Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Ninth Session
Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.13 (A/2648)
REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY1
1. At its eighth session the General Assembly, in addition to prolonging the mandate of my Office for a further period of five years (resolution 727 (VIII)), in resolution 728 (VIII), noted with concern the precarious situation of certain groups of refugees within the mandate of my Office, in particular those in need of emergency aid, the considerable number still living in camps, and those requiring special care for whom no satisfactory arrangements had yet been made, and invited me to pay special attention to them in my report to the General Assembly at its ninth session.
2. In pursuance of resolution 728 (VIII) I have, therefore, paid special attention in chapter III of the present report to the particularly tragic situation of those groups of refugees who are in special need.
3. Although I have not attempted to give such a detailed review of the situation of refugees in all their countries of residence as I did in previous reports, I have nevertheless attempted to show the general progress which has been made in the various activities for which my Office is responsible. At the same time, I have tried to indicate some of the main difficulties involved in trying to find permanent solutions for the problems of refugees within the lifetime of my Office.
4. The advice of the Advisory Committee on Refugees at its fourth session was sought on the problems of emergency aid and permanent solutions, and its recommendations on these matters are to be found in chapters III and IV below.
5. During the past twelve months, much positive action has been taken on behalf of those refugees who are the concern of my Office. A great deal, however, must still be done on their behalf if the purposes for which my Office was established are to be fulfilled.
6. I venture to hope, therefore, that the Members of the United Nations will give their most careful and urgent consideration to the proposals which I have put forward in chapters III and IV - proposals which have been governed by two underlying basic ideas: firstly, to provide emergency aid to those refugees who need it most desperately in accordance with the terms of General Assembly resolution 538 B (VI) of 2 February 1952 and, secondly, to promote, in accordance with the terms of articles 1 and 8 of the statute of the Office and the second part of resolution 538 B (VI), within a reasonable time, permanent solutions for the problems of those refugees who are within the mandate of my Office, and who have not yet been assimilated into the economies of their countries of residence.
CHAPTER I GENERAL ACTIVITIES
Section 1 International agreements affecting refugees
Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951
7. At the time my report to the eighth session of the General Assembly was written, the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees had been ratified by Denmark an Norway. Since that time, the Convention has been ratified: by Belgium, on 22 July 1953; by Luxembourg, on 23 July 1953; and by the Federal Republic of Germany, on 1 December 1953. According to the law for the ratification of the Convention, it came into force in Germany, regardless of the date of its entry into force as between the Contracting States, one month after the promulgation of the law for its ratification, i.e., on 24 December 1953. On 22 January 1954, the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, which had not signed the Convention, deposited its instrument of accession, thus becoming the sixth State to ratify or accede to the convention. The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the seventh State to ratify or accede to the Convention, deposited its instrument of ratification on 11 March 1954. On 18 May 1954, the Government of Monaco acceded to the Convention, and the Government of France deposited its instrument of ratification on 23 June 1954. The Convention, in accordance with article 43 thereof, entered into force on the ninetieth day following the deposit of the sixth instrument of ratification or accession, i.e., on 22 April 1954.
8. In accordance with article 1 B of the Convention, each contracting State shall, at the time of signature, ratification or accession, make a declaration specifying whether it applies for the purpose of its obligations under the Convention, the term "events occurring before 1 January 1951" in article 1 A in the sense of "events occurring in Europe before 1 January 1951" or "events occurring in Europe or elsewhere before 1 January 1951". Of the States which have so far ratified or acceded to the convention, Belgium, Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom have declared that the words shall be understood to mean "events occurring in Europe or elsewhere"; the Governments of the Commonwealth of Australia, of France, of Luxembourg and of Monaco that they shall mean "events occurring in Europe".
9. In the countries which have signed, but not yet ratified, the Convention, the constitutional procedure for ratification has been initiated and is, in some cases, in an advanced stage. In Austria the law for ratification has been adopted by both houses of parliament. The Austrian government had, at the time of signature, made a number of important reservations to the provisions of the convention. I am glad to be able to report that most of these reservations were withdrawn in the law for its adoption as approved by parliament, with the exception of certain interpretative reservations, and reservations to article 17, paragraph 1, and article 17, paragraph 2, dealing with wage-earning employment, which are accepted as recommendations only. In accordance with the task with which it is charged under its Statute, my Office continues to make all efforts to promote the ratification of the convention by signatory States and accession by other States.
10. The entry into force of the Convention constitutes a most important event in the sphere of international action for the protection of refugees. The Convention constitutes the most comprehensive codification of rights of refugees so far embodied in an international instrument. It consolidates the previous international agreements relating to the status of refugees which applied to specific groups of refugees. It provides the legal status of refugees with the safeguards of international law inherent in a multilateral convention, and explicitly recognizes the functions of the international organ entrusted with the protection of refugees to supervise the application of its provisions.
Convention on Declaration of Death of Missing Persons
11. The Convention on Declaration of Death of Missing Persons, to which reference was made in my last report, has since been ratified by Belgium. The International Bureau for the Declaration of Death of Missing Persons, provided for in the convention, continues to function in Geneva with an increased workload.
Recognition and enforcement abroad of maintenance obligations
12. As regards action towards the establishment of an international instrument for the recognition and enforcement abroad of maintenance obligations, which was also mentioned in my last report, and which is of particular interest for refugees, the Economic and Social Council, at its seventeenth session, decided to transmit the report of the Committee of Experts to governments for information and such action as they deem appropriate; to ask States Members whether they considered it desirable to convene a conference of plenipotentiaries to complete the draft of the convention on Recovery Abroad of Claims of Maintenance; and recommended governments to use the text of the Model Convention on the Enforcement Abroad of Maintenance Order, prepared by the Committee of Experts, as a guide for the preparation of bilateral treaties or uniform legislation.
Elimination or reduction of statelessness
13. The action of the International Law Commission on this subject is equally closely followed by my Office. At its 1953 session, the Commission tentatively adopted draft conventions for the elimination or reduction of future statelessness which were sent to governments for comments. The Commission asked its Special Rapporteur to prepare, for its 1954 session, a report on the question of the elimination or reduction of present statelessness, a subject of great importance to refugees.
14. My Office continues to follow all international action for the establishment of international agreements in so far as they concern refugees, with a view to safeguarding their interests in these instruments. In particular, close attention is paid to the work of the Commission on Human Rights, as regards the establishment of binding international agreements on human rights and other action for the observance of human rights and, especially, as regards the question of the right of asylum.
Section 2 Relations with inter-governmental and governmental organizations
15. The General Assembly at its eighth session (resolution 728 (VIII)) took note of the relations which I had established with interested organizations, expressed the hope that appropriate consultations would take place in the drawing up of all programmes of international action designed to improve the situation of refugees within the mandate of my Office, and invited me to give an account of such consultations in my reports.
16. My Office continues its collaboration and consultations with the various specialized agencies and other inter-governmental organizations concerned with different problems affecting refugees.
International Labour Office
17. My Office has benefited greatly from the advice of the Director-General of the International Labour Office on various projects designed to help refugees, which have been financed from the Ford Foundation Grant. It has also worked closely with ILO on the problem of employment opportunities for refugees belonging to the professional categories. A joint paper on the subject was submitted by the United Nations and ILO to the Fourth Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations interested in Migration, which met in Geneva in August 1953 and adopted a number of resolutions designed to serve as a basis for concerted international action to solve the problem.
18. The resolutions mainly emphasized that efforts should be concentrated on placing those refugee professional workers who were already documented, rather than on carrying out new surveys involving costly and elaborate research. Practical action by interested agencies in seeking employment opportunities in a number of under-developed countries which have recently acquired their independence was recommended as the next step in the programme.
19. My Office has also participated in the work of the technical working group on Migration, sponsored jointly by the United Nations and ILO, where questions affecting refugees, such as the admission of foreign workers to residence and employment, migrants in professional categories, and the co-ordination of migration programmes, were discussed.
20. The action taken by ILO and my Office in connexion with the problems of refugee seamen is referred to in chapter II of the present report.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
21. A representative of the Exchange of Persons Programme of UNESCO visited Geneva in November 1953 to carry out a sample analysis of the files of 13,000 refugees belonging to the professional categories taken over by my Office from the International Refugee Organization. The UNESCO representative, whose task was to determine whether any of these refugees could be placed in vacant professional posts recorded by UNESCO, found that a large proportion had already emigrated, some even as labourers, but did succeed, however, in selecting a few experts for such posts as meteorologists and topographers.
22. An understanding was reached between my Office and UNESCO under which the latter would undertake, with the help of the International Universities Bureau to evaluate the academic and professional qualifications of refugees within the mandate of my Office in order to facilitate their eventual placement in special posts.
23. In the field of legal protection, my Office is working with UNESCO in connexion with the reduction of obstacles to the free movement of refugees engaged in educational, scientific or cultural activities.
World Health Organization
24. Particular mention should be made of the participation of the World Health Organization in the international action, referred to in paragraph 17 above, to find employment opportunities for refugees belonging to professional categories. WHO has agreed to assist, through its regional offices in certain countries in the Middle East, in the placement of refugee medical personnel in those countries where their services are most badly needed.
Council of Europe
25. A memorandum on the activities of my Office was submitted to the Committee on Population and Refugees of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe in September 1953. After discussion, the Committee unanimously adopted a resolution in which the Assembly noted, in particular, that, despite the efforts which had been made, the resources available to me did not appear to be commensurate with the many and varied tasks I am called upon to fulfil. The Assembly, therefore, expressed the wish that adequate funds should be placed at my disposal to enable me to continue to carry out the important duties entrusted to me.
26. In December 1953, the Committee of Ministers appointed Mr. Pierre Schneiter as the special representative of the Council of Europe for national refugees and over-population, for a period of one year beginning 1 February 1954. Mr. Schneiter has been entrusted with the task of studying the problems of national refugees and over-population in Europe, in consultation with the governments and international organizations concerned, and of submitting to the committee of Ministers proposals for their solution. I have had an opportunity of exchanging views with Mr. Schneiter on the various problems concerning over-population, national refugees and refugees within the mandate of my office. After a cordial discussion, it was mutually agreed that, with friendly and continuous co-operation, the dangers of overlapping and duplication could be avoided.
27. In my report to the eighth session of the General Assembly, I referred to the action taken by the Council of Europe for the extension of the benefits of certain international agreements in the social field to refugees. This resulted in the establishment of Protocols to the European Interim Agreement on Social Security Schemes relating to Old Age, Invalidity and Survivors, the European Agreement on Social Security other than Schemes for Old Age, Invalidity and Survivors and the European Convention on Social and Medical Assistance, which Protocols provide that refugees resident in the Contracting States shall be assimilated to nationals of the contracting States for the purposes of these Agreements. The Agreements, as well as the Protocols, were signed on 11 December 1953 on behalf of the governments of all members of the Council of Europe and are now open to ratification.
Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration
28. In addition to the joint operation on behalf of the refugees of European origin in China, which is the subject of a later section of the present report, my Office and the Migration Committee have worked together in a number of programmes for refugees, in close collaboration with the voluntary agencies.
29. These include the re-opened "Two-Thousand Scheme" whereby 700 refugees from Austria, Germany and Trieste are to be admitted to the United Kingdom, their processing and transport being undertaken by the Migration Committee.
30. The progress made by the Migration Committee in assisting in the resettlement of refugees in Trieste, including the placement of difficult cases, deserves particular mention and is referred to in detail in chapters III and IV below.
31. In July 1953, a project for the placement in France of 154 refugee farm workers from Greece was successfully completed through the joint efforts of the Migration Committee, the United States Escapee Programme and my Office.
Organization for European Economic Co-operation
32. Among the activities in which OEEC has cooperated with my Office during the past year, particular mention should be made of the action for the liberalization of the movement of man-power within its member States. This action resulted in a decision of the Council of the Organization, governing the employment of nationals of member countries. According to this decision, the authorities of member States shall grant, on application, permits in respect of the employment of suitable workers who are nationals of other member countries, as soon as it is established that suitable labour, national or foreign, forming part of its regular labour force, is not available within the country for the employment in question. As a result of consultations between the Organization and my Office, a provision was embodied in that decision that refugees who, at the time of the first application for their employment, are officially recognized as such in another member country, are to be treated as if they were nationals of that country, provided they have the right to return there.
United States Escapee Programme
33. Close liaison has been maintained with the United States Escapee Programme representative in exchanging information on matters of mutual interest relating to refugees within the mandate of my Office.
34. As concerns a number of problems, namely, provision for emergency assistance, local resettlement within Europe, and resettlement abroad, as well as the wider aspects of the problem of finding ways and means to promote permanent solutions, the co-operation of the Programme and the continuous sharing of information relating to its activities with my Office have been most helpful and encouraging.
Section 3 Relations with private organizations
35. My Office has always attached the very greatest importance to the maintenance of efficient and friendly relations with all interested private organizations working on behalf of refugees. The closest relations have been established between my Office and these agencies, which are operating bodies and therefore indispensable to be implementation of projects aiming at permanent solutions as well as to the alleviation of the situation of the most destitute refugees.
36. In co-operation with a great number of voluntary agencies, forming the Standing Conference of Voluntary Agencies working for refugees and the Conference of Non-Governmental Agencies interested in Migration, many projects, both for the promotion of resettlement opportunities in overseas countries and for the integration of refugees into the life of their present countries of residence, have been drawn up. The Ford Foundation Grant for refugees has enabled me to allocate initial amounts needed for the launching of many such projects which have been carried out by various voluntary agencies. It is interesting to note how the role of the voluntary agencies has changed. While many of them were formerly engaged principally in relief activities, emphasis has now shifted considerably from palliative assistance to the achieving of permanent solutions, owing to the absence of any international organization with operational responsibilities concerned with all the aspects of the refugee problem.
37. As regards direct material relief, the role of the voluntary agencies in the carrying out of the United Nations Emergency Refugee Fund programme of emergency aid to the most needy groups among refugees within the mandate of my Office is as vital as their activities in the field of permanent solutions.
