;

(f) Special action in Lebanon;

(g) United Nations programme of humanitarian assistance in Angola;

(h) Emergency assistance for refugees from southern Africa.


270. New and developing situations of refugees and displaced persons figured prominently in the international press during the period under review, in particular the dramatic situation of groups such as Indo-Chinese escaping in small boats, young refugees fleeing apartheid and other forms of persecution in South Africa, and the hundreds of thousands of persons uprooted by events in the Ogaden. UNHCR's role of protection and assistance was thus given wide coverage by the media in many countries.

271. The election by the General Assembly of Mr. Poul Hartling as United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was well covered in the news media. Mr. Hartling met with correspondents accredited to the United Nations both in New York and Geneva and has given a large number of individual interviews, as well as press conferences during his missions to countries in southern Africa, Forth America, Oceania and Europe.

272. Interest in the work of the Office by the press, radio and television was effectively sustained by UNHCR's Public Information Service in Geneva as well as by UNHCR representatives in many parts of the world. Numerous press releases were issued, and interviews, briefings and background sessions were organized both for individual journalists and groups. Assistance was also given to photographers and television teams travelling to areas where refugee situations exist, in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

273. The impact of press, radio and television publicity on the Office's fund-raising activities has been considerable, and UNHCR has facilitated the efforts of a number of voluntary agencies which regularly support its material assistance programmes to capitalize on this media interest by organizing sponsored press tours, notably to refugee settlements in a number of African countries. UNHCR has also kept these agencies regularly supplied with information material (films, photos, posters, etc.) to support their campaigns.

274. UNHCR continued to supply television outlets with film footage for world-wide distribution as well as to produce its own films on refugee problems. During the reporting period co-productions were made with voluntary agencies for fund-raising and educational purposes, including "No place like a home" made for the Australian AUSTCARE agency, which co-ordinates voluntary agencies' work on behalf of refugees in that country, and "My country and yours" with the Danish Refugee Council and the Danish Film Institute. Another co-production was undertaken with the Netherlands television chain TROS Television on the needs for resettlement of refugees from south-east Asia and Latin America. Refugees in southern Africa are the subject of two films produced in the period under review: "Tswana Transit" and "No Time to Say Goodbye". Other productions included "Meheba: A Refugee Settlement in Zambia" and a film on displaced persons from Viet Nam resettled in Switzerland. "I am a refugee", a half-hour fictional account of an individual refugee's difficulties upon seeking asylum in a mythical country and the role of UNHCR in providing him with legal protection, was produced in English and French. It is intended for television and educational use.

275. UNHCR takes an active part in the over-all efforts of the United Nations system to publicize specific themes called for by resolutions of the General Assembly, when these themes are relevant to UNHCR's activities. Thus, in late 1977 and early 1978, the launching of International Anti-Apartheid Year was given publicity in the Office's publications and two posters by a South African refugee artist were printed and given wide distribution. Film footage was also gathered to highlight the drama of refugees having been persecuted under the system of apartheid. Similarly, the Office started making plans for active participation in the International Year of the Child, during which the plight of refugee children will be emphasized throughout UNHCR's public information output.

276. UNHCR's photo library was further developed through the acquisition of material, and photos were supplied to the media and voluntary agencies. A new standard UNHCR exhibit was prepared on lightweight plastic panels for easy shipment and a number of sets and a 1978 calendar-poster, based on the exhibit, were also widely distributed.

277. The bimonthly tabloid-format publication "UNHCR" was regularly published in English and French. A new general information leaflet on the work of the Office for the general public was under production in a large number of languages.

278. Numerous special articles were written by public information officers and talks were given regularly to groups of visitors to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

279. During the period under review, further efforts were made towards cost effectiveness of UNHCR's public information material, while at the same time aiming to reach a wider target audience in a greater number of countries, in particular those falling outside the traditional areas of major financial and other support for UNHCR's activities. These efforts included reductions in staff and publication costs.

280. Close co-operation was maintained with the United Nations Office of Public Information (OPI) both at Geneva and in New York, which provides welcome assistance, particularly in the field of film and radio. UNHCR also participated in several meetings arranged by JUNIC (Joint United Nations Information Committee).

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

1 1 April 1977 to 31 March 1978; except for statistical and financial data, most of which cover the calendar year 1977.

2 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, No. 2545, P.137.

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

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

5 Ibid., Thirty-second Session, Annexes, agenda item 87, document A/32/352, para. 13.

6 Ibid., Thirty-second Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/32/12 A/32/12 Add.1) para. 53(4) (c).

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

8 Ibid., para. 53 (5) (d).

9 Ibid., para. 53 (1).

10 For a table showing the status of accessions to the relevant instruments, see annex I to the present report.

11 Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-second Session, Supplement No. 12A (A32/12 Add.1), para 53 (2) (b).

12 Ibid., para. 53 (1) (b).

13 Ibid., para. 53 (6) (e).

14 Ibid., para. 53 (6) (d).

15 Ibid., para. 53 (7).

16 Ibid., para. 90 D (c).

17 See report by the Secretary-General on assistance to Mozambique, document A/32/268.

18 Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-second Session, Supplement No. 12 (A/32/12 and Corr.1).

19 See report of the Secretary-General on emergency assistance for South African student refugees, document A/32/65 Add.1.