Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Twenty fifth Session
Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No. 12A (A/8012/Add.1)
CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
1. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme held its twenty-first session from 28 September to 6 October 1970 at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
A. Election of officers
2. Under rule 10 of the rules of procedure, which provides that officers shall be elected for the whole year, the Committee elected the following officers by acclamation:
|Chairman:||Mr. Rosenstand Hansen||(Denmark)|
|Vice-Chairman:||Mr. A. B. Adimola||(Uganda)|
|Rapporteur:||Mr. M. Piacitelli||(Italy)|
B. Representation of the Committee
3. All the members of the Committee were represented at the session as follows:
|Federal Republic of Germany||Uganda|
|France||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|Greece||United Republic of Tanzania|
|Holy See||United States of America|
4. The Governments of Argentina, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Finland, India, Lesotho, Nicaragua, the republic of Viet-Nam, Senegal, Spain, the Sudan and Zambia were represented by an observer, as was the Sovereign Order of Malta.
5. The United Nations system was represented as follows; the United Nations, United Nations Industrial Development organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Labour Organisation (ILO); the Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Telecommunication Union (LTU), and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
6. The following intergovernmental organizations were represented by an observer; the Commission of the European Communities (CEC), the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), the League of Arab States, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Council of Europe.
C. Tribute to the memory of President Gamal Abdel Nasser
7. On the proposal of the Chairman, the Committee observed one minute's silence in tribute to the late president of the United Arab Republic.
D. Introductory remarks by the Chairman
8. The Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, paid a tribute to the outgoing chairman, Mr. G. Schlumberger, to the Vice-Chairman, Mr. A. Oviedo, and to the Rapporteur, Mr. N. Kandemir, and welcomed representatives of member Governments of the Committee, observers of other Governments and representatives of United Nations agencies, other intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.
9. He also extended greetings to Mr. G. Margue, Chairman of the Council of Europe Committee on Population and Refugees.
E. Adoption of the agenda - Decision of the Committee
10. The Executive Committee decided to adopt the following agenda:1
(1) Election of officers.
(2) Adoption of the agenda (A/AC.96/427/Rev.3).
(3) Statement by the High Commissioner and general debate (A/AC.96/436).
(4) International protection (A/AC.96/433).
(5) Financial reports for 1969:
(a) Financial statements and report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/430 and 439);
(b) Report on investments (A/AC.96/431).
(6) Proposed arrangements for the observance of the twentieth anniversary of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (A/AC.96/432 and Add.1).
(7) UNHCR current operations:
(a) Report on UNHCR current operations in 1969 (A/AC.96/428 and A/AC.96/INF.103);
(b) Use of the Emergency Fund from 1 January-30 September 1970 (A/AC.96/443 and A/AC.96/INF.104-112).
(8) UNHCR Programme for 1970 - New project (A/AC.96/434).
(9) Resettlement of refugees (A/AC.96/438).
(10) Relations between UNHCR, the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system (A/AC.96/440).
(11) Education for refugees (A/AC.96/441).
(12) UNHCR Assistance Programme for 1971 (A/AC.96/429 and Add.1)
(13) Status of Contributions and over-all financial situation for 1970 and 1971 (A/AC.96/435 and 437).
(14) Regular budget of UNHCR for 1971 (A/AC.96/442).
(15) Any other questions.
(16) Consideration of the draft report on the session.
CHAPTER II GENERAL QUESTIONS
A. Statement by the High Commissioner and general debate (agenda item 3)
11. The High Commissioner gave an account of the acute problems of refugees facing his Office and summed up the philosophy and policies followed in endeavouring to solve them.
12. In spite of difficulties, further progress had been made in the task of achieving permanent solutions to the problems of refugees within the competence of UNHCR and in ensuring their durable settlement, in accordance with the basic principle followed by UNHCR since the inception of its material assistance programme. The importance of this approach had been borne out by the human tragedy of a large group of refugees who did not come within the mandate of UNHCR and for whom assistance had been mainly confined to direct relief for many years, while it had proved impossible to work out appropriate permanent solutions to their problems.
13. He referred to the continued arrivals of new refugees in Africa where the major material assistance case-load was located, to new influxes of refugees in South-East Asia, and the possibility of new problems in East Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. On the other hand, peace having come to Nigeria, UNHCR had been asked to lend its good offices for the return of Nigerian children to their homeland.
14. Since the work of UNHCR was increasingly bound up with the activities of other members of the United Nations system, particularly in Africa, the High Commissioner had been called upon to follow closely the present review of United Nations activities in the economic and social field. He had also had an opportunity, on behalf of the newly established functional group of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC) on humanitarian aid in cases of natural disasters, to submit suggestions on this subject. He hoped that the United Nations system as a whole would be able to play a more active role in cases of natural, as well as man-made, disasters.
15. Progress continued to be made with regard to voluntary repatriation. The High Commissioner sincerely hoped however that no further cases of forcible repatriation would occur, since such action constituted a serious infringement of the principles of human rights and of the Statute of his Office. Resettlement continued to constitute a valuable solution. However, an acceleration of the determination of refugee status was desirable in certain countries in order to keep pace with the rate of resettlement of refugees through migration.
16. With regard to local integration, setbacks had been suffered. Some rural settlement schemes, in particular, had been delayed because local conditions prevented their implementation or because of insufficient technical advice and, in some areas, also because operational partners were not readily available. Moreover, it had become clear that problems of rural settlement required further study, particularly from a sociological point of view. The phasing-out of UNHCR projects had been delayed in several areas because of the continuing influx of new refugees joining groups already in the area and for whom new assistance projects had to be put into effect. Such influxes were likely to continue until such time as the countries from which the refugees came had been granted independence. The majority of refugees within UNHCR's competence in Africa came from these countries and a considerable amount of assistance was granted to them by UNHCR with the co-operation of members of the United Nations system, as mentioned in recent resolutions of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.
17. With regard to education, an increasing proportion of local children were being admitted to primary schools in several countries in Africa, and this in turn had provoked a corresponding increase in the need for primary schools facilities for refugee children. The High Commissioner informed the Committee that under an agreement concluded between the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa and his Office, UNHCR would provide educational assistance for refugees up to and including the first level of secondary education, while the Programme would assist refugees at the higher level of education.
18. A development which was causing serious problems for UNHCR was the growing number of individual African refugees in some of the larger cities, a phenomenon directly connected with the general problem of rural exodus. These refugees included intellectuals in search of employment or training, who were also to be found in several countries in Europe. Solutions might be achieved through the combined efforts of the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees and of the Governments of countries in Africa where these refugees might be helped to settle. Furthermore, the establishment of small counselling services in the areas where the majority of these individual refugees were located was envisaged.
19. The High Commissioner emphasized that in some countries of asylum parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and to the 1967 Protocol, individual refugees had great difficulty in regularizing their situation and were not always treated in accordance with the provisions of these instruments, but in accordance with local refugee control acts or aliens legislation. He seriously hoped that this situation would be remedied.