38. Regular consultation and co-operation with the voluntary agencies is not restricted to my Office in Geneva and representatives of the headquarters of the international agencies. In all countries where branch offices are established, similar contacts exist. The following examples may be cited.
39. In Italy, regular meetings of the committee on Foreign Refugees are held, where representatives of all agencies working on behalf of refugees in that country examine the actual problems with my representative. In France, the situation is slightly different, as there is no single body co-ordinating the activities of the numerous voluntary agencies working in the refugee field. My representative, however, maintains constant contact with the various organizations. A similar situation exists in Belgium, where my representative frequently has the opportunity to support the agencies in their endeavours. In the Netherlands, approximately twenty voluntary agencies are engaged in refugee work and a centralization of their activities is now under consideration in close consultation with my sub-office. In the United Kingdom, there are two bodies which co-ordinate refugee work: The British Council for Aid to Refugees and the Standing Conference of British organizations for Aid to Refugees. Both these bodies, consisting of British voluntary societies, are largely complementary and they maintain a joint secretariat. My representative has very close relations with both bodies and attends their meetings. In Germany, in practically all Länder, there are refugee councils consisting of representatives of the land authorities, the voluntary agencies, the refugee groups and my Office. These refugee councils have proved of great benefit in the mutual understanding of the problems affecting refugees in Germany. The international voluntary agencies have formed a Council of Voluntary Agencies, the meetings of which are attended by my representative. In Austria, a considerable number of voluntary agencies, both international and national, meet regularly in a Working group of Voluntary Agencies working for Refugees, at which my representative and the Ministry of the Interior attend as observers. In addition, the international voluntary agencies have formed a Council, at which my Office is also represented as an observer. Finally, regular monthly meetings of the international agencies are held under the chairmanship of my representative to discuss matters of mutual interest. In Greece, where only a limited number of voluntary agencies are working on behalf of refugees, no formal council of voluntary agencies exists, but the closest co-operation between my representative and the voluntary agencies concerned has been established. Special mention should also be made of the close co-operation and valuable assistance which my Office continues to receive from the Swiss Aid to Europe and the Norwegian Refugee Council, both of whom are particularly active on behalf of refugees in most of the above-mentioned countries.
40. Due to the different situations in the various countries and to the varied operations carried out by international and national voluntary agencies on behalf of refugees, it is of the greatest importance that the exact form of consultation and co-operation should be established along the lines most suitable for the territory concerned. In all the above-mentioned countries where large numbers of refugees reside, the planing of projects on behalf of the most destitute refugees, and of projects aiming at permanent solutions, is carried out in mutual consultation.
Section 4 Hong Kong refugee survey
41. At its third session, the Advisory Committee on Refugees considered a report (A/AC.36/25) on the problem of Chinese refugees in Hong Kong to which the attention of my Office had been drawn on several occasions since its inception. After a discussion of the problem, the Advisory Committee recommended that an investigation of the position and of the possibilities for the solution of the problem of the Chinese refugees in Hong Kong should be made by the High Commissioner, in co-operation with the authorities in Hong Kong, from his own budgetary resources or other resources available for this purpose, and asked me to report on this investigation to the members of the Committee as soon as practicable.
42. As no funds were available in the budget of my Office for such a survey, I approached the Ford Foundation in the United States; the Foundation, as will be seen from other sections of the present report, has repeatedly demonstrated its interest in the refugee problem. The Ford Foundation made towards the end of 1953 a grant of $50,000 for this specific purpose, which made it possible for the necessary arrangements for the survey to be carried out.
43. In April 1954, with the agreement of the Government of the United Kingdom, I invited Dr. Edvard Hambro, former Registrar of the International Court of Justice, to lead the survey mission, which started its activities in May. The mission is composed of seven members, including a representative of my Office. It is expected that Dr. Hambro will be able to submit his report to me towards the end of the summer of 1954.
Section 5 Establishment of new branch offices
44. It will be recalled that, in my submission to the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly at its eighth session, provision was made for the establishment of new branch offices in Brazil, Egypt and a sub-office in Southern Germany. The present position regarding these offices is as follows.
45. There are in Egypt a considerable number of pre-war and post-war refugees within the mandate of my Office. The Egyptian Government has shown great interest in the problem; in the course of the year under review, negotiations took place between the Egyptian authorities and my Office, which resulted in the signature in February 1954 of an agreement with the Egyptian Government covering, inter alia, the establishment of a small branch office in Cairo.
46. I have presented the name of a member of the staff of my Office to the Egyptian authorities and, if he is accepted, he will take up his duties as my representative in Egypt.
47. In view of the scope and complexity of the problems facing my branch office in Germany, and the large area to be covered, and especially in view of the number of refugees in Southern Germany who are living in camps or in institutions where they were placed by the International Refugee Organization, it was found necessary to open a sub-office in Southern Germany. In agreement with the Federal Government, a sub-branch office was accordingly opened in Munich in February 1954, staffed by one substantive officer.
RIO DE JANEIRO
48. In view of the magnitude of the geographical area covered by my representative for Latin America, I have consulted with the Government of Brazil concerning the establishment of a branch office in that country, which would permit of a more rational distribution of duties and facilitate greater collaboration with Governments in that area. I have submitted to the Brazilian Government the name of a proposed candidate.
CHAPTER II LEGAL ASPECTS OF INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
49. While the action described in section 1 of chapter I above has been taken mainly on an international level, my Office continues, through its branch offices, to co-operate closely with the Governments of countries of residence of refugees in regard to questions relating to the status of the refugees, and to promote measures for the regularization and improvement of their position. Thanks to the understanding of the authorities of the countries of residence, many steps have been taken by legislative and administrative action to improve the situation of refugees. As it is not possible to report here on all details of this action, certain aspects of which have already been described in my previous reports, only some of the more important developments in the field of the legal status of refugees in individual countries will be mentioned.
Admission, residence and expulsion
50. In Belgium, the arrangement continues to be in force under which the eligibility determination of refugees, both for the purpose of Belgian law and of the Convention, is exercised by my branch office at Brussels. Executive ordinances for the implementation of the law of 28 March 1952 on the aliens' police have been issued; they regulate the establishment and procedure of an Advisory Commission on questions of expulsion, which Commission has to be consulted in cases of expulsion of refugees. These provisions ensure that the branch office is informed of expulsion cases pending before the Commission and is thus enabled to make representations. Furthermore, the sauf-conduit so far issued to persons who entered Belgium clandestinely and claim refugee status, the period of validity of which was sixty days, is, according to these regulations, to be replaced by a certificat d'immatriculation, which is valid until the status of the refugee has been regularized, after his eligibility has been determined by the branch office.
51. In the Netherlands, the question of the amendment of the Aliens Act of 1849 is at present under consideration. It is in particular intended to regulate the procedure for the admission of refugees. Pending this legislation, measures have been taken by the Netherlands authorities to avoid the detention of persons who have entered the country clandestinely and claim refugee status. They are assigned to a special centre pending investigation and are released as soon as their refugee character is established.
52. In France, implementing ordinances under the law of 25 July 1952 for the establishment of the Office of the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons have been issued and the Appeals Commission, of which my representative in France is a member, and which decides on appeals against eligibility determinations made by the Office and advises the Minister of the Interior on expulsion and similar measures against refugees, has been established. A certain difficulty arose from the provisions of the law of 25 July 1952, according to which the eligibility of refugees has to be determined according to the Statute of my Office or the provisions of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. This difficulty has now been solved by an arrangement by which persons who are considered as refugees according to the Statute, but no according to the convention, receive certificates mentioning this fact, which are distinguishable from those entitling the holders to the benefits of the convention. Although the convention had at that time not yet been adopted by France, the law of 25 July 1952 refers to the Convention, many of the provisions of which are already applied in France.
53. In Italy, the procedure according to which the eligibility of refugees is determined by a joint commission consisting of representatives of the Italian Government and of the branch office in Italy, and their residence status consequently regularized, has proved satisfactory. It has caused refugees living out of camps, whose status had not so far been regularized, to apply to the authorities in order to have their status established.
54. In Austria, no special procedure for the admission of refugees and the determination of their status exists. The expulsion of refugees is subject to approval of the Allied Authorities. Consultations take place on the question of refugee status of persons against whom expulsion orders have been issued before Allied approval to the execution of the measure is given.
55. A new law concerning the aliens' police, which replaces the German regulations hitherto in force, has been adopted by parliament. Its effect on refugees has been the subject of consultations with the competent authorities. A special feature of the law is that it abolishes the residence permit which has so far been required for the residence of foreigners in Austria.
56. In Germany, the special procedure of eligibility determination of newly arrived refugees and refugees who have entered Germany since 1 July 1950 is carried out at the Federal Reception Centre near Nürnberg. Between 1 February 1953 and 1 March 1954, 2,687 persons applied for recognition as refugees, 778 were recognized as refugees and 418 rejected. At the end of February 1954, 1,313 cases were pending. A resident representative of my branch office in Germany attends hearings of the recognition boards, advises refugees on the procedure of the boards, and maintains contact with the German and Allied authorities and voluntary agencies assisting refugees at the Reception Centre. In order to expedite the issuance of travel documents to refugees by the police authorities, arrangements have been made according to which applications for travel documents for newly arrived refugees are made immediately on their arrival, while the nature of the travel document issued depends on the subsequent decision of the recognition board. Those recognized as refugees receive the London Travel Document, others receive a German travel document for foreigners. They are then distributed over the Länder in accordance with the ratio laid down in the Asylum Ordinance of 9 January 1953.
57. According to the Asylum Ordinance the refugee status of refugees who have entered Germany since 1 July 1950, and whose residence has been authorized, has equally to be determined by the recognition boards. A procedure has been tentatively adopted whereby this determination is to be made in writing, which would prevent refugees in employment from having to interrupt their work for the purpose of their screening at the Reception Centre.
58. A certain difficulty exists with regard to persons who are bona fide refugees, but cannot be recognized as such by the recognition boards in accordance with the terms of the Asylum Ordinance, as they have not entered Germany directly from a country of persecution. Consultations are taking place with the competent authorities in order to find a solution for the regularization of the position of these persons and their distribution, similar to the procedure adopted for persons recognized as refugees.
59. The establishment of a procedure for the screening of non-German refugees who have entered the Federal territory in Berlin, and their distribution after recognition of refugee status, is the object of consultations between the competent German authorities and my branch office at Bonn.
60. In Germany, the execution of expulsion orders is within the competence of the Länder governments. An expulsion order against refugees often cannot be executed, but the fact that a person is under an expulsion order places him in an irregular position. The Federal authorities have issued a circular requesting the Länder authorities to investigate closely all the circumstances before expulsion orders are made against refugees. As a result of consultations between the competent authorities and my branch office, instructions have been issued in Bavaria according to which expulsion orders against refugees are only to be issued if, in fact, they can be carried out. It particular, conviction for offences is only to be a ground for an expulsion order if the person concerned constitutes, by his conduct, a danger to public order.
Rights of refugees in their countries of residence
61. In Belgium, regulations have been issued for the determination of the refugees who are to be considered as regular residents entitled to the benefits of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. According to these regulations, all refugees who are entered in the register of Aliens are to be entitled to the rights accorded by the Convention, which results in the inclusion of refugees holding only temporary residence permits. In the field of the right to work, the provisions of the convention are applied in Belgium. Recently measures have been taken according to which refugee miners will benefit in the same manner as nationals from the provisions relating to grants and loans for the acquisitions and construction of housing.
62. According to a declaration made by the United Kingdom at the time of ratification of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, refugees who have resided in the United Kingdom for four years will be exempted from the restrictions applicable to aliens as regards wage-earning employment. Refugees who have entered the United Kingdom as visitors on the condition that they would not seek paid employment may be granted permission to work by the Ministry of Labour, in agreement with the Home Office.
63. In Sweden, the State Aliens commission decided in June 1953 that bearers of Swedish aliens' passports, i.e., refugees, are not required to possess work permits.
64. In Austria, further measures have led to an almost complete equalization between Volksdeutsche refugees and Austrian nationals in the field of the right of work.
65. As a result of an agreement concluded between Austria and the German Federal Republic in February 1953, Volksdeutsche refugees who were civil servants in their countries of origin and who, on 8 May 1945, were entitled to pension payments from the German Reich, other German authorities or from the former Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, are to receive pension payments in Austria in accordance with the laws in force for Austrian civil servants, provided they possessed German nationality on 8 May 1945, and had, on 1 December 1952, their residence in Austria. Payments are made on application, retroactively as from 1 January 1953. As a result of a further agreement between Austria and Germany concluded in July 1953, but not yet ratified, social security rights acquired by Volksdeutsche refugees in certain specified countries of origin by the payment of contributions will be recognized in Austria for the purpose of payment of benefits in accordance with Austrian social security legislation.
66. While these arrangements will benefit a great number of the most needy Volksdeutsche refugees in Austria, foreign refugees are not granted similar rights and there still exist difficulties as regards certain groups of Volksdeutsche refugees; thus, for instance, refugees who are war invalids are not entitled to disability payments. Efforts are being made in order to secure them the benefits of Austrian legislation for war victims.
67. By a recent measure, the waive which had to be signed by applicants for naturalization, according to which they would not, after their naturalization, be entitled to claim financial benefits to which they had not been entitled prior to their naturalization, has been abolished. A bill is under consideration according to which Volksdeutsche refugees would be entitled to acquire Austrian nationality by a simple declaration (option).
68. In Germany, refugees who had their residence in Germany prior to 30 June 1950 benefit from the provisions of the Law concerning the Status of Homeless Foreigners of 25 April 1951, which are in part more favourable than those of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, while to other refugees the provisions of the Convention apply. Arrangements have been made according to which refugees will continue to be granted special benefits in the field of taxation. Under a special law of 7 August 1953 refugees are granted, on certain conditions, the benefits accruing from social insurance contributions made in their countries of origin. According to a law of 3 August 1953, war victims resident abroad who were prejudiced in their rights to benefit by Nazi persecution became entitled to the benefits provided for war victims by the Federal War Victims' Law of 20 December 1950
69. In Turkey refugees, like other foreigners, are excluded from work in a number of industries. Legislation is under consideration by which refugees would be assimilated to nationals and be exempted from these restrictions as to their right to work.
