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Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Executive Committee Meetings

Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

1 January 1959

United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Thirteenth Session

Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.11A (A/3828/Rev.1/Add.1)


1. The High Commissioner herewith transmits to the General Assembly the report on the ninth (special) session of the UNREF Executive Committee.

2. In paragraph 128 of his annual report (A/3828/Rev.1)1 the High Commissioner informed the General Assembly that in order to meet its request for intensification of the UNREF programme for camp clearance a supplementary programme at an estimated expenditure of $4,800,000 had been drawn up and that the UNREF Executive Committee would consider this programme at its eighth session.

3. The UNREF Executive Committee at its eighth session decided, in its resolution No. 9, to establish a Working Party on future international assistance which would draw up specific proposals on action to be taken by the UNREF Executive Committee pursuant to General Assembly resolution 1166 (XII), and to hold a special session to consider the proposals of the Working Party.

4. At its ninth (special) session, held from 25 to 26 September 1958, the UNREF Executive Committee considered these proposals. The decisions taken by the UNREF Executive Committee may be found in the attached report, paragraphs 21, 28 and 32.

5. The Committee recommended that the High Commissioner should increase his legal protection activities and that an increased budgetary allocation be requested for this purpose, subject to detailed estimates being submitted to the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's programme in the course of 1959.

6. The UNREF Executive Committee also considered the proposal for a World Refugee Year which had originated in the United Kingdom and to which the Working Party had given its support. The UNREF Executive Committee in its resolution No. 10 expressed its support of the proposal and requested the High Commissioner to bring it to the attention of the General Assembly at its thirteenth session.



Opening of the session and election of officers

1. The UNREF Executive Committee held its ninth (special) session from 25 to 26 September 1958 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva. All Governments members of the Executive Committee were represented, as follows:

FranceUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Germany, Federal Republic of
GreeceUnited States of America
Holy SeeVenezuela

2. The Governments of Sweden, the United Arab Republic and Yugoslavia were represented by observers.

3. The International Labour Office, the Council of Europe, the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the League of Arab States were also represented by observers.

4. The session was opened by Dame May Curwen, D. B. E. (United Kingdom), Chairman of the eighth session of the Executive Committee.

5. The Committee elected its officers as follows:

Chairman: Dame May Curwen, D. B. E. (United Kingdom)

Vice-Chairman: Mr. K. Salvesen (Norway)

Rapporteur: Mr. C. E. Bourbonnière (Canada)

6. Mr. A. David conveyed a message from the Director of the European Office of the United Nations, representing the Secretary-General. In his message the Director welcomed the members of the committee which, since its inception, had made unrelenting efforts on behalf of refugees. There was, however, still a need for further funds to carry out the programmes submitted to the Committee by its Working Party, and he expressed the hope that future appeals would meet with a generous response.

Adoption of the agenda

7. The Committee adopted the following agenda:

1. Election of officers;

2. Adoption of the agenda (A/AC.79/127/Rev.1);

3. Proposals of the Working Party established by the Executive Committee under its resolution No. 9 (A/AC.79/122 and A/AC.79/130);

4. Legal protection (to be considered by the Executive Committee in its advisory capacity) (A/AC.79/129);

5. Any other business.


General discussion

8. The Executive committee had before it the report of the Working Party on Future International Assistance to Refugees (A/AC.79/130) which met from 21 to 27 August 1958. The Working Party had been established to draw up proposals on the action to be taken by the UNREF Executive Committee under the terms of General Assembly resolution 1166 (XII) in order to ensure the continuity of international assistance to refugees. In accordance with the terms of the UNREF Executive Committee resolution No. 9 the proposals of the Working Party dealt with specific programmes and their financial targets.

9. The report was introduced by Mr. N. Currie, Rapporteur of the Working Party. In commenting on it Mr. Currie explained the difference between the UNREF programme and the programmes recommended by the Working Party. Whereas the UNREF programme was planned for a four-year period, the new programmes submitted to the Committee would be planned for one year which would be more in line with the practice of many Governments in budgeting on a yearly basis. However, the camp clearance programme was to be spread over two years (1959 and 1960) and the Far Eastern programme over three years (1959, 1960 and 1961).