20. The High Commissioner was pleased to inform the Committee that the size of contributions to both the Programme and the Education Account was increasing, as was also the number of Governments which regularly participated in the financing of UNHCR activities. This was the more important in view of the proposed increase in the financial target submitted in respect of the 1971 Programme. Apart from the fact that additional funds would be required for the implementation of approved projects which had had to be held in abeyance, this increase was due to price inflation, the increased need for medical and educational infrastructure, and also the fact many refugees were located in outlying areas.
21. In conclusion, the High Commissioner stressed that in present-day conditions methods of assistance to refugees required frequent review and adjustment if they were to be effective.
22. The ensuing debate was characterized by the attachment of members of the Committee to the cause of refugees and to the respect for the human dignity of the individuals whose rights and interests the High Commissioner was to safeguard and protect. Emphasis was placed on the spirit of solidarity in which members of the international community should foster the work of assistance for refugees, which called for universal support.
23. The representatives who spoke paid a warm tribute to the High Commissioner for the results his office had achieved through its humanitarian and non-political approach, which was also in the interest of peaceful relations and political stability in the areas concerned. The representatives of, and observers for, African Governments participating in the work of the Committee expressed the deep appreciation of their respective Governments for the contribution which the international community, through the Office of the High Commissioner, was providing for refugees on their territory thereby contributing to alleviating the task with which they were confronted.
24. The Committee fully supported the view expressed by the High Commissioner that relief without permanent solutions in sight would do more harm than good, and it emphasized the importance of helping refugees to become self-supporting as rapidly as possible, both in their own interest and that of their new community. The effectiveness of this approach had been borne out by UNHCR experience over the years, first in European countries and subsequently in other parts of the world, including in particular the African continent, where increasing numbers of refugees were being durably settled.
25. Many speakers emphasized the importance of international protection as the primary function of UNHCR and expressed the hope that the relevant legal instruments would gain widespread acceptance and would be fully implemented for the benefit of refugees wherever they were.
26. While the importance of voluntary repatriation was emphasized by some representatives, a strong plea was made against forcible repatriation, which constituted an infringement of the most elementary human rights. Several representatives fully endorsed the high Commissioner's view that local refugee control acts or aliens legislation should not be applied to refugees who were the concern of his Office.
27. Most speakers stressed the importance they attached to further increased co-operation between UNHCR and other members of the United Nations system, as well as other intergovernmental organizations and the numerous non-governmental organizations active in the field of assistance to refugees. Co-operation with members of the United Nations system, in particular those in a position to provide development assistance, was becoming increasingly important since it was a primary condition for the timely phasing-out of UNHCR assistance projects without jeopardizing the economic and social situation of refugees.
28. Some representatives emphasized the gravity and scope of the natural and man-made disasters which had occurred in recent years and which were also connected with the problems of refugees. As the High Commissioner had said, the international community had a duty to assist the victims of man-made disasters when these could not be prevented. They also felt that more could be done to take the fullest advantage of the generosity shown on these occasions, and evoked the possibility of concerted action in this context between UNHCR, other United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations.
29. Some speakers commended the approach followed by UNHCR, whereby assistance programmes were focused on refugees in those developing areas where international assistance was most required. Several representatives pointed out that the influx of refugees also continued in European countries where responsibility for assistance to them had been largely assumed by the national authorities and local voluntary agencies. In the present circumstances, many of the refugees could either obtain employment or find resettlement opportunities. Their position would become much more difficult, however, in the event of an economic recession. One speaker, supported by others, drew attention to the important role played by UNHCR's branch offices in these countries and stressed the need to maintain them at their present strength.
30. With regard to Latin America, the Committee noted, from an eye-witness account given by the representative of the Holy See and from other statements, that while assistance projects for a relatively limited number of refugees were in progress, the refugee population was ageing and contained other tragic individual cases.
31. Some representatives drew the attention of the Committee to the important problems of refugees in Asia, where UNHCR was pursuing its activities in several countries and had recently made an allocation from its Emergency Fund for assistance to refugees in Cambodia and Viet-Nam, in accordance with the good offices resolutions of the General Assembly. Referring to the situation of Chinese refugees in various parts of Asia, the representative of China urged that efforts be made to ensure their protection and give them resettlement opportunities or material assistance in certain areas. The high Commissioner referred to the assistance projects put into effect for Chinese refugees and recalled that the provision of material assistance measures by his Office also depended on a request to this effect being made by the country of residence of the refugees concerned.
32. Special attention was paid to the situation in Africa, where the great majority of refugees benefiting from UNHCR assistance were located. Appreciation was expressed for the manner in which Governments of several African countries were admitting new refugees and contributing to the projects carried out for their benefit. The representative of one of the main countries of asylum in Africa stated that, in his view, the numbers of refugees on that continent would begin to decrease and a complete solution to their problems would be possible, with the assistance of the OAU, only once the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples had been fully implemented. He urged members of the Committee to support action to this effect.
33. Members of the Committee recognized the difficulties confronting the Office, especially with regard to the implementation of rural settlement projects, and they supported the High Commissioner's proposed policy to increase the effectiveness of these projects through a closer study of the sociological problems involved. Considerable attention was devoted to the all-important question of phasing-out of UNHCR projects once refugees had achieved a reasonable degree of self-sufficiency. The Committee noted that in spite of unavoidable difficulties arising as a result of the arrival of new refugees in existing centres, further progress in this respect could be expected in certain countries such as the United Republic of Tanzania.
34. Several representatives re-emphasized that considering its limited financial resources UNHCR could not be expected to continue material assistance projects for refugees until their complete integration. In the case of refugees settling on the land in developing countries, such integration largely depended on the economic development of the area in which they were living. It was recalled that in some countries zonal development projects had been successfully put into effect for the benefit of refugees and the local population alike. As indicated in more detail below, the question arose as to how the economic and social situation of refugees could be consolidated in the framework of development projects put into effect by other members of the United Nations system. It was understood that further arrangements would be worked out once decisions had been taken following the review of the functioning of the United Nations Development Programme which was at present being carried out. It might then also be possible to achieve a solution to the problem of the financing of infrastructure equipment, also referred to in paragraphs 35 to 37 below.
35. The Committee also considered the growing problem of individual cases mainly in African cities, but also in certain countries in Europe, for whom increased measures of assistance were likely to be required. The High Commissioner's suggestion to establish small counselling teams to help these cases in Africa met with a favourable response. With regard to the possible financial implications, the High Commissioner explained that the cost would not have too great an impact on the budget since the proposed teams were expected to include experts from other agencies.
36. Many speakers agreed on the importance of educational assistance to refugees, particularly in developing areas. They supported the High Commissioner's approach in this field and paid tribute to the countries which were generously contributing to the UNHCR Education Account. Some representatives recalled that appropriate education and training geared to employment opportunities should enable the refugees to play an important role in the development of the African continent.
37. In the course of the session representatives made announcements in respect of their financial participation in UNHCR activities, the details of which may be found in chapter IX below.
38. A number of representatives and observers described the situation of refugees in their respective countries and gave an account of the assistance given to them, details of which may be found in the summary records of the 204th and 205th meetings.