Legal assistance and individual cases
70. The number of individual refugees who apply to my Office and to the branch offices has continually increased since its inception. In accordance with the provisions of the Statute that the work of my Office shall relate, as a rule, to groups and categories of refugees, such cases are, as far as possible, referred to voluntary agencies or other organizations under arrangements made with those agencies. The aim of my Office is to ensure that every refugee applicant has his particular problems dealt with promptly and satisfactorily, but direct action is not usually taken by my Office nor by the branch offices unless general problems of protection are involved. Nevertheless, refugees who apply in person receive, whenever possible and within staff and budgetary limitations, advice on legal and other problems. Every effort is made to ensure under arrangements with voluntary agencies that every indigent refugee can receive free legal advice and assistance from specially qualified persons. For the co-ordination of these efforts regular meetings take place with the voluntary agencies concerned and their legal advisers.
71. A handbook for refugees, similar to the handbook issued in Germany, has been issued in Austria in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior, and contains information on the legal position of refugees and guidance as to the authorities and organizations to whom they may apply for assistance. In Germany and Austria an information bulletin containing current information of importance to refugees is issued by the branch office and is given the widest possible distribution.
72. In accordance with a recommendation made by several delegates during the third session of the Advisory Committee on Refugees and a recommendation adopted by the Special Liaison Committee of the Council of Europe that the travel document to be issued under the convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951 should be as uniform as possible, a specimen copy of the travel document has been prepared by my Office and sent to the Governments signatories to the Convention, with the suggestion that the document to be issued should be in conformity with that specimen. Several Governments have reacted favourably to this suggestion and are preparing the issuance of this standardized travel document.
73. Under arrangements made in Italy, all refugees are to receive the Convention Travel Document which is already being issued in Italy in anticipation of the ratification of the Convention.
74. The London Travel Document continues to be issued by the other seventeen countries mentioned in my last report2 It is almost generally recognized de jure or de facto for the issuance of visas.
75. In Germany, all refugees receive from the local authorities, pending the issuance of the Convention Travel Document, the London Travel Document, which serves in this way also as an identity document giving evidence of the refugee status of the holder. Arrangements have been made for the issuance of the London Travel Document to refugees in Germany who are employed in auxiliary units of the Allied Forces and for the issuance of travel documents to refugees who hold passports of Baltic States which are recognized by the German authorities.
76. The Austrian Government has, by a decision of the Allied Council, been authorized to issue travel documents to foreigners. This has made it possible to issue to refugees the Austrian aliens' passport. An amendment of the Passport Law of 1951 has been enacted and the exit permit hitherto required for departure from Austria has been abolished. Detailed regulations as to the period of validity of the aliens' passport issued to refugees, its validity for repeated journeys, the issuance of the return visa and the reduction of costs, are the subject of consultations between my branch office in Austria and the competent Austrian authorities.
77. In Turkey, a law for the issuance of travel documents to refugees is under consideration.
78. In Colombia where, as in certain other Latin-American countries, no possibility for the issuance of travel documents to non-nationals hitherto existed, regulations have been issued which allow for the issuance of a special travel document to resident refugees and stateless persons. My representative in Latin America is making efforts in order that refugees resident in countries in these areas who wish to travel should be issued with an internationally recognized travel document or, in its absence, with a travel document issued under national regulations and enabling the holder to return to the issuing country.
79. In Hong Kong, refugees admitted to the Colony in transit from China are, as far as possible, issued with the London travel Document by the Hong Kong authorities. In the case of those who cannot obtain a London Travel Document, the certificate of travel issued hitherto in the name of the International refugee organization has, owing to the liquidation of that organization, been replaced by a certificate issued in the name of my Office.
80. In the course of the gradual relaxation of travel restrictions and due to the initiative taken by the Council of Europe and the Organization for European Economic Co-operation, the requirement of visas for nationals of member countries for travel to other member countries has largely been abolished. Visas are still required from refugees and the procedure for the issuance of such visas, even for temporary travel, is sometimes difficult and time-consuming owing to the requirement of reference of the application to the central authorities of the country of transit or destination. Thanks to the understanding of the Governments, certain relaxations of the relevant regulations have been conceded. It is hoped that the wide adoption of the Convention Travel Document will further facilitate the movement of refugees, and efforts are being made, in close consultation with governments and in collaboration with interested inter-governmental organizations, to secure further facilities for the issuance of visas to refugees for temporary travel and for their movement from country to country.
Indemnification of victims of nazi persecution
81. In Germany, consultations took place with the competent German and allied authorities on the Federal Supplementary Law of 8 September 1953 for the Indemnification of Victims of Nazi Persecution. As a result of these consultations, it has been possible to secure the improvement of certain provisions of special interest to refugees in the drafting stage. The law, which entered into force on 1 October 1953, will enable many refugees who have suffered injury or damage by nazi action, to obtain compensation to which they were not entitled under the existing legislation of the German Länder. According to the Federal law, certain residence conditions are required for the entitlement to compensation, but under special provisions refugees are entitled to compensation for certain types of damages even in the absence of these requirements. In particular, refugees who were persecuted in contempt of human rights by reason of their nationality may obtain compensation for physical injury and injury to health if permanent injury to health has resulted. The compensation provided for is, however, still not considered as adequate and efforts are being made for an improvement by amending legislation.
82. The situation of refugee seamen, who often have no regular country of residence, and/or no valid travel documents, frequently presents particular difficulties. This problem already formed the subject of consultations between the International Refugee Organization and the International Labour Office, which led to the adoption of a resolution by the Joint Maritime Commission of ILO. A provision to give sympathetic consideration to the establishment of refugee seamen on the territory of the Contracting States, the issue of travel documents to them, or their temporary admission to the territory of these States, particularly with a view to facilitating their establishment in another country, was embodied in the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (article 11).
83. The number of refugee seamen who apply to my Office and to the branch offices for assistance in the solution of their difficulties is considerable. The Netherlands authorities kindly agreed, at the initiative of my deputy representative in the Netherlands, to make an inquiry into the position of refugee seamen serving on ships calling at Dutch ports. In the course of this inquiry, 400 cases were investigated and it appeared that approximately 25 per cent of the refugee seamen did not possess any travel document and that the position of another 25 per cent had to be considered as precarious.
84. This situation prompted me to address a memorandum on the subject to the Director-General of ILO and to suggest that the question be placed on the agenda of the Governing body of the Organization. The Director-General acceded to this request and the Governing body adopted a resolution authorizing him to request the Governments of members of ILO to inform him concerning any action taken with a view to the implementation of the earlier resolution of the Joint Maritime Commission on the subject and any suggestions they might wish to offer concerning possible solutions to the problem. The Director-General was also requested to submit the replies and any other pertinent information to the next session of the Joint Maritime Commission.
85. It seems necessary that agreement should be reached on the conditions under which such refugees would be entitled to obtain travel documents and be allowed to land at ports of call of their ships. The acceptance of refugee seamen who have no country of lawful residence by individual countries by the granting of a right of residence would appear to be the most desirable solution. Thanks to the co-operation of Governments, it has been possible to resolve the difficulties of a number of individual refugees belonging to this category, and my branch offices are continuing to consult with the competent government departments and interested organizations with a view to suggesting general solutions of the difficulties which this problem presents.
CHAPTER III GROUPS OF REFUGEES IN SPECIAL NEED
86. At its eighth session, the General Assembly adopted resolution 728 (VIII) in which it noted with concern the precarious situation of certain groups of refugees, in particular those in need of emergency aid, the considerable number living in camps, and those requiring special care for whom no satisfactory arrangements had yet been made; and invited me to pay special attention to them in my report to the General Assembly at its ninth session. In Section 4 of the present chapter, I propose to give a detailed estimate of the needs of the refugees requiring emergency aid. I shall, therefore, first describe the situation of the refugees in the camps and then that of the refugees requiring special care for whom no satisfactory arrangements have yet been made, generally known as the difficult cases.
Section 1 Camps
87. According to official statistics, the number of refugees within the mandate of my Office who are living in camps administered or supervised by governmental authorities totals 87,677 as of 1 January 1954. The figures for the second half of 1952 and for 1953 show that there has been some reduction during the past year and a half, particularly in Austria and Germany:
|1 July 1952||1 July 1953||1 July 1953||1 January 1954|
There are, furthermore, several thousand additional refugees who are living in unofficial camps for which the indigenous authorities accept no direct responsibility.
88. While living conditions in the camps vary considerably from country to country and even from camp to camp, the atmosphere of depression is common to most of them. In most of the countries of residence, the camps in which refugees are housed are open camps and refugees residing in them enjoy complete liberty of movement. While it is appreciated that newly arrived refugees must undergo some security screening, nevertheless once this screening has taken place there would appear to be no adequate reason why the liberty movement of genuine refugees should be restricted. To my knowledge, there are at the present time only three camps in which genuine refugees who have committee no criminal offence are lodged and from which they do not enjoy complete liberty of movement.
89. In the open camps in Germany, Austria, Italy and Greece, many families have been living for eight or nine years and their young children know no other home. The time spent in the clusters of huts or barracks is more than a terrible waste of precious years of life; anxiety about the future and the feeling of isolation as social and economic outcasts sap morale and health; skills depreciate, and initiatives needed to build up a new life sink into the stagnation of mere existence, however uncomfortable, for which neither work nor initiative is required. Some refugees, particularly among the older generation, because they have lost all their previous possessions and have no longer the courage even to hope, become exaggeratedly attached to their room in the camp; they live in the present, afraid to think of a future.
90. In countries where the economic situation precludes refugees from finding or accepting work, or in camps located in isolated areas far from employment centres, the fit and willing workers and their families are compelled to subsist in degenerating idleness. These unfortunate people must endure the hardships of camp life, crowded accommodation, forced community life, lack of privacy, group and personal rivalries, until some measures are taken to give them an opportunity to start a new life, including assistance to them during the first period as members of a normal community.
91. In my opinion, it would be possible to achieve a certain further reduction in the camp population if, in the countries concerned, a serious effort were made to concentrate in particular camps all those refugees who might be considered to have opportunities for resettlement. Such an action would also facilitate the promotion of the integration of the remaining refugees.
92. As at 1 January 1954, 42,411 refugees were living in the seventy-nine Federal camps in Austria. The average stay of the refugees in these is in the neighbourhood of seven or eight years. Most refugees were directed to these camps immediately upon their arrival in Austria. The camps were built for military purposes during the Second World War and they were never designed to accommodate families for an indefinite period. Despite the large sums which the government regularly spends on repairs, the state of a large number of the camps is unsatisfactory. Living space is severely limited, with a minimum of six square metres per person, and sanitation is often rudimentary.
93. Unemployment is exceedingly high among the camp population. Whereas on 1 January 1954 about 12 per cent of Austria's working population were unemployed, the equivalent figure for refugees was 31 per cent and, excluding the Volksdeutsche, it was as high as 61 per cent. On the same date, approximately 25 per cent of the camp population were receiving public assistance, compared with 1.6 per cent amongst Austrian nationals.
94. According to official statistics, the number of refugees within the mandate of my Office living in camps in the Federal Republic of Germany as at 1 January 1954 was 35,296. These refugees were accommodated in 100 camps under the jurisdiction of the Länder governments. Almost all these refugee camps have been in existence since the end of the war. Living conditions vary considerably and sometimes leave much to be desired. In most camps the general atmosphere is depressing, although there are often signs of attempts to brighten otherwise dreary rooms.
95. Of the total camp population in Germany, little more than 4,000 refugees, or 12 per cent of the camp population, are employed. The employment situation depends to a great extent on the location of the camps, many of which are situated in areas with few employment possibilities. Official German statistics show that there are 9,836 children of refugees, up to and including the age of fourteen years, who are living in camps. According to a recent survey, there are among the camp population several thousand refugees who can be considered, for reasons of age or health, as difficult cases requiring special care. About 5,000 of these are reported to have been affected by tuberculosis.
96. Approximately 4,000 refugees are living in six camps in Italy, four of which are administered by the Amministrazione Aiuti Internazionali (AAI) and two of which are administered by the Ministry of the Interior. In the AAI camps which, in addition to housing some 3,000 refugees within the mandate of my Office, also house approximately 1,000 Venezia-Giulians who have opted for Italian nationality, conditions are generally above average. The camps are well administered and the buildings are clean and dry. Many families have been in these camps, which were originally administered by the International Refugee Organization, for over nine years. The difficult cases and their dependents would probably exceed 25 per cent of the total camp population.
97. Because of the problems of unemployment and over-population, the Italian government has not yet seen its way to accord to refugees the right to work. This is the main reason why, notwithstanding satisfactory material conditions, morale is generally low in the refugee camps and there is no longer any general desire on the part of the camp population to work or to fend for themselves. The facts that only very few families are able to leave each year from the AAI camp for overseas resettlement has had a further depressing influence on the inmates. There is little doubt that, if the opportunities for the migration of these refugees are to be promoted, greater attention must be paid by the Italian authorities who are concerned with migration to ensure that refugees enjoy the same opportunities as Italian nationals in this field.
98. Attention has been drawn in previous reports to the situation in the collecting centres, in which newly arrived refugees are housed. Efforts have been made to improve the conditions in these centres and, in one of them, a special section has been created in which refugees who have been cleared from the security point of view enjoy complete liberty of movement. However, in view of the fact that the camp is situated in an isolated position, there are few opportunities for creative employment or recreation on behalf of the inmates who, under existing arrangements, are forced to wait until the numbers in the AAI camps are reduced to a point at which the Italian authorities will agree to their transfer.
99. Generally speaking, it would seem that the over-all solution to the camp problem in Italy depends, to a great extent, on the readiness of the Italian authorities to concentrate in one or two camps those refugees who have some prospects of overseas resettlement and to concentrate in another camp those refugees for whom no overseas resettlement opportunities are likely to be available and for whom the Italian Government is not yet willing to grant the right to work.