10. The Executive committee first considered the general principles set forth in paragraphs 6-10 of the report of the Working Party. Several representatives expressed their support of these principles and agreed that it would be most desirable and in accordance with past General Assembly decisions for international assistance to be provided on a diminishing scale in subsequent years and that international programmes should aim at assisting the host countries to provide permanent solutions for refugees only where this was not possible from national resources. The representative of Austria stressed that the presence of large numbers of refugees constituted a heavy burden on the countries of asylum and that in order to solve the problems of these refugees further financial assistance would be required.

11. The representative of the Holy See announced a symbolic contribution of $2,000 towards the UNHCR programme as a whole. The contribution was a sign of esteem for the High Commissioner and encouragement for him from the Holy See, the greatest part of whose resources were used directly for assistance to needy people.

12. The representative of Canada stated that, while the possibility of assistance to additional groups of refugees should not be excluded, first priority should be given to those still living in camps. He announced to the Committee that his Government had decided to request the Canadian parliament for a contribution of $290,000 for the camp clearance programme for 1959 and for a contribution of $60,000 to the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration for the transportation of refugees of European origin from the Far East. The representative of ICEM announced that these funds would provide transport for 150 refugees and would free $48,000 from the United States matching contribution providing transport for another 120 refugees.

Discussion of the 1959 programmes

13. The Executive Committee went on to consider the following programme recommended by the Working Party for 1959:

(1) Camp clearance programme2,900,000
(2) Far Eastern programme
(a) UNHCR expenditure:
Care and maintenance of refugees in Hong Kong; Administrative costs of Hong Kong Office; Assistance through voluntary agencies; Resettlement of difficult cases550,000
b) Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) expenditure: Transportation costs1,500,000 (not included in total)
(3) Emergency account for individual cases50,000
(4) Programme for new refugees in Greece100,000
(5) Legal assistance70,000
(6) Contribution to administrative budget of UNHCR330,0002
(7) Programme for non-settled refugees living outside camps:
(a) Permanent solutions
(b) Registration and follow-up
(c) Case-work and counselling
(d) Promotion of education700,000
(e) Vocational training
(f) Supplementary aid

2 An amount of $150,000 for administrative expenses is included in the figure of $2,900,000 for camp clearance.

14. The Chairman explained that the amount of $4,700,000, which was intended to meet the most pressing needs for international assistance to refugees, had been recommended on the assumption that $3,700,000 of this figure might be financed from governmental contributions and the remaining $1,000,000 from contributions from private sources. The Working Party had recognized, however, that if resources to the level of $6,000,000 were made available to the High Commissioner in 1959 additional pressing needs of the refugees could be met.

15. The representatives of Greece and of the Holy See emphasized that there was still a large number of non-settled refugees outside camps who would require international assistance if their problems were to be solved. The representative of France expressed the opinion that the amount of $700,000 which had been included in the 1959 programmes for assistance to non-settled refugees living outside camps would allow no more than symbolic aid to be given to these refugees. This resulted from the fact that the amount recommended for the programme had been established in relation to funds which the High Commissioner could reasonably expect to receive and not in relation to needs.

16. The Committee then considered the various programmes recommended for 1959. In connexion with the camp clearance programme, the representative of Italy stated that owing to the continuous influx of refugees into his country it would be impossible for refugee camps to be closed in the near future. His Government was spending large sums of money for assistance to these refugees. It considered that the best means of solving their problems was through emigration to other countries, and he hoped that resettlement projects would be included in the UNHCR programmes and appealed to Governments of immigration countries further to increase their efforts to admit as many refugees as possible.

17. In reply to a question by the representative of Austria, the High Commissioner explained that there was a separate permanent solutions programme for Hungarian refugees and that they were not included in the camp clearance programme. The representative of Norway inquired if the High Commissioner expected to raise the total of $2,900,000 for camp clearance and whether he had established a priority list among the camps to be cleared. The High Commissioner replied that he expected to raise the necessary funds, more particularly as the Office was this year for the first time in the position of having substantial contributions promised or pledged with which to plan programmes for the following year.

18. The High Commissioner agreed to the request of the representative of Denmark for succinct progress reports on the High Commissioner's camps clearance programme which Governments could submit to legislative bodies when asking for contributions.

19. The Committee heard a statement by Mr. Arctander, housing consultant, on ways of effecting economies in housing projects within the UNHCR programmes in Germany, a summary of which may be found in document A/AC. 79/131. The Committee expressed its appreciation of the statement. Comments on the statement may be found in the summary record of the sixty-third meeting.