Decision of the Committee
39. The Executive Committee;
(1) Recognized that UNHCR continued to be confronted with manifold and complex problems of refugees throughout various parts of the world;
(2) Expressed the hope that the humanitarian task of UNHCR would receive universal support;
(3) Reaffirmed the fundamental importance of international protection as the primary function of UNHCR;
(4) Recalled the importance of achieving permanent solutions to the problems of refugees by helping them to become self-supporting as rapidly as possible and ensuring their durable settlement;
(5) Recognized that difficult problems beset UNHCR, particularly in respect of African refugees, with special reference to individual cases, to certain aspects of rural settlement and to educational assistance;
(6) Supported the view that in order to facilitate and improve the rural settlement of refugees, their sociological problems should be taken into account to every possible extent;
(7) Stressed the importance it attached to concerted action by UNHCR and other members of the United Nations system in the field of humanitarian aid;
(8) Endorsed generally the policies enunciated in the High Commissioner's statement, which were geared to the dynamics of refugee problems in a rapidly changing world.
B. Relations between UNHCR, the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system (agenda item 10)
40. In introducing this item, the Chef de cabinet of the High Commissioner stressed that, apart from its importance for the implementation of UNHCR projects, interagency co-operation was a matter of more general concern, namely, of maintaining a certain unity of action and concept within the United Nations system. Experience had shown that the rural settlement of a considerable number of refugees in Africa could not be disassociated from development. If integration in a country was to be sound and lasting, UNHCR projects must, at the appropriate time, be incorporated into that country's development plans, at which point UNDP and other members of the United Nations system would take over UNHCR's work.
41. The Committee also heard a statement by the Inter-Agency Programme Co-ordinator, who gave several examples of interagency co-operation in the field of rural settlement, details of which may be found in the summary record of the 209th meeting and in document A/AC.96/440. He emphasized that experts from the specialized agencies provided UNHCR with assistance whenever it was needed. The excellent co-operation that had been established between WFP and UNICEF could be speeded up through a better synchronization of requests for assistance addressed to the organizations in question, as well as to UNHCR, by the Governments concerned. The difference in the programming cycles of UNHCR and UNICEF raised a problem in that connexion.
42. The Programme Co-ordinator also mentioned the difficulties encountered in connexion with the granting of educational or vocational training fellowships to refugees, save where the organizations concerned were in a position to grant such fellowships at the simple request of the High Commissioner, because normally Governments were bound to give priority t their own nationals.
43. The members of the Committee were unanimous in stressing the fundamental role which could be played by interagency co-operation, and paid tribute to the office of the High Commissioner, as well as to the other members of the United Nations system, for the results already achieved in that field.
44. Most speakers were agreed on the need to continue and expand such co-operation so as to make the best possible use of any assistance that was offered, particularly for the purpose of enabling refugees in the developing countries to become fully integrated.
45. Most representatives emphasized the possibilities that could be opened up by the strengthening of the capacity of the United Nations development system, and were in agreement that the High Commissioner should review the most appropriate forms of interagency co-operation in the light of the decisions to be taken by the General Assembly.
46. Members of the Committee also referred to the problem financing equipment and infrastructure costs and to the transfer of UNHCR projects to other members of the United Nations system. In connexion with the first point, it was asked whether the negative reply of the international Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) concerning the Qala en Nahal water-supply project in the Sudan was due to the nature of the project or to reasons of principle. The High Commissioner said that, in his own personal opinion, the Bank preferred to participate in long-term infrastructural projects of concern to an entire country or region, and perhaps found it difficult to grant loans for the execution of projects which were much more limited in scope. Moreover, a loan made by the Bank had to be guaranteed by the Government concerned. The High commissioner intended nevertheless to resume his discussions with the Bank.
47. With regard to possible assistance from UNDP, the Committee noted with interest that, if the recommendation on the strengthening of the capacity of the United Nations development system made by the Economic and Social Council at its forty-ninth session (resolution 1530(XLIX)) was adopted by the General Assembly, UNDP could, if necessary, assist in financing equipment, in the manner suggested in paragraph 14 of document A/AC.96/440, and confirmed by the UNDP representative in the Committee.
48. During the discussion, it was suggested that the High Commissioner should in future keep members of the Executive Committee informed about refugee projects which other members of the United Nations system, including IBRD and UNDP, might help to finance. That would enable Governments to give the necessary instructions to their representatives in the deliberative organs of these bodies.
49. Many representatives again stressed that responsibility for UNHCR rural resettlement schemes must be handed over to other bodies whenever possible. The principal goal of UNHCR was to find permanent solutions, a goal which it was very often impossible to attain unless refugees were helped to consolidate their economic and social position, so that they did not once more become destitute and require assistance all over again.
50. There was a discussion on how such responsibilities could be handed over in the future. The Australian representative, referring to a rural development project started in Burundi a few years previously, wondered whether the UNHCR's financial support of the contribution made by the Burundi Government might not constitute a precedent.
51. The Inter-Agency Programme Co-ordinator pointed out that the scheme had benefited refugees in the same way as the local population, and that UNHCR's financial contribution to the Burundi Government had covered only a certain proportion corresponding to the percentage of refugees in the population of the area in which it had been implemented. UNHCR's participation had been financed by a special contribution outside the programme. He also pointed out that the problem of the transfer of responsibility would probably arise in a different form if the General Assembly adopted the Economic and Social Council recommendation on the strengthening of the capacity of the United Nations development system.
52. The Committee was of the opinion that, in that event, new procedures should be developed to enable UNHCR to take advantage of changes in the United Nations development system.
53. Among problems of a more general nature which continued to arise in connexion with interagency co-operation, several representatives referred to the allocation of appropriate priorities by Governments of host countries to the development projects of regions where refugees were living.
54. Representatives of UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, the ILO, WHO and FAO confirmed that their organizations were desirous of co-operating still more closely with UNHCR, subject to their constitutional provisions. The simplified procedures governing relations between UNHCR and the ILO and WHO, as well as the arrangements being considered in FAO in that connexion, were referred to. Several representatives emphasized that United Nations bodies must reconcile the immediate need for assistance to refugees with the Long-term planning which most of them had to practice. An exchange of views also took place on the degree of perfection of assistance contemplated, as recommended by the experts of United Nations bodies (details in summary record of the 209th meeting).
55. Replying to a question by the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania, the representative of the World Food Programme explained the procedure regarding the supply of food-stuffs which the Programme had to follow in approaching Governments with available surpluses and subsequently shipping them by sea. It was difficult to supply a large variety of food-stuffs, in view of the very limited number of items available in sufficient quantity. Moreover, the Programme had only a limited budget to finance emergency aid projects. The possibility of stockpiling on a regional basis was at present under consideration.
56. During the discussion, several representatives stressed the importance of the co-operation which had been established between UNHCR and the other intergovernmental organizations represented in the Committee. The value of voluntary assistance was also emphasized, and the Committee noted in that connexion that UNHCR had concluded agreements with the International secretariat for volunteer Service and the Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service.