100. During 1954, the size of the camp population has been considerably reduced, having remained static during the last three years with approximately 4,000 refugees. Although the camp population was still 3,599 as at 1 January 1954, it has now been reduced to less than 3,000. The favourable development in this situation has largely been due to the efforts made by Australia and Brazil in receiving refugee migrants, and Switzerland, France and Belgium in receiving difficult cases.
101. Apart from some 1,400 refugees living outside camps, the refugee population in Trieste is concentrated in two main areas: one outside the town, which includes the former tuberculosis sanatorium now partly used for its original purpose since the Swiss Government's generous gesture in accepting in sanatoria approximately 110 active tuberculosis cases. Close to this sanatorium, there is a new camp with a population of 520 refugees, who are mostly post-tuberculosis patients, with their dependants. Apart from this, there are some 2,350 refugees housed in the San Sabba camp, where conditions both as regards food and accommodation may be considered as satisfactory.
102. The funds granted to the Allied Military Government from the residual IRO funds, and the million-dollar fund administered by the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, together with the generosity of a small number of countries, have greatly assisted in reducing the number of difficult cases in Trieste. But there are a certain number of difficult cases still in the camps, including 166 post-tuberculosis cases and 149 other cases with a medical history.
103. In Greece, where the Government has many serious problems including the guerrilla war and the earthquakes, some 2,471 refugees are living in camps or centres. Food is provided by the Government only in the camps administered by the Ministry of Welfare in the islands of Syros and Tinos and in the aliens' camp administered by the Ministry of the Interior. The latter camps have recently been improved under the United States Escapee Programme.
104. In the camps administered by the Ministry of Welfare, the Government gives a daily allowance of 5,000 drachmas, which corresponds to 17 cents (US), for the maintenance of each refugee. From this sum, deductions are made for the provision of light and heating. Under this régime, the refugee receives on an average a bowl of soup, a plate of potatoes and a small ration of bread and "halva" each day. This meagre diet is now being supplemented from UNREF funds in an attempt to improve the ration so that refugees may be provided with an additional breakfast and with meat at least once or twice a week. The general state of health of the refugees in these camps is low because of under-nourishment, the children particularly being exposed to the danger of tuberculosis.
105. In the Athens-Piraeus area, there are some eleven refugee centres which house approximately 1,300 refugees. These centres, in which no food is provided for refugees, consist of crowded decaying buildings, in some cases with rooms crudely partitioned with blankets and pieces of cardboard to provide a vestige of privacy. In these cramped compartments entire families live, sleep, eat, cook and wash clothing. In one centre in Athens, with 220 residents and often a number of persons in transit, there are ten primitive open toilets, plus three showers and eight sinks. Cooking has to be done in the cubicles on small open coal burners; a smell of drying clothes, smoke and toilets pervades everything. Another centre housing 370 people has only fourteen toilets and no baths or showers; a third camp, in a dilapidated former luxury villa, has 150 occupants but only one toilet. Although the house is in a very sad state of decay and the rooms and walls are falling down, all attempts to find more suitable accommodation have failed.
106. Nearly all of the 2,471 refugees living in camps in Greece are unemployed except for casual labour. Although there is a considerable number of old people in the camps and centres, a census taken in 1953 confirms that there are many potential emigrants to be found among the camp population. I am fully aware of the very serious difficulties which the Greek Government has been called upon to face in respect of the refugee problem, and of the efforts which it is making to deal with it. My Office has made some small contributions towards relieving some of the most difficult situations and hopes that it will be possible to do more in the near future. If any real progress is to be made in the overseas resettlement of part of the refugee camp population, it is my opinion that all those refugees who would appear to have a prima facie opportunity for overseas resettlement should be separated in one well-administered camp. Such a sorting out of the camp population might permit more adequate arrangements to be made for the many hundreds of persons who are living in conditions bordering on starvation in the camps and centres.
107. Since the inception of my Office, I have been deeply concerned with the tragic situation, described in the foregoing paragraphs, of the refugees still lingering in the camps. Nine years after the end of the war, the more than 87,000 refugees within the mandate of my Office still living in camps have undoubtedly a sense of being "forgotten people".
108. With the disappearance of the International Refugee Organization and the logistical support provided by that organization and the Occupying Powers in Central Europe, many of the voluntary agencies who previously worked directly for refugees have been forced to withdraw their field personnel. The remaining agencies are still doing valuable work in the field of resettlement and social assimilation, but they have not the funds at their disposal to meet all the emergency needs of the camp population.
109. Through the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund, my Office has been able to finance a few projects designed to bring emergency aid to some of the most needy refugees in the camps, but the expenses of the operation on behalf of refugees in China have prevented the realization of many urgently needed projects designed to alleviate some of the most pressing needs of the camp population.
110. For this reason, I decided that my Office should promote, in as many countries as possible, a scheme whereby communities and voluntary agencies not yet working on behalf of refugees should be invited to take a direct interest in the most needy camps and to assist their inmates in every practicable way. It is my hope that, through this scheme, not only will moral support be given to the refugees in the camps but also that, in some cases, some of the most urgent material needs of the refugees in the camps may be met.
111. In order to facilitate the working of the scheme, my Office, in collaboration with the voluntary agencies already working on behalf of refugees, has prepared summaries of information on some forty camps in Austria, Germany and Greece. The summaries have been distributed to interested organizations in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Switzerland. In the United Kingdom, the Standing conference of British Organizations for Aid to Refugees has undertaken to promote the scheme and has already succeeded in interesting six organizations in specific camps. In the Netherlands, it is expected that, in the near future, a small number of camps will be adopted by the interested organizations. In Switzerland, one organization has already started to work on behalf of a camp in Athens and another refugee centre has been adopted by the International School in Geneva. In Denmark, the suggestion has been made that the camp adoption scheme might be linked with the UNESCO coupon plan, and an attempt has been made to find a project which would be suitable for adoption by the Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke (International Co-operation).
Section 2 Difficult cases
112. The number of difficult cases among the refugees who are the concern of my Office and for whom no placement opportunities have been found has steadily increased. The reason for this is, firstly, that the number of refugees has been increased by new arrivals and, secondly, that within the mandate of my Office are included the Volksdeutsche in Austria, who were not within the mandate of IRO. Furthermore, at the end of the IRO operations, there were a certain number of cases requiring special care which were not placed in institutions by IRO. Many of these cases have now reached a stage where, because of their physical condition or age, they can no longer fend for themselves.
Difficult cases in China
113. The area where there has been the largest increase of difficult cases since the closure of IRO is China, where the number at the beginning of 1953 was put at approximately 670 persons (including 200 dependents) out of the total of approximately 15,000 refugees within the competence of the High Commissioner. Some 200 Jewish cases for whom no accommodation is at present available in institutions in Israel were subsequently brought to the attention of my Office. A reduction in the number of difficult cases resulting from a certain number of deaths was offset by the addition of a number of refugees whose physical condition had deteriorated through old age or ill health. There remain, therefore, some 500 persons to be placed. It is feared, however, that this figure may be increased by a few hundred more cases who are at present assisted by voluntary agencies and may require permanent care in institutions.
Difficult cases in other areas
114. The problem of difficult cases, although most serious in China, is by no means restricted to that area. According to the preliminary results of a survey on the situation of refugees in Austria, there are at present in that country over 1,500 cases who need to be placed in institutions. The majority of these are Volksdeutsche refugees. It is estimated that more than one-third of the refugees within the total of approximately 1,500 suffer from tuberculosis.
115. Surveys of the numbers and conditions of institutional cases in Germany, Greece, Italy, Trieste, Iran, Ethiopia and various areas in the Near East were also begun in the course of 1953, with the assistance of governmental authorities, voluntary agencies and UNHCR representatives. Preliminary information received to date (some of which is as yet incomplete), shows that there are in those countries and areas no less than 10,720 identifiable difficult cases within the mandate of my Office who require special care.
116. Nearly half of the cases in these areas are tuberculosis cases: 68 per cent being men and 32 per cent women. The next largest group (11 per cent) consists of people affected by chronic diseases (other than tuberculosis, mental diseases or paralysis), while 9 per cent of the total consists of aged people (over sixty-five years) the proportion of men and women amongst them being equal.
117. To sum up, there are, according to the information obtained to date, at least 13, 000 difficult cases in China, Austria, Germany and various areas in Southern Europe and the Near East who require special care.
Action taken by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
118. In concluding agreements with institutions and voluntary agencies for the permanent care of institutional cases in Germany and Austria, IRO assumed the responsibility of supervising the implementation of these agreements. Following the closure of IRO, this responsibility was in most cases transferred to my Office which, through its representatives in these two countries, is trying to ensure that the refugees concerned receive an adequate standard of care and, at the same time, is promoting the placement of new cases.
119. There are other areas, however, where the problem of difficult cases can only be solved by their placement in other countries. I have particularly in mind the problem of difficult cases in China, towards the solution of which my Office was first led to direct its efforts. Since the beginning of 1953, personal approaches were made to ten Governments in order to find placement opportunities for the refugees concerned. At the time of writing of the present report, 305 persons have been accepted for placement by the following Governments: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland3 the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain,3 Sweden and Switzerland. Up to 15 April, eighty-five cases had left Shanghai for their final destination and it is expected that another fifty-two will be moved by 15 May 1954.
120. The group thus placed includes forty dependents. The 265 institutional cases include 105 old people (sixty-five years and over) the majority of whom were accepted by Belgium, France and Switzerland, twenty-six tuberculosis patients who were accepted by the Netherlands and Sweden, thirteen mental cases accepted by Denmark and the Netherlands, thirty-five cases affected by other disabilities and eighty-six cases who are still to be selected.
121. The refugees concerned are usually placed in governmental institutions or in homes administered by a voluntary agency, while my Office remains in touch with the homes and institutions concerned. Wherever possible my Office aims at placing the refugees in congenial surroundings, e.g., among their own fellow-countrymen or among persons of the same religious denomination.
122. Where necessary, my Office contributes initial installation grants to facilitate the placement of the refugees concerned. In most cases a sum varying between $300 and $500 per capita is granted for each institutional case, with the proviso that he will be looked after in an institution as long as necessary. Taking into account the generosity of some Governments which have assumed the whole financial responsibility for the refugees concerned, the average per capita sum required for the placement of the 305 cases who have been accepted to date is approximately $350, which will be financed out of the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund.
123. Several other countries have indirectly contributed to the resettlement of difficult cases by allowing refugee immigrants to bring with them dependents falling within the category of difficult cases. Furthermore, it is expected that sixty to eighty difficult cases in Trieste will be accepted for placement in Belgium.
Action taken by the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration
124. In addition to the action taken by my office, mention should be made of the contribution made by the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration towards the placement of difficult cases from Trieste. With the help of a special fund equivalent to $1,000,000 made available to it, the Committee, assisted by voluntary agencies, was able to find placement opportunities for some 700 difficult cases from this area as at 1 April 1954 (including a certain proportion of institutional cases).
125. In view of the tragic plight of refugees from China, my Office will in the first instance have to ensure the solution of the problem of difficult cases in that area by placing these cases in other countries which are willing to accept them. However, as openings in existing installations are limited, it becomes more and more necessary to set up new homes and the average per capita cost for placements in the future should be set at at least $500. The solution of the problem of the 500 institutional cases remaining at present in Shanghai may therefore be expected to cost approximately $250,000.
126. In other countries where it may be possible for difficult cases to be accepted in local homes or institutions, my Office will intensify its efforts. It is unlikely, however, that the total of identifiable difficult cases recorded to date can all be placed in their countries of residence, and it is anticipated that additional funds may be required in the future for the placement of a certain number of these cases.
Section 3 Refugees of European origin in China
127. It is estimated that there are still over 14,000 refugees of European origin in China. New cases, needing help in resettlement and material assistance, are constantly being brought to the attention of the joint special representative of the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration and of my Office, in Hong Kong, so that, in spite of the considerable number of persons resettled from China, there is still a very difficult refugee problem to be solved in this area.
128. During the period from 1 April 1953 to 31 March 1954, a total of 3,315 refugees of European origin were resettled from China, mainly to Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Israel and Turkey. This figure is approximately three times as great as the number of refugees resettled during the previous year.
129. The movement of the refugees is the financial responsibility of the Migration Committee. At its sixth session in October 1953, the Committee reviewed its financial position in respect of the movement of refugees in the Far East, as its funds available for this purpose were only sufficient until the end of 1953, and the Director was authorized to utilize up to $900,000 of the Committee's own funds for movements of refugees from China pending the result of appeals to Governments for further financial support. This amount has enabled movements from China to be continued up to date, but it is not possible to say how much longer the Committee will be able to continue such movements with the funds at present available.
130. In view of the vastness of the area in which the refugees of European origin are situated in China, and the difficulty in obtaining exact information about them, it is not possible to state accurately how many can be resettled, but it is estimated that the total number of these refugees in China who would qualify for resettlement is approximately 12,000.
131. My Office has appealed to all Governments of goodwill to grant entry visas to as many as possible of these refugees. As most countries of immigration do not maintain consular offices in China, processing for resettlement has to be carried out in Hong Kong, which is already overcrowded. As the refugees have to be maintained at the expense of the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund, it is important for my Office that the time necessary for processing should be kept to a minimum. The Governments of certain countries other than those of immigration have helped the movement of refugees from China by granting a limited number of entry visas, to be used only in the event of the holders being unable to obtain admission to another country of resettlement; this enables the holders of such visas to be admitted to Hong Kong for emigration formalities.
132. Those refugees of European origin in china who are without means are entirely dependent for their subsistence on the Refugee Emergency Fund. Between 1 April 1953 and 31 March 1954, the number of refugees receiving financial aid decreased from 1,948 to 967, owing to the increased rate of resettlement during 1953. Constant new emergency cases, however, are being brought to the attention of the joint special representative.