20. With regard to the Far Eastern Operation, the High Commissioner explained that with the funds which ICEM had in hand on 20 September it would be possible to transport 400 refugees and, if other expectations of contributions were fulfilled, total movements for 1958 would be approximately 2,600. However, a crisis had now occurred in the settlement of difficult cases, because the institutions in Europe which had offered places to these people could not keep them open beyond a certain period of time. ICEM had therefore decided to call forward 134 cases for Europe and thirty-seven cases for Australia and New Zealand. Movement of such difficult cases could only be effected by chartered aircraft, which were more costly than normal movements. The High Commissioner appealed to Governments to place three pressurized aircraft at ICEM's disposal before January 1959 in order to effect the movement of difficult cases to Europe.

Decisions of the Executive Committee on the 1959 Programmes

21. After its consideration of the 1959 programmes the Executive Committee took the following decisions:

(1) It requested the High Commissioner to make the necessary planning of programmes for 1959 to a level of $4,700,000;

(2) It authorized the High Commissioner to plan the implementation in 1959 of these programmes, as set forth in paragraph 13 above and to submit, where necessary, to the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme at its first session, recommendations for projects within these programmes;

(3) Pursuant to the provisions of paragraphs 5 (d) and 9 of General Assembly resolution 1166 (XII), the Committee authorized the High Commissioner to appeal for funds required for the 1959 programmes; it further authorized the High Commissioner, in appealing for funds for 1959, to draw attention either to the amount of $4,700,000 recommended above or to that of $6,000,000 contained in appendix I to this report, or to both;

(4) It reaffirmed the need to achieve, by the end of 1960, the camp clearance programme as outlined in document A/AC. 79/114. It approved that programme and authorized its implementation in 1959 in an amount of $2,900,000. This amount included half of the target of $4,800,000 referred to in document A/AC. 79/114 and approximately half of the estimated amount of $900,000 representing the approximate value of camp clearance projects which were likely to remain unimplemented at the end of 1958;

(5) It authorized the High Commissioner to grant rent assistance for a limited period not exceeding two years to facilitate the installation of refugees from camps in new dwellings constructed under barracks clearance schemes in Germany, subject to the provisions of paragraph 21 of the Working Party's report;

(6) It decided to plan the completion of the Far Eastern programme over a three-year period 1959-1961. It authorized the High Commissioner to transfer to ICEM any contributions which he might receive for the movement of refugees of European origin from the Far East. It also requested the High Commissioner to include requirements for the movement of these refugees in the total requirements for the Far Eastern programme submitted to Governments even though they do not form part of the UNHCR programme;

(7) It approved a Legal Assistance Programme to be drawn up in accordance with the outline appearing in paragraph 44 of document A/AC. 79/WP. 1/R.1;

(8) The Committee considered paragraph 33 of the report of the Working Party in which it was suggested that the possibility be explored of having the administrative costs of the programmes borne on the United Nations budget. While not objecting to the High Commissioner studying the matter with the competent services of the United Nations, it decided that it should not make any recommendation in the matter pending a decision on a similar proposal made with regard to the United Nations Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance.

Proposal for a world refugee year

22. The Committee considered the resolution on a world refugee year submitted to it by the Working Party in annex II to its report. The Committee noted from the report (paras. 36-40) that the proposal had originated in the United Kingdom and had the support of the United Kingdom Government and voluntary agencies in the United Kingdom. It also noted that the main objectives of the world refugee year would be: (a) to raise funds for assistance to refugees through Governments, voluntary agencies and the general public; and (b) to encourage further opportunities for permanent solutions as defined in the Statute of UNHCR.

23. Members of the Committee expressed their support of this proposal which they considered would reawake public interest in the refugee problem. Members of the Committee agreed that the proposal in order to be effective should be implemented on a world-wide basis, and that campaigns be well-organized within each country so as to stimulate contribution from all quarters towards refugee programmes. Several representatives stressed that in present circumstances it would be difficult to achieve a final solution for all refugee problems, but that a world refugee year would constitute a strong stimulant for all Governments, agencies and people, to make a special effort to alleviate the plight of refugees. The Committee generally agreed that funds collected within the framework of the refugee year should benefit all categories of refugees, and that each participating country should be able to decide on the allocation of the funds it had raised.

24. The representative of the United Kingdom stated that if the Committee were to commend the proposal to the General Assembly it should include refugees, such as those from India and Pakistan, who were not covered by any international organization. In the United Kingdom, the proposal had the full support of Her Majesty's Government and of the voluntary agencies. The movement had a number of influential sponsors.