Decision of the Committee
57. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note with appreciation of the report on relations between UNHCR, the United Nations and other members of the United Nations system submitted by the High Commissioner in document A/AC.96/440 and of the progress accomplished in this field;
(2) Paid tribute to other members of the United Nations system for their continuing support for the work of assistance for refugees;
(3) Recommended that, taking into account the decisions that might result from the present review of the functioning of the United Nations Development Programme, further means of co-operation be worked out between UNHCR and other members of the United Nations system as might be required, with special reference to the consolidation of the position of refugees settled on the Land, and that the progress achieved in this respect be reported to the next session;
(4) Recommended that the High Commissioner should continue to explore how infrastructure equipment in refugee settlements in Africa could best be financed; and that the progress achieved in this respect be reported to the next session;
(5) Requested the High Commissioner to inform Governments members of the Executive Committee of projects of benefit to refugees, which United Nations agencies, including the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the United Nations Development Programme, might be asked to finance or co-finance, in order that the representatives of these Governments on the governing bodies of the agencies concerned be given the necessary directives;
(6) Recommended that the Governments of countries of residence concerned give due priority to projects of members of the United Nations system which are carried out in areas where refugees are located, or which may in any other way be of benefit to refugees.
CHAPTER II INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION (Agenda item 4)
58. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the note on international protection (A/AC.96/433), referred to various positive developments in this field. The fundamental principles for the treatment of refugees had today gained widespread acceptance and a more dynamic concept of international protection now prevailed. It was recognized that international protection was closely linked to the integration of refugees in their country of residence and that its ultimate objective was that they should cease to be refugees through the acquisition of a new nationality. Sixty countries were now parties to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and forty-three to the 1967 Protocol. Encouraging developments had also taken place with regard to the principle of the right of asylum. Furthermore, experience showed that when serious refugee emergencies occurred the international community was ready to meet the need without delay within the framework of normal international co-operation. It was hoped this would lead to a flexible approach in cases of individual refugees who frequently encountered difficulties in regularizing their situation. The High Commissioner's representative also appealed to Governments of second asylum to apply a liberal practice with regard to expulsion and deportation.
59. Mr. Margue, Chairman of the Committee on Population and Refugees of the Council of Europe, in a statement to the Committee, recalled that co-operation between the Council of Europe and UNHCR dated from the very establishment of the Office. Outlining some of the salient points of the action taken by the Council of Europe in favour of refugees, he mentioned in particular the question of asylum, the European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees and the integration of refugees through acquisition of the nationality of the country of residence. Two resolutions and a recommendation (No.564) had been approved by the Consultative Assembly on this subject and the Committee of Ministers had adopted a resolution (70(2)) inviting member countries to take action to overcome legal obstacles in this field, while at the same time leaving refugees a free choice.
60. The representatives who spoke during the debate reaffirmed the vital importance of protection as the primary function of UNHCR and paid a tribute to the High Commissioner on the encouraging progress achieved. They were pleased to note that further accessions had been made to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol. It was also recommended that still wider accession to these two instruments should be sought and that Governments should be urged to accede to the 1961 Convention on the Education of Statelessness in order to bring it into force and so reduce the number of stateless children. Representatives emphasized that the High Commissioner's task of protection was particularly important in cases of the granting of asylum and non-refoulement of refugees and were encouraged to note that developments in international law had recently taken place in this field, in particular the inclusion in the OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee problems in Africa of an article on the right of asylum and the incorporation of the principle of non-refoulement in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, adopted in November 1969. The Committee was however concerned to learn that several cases of refoulement had recently occurred.
61. One representative felt that some caution was necessary with regard to the establishment of the right of asylum as subjective and personal right, since this might entail the risk that Governments would be tempted to practice a less liberal asylum policy if they were to find themselves bound by such a principle. Another representative felt that legal force should be given to the principle of non-refoulement by its inclusion in domestic legislation.
62. The representative of the High Commissioner said that it would appear that existing international instruments were incomplete with regard to asylum and non-refoulement inasmuch as asylum seekers were unable to claim any rights in this respect until their refugee status had been established. Only a liberal practice on the part of the country of asylum could alleviate this situation. A colloquium to study this question would be held in 1971 which, it was hoped, would result in the preparation of a suitable legal instrument on the question of asylum and non-refoulement.
63. The representatives who spoke expressed their warm appreciation of the initiative taken by the Council of Europe to further the naturalization of refugees. The committee was pleased to learn from the representatives of Australia, Belgium, Greece, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of the measures taken or about to be taken by their Governments to facilitate naturalizaton, in some cases by reducing the statutory period of residence. Details may be found in the summary records of the 203rd, 204th and 205th meetings.
64. The Committee was also pleased to note from the statement by the representative of the Netherlands that a number of States parties to the Agreement relating to Refugee Seamen had already given a positive response to the proposal of the Government of the Netherlands to widen the scope of the Agreement.
65. With regard to the determination of eligibility of refugees, several representatives noted with interest that some Governments were practising a more flexible approach and were allowing asylum seekers to remain some time on their territory without applying for refugee status. One representative suggested that the High Commissioner should inform the Committee periodically of the number of persons in this category. It was also emphasized that care must be taken to avoid creating two categories of refugees.
66. Referring to the tragic situation of refugees separated from their families, many representatives emphasized the importance their Governments attached to the principle of family reunion. They shared the High Commissioner's hope that in order to avoid unnecessary suffering Governments would enable the close relatives of refugees, including children coming of age in their country of residence, to obtain exit permits in order to rejoin their families.
67. Some representatives stated that voluntary repatriation, where possible, still constituted the most appropriate solution to refugee problems. One representative suggested that visits by refugees to their home country, which might enable them to investigate the possibility of return, should be facilitated and should not entail loss of refugee status. Another representative urged that special attention be given to the repatriation of mentally handicapped refugees.
68. Stressing the importance of international protection, one representative expressed the hope that every effort would be made by the High Commissioner to maintain adequate personnel in all branch offices to carry out this vital task.
69. A number of representative and the observer for Senegal gave information on the action taken by their Governments to improve the legal status of refugees on their territory, the details of which may be found in the summary record of the 203rd meeting.
70. The observer for the Sudan informed the Committee of the general amnesty which had been decreed by his Government, and the observer for Zambia explained that his country's legislation was not based on the premise that refugees had come to stay. He also stated that under a recent refugee control act, refugees could settle down at a certain distance from the border. A number of revocation orders concerning detainees had been made in his country.
71. The representative of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) said that ICVA had readily responded to the high Commissioner's request to co-operate in bringing to the attention of refugees the advantages of naturalization, since the voluntary agencies were particularly well placed to appreciate the problems of refugees without an effective nationality. ICVA had already taken steps to inform refugees of the possibilities open to them in this field.