133. A sum of $235,000 allocated to my Office by IRO at its final session for the emergency assistance of the European refugees in China, was exhausted by 1 March 1952. Since that date, my Office has financed out of the Refugee Emergency Fund, at an average monthly cost of some $34,000, the maintenance of the destitute refugees of European origin in China and the upkeep in Hong Kong of those refugees who have been admitted pending resettlement. The delays in processing in Hong Kong for resettlement have made this latter charge very heavy; the charge may increase considerably if the processing of refugees under the United States Refugee Relief Act of 1953 has to be carried out in Hong Kong.
134. The limited funds available in the Refugee Emergency Fund have prevented me from devoting to medical assistance in China the sum which I estimated would be necessary in my report of last year to the General Assembly. The need for increased medical assistance is, however, growing all the time with the deterioration of the health standards of this group of refugees.
135. The refugees in China receiving emergency assistance from the Fund include a number of difficult cases, aged, tubercular, blind, chronically sick or disabled persons and their dependents, for whom my Office is seeking placement opportunities.
Cost of the share of operation of the High Commissioner's Office
136. Up to the end of March 1954, an amount of $733,787 had been spent out of the Refugee Emergency Fund on the maintenance of refugees of European origin in China and Hong Kong. It is estimated that, for the remainder of 1954, the following sums will be needed monthly:
|Maintenance of approximately 1,000 refugees in China, (cases leaving for resettlement offset by new cases requiring maintenance)||22,000|
|Maintenance in Hong Kong of refugees in transit whose resettlement is being arranged by the Inter-governmental Committee for European Migration, averaging 500/600 at any one time||12,500|
Section 4 United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund
137. A statement is given at the end of the present section (see paragraphs 159-161) showing the financial position of the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund as at 31 March 1954, from which it will be seen that a total of $1,294,086 had been contributed at that date. The major part of the contributions received was spent on material assistance to destitute refugees of European origin in china ($758,787), including their maintenance while in transit in Hong Kong and en route for overseas destinations, and allocated to the placement in institutions in Europe of the "difficult cases" among them ($108,000).
138. Since the above statement was drawn up, the Netherlands Government has announced its intention of making a special donation of $200,000 to the Refugee Emergency Fund. This special donation from the Netherlands is in addition to the two previous contributions of that country to the Fund, and is intended to assist in the placement of some of the more than 10,000 difficult cases in Europe, within the mandate of my Office, who are in need of special care.
139. In addition emergency aid programmes have been implemented in the following countries: Austria, mainly for medical aid, particularly in tuberculosis cases, and for emergency assistance to newly arrived cases and the most destitute groups; Germany, towards maintaining a hospital for sick refugee children and assisting destitute refugee students and other needy refugees; France, with a reserved contribution, for the provision of loans, on a revolving loan basis, to assist the most destitute categories of refugees to become self-supporting; Greece, mainly for the provision of supplementary feeding for the most needy refugees and for hospitalization and medical care; Italy, for emergency relief to the most destitute, for provision of medical aid to refugees outside camps and the supply of milk to specially needy refugee women and children; Trieste, for improvements to a tuberculosis sanatorium for refugees, and supplementary nutrition for tubercular and post-tubercular refugees; Turkey, to assist refugees in a farm project which will give housing and employment to a number of them, and Iran, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria for emergency winter help. In all cases, except Trieste where the funds were expended by the Allied Military Government, the programmes have been carried out and the funds disbursed by the various voluntary agencies operating in the countries concerned.
Present situation of the fund
140. In spite of the response of many Governments to my appeal for funds, to which seventeen governments and some private sources have made most generous contributions, the objectives for which the Refugee Emergency Fund was authorized by the General Assembly have unfortunately not yet been attained.
141. In nearly all the areas described, the need for emergency aid continues, and in certain countries new emergencies have arisen, but all available funds will be exhausted, if no further contributions are received, when provision has been made to continue emergency aid to refugees of European origin in China until the end of August 1954.
142. With the above consideration in mind, I submitted the question of the Fund to the fourth session of the Advisory Committee on Refugees which met in March 1954. In the document (A/AC. 36/31 and Add.1) which I presented to that Committee, I made an estimate of the most immediate needs which could only be met out of the Fund. These involved a minimum expenditure of approximately $1 million during 1954.
Estimate of needs for 1954
143. In China, approximately 1,000 refugees are entirely dependent on the Fund for their maintenance, while a further 500/600 refugees are maintained in Hong Kong pending their resettlement. The cost of the maintenance of the refugees in Shanghai is approximately $22,000 a month, and the cost of the maintenance in Hong Kong is approximately $12,500 a month. The total cost of the operation to the Fund for 1954 is estimated at $414,000 of which $138,000 had been expended at the end of April. A further amount of $280,000 is estimated to be necessary for the placement of the institutional cases among the European refugees in China. Placement opportunities for a number of these have already been found.
144. In addition, most serious emergency needs exist in the following countries:
145. There are some 215,000 refugees in Austria within the mandate of my Office. Although the Austrian authorities have basic responsibility for their maintenance, this maintenance is, owing to the economic situation of the country, at a minimum. There is a great need of extra emergency aid for the refugees, in order to provide something more than a bare existence. In addition to the assistance provided by the voluntary agencies and the United States Escapee Programme, it is estimated that, in 1954, approximately $130,000 will be required to provide for extra medical care, children's programmes, difficult cases in and out of institutions, supplementary feeding (especially for new Yugoslav refugees) and emergency aid amongst the most needy groups of refugees.
146. There are approximately 15,000 refugees within the mandate of my Office in Greece. A very large proportion are unemployed and, in spite of the efforts made by the Greek Government, it has only been possible to supply food and shelter in camps to a limited number of the refugees on a very modest basis. It is estimated that a sum of at least $110,000 would be required during 1954 to provide the minimum necessary supplementary feeding, medical assistance and hospitalization.
147. The number of refugees living out of camp in Italy is estimated at between 35,000 and 40,000. During 1953, a sum of $25,000 was allocated from the Refugee Emergency Fund for relief in the most needy cases, in the form of cash allowances to the most destitute families, medical care including hospital treatment, dental treatment, and small grants in exceptional cases in order to facilitate emigration or obtaining of employment; $15,000 of the allocation was expended through the National Catholic Welfare Conference, and $10,000 by the American Council of Voluntary Agencies which, in collaboration with the Italian Red Cross Society, set up a programme of medical assistance which has proved invaluable.
148. A similar allocation of $25,000 minimum would be indispensable to enable this programme to be continued during 1954, so as to give relief in the most urgent cases.
149. In addition, a sum of $5,000 is necessary for the purchase of clothing for specially needy cases among the destitute refugees, and a further sum of $10,000 for the emergency needs of newly arrived refugees from Yugoslavia.
150. The essential needs of the refugees in camps in Trieste are assured by the Allied Military Government, from funds provided by the Italian Government. The most important requirement which is not adequately supplied, however, is clothing, and a sum of $10,000 would be necessary for the provision of additional clothing to the most needy among the 4,286 refugees in Trieste.
151. Of the approximately 2,200 refugees within the mandate of my Office in Turkey, there are some 450 cases badly in need of special relief. It is estimated that a sum of $50,000 would provide supplementary food, clothing, medical and hospital assistance for this group for 1954.
152. Certain groups among the refugees within my competence in Egypt do not benefit from the governmental social services and are, therefore, in dire need of emergency assistance. This applies especially to the group of ageing White Russian refugees. It is estimated that, in 1954, in order to provide medical assistance, supplementary feeding and, in particular, special aid to the more aged refugees, a sum of approximately $45,000 will be required.
153. In Iran, as in Turkey, the main solution for the problem of the approximately 2,000 refugees within the competence of my Office is resettlement overseas. In addition to those refugees who might eventually be resettled there are a number of aged, disabled, and sick refugees in Iran for whose emergency needs in 1954 a sum in the region of $36,000 would be required.
Syria, Lebanon and Jordan
154. Approximately 500 refugees under my mandate in this area find themselves in very difficult circumstances and the only relief during 1953 was that disbursed from the Refugee emergency Fund through the voluntary agencies. It is estimated that, in 1954, a sum of $107,000 will be required to provide supplementary food, medical assistance and clothing, and to provide solutions for the difficult cases within the mandate of my Office in these countries.
Summary of needs for 1954
155. A brief summary is given below of the most urgent estimated needs for 1954:
|European refugees in China and Hong Kong, maintenance at a monthly cost of $22,000 in Shanghai and of $12,500 in Hong Kong from 1 May to 31 December 1954||276,000|
|Placement of difficult cases from China, including cases for whom placement opportunities have already been found||280,000|
|Syria, Lebanon and Jordan||107,000|
Action recommended by the high Commissioner's Advisory Committee on Refugees
156. The Advisory Committee on Refugees, at its fourth session expressed its agreement on the urgency of the problem of emergency aid, and proposed that I should again bring the present situation of the Refugee Emergency Fund to the attention of the Governments of Members of the United Nations, as well as to that of other Governments which have demonstrated their interest in the refugee problem. In pursuance of this suggestion, I addressed on 9 April of this year a further appeal for funds to such Governments.
157. The Advisory Committee also stated that the urgency of the question justified a procedure whereby the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly should be called upon to pronounce their views directly on the question of assistance to refugees within the mandate of my Office. Furthermore, the Committee suggested that I should consider the possibility of seeking, with the approval of the General Assembly, funds for the Refugee Emergency Fund through the good offices of the Negotiating Committee on Extra-Budgetary Funds.
158. In view of the limited response to the appeals which I have made, I welcome this recommendation of the Advisory Committee, and sincerely hope that the General Assembly will see its way to authorizing its Negotiating Committee on Extra-Budgetary Funds to concern itself with the raising of contributions for the United nations Refugee Emergency Fund.
159. Status of the Refugee Emergency Fund as at 31 March 1954.
(Note: Statistical and financial tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
160. Schedule No. 1 - Contributions from Governments.
(Note: Statistical and financial tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
CHAPTER IV PROMOTION OF PERMANENT SOLUTIONS
162. In resolution 728 (VIII), the General Assembly appealed to the Governments of States Members and non-Members of the United Nations to intensify their efforts to promote, in co-operation with my Office, solutions for the problems of refugees through repatriation, resettlement and integration, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 538 (VI).
163. In resolution 538 (VI), the General Assembly, in addition to authorizing me to issue an appeal for funds for the purpose of enabling emergency aid to be given to the most needy groups of refugees within my mandate, also recommended that all States directly affected by the refugee problem should give it special attention in drawing up programmes of economic reconstruction and development, and requested me to contribute to the promotion of activities in this field. Furthermore, in the same resolution the General Assembly appealed to States interested in migration to give to refugees within my mandate every possible opportunity to benefit from projects to promote migration.
164. The work which my Office has carried out in pursuance of the terms of this latter resolution and in pursuance of articles 1 and 8 of the statute has been reported to both the seventh and eighth sessions of the General Assembly. In the following paragraphs of the present chapter, I shall endeavour to outline what has been achieved so far in this field and also to give some indication of the nature of the effort which will be required if permanent solutions are to be achieved during the lifetime of my Office for those refugees who are not assimilated into the economies of the countries in which they reside and, in particular, those refugees who are still condemned to live in camps.
Section 1 Repatriation
165. In accordance with the terms of the statute of my Office and also of General Assembly resolutions 538 (VI) and 728 (VIII), my Office has taken active steps to refer to the appropriate authorities any requests for repatriation which have been received from individual refugees. It cannot be said, however, that the numbers of such requests have been of any great significance, nor is it possible, due to lack of information, for me to state what action has been taken on the individual cases referred through normal consular channels.
Section 2 Resettlement
166. Ever since it was established, my Office, although having no operational responsibility for the overseas resettlement of refugees, has attempted to the best of its ability to promote the admission of refugees to the territories of States in accordance with article 8 (d) of its Statute. To this end, it has constantly endeavoured to increase the possibility of emigration for refugees by drawing the attention of the Governments of the countries of immigration to the most serious refugee situations and by attempting to ensure that refugees are given a fair share of all resettlement opportunities.
167. It is undoubtedly true that the Governments of several of the countries of residence of refugees and many thousands of refugees themselves continue to rely on emigration as the main solution of their problems. Experience has, however, shown that the forecasts which I made when my Office was first established concerning the very limited prospects for the resettlement of refugees were not unjustified. While it is true that several thousands of refugees have been resettled through the operations of the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, of the United States Escapee Programme and of the voluntary agencies, nevertheless the countries of immigration have not shown themselves ready to continue accepting refugees for mass schemes of emigration on a scale which is in any way comparable to that which they did during the period of the IRO operations.
168. The result of this situation has been that, since 1951, the major part of the overseas resettlement of refugees within the mandate of my Office has been carried out by the voluntary agencies on the basis of individual migration. In view of the fact that only a limited number of refugees have relatives or friends in countries of immigration who are in a position to give assurances or sponsorship on their behalf, it has proved necessary for the voluntary agencies to establish, in the countries of resettlement, offices to promote resettlement opportunities for refugees. This has proved an extra burden upon the voluntary agencies which they have only been able to meet to a limited extent from their available resources, and the offices have been partly financed from the Ford Foundation Grant for Refugees. These offices have certainly done a great deal to promote the resettlement of refugees, and I sincerely hope that in the near future other resources will be made available to enable the voluntary agencies to continue this most valuable work.
169. During the year 1 January to 31 December 1953, the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration assisted in the resettlement of 19,711 refugees of whom 5,519 went to Canada, 5,165 to the United States, 3,083 to Brazil and 1,907 to Australia. In the operational plan of the Migration Committee for 1954, provision is made for the movement of 118,400 migrants, of whom 19,800 are refugees within the mandate of my Office. Close co-operation has been continued with the Committee in all matters affecting the overseas resettlement of refugees, in particular, in the joint operation on behalf of refugees of European origin in China, and also in attempting to find a solution for the very difficult situation of refugees in Trieste.
170. The Governments of Australia, Canada, Brazil, Chile and Argentina have all sent selection missions to Trieste in order to recruit refugees or have established special quotas for refugees, with the result that, through combined international action and arrangements made by the Migration Committee, 1,367 refugees were resettled overseas from Trieste during the course of 1953. In November 1953, I addressed an appeal to Governments concerning refugees in Trieste whose future was at that time a matter of grave concern.