25. In the United Kingdom, the following five objectives had been chosen for the allocation of funds collected within the framework of the world refugee year, namely: (1) the UNHCR camp clearance programme; (2) the UNHCR programme for assistance to non-settled refugees living out of camps; (3) the UNHCR Far Eastern programme; (4) Arab refugees; and (5) Chinese refugees in Hong Kong.

26. The Committee also heard a statement by the representative of the World Federation of United Nations Associations to the effect that his organization, at its Thirteenth Plenary Assembly held in September 1958, with no opposing votes adopted a resolution in support of a world refugee year. The representative in his statement supported the resolution proposing a world refugee year which was before the Committee.

27. The Committee noted a suggestion by the High Commissioner, made in reply to a question, that to attain the best results there would be a need to provide central assistance and information. (For statement by the High Commissioner see record of the sixty-second meeting, A/AC.79/SR.62)

28. The Committee decided to adopt the resolution submitted to it by the Working Party, as amended by the United Kingdom delegation, contained in appendix II to this report.

Section III. Legal protection

29. A memorandum concerning legal protection was submitted by the High Commissioner to the Executive Committee in its advisory capacity pursuant to the recommendation contained in paragraph 29 of the report of the Working Party. In its report, the Working Party had also recommended to the Executive Committee that it should advise the High Commissioner to increase legal protection activities which are financed from the regular United Nations budget.

30. In the memorandum before the Committee an account was given of the protection activities of the Office of the High Commissioner. If the Executive Committee was to endorse the suggestion put forward by the Working Party the High Commissioner would take such a recommendation into account in preparing the submission for the budget of his Office for 1960.

31. In reply to a question by the representative of Belgium, the representative of the United States explained that it had been the opinion of the Working Party that an increase in protection activities would facilitate the achievements of solutions for refugees and would contribute to making these solutions lasting. The representative referred in particular to the right of employment of refugees, the issue of travel documents, facilitation of family reunion and the protection of unaccompanied children. The representative of Belgium stated that in those countries which had ratified the Convention of 28 July 1951 relating to the Status of Refugees these provisions were being applied to the refugees.

32. The Committee recommended that the High Commissioner should increase his legal protection activities and that an increased budgetary allocation be requested for this purpose, subject to detailed estimates being submitted to the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme in the course of 1959.

Section IV. Other business

UNREF revised plan of operations (1958)

33. The Committee approved project PS/22/GRE requiring an UNREF contribution of $100,000 designed to provide housing to approximately eighty-five Armenian refugee families in Greece which the High Commissioner had submitted in document A/AC.79/91/Add.5. The Committee noted with satisfaction that this project had been made possible by a special contribution of $100,000 given on a matching basis by a charitable foundation. The contribution was to be used as a loan to refugees to benefit from the project. The UNREF contribution towards the project would come from non-governmental contributions to UNREF, and the Committee therefore authorized the project for implementation in category A/1938/Rev.1.

34. The Committee further authorized a shift of allocations between educational projects within the 1958 UNREF programme in Austria. The UNREF contribution to projects PS/48-51/AUS/1958 (aid to high school pupils) would be reduced by an amount of $13,846, whereas the contribution to projects PS/39-45/AUX/1958 (aid to university students) would be in creased by an amount of $7,660.

Financial regulations

35. In order to enable to Office of the High Commissioner to carry on the implementation of its programmes, the Committee decided that the financial regulations (document A/AC.79/10/Rev.3) should remain in force beyond 31 December 1958, pending the adoption of financial regulations by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme at its first session.

First session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme

36. The Committee recommended that the first session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme begin on 26 January 1959.

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

APPENDIX II RESOLUTION (No. 10) ON A WORLD REFUGEE YEAR (Adopted at the sixty-third meeting on 26 September 1958)

The Executive Committee,

Having considered the proposal for a world refugee year as envisaged by the Government and voluntary agencies in the United Kingdom,

Noting that this proposal has two aims, namely:

(1) To focus interest in the world refugee problem and to encourage additional financial contributions from Governments, voluntary agencies and the general public for its solution;

(2) To encourage additional opportunities for permanent solutions, as defined in the statute of the High commissioner for Refugees;

Supports the proposal, and requests the High Commissioner to bring it to the attention of the thirteenth session of the General Assembly as a practical means of securing increased assistance for refugees throughout the world, in accordance with the wishes and needs of each country.

1 Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirteenth Session, Supplement No. 11.