Decision of the Committee
72. The Executive Committee:
(1) Reaffirmed the importance it attaches to the increased recognition and respect of the vital principles of asylum and non-refoulement;
(2) Expressed concern at the serious problems still encountered by individual refugees and recommended that the High Commissioner should appeal to Governments to give special attention to the need for their situation to be regularized as rapidly as possible, taking into account that the granting of asylum is a peaceful and humanitarian act;
(3) Expressed the hope:
(a) That further States would accede in the near future to intergovernmental instruments providing for the protection of refugees, including, in particular, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol as well as the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;
(b) That Governments parties to intergovernmental instruments providing for the protection of refugees would adjust, necessary, their legislation and administrative practice to bring them fully in line with the letter and spirit of these instruments, and recommended that the High Commissioner address an appeal to Governments to this effect;
(4) Supported the view that refugees, particularly in countries where they have resided for a long period of time, should be given appropriate facilities for the acquisition of the nationality of that country and should be provided with the necessary information on the regulations and procedures in force;
(5) Paid tribute to the Council of Europe for the initiative it has taken in encouraging the acquisition by refugees, in its member countries, of the nationality of those countries;
(6) Stressed the importance it attaches to ensuring that the unity of the refugee's family is maintained in accordance with the provisions of section IV B of the Final Act of the United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons2 and recommends that the High Commissioner should continue to make every effort to this effect.
CHAPTER IV RESETTLEMENT OF REFUGEES (Agenda item 9)
73. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the report on the resettlement of Refugees (A/AC.96/438), stressed the importance attached by the High Commissioner to the smooth working of the resettlement machinery which, combined with the generous policy of governments of countries of asylum and reception, had prevented an accumulation in asylum countries of refugees desiring resettlement.
74. The Director of the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), Mr. John F. Thomas, made a statement in which he stressed the increasingly close partnership between UNHCR and ICEM as shown in the report. As a result of the acceleration of ICEM resettlement operations in Europe, over-crowded conditions in the reception centres of the major countries of asylum no longer prevailed by mid-1970. The resettlement of individual refugees living outside centres was made possible by the liberal admission policies of countries of asylum and the acceptance by countries of immigration of persons whose refugee status had not yet been formally established.
75. The closely integrated action of voluntary agencies, ICEM and UNHCR for the resettlement of handicapped refugees during the eighteen-month period under review had had encouraging results, thanks largely to the generosity and sympathy of the immigration countries accepting these very difficult cases.
76. Mr. Thomas compared the objectives of social and economic progress set by the High Commissioner in his refugee assistance projects in Africa and ICEM's recent efforts to include a small number of refugees in its Selective Migration Programme for Latin America. Among world problems to be faced in the new decade of the 1970s which had not yet received wide recognition was a maldistribution of population for which migration could constitute a solution, if all countries adopted the principle of freedom of movement. Though migration was not always the most desirable solution, it would certainly be opportune for Governments to explore resettlement possibilities in all parts of the world wherever a new refugee problem arose.
77. The representatives who spoke stressed the role of resettlement through migration as a solution to the problems of refugees throughout various parts of the world. They emphasized the importance of maintaining the efficient mechanism of international co-operation in this field. The representatives of some of the countries of asylum in Europe expressed their Government's gratitude for the Liberal admission policy and expeditious procedures which had been adopted by a number of immigration countries which had also largely contributed to avoiding the accumulation of refugees in centres. The representatives of Austria and Italy suggested that the processing of emigration cases be further facilitated, especially during the summer months when there was a greater influx of new refugees.
78. Appreciation was expressed to ICEM for its continuing activities in favour of refugees, and for its readiness to assist in their resettlement wherever they might be. The representative of Brazil paid a tribute to ICEM for the way in which it was selecting workers and resettling them in countries in Latin America which were unable, for economic reasons, to set up their own immigration machinery . The numbers involved were small since only skilled workers could be absorbed by developing countries in the area without risk of upsetting the labour market.
79. The representative of Canada informed the Committee that 240 Tibetan refugees would be admitted to his country and the representative of Switzerland stated that a further number of Tibetans would be resettled in Switzerland. The Australian Government had again expressed its willingness to accept refugees from the Caribbean who were at present in Spain. Sweden, which had admitted 4,000 refugees between 1 July 1969 and 30 June 1970, including 2,500 who had arrived spontaneously and 1,500 who had been selected by Swedish Missions, would shortly be in a position to make known its selection plans for 1971. Some representatives stressed the importance of selection missions undertaking their visits to first asylum countries as soon as possible after selection plans had been adopted.
80. Information was also given to the Committee by the representative of Australia in respect of the increased social services available to immigrants, including refugees arriving in his country, which included free or subsidized accommodation and assistance towards integration, including counselling and language training.
81. Some speakers draw attention to the role which resettlement was called upon to play in order to solve the problems of individual African refugees in Africa and elsewhere. The Committee noted with interest from a statement made by the Director of the OAU Bureau for the placement and Education of Refugees that the activities of the Bureau were now gaining momentum and that further efforts were being made to solve the problems of individual refugees through resettlement, in co-operation with the Governments concerned. The Bureau had recently held a seminar for its national correspondents which it was expected would lead to the establishment of local committees in a number of African countries to support the correspondents in their daily work. The conclusions of the seminar had been endorsed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the OAU.
82. The Committee devoted considerable attention to the problems of handicapped and severely handicapped refugees. It noted that this problem was now also emerging in other areas. Dr. Cleve Schou, Chief Medical Officer of ICEM, addressing the Committee, appealed to Governments to provide openings on a continuing basis for handicapped and severely handicapped cases among new arrivals in Europe, in the Far East and in Africa. The most suitable way to further the resettlement of these cases would be to consider them on an individual basis through the technique of the special resettlement dossiers scheme. In reply to a question from the representative of Sweden as to what his Government could do further to facilitate the solution of this problem, Dr. Schou suggested that a special quota be adopted for the severely handicapped who were unable to meet the existing criteria.
83. The representatives who spoke stressed the importance of continuing action for the benefit of the handicapped. The Committee noted from statements made by the representatives from Now way, Sweden and Switzerland that many handicapped had been included among the 102 refugees accepted by Norway in 1970 and that further handicapped refugees would be admitted in the future within larger groups or on an individual basis. In Sweden some handicapped refugees had been included among the 4,000 refugees admitted between 1 July 1969 and 30 June 1970 and Switzerland intended to continue accepting eighty handicapped refugees annually.
84. The Committee heard a report from Dame May Curwen, Chairman of the British Council for Aid to Refugees, on her organization's efforts to provide interpreters for aged and handicapped refugees and those in mental hospitals in the United Kingdom and to arrange for them to be visited. After-care units for refugees were also planned and a special geriatric wing in a hospital was to be established for them. Dame May pointed out that in addition to the severely handicapped cases and the cases of African refugees accepted by the United Kingdom in 1969 and 1970, a considerable number of Czechoslovak refugees, admitted temporarily, had been granted permanent asylum.
Decision of the Committee
85. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note of the report on the resettlement of Refugees;
(2) Paid a tribute to the Governments of first asylum and resettlement countries for the expeditious and humanitarian way in which they have contributed towards the resettlement of refugees whose situation might otherwise have given rise to serious problems;
(3) Expressed the hope that the Governments and organizations concerned, including members of the United Nations system, would give their full support to the OAU Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees in its important task;
(4) Endorsed the High Commissioner's suggestion that interested Governments give special attention to cases involving the reunion of refugee families so as to avoid the human suffering caused by their enforced separation;
(5) Recommended that Governments continue to implement special schemes for the admission of handicapped refugees.