171. My Office has given special attention to the problems of refugees belonging to the professional categories who have particular difficulties in being resettled. Negotiations have been undertaken by my Office with UNESCO, WHO and the voluntary agencies in order to find placement opportunities for these refugees, and some progress has been made in finding opportunities for them in countries such as Ethiopia and Iran.
172. In subsequent paragraphs, I shall endeavour to give some indication of the efforts made by the different countries of resettlement on behalf of refugees and to indicate briefly some of the activities of the representatives which my Office maintains in the United States and in Latin America.
United States of America
173. The United States still ranks as the most important country of resettlement for refugees within the mandate of my Office. Up to the end of the IRO operations, over 314,000 refugees had entered the United States, the great majority having been admitted under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 and amendments thereto. From 1 January 1952 to 31 March 1954, a further 24,083 refugees have been resettled through the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration and the United States Escapee Program. This number includes refugees processed under the remaining operative section of the Displaced Persons Act (section 3(c)) and refugees admitted under national quotas by the terms of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952.
174. I attach the greatest importance to the Refugee Relief Act (1953) which was signed by the President of the United States on 7 August 1953 and which provides, over a three-year period, for the admission of 209,000 persons, including some 60,000 refugees within the mandate of my Office. This Act provides another demonstration of the traditional hospitality and concern of the United States for refugees.
175. My acting representative in the United States, who is responsible for liaison both with the United States Government and with United States Government and with United Nations Headquarters, has kept in close touch with officials of the State Department, of the Foreign Operations Administration and of the United States Escapee Programme in all matters affecting overseas resettlement of refugees and the different programmes initiated by the above-mentioned organizations on behalf of refugees within the mandate of my Office. At the same time, my acting representative maintains the closest relations with the American Council of Voluntary Agencies for Foreign Service and the Ford Foundation, both of which have performed such excellent work on behalf of refugees within the mandate of my Office.
176. Through my representative in Latin America, whose office is situated in Colombia, close relations are maintained with the great majority of the Governments of the countries in Latin America, both in respect of the promotion of the resettlement of refugees and in respect of the international protection of refugees who have already been resettled. The different countries of Latin America have continued to demonstrate their concern for the problem of refugees and have absorbed a very considerable proportion of the refugees who, during the past three years, have been resettled through the good offices of the Migration Committee, of the United States Escapee Programme and of voluntary agencies.
177. Special reference should be made to the efforts made by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the Lutheran World Federation and the World Council of Churches to promote resettlement opportunities for refugees in Latin America under projects financed out of the Ford Foundation Grant for Refugees. These agencies, by agreeing to sponsor individual refugees and to make arrangements for their reception, have managed to secure governmental approval for the admission of several thousands of refugees who would probably otherwise never have been admitted.
178. The initial sums devoted to these projects under the Ford Foundation Grant have already been expended, but the allocation of a further sum of 159,000 dollars from the terminal grant of 200,000 dollars made available by the Ford Foundation to my Office in March 1954 will permit the continuation of this valuable work for a further limited period.
179. The Argentine Government has negotiated a number of bilateral migration agreements mostly for migrants of Spanish, Italian and German origin. The most important of these agreements is that concluded with Italy in 1952, providing for the admission of 500,000 Italians over a period of five years. The admission of refugees is limited to those having private sponsors or special skills needed by the country. Over the period 1 February 1952 to 31 March 1954, 688 refugees were resettled in Argentina, including forty-two European refugees from China.
180. Brazil has always followed an open-door policy towards the admission of refugees. Owing to its vast potentialities for the absorption of migrants and the absence of racial, religious and political discrimination, Brazil remains the foremost country of resettlement for refugees in Latin America. On 5 January 1954, Congress passed a law establishing a National Institute of Immigration and Colonization and placing all immigration, land settlement and naturalization functions under the control of a single federal agency.
181. A number of voluntary agencies are particularly active in Brazil and have been able to arrange for the admission of a considerable number of refugees under agency guarantees of employment and housing.
182. During the period 1 February 1952 to 31 March 1954, 5,449 refugees were admitted to Brazil, including 2,193 European refugees from China.
183. Immigration policy in Chile is entrusted to the Standing Immigration Board set up in 1948, which is responsible for advising the Government on the number and types of migrants to be admitted. There is a general tendency to favour migrants of German and Latin stock, and bilateral migration agreements have been concluded with Germany and Italy. A total of 406 refugees have been admitted over the period 1 February 1952 to 31 March 1954, including twenty-seven European refugees from China
184. The establishment by Presidential decree on 21 July 1953 of an Institute of Land Settlement and Immigration marks an important development. The Institute, which will exercise over-all control of all immigration and colonization projects, has been provided with a rotating capital of forty million dollars and is empowered to open colonization centres, grant loans to settlers, engage technical personnel, create selection missions and dispose of State lands. It has already elaborated a number of projects, among which may be cited the settlement of 200 Hungarian refugee families from Germany and Austria. In addition, 300 visas have recently been granted for refugees in Trieste.
185. My representative, in collaboration with the representative of the Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration and the International Catholic Migration Commission, is at present negotiating other projects with the Institute in the light of these developments. There is reason to hope that Colombia may be able to receive a considerable number of refugees.
186. The Institute of Agrarian Reform controls all activities relating to immigration and colonization. The Institute operates 126 agricultural colonies and is responsible for the distribution of State lands and delivery of visas to migrants. The Government has elaborated a number of settlement projects which envisage financial backing and technical assistance from international sources.
187. The Government has approved a scheme for the admission of 500 European refugee farmers from North China, of whom ninety-nine have already arrived in Paraguay. The World Council of Churches, in agreement with the Government, has established a home in Asunción for aged refugees from China.
188. Uruguay offers many inducements to migrants, being a country of exceptional prosperity. Unfortunately, the limited area still available for colonization and the fairly high concentration of population limit the country's capacity to receive migrants to about 6,000 per year, of which the majority are of Spanish and Italian origin. A small number of refugees having private sponsors or special skills obtain visas each year.
189. The National Agrarian Institute is charged with the operation of all governmental immigration and colonization projects. The Institute sends selection missions overseas and operates reception centres and agricultural colonies. Apart from migrants sponsored by the National Agrarian Institute, individual migrants having private sponsors or possessing capital can obtain visas from the Ministry of Interior on presentation of valid work contracts. The admission of refugee migrants has been made the subject of special administrative regulations. During the period 1 February 1952 to 31 March 1954, 227 refugees were resettled in Venezuela, including eight European refugees from China.
Other countries of resettlement
190. During the operations of IRO, more than 182,000 refugees were admitted to Australia, a record surpassed only by the United States of America and Israel. Between the end of IRO operations on 1 February 1952 and 31 March 1954, Australia accepted a further 5,596 refugees.
191. The Government of Australia has always given my Office most valuable support. Not only has it made two contributions to United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund but it was also the first country of immigration to ratify the Convention. Following the political unrest in Trieste, the Government of Australia sent a selection mission to that city which accepted over 1,400 refugees. It should also be mentioned that, up to 31 March 1954, a total of 830 European refugees from China were admitted to Australia.
192. An allocation of 11,000 dollars from the Ford Foundation Grant was made to the World Council of Churches for the promotion of resettlement opportunities in Australia. The World Council of Churches has appointed representatives in Sydney and Melbourne and has sponsored the resettlement of 602 refugees in Australia during the first nine months of 1953. A similar project, which is still in an early stage of execution, is being carried out by the Lutheran World Federation with an allocation of 12,667 dollars from the Ford Foundation Grant.
193. Refugees wishing to proceed to Australia must, at present, have private sponsors who are prepared to give then necessary guarantees required for the delivery of a landing permit. Conversations have been undertaken with the Australian authorities with a view to securing the inclusion of refugees on the same footing as nationals under the various bilateral migration agreements between Australia and a number of European countries.
194. During the lifetime of IRO, Canada made a notable contribution to the solution of the refugee problem by the admission to her territory of over 164,000 refugees. A further 9,449 refugees were admitted during the period 1 February 1952 to 31 March 1954. Of this number, 214 were refugees of European origin from China. Very close relations are maintained with the Canadian Government on all matters relating to the admission of refugees under the mandate of my Office. In addition to admitting a considerable number of refugees, the Canadian Government has also made a contribution to the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund.
195. Refugees who come within Canadian selection criteria are eligible for all recruitment programmes operated by the Government in Europe. Refugees may be recruited along with nationals under the various seasonal labour quotas sponsored by the Government in respect of farmers, miners, track-workers and general labourers. Refugees proceeding under labour quotas qualify for inclusion in the Canadian Assisted Passage Scheme and receive travel warrants reimbursable by the refugee from salary deductions after arrival in Canada. Workers proceed in advance of their dependents who follow on an average of six months later.
196. Apart from Government labour schemes, refugees having private sponsors or agency guarantees may also be admitted to Canada. Furthermore, a Canadian Selection Mission visited Trieste in April 1954 and had pre-selected over 200 refugees at the time the present report was printed.
197. Allocations of 12,890 dollars and 22,600 dollars from the Ford Foundation have been made to the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation respectively, to promote opportunities for resettlement in Canada. During the first nine months of 1953, the World Council of churches sponsored the resettlement of 2,588 refugees in Canada, and the Lutheran World Federation secured visas for over 4,000 refugees.
198. The New Zealand Government sent two selection missions to Europe during the lifetime of IRO and admitted a total of 4,837 refugees. Since that date, a few hundred more having sponsors in New Zealand have succeeded in obtaining entry permits. The government has recently made a first contribution of £10,000 to the United Nations Relief Emergency Fund. The New Zealand Government has decided to reduce the total intake of migrants for 1954 to about 15,000, of which the great majority will be British settlers. I hope that among this number a few refugees, especially from China, will continue to receive visas for New Zealand.
Section 3 Economic integration
199. As long as the opportunities for overseas resettlement remain as limited as they have been during the last three years, it is clear that a much greater effort must be made to promote economic integration of refugees into the economies of their present countries of residence.
200. Although in most of the countries of residence there is a realization that the provision of permanent solutions for refugees benefits not only the refugees themselves but also the countries in which they reside, the ability of Governments to promote these permanent solutions is often limited by factors which are not completely under their control and which are frequently related to the general economic and social situation.
201. It is clearly of major interest to the countries of residence to find permanent solutions for the refugees within their territories, not only on account of the social problem which is involved, but also on account of the fact that such solutions necessarily reduce the burden on the public assistance in those countries and add to their economic potential. The greater the delay in promoting permanent solutions, the greater the number of refugees who tend to rely on public assistance, as chronic unemployment in camps or out of camp aggravates moral, social and economic deterioration.
202. Experience has shown that a systematic effort is necessary if refugees are to be integrated into the economies of their countries of residence. However, the economic development in many countries of residence is comparatively slow and to some extent these countries still suffer from the aftermath of the war, especially in connexion with the shortage of housing. At the same time, they often have to face the burden of refugee problems which are in addition to those with which my Office is concerned.
203. Since the eighth session of the General Assembly, my Office has continued its efforts to promote the integration of refugees into the economies of their countries of residence, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 538 B (VI), 638 (VII) and 728 (VIII). While it is probably true to say that the need for making greater efforts to promote the economic integration of refugees has become more clearly recognized by Governments, by voluntary agencies working on behalf of refugees and by the refugees themselves, nevertheless much still remains to be done in this field if the refugee camps are to be dissolved within any reasonable period of time. The entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees will certainly provide a most welcome stimulus to the efforts on behalf of economic integration in certain countries. Nevertheless, in other countries the formal recognition of the status of refugees will not of its own accord provide refugees with a means of livelihood.
204. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Government has not only been faced with the general problem of economic reconstruction but also with the very serious problem created by the large numbers of German refugees and expellees. Whereas considerable results have been obtained in assimilating and integrating large numbers of these refugees into the economy of the Federal Republic, the Government is still faced with the problem of the refugees who continue to arrive from Eastern Germany.
205. In the Federal Republic of Germany a firm legal basis for the integration of non-German refugees was provided by the Federal Law concerning the Status of Homeless Foreigners of 25 April 1951 and by the entry into force, in the Federal Republic, as of 24 December 1953, of the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 28 July 1951. The Federal Government has, moreover, made strenuous efforts to close the camps in Germany and has succeeded in reducing the camp population of refugees within the mandate of my Office from some 60,000 refugees at the beginning of 1951 to approximately 35,000 refugees at the end of 1953. The closure of camps has been accompanied by the implementation of a special housing programme which ahs resulted in the building of approximately 7,000 apartments at a cost of over DM 90 million.
206. Moreover, the Federal Government has given its support to the Department for Non-German Refugees of the Bank for Expellees and War-Damaged Persons in Bad Godesburg by allocating DM 2 million to it. The Department for Non-German Refugees was created in 1951 by a grant of DM 1.5 million from IRO. This special Department makes loans to refugees to enable them to establish themselves in small businesses and in independent occupations by which they might eventually become self-supporting. The original IRO grant has been increased by a contribution of DM 3.4 million from the residual assets of IRO and by an allocation of DM 1 million out of the counterpart funds of the United States economic assistance to Germany. The total assets of the Department available for establishment loans are DM 7.9 million, of which DM 4.4 million had been advanced in 799 loans to refugees as of 31 March 1954. The remainder will be advanced during 1954. Furthermore, the Federal Government has allocated to the Department a further sum of DM 2 million for complementary house-building loans to be granted to refugees.
207. The experience of the Department for Non-German Refugees of the Bank for Expellees and War-Damaged Persons sets an excellent example of the methods which can be applied in order to further the individual re-establishment of refugees provided that the necessary financial means are available.
208. The economy of Austria, despite many difficulties heightened by the financial burden of continued occupation, has shown continual signs of recovery. Nevertheless, it has shown certain weaknesses which react unfavourably on the integration of refugees. During the last year, production has fallen in various sectors and the figures of unemployment have risen, which will tend to make it all the more difficult for the disproportionately large numbers in the lower age groups, who will come on the labour market in the next few years, to find employment. Furthermore, the housing situation is still difficult and internal savings are far from sufficient to meet the capital expenditure required for any large-scale programme of economic development.