CHAPTER V EDUCATION FOR REFUGEES (Agenda item 11)
86. Introducing the note on education for refugees (A/AC.96/441), the representative of the High Commissioner recalled that the aim of educational assistance was to give refugees similar educational opportunities as were given to nationals.
87. More than $800,000 would be spent on primary education under the UNHCR Programme for 1970, as shown in table I of the document. In view of the progress being made in African countries towards providing primary education for all their children, it was anticipated that, in order to keep pace with this development, a larger allocation for primary education under the UNHCR annual programme would be required in future years to ensure that refugee children continued to receive the same opportunities as local children.
88. With regard to post-primary education financed from the Education Account, the main emphasis was placed on secondary education and vocational training. Thanks to the generous support given by the donor countries, larger investments in school buildings for secondary education had been possible. If the negotiations now taking place with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and potential donors for the building of secondary school facilities in Tanzania materialized as planned, total assistance for post-primary education in 1970 would be considerably higher than the amount indicated in table II of the document.
89. The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania stated that his Government would provide for an expansion of primary education in its second five-year plan in order to increase from 50 to 100 per cent the percentage of children attending primary school. This would entail a heavy financial burden for his country. He was glad to note that the High Commissioner envisaged a corresponding assistance for primary school education for refugee children. With regard to secondary education the five-year plan was orientated towards meeting the economic needs of the country by 1980. UNHCR was participating by providing scholarships for refugees. Referring to adult education, he said that his Government awaited the High Commissioner's proposals before making arrangements to extend to refugees the benefits of the experience gained from the UNESCO literacy pilot project in Mwanza.
90. The representative of Iran emphasized the importance his delegation attached to education. With regard to secondary education financed from the Education Account, efforts should be directed towards vocational training which would enable refugees not only to meet their own needs but also to contribute to the economic development of the country of asylum. He felt that the Committee should take the necessary action to ensure that the requests submitted by the High Commissioner for scholarships for technical and higher education were taken into consideration by United Nations agencies. With regard to adult education, while recognizing present difficulties he believed that the co-operation between UNESCO and UNHCR would produce results in this field.
91. The Committee was interested to learn from the observer for Senegal that his Government would inaugurate a school in Dakar, to be named after Fridtjof Nansen, as an expression of gratitude to the Scandinavian countries for the exceptional contribution they had made to educational assistance for refugees. He said that refugees were treated on the same basis as nationals at all levels of education.
Decision of the Committee
92. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note with satisfaction of the note on education for refugees (A/AC.96/441):
(2) Noted with appreciation the arrangements for secondary education concluded between the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa and UNHCR;
(3) Expressed the hope that the increased co-operation afforded to UNHCR by the other members of the United Nations system and in particular by UNESCO, in this field, would be still further developed for the benefit of refugees;
(4) Agreed that educational assistance to refugees should, as far as possible, be geared to prevailing employment opportunities and manpower requirements in countries of residence;
(5) Expressed appreciation to the Governments which had generously contributed to the UNHCR Education Account to enable educational assistance to be provided to refugees.
CHAPTER VI UNHCR CURRENT OPERATIONS
A. Report on UNHCR current operations in 1969 and note on the use of the Emergency Fund from 1 January to 30 September 1970 (agenda item 7)
93. The Committee considered first the report on UNHCR current operations in 1969 (A/AC.96/428) and afterwards the note on the use of the Emergency Fund from 1 January to 30 September 1970 (A/AC.96/443 and A/AC.96/INF.103-112).
94. The representatives who spoke expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved. With reference to Africa, one speaker stressed that in drawing up rural settlement projects due consideration should be given to all the factors involved and that farming methods to which the refugees were accustomed should be chosen. The representative of the High Commissioner gave the Committee supplementary information on developments on that continent in 1970, in particular relating to the start of work on projects which had been delayed. He further stated that several countries in Africa intended to issue identity cards to refugees similar to those made available to them by the Government of the Central African Republic, with the co-operation of UNHCR.
95. The representative of Nigeria informed the Committee of the steps taken by his Government in connexion with the repatriation of Nigerian children evacuated to other countries during the war. He expressed his Government's gratitude for the assistance rendered to Nigerian children in Gabon.
96. The Committee heard an eye-witness report from the representative of the Holy See who had visited Argentina and Chile, which, together with Brazil, were the countries with the largest number of European refugees in Latin America. He had seen homes established for aged and handicapped refugees. He paid tribute to the non-governmental organizations which were running them and to the governments and people of the countries concerned who supported the work of UNHCR, in spite of the difficult economic situation prevailing in the area. He also appealed on behalf of new refugees in Latin America who might come to require assistance. In reply to a question from the representative of Brazil, the representative of the High Commissioner gave details of the structure of UNHCR offices in Latin America, the details of which will be found in the summary record of the 206th meeting.
97. During the consideration by the Committee of the allocations from the Emergency Fund, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania referred to the continuous influx of refugees from Mozambique into his country, which had amounted to not less than 11,000 in the past eleven months. The arrival of these newcomers, after the settlements for earlier refugees had already been planned and financed, was causing considerable difficulties and had caused his Government to establish a new settlement at Matekwe, as mentioned in documents A/AC.96/INF.103 and 104. He also expressed concern that the food to be supplied by the World Food Programme had not yet reached the settlement area, and appealed for its immediate delivery.
98. Referring to the allocation made for assistance to refugees in South-East Asia, the representative of the High Commissioner described the situation in Viet-Nam and Cambodia, as he had seen it in the Spring of 1970 and as it had since developed. The Government of the Republic of Viet-Nam had appealed to the high Commissioner for assistance in dealing with the new influx from Cambodia, whose number had risen by mid-September to 200,000, more than half of whom were children. Some 112,000, had been transported by ship, 12,000 by air and the remainder had made their own way.
99. According to a sampling made by the Government of the Republic of Viet-Nam, the group was composed mainly of persons of Viet-Namese ethnic origin who had been residing in Cambodia for some time. Over 70 per cent of them held Viet-Namese citizenship and nearly 30 per cent were Cambodian citizens of Viet-Namese origin. The group also included some 10,000 Cambodians of Khmer origin.
100. On the basis of the information received, the High Commissioner believed that he had cause to assist in a problem affecting many people who might meet the conditions of the mandate of UNHCR. He had therefore allocated an amount of $50,000 from the Emergency Fund to the Red Cross of the Republic of Viet-Nam to improve the living conditions of the most destitute among these refugees (cf. document A/AC.96/INF.107).
101. In Cambodia, in June 1970, some 94,000 residents of Viet-Namese origin were living in ad hoc settlements awaiting the possibility of going to Viet-Nam. In spite of assistance given by the Government, by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the League of Red Cross Societies and other agencies, the situation was serious. At the present time, the centres in Phnom Penh had been evacuated towards the Republic of Viet-Nam, but some 25,000 to 30,000 people were still living in centres outside the capital. There were furthermore several thousand refugees of Khmer origin from the Republic of Viet-Nam. In view of the presence among these groups of persons who might fill the conditions of his mandate, the High Commissioner had made available $50,000 from the Emergency Fund to the Cambodian Red Cross.
102. The Committee also noted from document A/AC.96/INF.108 that the High Commissioner had allocated, for the period until the end of 1970, a further $17,000 from his Emergency Fund to ensure the presence in South-East Asia of a UNHCR Chargé de mission to maintain contact with the authorities and follow developments.
103. The Committee noted with satisfaction that in response to a joint appeal made by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General of the United Nations for assistance to victims of the tragic events in Jordan and in view of the presence in Jordan, mainly in the Amman area, of a limited number of refugees of various origins coming within the mandate of UNHCR, the High Commissioner had made available to the International Committee of the Red Cross a token contribution of $5,000 from his Emergency Fund (A/AC.96/INF.112).
Decision of the Committee
104. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note with satisfaction of the report on UNHCR current operations in 1969 (A/AC.96/428);
(2) Approved the expenditure incurred under the Emergency Fund during the period 1 January to 30 September 1970, as shown in documents A/AC.96/INF.103, A/AC.96/443 and A/AC.96/INF.104-112.
B. UNHCR Programme for 1970 - New project (agenda item 8)
105. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the new project to provide for the continuation of the rural settlement for Sudanese refugees in the Province Orientale of the Congo, at a cost of $260,000(A/AC.96/434), recalled that no allocation to assist these refugees had been included in the 1970 Programme, since funds were still available for this purpose at the time when that Programme was drawn up. The High Commissioner had, however, indicated to the Committee at its twentieth session that supplementary allocations would be required in 1970 for the rural settlement of Sudanese refugees in the Province Orientale and possibly also to assist the refugees from Zambia in Katanga. The project for the Sudanese refugees had since been started in close co-operation with the Congolese authorities and the International Organization for Rural Development and several thousand refugees were already installed at Amadi.
Decision of the Committee
106. The Executive Committee:
(1) Approved the additional allocation of $260,000 for the rural settlement of Sudanese refugees in the Province Orientale as outlined in document A/AC.96/434;
(2) Authorized the High Commissioner to include this allocation in the UNHCR Programme for 1970, thereby increasing the financial target of the Programme from $5, 769,400 to $6,029,400.
CHAPTER VII REPATRIATION OF NIGERIAN CHILDREN
107. The Director of Operations informed the Committee that following the request of the Government of Nigeria that the High Commissioner use his good offices with a view to the return to their country of the 5.000 Nigerian children in Gabon and the Ivory Coast, he had just visited Nigeria to discuss the question with government officials. He had also visited Gabon on the invitation of the Government.
108. Upon the request of the authorities concerned, the Director of Operations had handed over the individual case files of the children to the Nigerian authorities. During his visit to Nigeria, the Director of Operations had visited four of the five reception centres in the eastern States, which had been prepared by the Government Rehabilitation Service with the technical advice of the International Union for Child Welfare. All of the Centres, each with a capacity to accommodate from 300 to 350 children, were adequately equipped and staffed, largely by Nigerians, and ready to receive the children. Food supplies had been donated by the World Food Programme and blankets and equipment by UNICEF. The Director of operations had also visited one of the villages awaiting the return of children and had had discussions with the traditional chiefs and with the parents of two of the families concerned. There was no doubt of the genuine desire of the parents and members of the community to have the children returned to them as soon as possible. Arrangements for their return to the villages would be made through the local churches.
109. The method of transporting the children had been fully discussed with the Nigerian Government and it had been agreed that, in view of the lack of port facilities, the most suitable means would be by airlift. The Nigerian Government had requested the High Commissioner to assist in arranging this.
110. During his visit to Gabon, the Director of operations had been received by the President and had had discussions with government officials. He had also paid a visit to the three centres near Libreville in which Nigerian children were being cared for. The President of Gabon had expressed his readiness to allow the children to return to Nigeria and agreed that arrangements could best be made through a neutral organization such as UNHCR. He had suggested that the High Commissioner should visit Gabon as soon as possible with a view to making final arrangements.
111. The Director of Operations said that he had returned from his mission to Nigeria and Gabon convinced that the children could return to their homeland.
112. Referring to the cost of transporting the children, he said that while it was difficult at this stage to give a precise indication of the cost, preliminary estimates, worked out in consultation with ICEM, suggested that some $300,000 to $500,000 would be required. He pointed out that UNHCR would lend its assistance under the terms of the good offices resolutions of the General Assembly and that it would be necessary to obtain funds outside the annual programme for this purpose. The High Commissioner counted on the generosity of member Governments to help him meet this need.
113. All the representatives who spoke expressed their satisfaction that the High Commissioner planned to assist with the tragic problem of the Nigerian children and fully endorsed the action he had taken.
114. In reply to a question by the representative of Sweden as to whether the whereabouts of the parents of the children was known in most cases, the Director of operations said that there would unavoidably be children whose parents could not be traced and who may not still be living. It was, however, known that a considerable number of parents had already been located through the local churches and, taking into account the "extended family system" prevailing in Africa, through which many children without parents or relatives would find homes with other families in the villages, it was hoped that only a small proportion if any risk of overcrowding in the centres, it was planned to return first the children known to have parents and secondly those who could be received under the "extended family system". Meanwhile other plans would be made for the other group.
115. It was expected that the transportation of all 5,000 children would take from at least three to six months.
116. The representative of Nigeria informed the Committee that the Government of Nigeria had entered into negotiations with the Government of Gabon in mid-1970 for the repatriation of the Nigerian children. When it appeared that the negotiations were not working out as had been envisaged, his Government asked the High Commissioner to lend his good offices with this end in view. Replying to comments which implied some fears about the possible low standard of the living conditions to which the children might return, the representative of Nigeria assured the Committee of the adequacy of the arrangements his Government had made and pointed out that the children, in any case, would be returning to the living conditions to which they had been accustomed.
117. The representative of Denmark said that the Danish Government, wishing to contribute to this humanitarian cause, had decided to make available immediately the amount of $276,000 earmarked for education outside the UNHCR Programme, towards meeting the cost of transporting the Nigerian children. Additional funds would be needed for the airlift as well as for the education projects for which the Danish contribution was originally intended and she hoped other Governments would contribute.
118. The representative of Italy suggested that the project for the repatriation of the Nigerian children might be designated as the twentieth anniversary project.
119. The observer for Senegal said that his Government was deeply interested in the fate of all African children and had been working to assist towards the repatriation of Nigerian children. The Government of Senegal hoped to give a favourable response to the High Commissioner's appeal for funds for this purpose.
120. The observer for the Sovereign order of Malta said that his Order attached the greatest importance to family reunion. While appreciating the need to regroup the children in centres in Nigeria before their return to their families, he hoped that their stay there would be kept as short as possible. He welcomed the information that the High Commissioner would himself visit Africa to make arrangements for the return of the children. He announced that the Sovereign Order of Malta would make a token contribution of this project.