209. An experimental and limited programme designed to further integration of refugees in Austrian agriculture has been implemented in the course of 1953 by an allocation of 10 million Austrian schillings within the framework of the utilization of counterpart funds of the United States economic assistance to Austria, which was supplemented by 7.5 million schillings from other sources. This programme has resulted in the settlement of 185 families of refugees farm labourers in small agricultural holdings including new houses, and seventy-seven refugee farmer families on leased farms. A further allocation of Austrian schillings 10 million for analogous purposes was made in December 1953, which will enable the programme to be continued.
210. Various small funds are maintained by the Austrian authorities for the purpose of granting credit to small businesses. These are financed either from counterpart funds or from the Federal and local budgets. Some refugees have been able to benefit from these funds on an individual basis. There is, however, no special fund to provide credit facilities for the establishment of refugees in small businesses and professions.
211. Many local initiatives have been taken by refugee co-operatives and other societies to provide housing for refugees. It is estimated that in the last two years approximately 2,000 housing units have been built for refugees (including many refugees who have been recently naturalized). The total expenditure on refugee housing can be estimated at roughly Austrian schillings 200 million, approximately half of which has been given in the form of credits and subsidies by the Austrian Federal Government and local funds designed to meet the general need for housing in Austria.
Italy and Greece
212. In Italy and Greece there are grave problems of unemployment, and more particularly under-employment, the difficulties of which are increased by a high rate of demographic expansion. It is therefore understandable that the authorities should regard emigration as the main permanent solution of the problem of alien refugees and are accordingly reluctant to undertake any special development schemes which would ensure that refugees are provided with economic opportunities in preference to the large numbers of their own nationals faced with almost similar situations. Nevertheless, in Greece the Government has been able to build a settlement of permanent houses for approximately 400 refugees in Lavrion where unfortunately the employment possibilities are extremely limited owing to the recent closure of the local mines, and to implement a re-establishment scheme for thirty families in Tripoli. Furthermore, the Greek Government has recently announced its intention to promote the establishment of Greek Romanians in a special programme.
213. Considerable efforts have also been made in other countries which have generously admitted large numbers of refugees into their territories, such as France, where 40 million francs were devoted, in 1953-1954, to the provision of loans to individual refugees, Belgium, where special credit facilities to purchase houses have been given to refugees working in the mines, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the Scandinavian countries, to facilitate the integration of post-war refugees and to train them for the professions and occupations to which they have access in those countries.
Need for international assistance in the economic integration of refugees
214. In all the countries of first asylum in Europe experience has shown that the integration of refugees into the national life cannot be left to the spontaneous processes of economic development. Special measures are required, in view not only of the fact that the post-war economic development of a number of these countries has been slow, but also, on the other hand, in view of the special position of the alien refugees who cannot be treated as a normal group of the population. Their special position is characterized by their lack of knowledge of the language and local conditions, their prolonged life under most difficult conditions, often in camps, and their need for special re-adaptation through vocational training.
215. The detailed studies which my Office has been able to carry out on the situation of refugees in the main countries of residence have shown that refugees lag behind a country's nationals in benefiting from a general economic development, even where this development has been particularly favourable. The figure of unemployment among refugees has remained high, even in countries where the general unemployment rate has tended to fall. Likewise, the improvement in the general housing situation has not resulted in a proportionate improvement in housing conditions for refugees.
216. There has been in most countries of residence a continued insistence on the necessity of international financial assistance being made available if the refugees are to be absorbed into the local economies. The various possibilities of providing international credit to promote the economic integration of refugees have been discussed in my Advisory Committee and it will be recalled that, under resolution 638 (VII), the General Assembly invited me to examine the situation in consultation with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, "with a view to exploring, with the Governments directly concerned, what sources of funds might be available and the most effective means by which such funds might be utilized".
217. My Office has had several discussions with officials of the International Bank and also with the financial authorities in some of the countries of residence. It has, however, become abundantly clear that no Government of any country in which large numbers of refugees are resident is at present either politically or financially in a position to submit to the International Bank a fully elaborated application for a loan designed to promote economic integration of the alien refugees within its territory.
218. From the point of view of the Governments concerned, there are generally other financial needs which are considered to be more pressing and to which priority must be given in any approach for international financial assistance through the Bank. From the point of view of the Bank, no definite attitude can be taken until a Government is prepared to submit a proposal for a loan for the integration of refugees with adequate financial guarantees which would permit the raising of the necessary funds. The officials of the Bank have constantly demonstrated their willingness to co-operate with my Office but they have up to the present found no means to overcome these difficulties.
Ford Foundation Grant for Refugees
219. In these circumstances, I felt obliged to look for alternative methods of financing permanent solutions. The Ford Foundation Grant of 2.9 million dollars provided my Office with a most welcome opportunity to carry out with voluntary agencies a number of projects designed to demonstrate the possibilities of social assimilation for refugees and to promote opportunities for their resettlement overseas.
220. As I stated in my reports to the General Assembly at its seventh6 and eighth sessions7 this grant has enabled my Office to promote the social assimilation and the resettlement of refugees. I would recall that the various projects are being carried out by voluntary agencies in consultation with my Office. The main conditions of the Grant were that any work financed by it in a given area should be complementary to that undertaken by the Government concerned and, secondly, that the money should be spent only on projects of a constructive character, designed to help refugees to help themselves rather than to remedy their situation temporarily.
221. As at 30 September 1953, $2,650,872 had been allocated out of the Grant to various projects while $7,943,774 had been contributed to the same projects from other sources, thus indicating that a contribution attracts on the average nearly three times its amount in funds from other sources. This phenomenon naturally varies according to the projects and areas concerned. It is particularly striking in the case of housing projects in Germany and Austria where 80 per cent and 60 per cent respectively of the cost involved were obtained from Governmental and other national and international sources.
222. The activities carried out with the help of the Grant may be divided into activities for the promotion of resettlement opportunities and pilot projects for economic integration, thus following the lines of the two main solutions to the problems of refugees.
223. As at 30 September 1953, over $200,000 had been allocated to enable voluntary agencies to seek resettlement opportunities for refugees in Australia, Canada and Latin America. During the first nine months of 1953, resulting in part from these efforts, 600 visas were obtained for Australia, 6,500 for Canada and 5,000 for Latin America. More than 3,000 of these visas were granted by Brazil, which enabled over a thousand European refugees to leave China (Shanghai) for resettlement in the former country.
224. Projects designed to promote the economic integration of refugees involved as at 30 September 1953 the allocation of approximately $2,450,000. These projects may be divided into housing schemes, vocational training programmes, economic assistance in integration, the establishment and running of counselling centres, and the establishment and running of community centres and youth centres.
(a) Housing schemes. Housing schemes costing $521,719 have been carried out mainly in Germany and Austria where a large proportion of the refugee population still lives in camps or in inadequate dwellings; as a result several thousands of refugees have been given the opportunity of resuming a normal life. Special attention has been paid to the construction of houses in areas where employment is assured. In many instances the refugees have themselves helped with the building of their future homes. In almost all cases the refugees will repay the cost of the houses over a stipulated period and provision has been made that the money repaid will be used to benefit other refugees. It should be noted that these schemes differ from area to area - in some places they consist in renovating or expanding existing accommodation; in others, in the construction of completely new houses.
(b) Vocational training. It is understandable that vocational training projects should constitute the highest single item of expenditure ($626,586) under the Grant, since it is one of the most constructive ways of helping a refugee to help himself. Vocational training projects range from apprenticeships and professional training to university scholarships. They include in certain cases the establishment of training centres so that future expenditure on vocational training may be reduced. These projects provide refugee youth with skills that are in demand in their present or future place of residence. A condition covering grants to vocational training programmes is that the students shall receive on the successful completion of these courses a State-recognized diploma which will ensure them the maximum opportunity for employment.
(c) Economic assistance in integration. Assistance in the economic integration of refugees on the land, and in trades, small businesses and professions is being given in the form of loans. $145,817 have been allotted for loans for the purchase of equipment, with a view mainly to the settlement of refugees on abandoned farms or in new agricultural communities. These projects have been carried out in Austria, France and Greece, where loans covering basic farm equipment, seed and livestock, tractors and irrigation pumps, have ensured the firm establishment of the refugees from the outset. Loans to the extent of $138,510 have also been given to refugees to assist them in setting up in trades, small businesses and professions.
(d) Counselling centres. The sum of $204,566 has been devoted to the setting up of counselling centres to advise the refugees on problems affecting their personal integration. In these centres free advice is given on legal matters, the securing of documents, training for employment, medical treatment and other socio-economic matters.
(e) Youth centres, Community centres and training for youth leadership. Youth centres, community centres and training for youth leadership, on which $268,622 has been expended, have provided another vital approach to the assimilation of refugees. Grants have been made for the establishment of twenty-one youth and eleven community centres in Austria, France, Germany and Italy, where refugee youths, all of whom have been deprived of a normal family life, are given opportunities to learn, through community activity, the elements of responsible citizenship. The local residents are encouraged to mix with the refugees in the use of such centres. Classes are being held in languages, handicrafts etc., and the organized leisure-time activities include both lectures and sports.
225. In March of this year, the Ford Foundation, making an exception to its declared policy of not engaging in further refugee work, decided to make a final grant of $200,000 to my Office to enable me to continue certain programmes which were begun under the initial grant, mainly the resettlement promotion programmes in overseas countries. No part of this terminal grant can be devoted to financing new projects.
Present situation in respect of permanent solutions
226. With the exhaustion of the funds provided under the Ford Foundation Grant the situation has now to be faced in which, although limited international funds are made available to provide emergency assistance to refugees within the mandate of my Office, no funds from international sources are available to promote permanent solutions for refugees, other than to finance their resettlement overseas, despite the fact that it has been proved that such solutions are practicable with fairly modest financial resources.
227. In view of the fact that none of the countries where there are large numbers of refugees still in camps appears to be in a position to take the necessary action which will permit a rapid solution of the refugee problem, I would urge that the most careful consideration now be given by interested Governments to this anomalous situation with a view to finding whether some means cannot be devised to overcome present difficulties.
228. As long as the Governments of some of the countries of residence insist that they will only accept emigration as the solution for their refugee problems, efforts to promote resettlement opportunities for refugees must continue and even be intensified. This is all the more urgent in view of the fact that the international subsidies given for the migration of nationals from European countries inevitably must make the movement of refugees relatively more difficult, especially from countries faced with serious over-population problems. The funds devoted from the Ford Foundation Grant to promote the resettlement of refugees have proved that the voluntary agencies can, through carefully planned programmes, considerably increase the resettlement opportunities available for refugees in the countries of immigration.
229. The experience of the last two years in the Latin-American countries, especially in Brazil, and also in Canada and Australia, has shown how the provision of assurances through the voluntary agencies has made possible, with the consent of the Governments concerned, the emigration of several thousands of refugees. There is little doubt that a continued effort in this direction would enable existing programmes of resettlement for refugees not only to be developed but to the extended to other countries.
230. This, however, is only a partial answer. In countries where large numbers of refugees are resident and where the authorities are willing to accept the integration of the refugees within the mandate of my Office, it has been proved that the provision of relatively small sums from international sources can provide an indispensable stimulus towards the implementation by local authorities of plans which will provide not only housing but also necessary training for the employment of many thousands of refugees who would otherwise be condemned to continue their lives of idleness in the camps.
Section 4 Future programme for the promotion of permanent solutions
231. In the light of the considerations outlined in the preceding sections of the present chapter, I considered it necessary to submit to my Advisory Committee the whole question of future action concerning permanent solutions for the problems of refugees within the mandate of my Office. In my opinion, a re-examination by Governments of the implications of the provision of permanent solutions for the problems of refugees is urgently required. At the beginning of a new period for my Office, I feel it is essential to present the Governments with a full appreciation of the situation of the refugee problem as it is to-day. The dangers of a false optimism concerning solutions of the refugee problem cannot be over-emphasized, nor can the dangers of relying for complete solutions on programmes which only touch the fringe of the refugee problem.
232. For this reason, in document A/AC. 36/32 which I submitted to the Advisory Committee I outlined a programme which, if it could be implemented, would greatly accelerate the capacities of both countries of residence and immigration to absorb a relatively large proportion of the approximately 350,000 refugees who do not wish to be repatriated and who have not been completely assimilated. Such a programme would be designed in the first place to assist those refugees who are still in camps and whose tragic situation has been described in chapter III of the present report.
233. The experience gained with the Ford Foundation Grant has shown that a most important stimulus can be provided by international funds in bringing about permanent solutions. Such funds, if managed with the experience which has been gained, and on the same principles as the Ford Foundation Grant, could undoubtedly attract at least twice the amount of the original contributions from other sources.
234. If during the next five years there was a reasonable certainty of a fund of approximately twelve million dollars being made available to promote permanent solutions for refugees, a programme on the indicated lines below, designed primarily to promote a solution for the refugee camp population, could be implemented.
235. The administration of such a programme would, if the funds were made available, undoubtedly have to be discussed in greater detail with my Advisory Committee. With its collaboration it would be possible to work out a satisfactory geographical distribution of any funds allocated and to elaborate precise projects under the different headings.
236. It must be emphasized that the situation of refugees within the mandate of my Office is constantly changing and is considerably affected both by the policies of the Governments of the countries of residence and the Governments of the countries of migration, and also by programmes designed to assist certain special categories such as the United States Escapee Programme. However, the experience which has been gained makes it possible to illustrate to the Economic and Social Council and to the General Assembly the nature of the activities which must be financed if solutions are to be found for the greater majority of unassimilated refugees within the mandate of my Office.
237. In implementing such a programme my Office would not undertake any direct operational task, but would invite governmental and private agencies to implement any projects, in the same way as projects are executed under the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund. Such a programme, in addition to being submitted to my Advisory Committee, would be subject to the normal administrative controls of the United Nations.
238. The Advisory Committee, during its fourth session, gave careful consideration to the programme which is outlined below, and in its report (A/AC.36/33) suggested that I should further elaborate the programme in close consultation with the specialized agencies as well as with other inter-governmental and also non-governmental organizations and submit the detailed programme through the Economic and Social Council to the General Assembly.
239. The various specialized agencies concerned with different aspects of the refugee problem and also inter-governmental and non-governmental agencies working on behalf of refugees have been invited to submit comments on the programme which I submitted to the Advisory Committee. Their valuable comments have been incorporated as far as possible in the new elaboration of the programme, which is now included in the present report. Furthermore, many of these comments will be of great value in elaborating specific projects at a later stage.
240. The detailed programme which has been elaborated in the subsequent sections of the present chapter is worked out on the basis of a five-year plan.
Integration into agriculture
241. There are several thousands of refugee families of farming stock who could be settled on the land in their countries of residence. Experience of the settlement of German refugees on the land has been acquired in the Federal Republic of Germany and some eighty loans for this purpose have been made from the Expellee Bank to refugees within the mandate of my Office. Experience gained under the implementation of the Ford Foundation Grant showed that the best and most economical method of integrating refugee farming families consists in facilitating the lease or purchase of existing farms or settling families in abandoned areas. This has been successfully done in Austria and in France. If capital for the purchase, leasing or restoration of farm buildings and the stocking of the farms, to the amount of an initial grant of up to 1,000 dollars per family, is forthcoming, additional resources can generally be obtained to establish a refugee farming family on the land.
242. In Austria, it is estimated that, in 1952, 100 refugee families were firmly resettled in agriculture; in 1953, with the added stimulus provided by the programme of agricultural integration mentioned in section 3 of the present chapter, some 400 families were resettled. In 1954, it is estimated that available funds will not finance the settlement of more than 200 families. In Austria, France and Greece - in the last country there are a number of shepherd families who are refugees - a programme for 600 families should be initiated in the first year to assist the local organizations to start new projects. This would require an estimated amount of 600,000 dollars.
Establishment in trades, small businesses and professions
243. The most systematic approach to this problem has been made in the Federal Republic of Germany through the Department for Non-German refugees of the Bank for Expellees and War-Damaged Persons. Negotiations have been begun with the Federal Government for an increase in the capital of this Department of the Bank. No such institution exists in other countries, but various local organizations have advanced loans to refugees within their limited resources. In France, Austria, Belgium and Greece experience has shown that the provision of small loans has been extremely important in the establishment of refugees in trades and small businesses and sometimes even in liberal professions. It is estimated that there are between 25,000 and 30,000 refugees in Europe, including a number of intellectuals and white-collar workers, of whom several thousand are still living in camps and whose occupational skills are known, who could be successfully re-established in independent occupations provided the necessary credit facilities were forthcoming.
244. Experience has show that it is possible in many cases to meet some of the credit needs of refugees from outside sources, but that loans of an average of $500 can often provide the supplementary means which are necessary to ensure their successful re-establishment. In other cases loans up to $1,000 are necessary. In this connexion, it would be extremely useful if individual counselling services were set up, to advise the refugees n what way they could best hope to re-establish themselves. The provision of $500,000 in the first year would make the establishment of some 750 families - chosen in the first place from the camps and in the second place from France and Belgium - possible during that period.
Construction of housing in employment areas
245. The most urgent problem in the field of housing is to provide accommodation of simple character for those out of the approximately 88,000 refugees living in official camps for whom employment possibilities can be found in other areas in their countries of residence.
246. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Government is making a systematic attempt to provide housing for the refugees now in camps. In other areas, little has been done apart from that which is being stimulated through the voluntary agencies, partly supported from the Ford Foundation Grant and by local organizations. It is estimated that 25,000 houses or apartments are necessary to solve this problem. In most of the countries of residence, there are special financial facilities which enable a person who disposes of a certain initial capital to obtain additional credits, in some cases as high as 80 per cent of the cost of building. Refugees, however, do not normally dispose of the initial amount required.
247. In the countries of residence where the refugees' right to work is recognized, a programme to construct 1,000 dwelling units in the first year would certainly stimulate similar matching activities from the local authorities. If $800 per dwelling unit could be provided on a revolving loan basis per family during the first year, a most important step towards the dissolution of the camps could be made. The total cost to the programme of providing 1,000 dwellings would be $800,000.
Vocational training and retraining of refugees
248. The experience of the past three years has shown that solutions can be found for many refugees in their present countries of residence, provided that adequate vocational training facilities are available. Due to the absence of such facilities in the period immediately after the war, and to the fact that many thousands of refugees have lived in camps for periods of up to seven years, considerable numbers of refugees have reached adult age without any proper occupational training. This fact partially explains the higher rate of unemployment among the refugee population compared with the indigenous population.
249. In most countries of residence funds are not available to finance the vocational training of potential candidates from the refugee population in existing institutions and training schools. In addition, there is the problem that, even where adequate facilities exist, there is little accommodation in existing hostels for the refugee apprentices, whose parents are often living in camps outside the towns. It is estimated that, of the total refugee population within the mandate of my Office in Europe, some 15,000 refugees qualify for vocational training. Attention must also be paid to the placement of trainees on completion of their training. A programme to provide assistance at the scale of $300 per candidate for the first year to meet the cost of training and upkeep of 1,000 refugees in countries where the right to work of refugees is recognized, and where the local authorities do not offer special facilities for refugees, would cost $300,000.
250. Among the recently arrived refugees there are a number who are of an age to undertake university studies. Furthermore, there are amongst the general refugee population in the countries of residence a number of refugees who have completed their secondary education and who would be prepared to undertake university studies in such technical skills as would facilitate their integration or emigration. It is true that, in some countries of residence, refugee students are eligible for scholarships on an equal footing with indigenous students. Nevertheless, most scholarships take the form of supplementary assistance which is sufficient for the ordinary student but does not take into account the special position of the refugee students, who have very often no personal means of any kind or family assistance on which they can rely. For them, the money to pay for tuition fees, examination and laboratory fees, books, etc., is absolutely essential.
251. It is estimated that there are 7,000 potential students now among the refugee population. A limited amount has been done in their behalf from IRO residual funds, through Ford Foundation projects and other agencies. If assistance could be provided for eight hundred students at a rate of $250, the programme would cost $200,000 per year. Such a programme should provide scholarships on a revolving loan fund basis.
Community centres in camps and settlements
252. In most camps and settlements where refugees are housed, all the available space is used as living quarters. As long as the camps are in existence it is essential to provide some community centres if serious efforts are to be made in order to promote the assimilation of these refugees. In such centres refugees can meet with the inhabitants of neighbouring towns and villages and can also take part in essential education and recreational programmes. Some of the most important activities carried out in community centres comprise the organization of language classes, and of lectures by governmental employment officers, counselling for employment, and the establishment of kindergarten classes to provide the opportunity for refugee and indigenous children to mix. The construction of these centres costs on an average $8,500, and if during the first year twelve centres could be provided, mainly in Germany and Austria, to serve approximately 7,000 refugees, the approximate cost would be $100,000.
253. There are many instances where additional educational assistance is required by refugee schoolchildren, in view of the fact that the local schools are often incapable of adequately absorbing refugees in addition to indigenous children. Furthermore, even where facilities are available for them to attend secondary schools, specially gifted refugee children living in camps are frequently unable to take advantage of them because they lack the necessary funds for lodging when there are no schools near the camps, or for transportation and sometimes for shelter during the hours in which they must wait for transportation. It is estimated that a fund of $50,000 for one year would enable the necessary assistance to be given to 500 children.
Promotion of resettlement opportunities
254. A programme for the promotion of resettlement opportunities is a vital part of any overall programme designed to promote permanent solutions for the existing refugee population, especially if there are very few mass selection schemes open to refugees.
255. The experience of the voluntary agencies in Latin America and Canada has shown that, with carefully planned programmes, sponsorships and assurances can be obtained for refugees, and that at the present time this is the most successful method of migration for refugees. This work necessarily requires small staffs of specially trained persons who can devote their whole time to it in the countries of immigration. In addition, if the services of existing staffs in Latin America, Canada and Australia which were established under the Ford Foundation Grant could be further developed, it is estimated on the basis of present experience that resettlement opportunities for several additional thousands of refugees within the mandate of my Office per year could be provided at a cost of $250,000.
Vocational training and retraining for resettlement overseas
256. Under most immigration schemes open to refugees at the present time, immigrants are accepted only if they possess particular skills. Furthermore, it is of vital importance that language training classes should be organized for potentially resettleable refugees. In order to promote the emigration of refugees, courses of vocational training or retraining have to be created or maintained. Such training has as its main purpose the adaptation of existing skills to particular requirements of countries of immigration. Special consideration will need to be given to the problem of the rehabilitation of refugee intellectuals to render possible their resettlement overseas. While it is true that vocational training schemes for the promotion of general emigration have been organized, refugees within the mandate of my Office who are in camps have in most areas not benefited greatly from these schemes.
257. To provide facilities for vocational training for 1,200 refugees with prospects of overseas resettlement, it is estimated that $200,000 would be required in the first year.
Resettlement counselling services
258. Under the Ford Foundation Grant, resettlement counselling services have been developed on a limited scale in those countries where adequate registration and counselling had not been previously established. These services are of the utmost importance for refugees, especially for those who are living in camps. Experience has shown that the properly executed and maintained registration of family composition, skills and abilities, and efficient individual counselling, are generally essential for the resettlement of refugees on a family or individual basis. In most countries of residence, the indigenous authorities do not carry out such activities on behalf of refugees. They have, therefore, to be undertaken by voluntary organizations. For this to be done on an effective scale, it is estimated that $100,000 would be required during the first year.
Expenditure over a five-year period
259. The estimates for the main headings of the programme described in the previous paragraphs cover the period of one year. It is obvious that such a programme would do nothing more than provide an essential stimulus to the efforts which would have to be made to bring about permanent solutions within a reasonable time. Such a stimulus should be maintained for a period of five years if it is to be really effective. The annual expenditure under the programme, which would amount to $3,200,000 during the first year, including $100,000 for administrative expenses, could be progressively diminished, partly because the more urgent needs would be taken care of in the first years of the programme, and partly because it would be possible to use again the reimbursements paid on loans granted within the framework of the programme. The total sum required for a five-year programme would amount to an estimated figure of approximately $12 million.
Action of the Advisory Committee on the programme for permanent solutions
260. After suggesting in document. A/AC./36/33 that I might submit the above programme through the Economic and Social Council to the General Assembly, the Advisory Committee proposed that I might consider the possibility "of seeking, with the approval of the General Assembly, funds through the good offices of the United Nations Negotiating Committee on Extra-Budgetary Funds, both for the United Nations Refugee Emergency Fund and for the financing of permanent solutions on the lines contained in the programme outlined above."
261. As I have stated in chapter III, section 4, of the present report, I welcome this suggestion of the Advisory Committee, and sincerely hope that the General Assembly will see its way to authorizing the Negotiating Committee to raise funds both for the Fund and for the financing of permanent solutions.
262. The experience of the past three years has shown that the refugee problem which concerns my Office according to its statute is far from solved. There are at the present time some 350,000 refugees who are not completely assimilated, amongst whom there are some 88,000 refugees still living in camps in Europe. These facts, together with the constantly growing number of refugees requiring emergency aid, especially the difficult cases for whom special care is required, show clearly that the United Nations must take a new look at the refugee problem.
263. To continue on the lines which have been followed during the past three years will not solve the refugee problem. While it is true that the overseas resettlement of refugees is still proceeding, it has scarcely overtaken the number of new refugees in the countries which have so far refused to grant the right to work to refugees within the mandate of my Office. Furthermore, whilst it is also true that some progress has been made in the present countries of residence in the economic integration of refugees whose right to work is recognized, this progress has not proved sufficient to ensure the dissolution of the camps.
264. The work which has been undertaken under the Ford Foundation Grant has shown very clearly where the gaps lie in providing to refugees within the mandate of my Office an opportunity for achieving permanent solutions for their problems, and what has to be done to bridge these gaps.
265. If the programme which has been outlined in chapter IV of the present reports were followed, there is no doubt that a very considerable contribution to the solution of the refugee problem can be made during the next five years. This programme is indeed modest compared with other international programmes which have been undertaken on behalf of refugees, and is fully consistent with the tasks which have been given to my Office by the General Assembly, first of all in the statute and, secondly, in the resolutions which the Assembly has adopted during the last three years.
266. I consider that it is my basic responsibility to point out to the United Nations what has to be done if permanent solutions for the problems of refugees which are my concern are to be achieved. The ultimate responsibility for the future fate of these refugees lies with those who will take the decision whether in fact an effective programme to achieve such solutions will be taken by the United Nations.
267. The decision which the United Nations must now take on the refugee problem cannot be avoided, because it is inherent in the Principles which have been accepted in the Charter. The continued presence of thousands of uprooted and unsettled refugees is a challenge to the sincerity of those who have subscribed to the basic principles of freedom which inspire the United Nations.
268. It must never be forgotten that the refugees are people who have made a sacrifice for the sake of freedom. There can be no question but that the free world is under an obligation to see that their sacrifice has not been meaning less.
269. Every refugee who has reached freedom is entitled to a normal, decent and independent life. The programme which I have proposed in this report can certainly provide an opportunity to achieve this for many thousands of refugees, especially those still living in camps who have been well described as the "forgotten people".
270. It is my firm conviction that this is a programme which can be carried out, and it is my earnest hope that the General Assembly will decide that it must be carried out.
(Signed) G. J VAN HEUVEN GOEDHART
1 Previously distributed as document A/2648, dated 17 May 1954.
2 See Offical Records of the General Assembly, Eighth Session, Supplement No. 11, document A/2394, paragraph 46
3 Subject to final confirmation.
4 In accordance with schedule attached.
5 Grants for placement of difficult cases.
6 See Official of the General Assembly, Seventh Session, Supplement No. 16, document A/2126 and addendum.
7 Ibid, Eighth Session, Supplement No. 11, document A/2394