121. The observer for the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM) informed the Committee that ICEM was ready to assist as far as possible in organizing the transportation of the Nigerian children.
Decision of the Committee
122. The Executive Committee;
Expressed its deep satisfaction that, in response to a request from, and in agreement with, the Governments of Nigeria, Gabon and the Ivory Coast, the High Commissioner would lend his good offices with a view to the repatriation of Nigerian children, it being understood that the operation would be financed from trust funds earmarked for this purpose outside the Programme.
CHAPTER VIII UNHCR ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME FOR 1971 (Agenda item 12)
123. The Committee considered the UNHCR Assistance Programme for 1971 submitted by the High Commissioner in documents A/AC.96/429 and Add.l in a total amount of $6,572,000, which represented an increase of some $542,600 over the revised financial target of the 1970 Programme.
124. Introducing the item, the Director of Operations stressed the dynamic character of the problems of refugees and the fluctuating nature of their needs. He explained that most of the projects in Africa had been drawn up in close co-operation with governmental authorities, the implementing agencies, UNHCR field staff and members of Headquarters staff who had visited the areas concerned for this purpose.
125. As indicated in chapter II above on the general debate, members of the Committee generally supported the policy outlined by the High Commissioner in respect of his proposed assistance programme. Understanding was shown for the need to increase the financial target. It was hoped, however, that the phasing-out of UNHCR assistance projects would continue. The Committee noted from a statement by the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania that the phasing-out in that country was likely to take longer than had been envisaged.
126. One representative suggested that the committee be informed at its next session of the refugee situations for the solution of which UNHCR funds would no longer be required, together with an estimate of the dates at which projects which had been included in the UNHCR Programme for a number of years, might be completed.
127. The Committee's attention was again drawn to new influxes of refugees in certain countries in Africa, particularly the United Republic of Tanzania and the Sudan. With regard to the proposed projects for assistance to refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the representative of the High Commissioner recalled that the major portion of the $1,200,000 allocation was intended for the rural settlement of the Sudanese refugees in the Province Orientale. It was essential that a large number of refugees in this group who had hitherto been living near the border be settled elsewhere. The settlement programme would have to continue for some years to come.
128. The Committee was also given information in respect of the Zambian refugees in the Congo the details of which may be found in the summary record of the 210th meeting.
129. With regard to the projects for assistance to refugees in the United Republic of Tanzania, the representative of that country emphasized the importance of the necessary action being taken within the frame work of the authority given to the High Commissioner by the Executive Committee, should the refugee population at Mputa exceed 12,000, as mentioned in the document. He also stressed the need for WFP food supplies for the newly arriving refugees.
130. The observer for the Government of the Sudan informed the Committee that following an amnesty law adopted by his Government, and the decision to offer autonomous rule to the three provinces, many Sudanese refugees were returning to their villages. He hoped that the High Commissioner's terms of reference could be expanded to enable UNHCR to assist in the settlement of these persons.
131. Satisfaction was expressed with the statement of the observer for Zambia that, following the recommendation of the FAO and Zambian Government experts, the individual farming method would be applied in rural settlements for refugees in Zambia.
132. Referring to the problems of Tibetan refugees, the Director of Operations gave a brief account of the visits he had paid to India and Nepal. Assistance was provided for the refugees by the governmental authorities and non-governmental organizations in India and a considerable programme had also been put into effect for the settlement of Tibetan refugees under the common project of the European Refugee Campaign. However, additional medical facilities for aged refugees and tubercular patients were required. Provision had been made for them in the UNHCR Programme and had to be put into effect in the framework of over-all measures undertaken by the Indian government in co-operation with WHO.
133. The Committee also noted that in accordance with the wish expressed at previous sessions, provision had been made for further assistance to refugees in Macau for whom a new housing project had been included in the 1971 Programme.
134. The Committee noted that in Austria and, as indicated in the course of the session, in Italy and other countries of asylum in Europe responsibility for assistance to refugees had been assumed by the local authorities and voluntary agencies, and that considerable efforts and funds continued to be required from local sources for assistance to refugees.
135. With regard to the refugees from the Caribbean in Spain, the observer for that country pointed out that the number of new arrivals continued to increase and that this trend seemed to be likely to go on during the next 2 years. Furthermore, there was a decrease in the number of departures as a result of changes in the admission procedures of the main immigration country concerned. It was hoped that these procedures would be liberalized and that the refugees concerned might be resettled in other immigration countries, such as Australia and some of the countries in Latin America. Meanwhile, further measures were being taken in order to assist the refugees in Spain, pending their resettlement.
Decision of the Committee
136. The Executive Committee:
(1) Approved the financial target of the UNHCR Assistance Programme for 1971 in an amount of $6, 572,000 to meet the requirements of the High Commissioner in the field of material assistance in 1971;
(2) Approved the specific allocations in the 1971 Assistance Programme in a total amount of $6,572,000, as summarized in annex II to this document;
(3) Authorized the High Commissioner to adjust the allocations approved by transfers between projects or parts of projects, subject to their being reported to the Committee in the report on current operations.
CHAPTER IX ADMINISTRATIVE AND FINANCIAL QUESTIONS
A. Financial reports for 1969 (agenda item 5)
137. The Committee considered the financial statements and the report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/430 and A/AC.96/439) and the report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1969 (A/AC.96/431).
138. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the item, explained that several changes had been made in the presentation of the statements appearing in the first part of document A/AC.96/430 in order to give a clearer picture to the Committee and facilitate comparison with the previous year. Part C again contained financial statistics covering the period 1965-1969. Chart 2 of the financial statistics showed that the percentage of government contributions to the over-all financing of the UNHCR Programme had increased further in 1969. Charts 3 and 4 demonstrated that whereas in 1968 UNHCR expenditures for assistance had decreased, there had been an increase in 1969 not only in commitments under the annual programme but also in over-all expenditures, largely due to the increased volume of assistance projects in Africa and Asia.
139. The report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, which had had to postpone its consideration of the financial statements until its autumn session, would be distributed to members of the Committee in due course.
140. The report on investments (A/AC.96/431) showed that while funds available for investment had increased only slightly in 1969, the prevailing high rates of interest had bought the total income on investments for the year to the record level of $553,000, thereby enabling the High Commissioner to cover the full amount of the grant-in-aid to the United Nations budget and also to have a balance of $120,000 toward the financing of assistance projects in 1969. It was hoped in 1970 again to cover fully the grant-in-aid and also to have several thousand dollars over towards the 1970 Assistance Programme, in spite of lower rates of interest and an increase in the grant-in-aid.
141. The Committee noted that instructions had been given by the Greek Ministry of Social Affairs that all bonds to which refugees were entitled should be issued at the end of 1970. There were psychological reasons for the present difficulty in obtaining reimbursement of loans by refugees, inasmuch as certain categories of Greek nationals had been exempted from the obligation to reimburse housing mortgages under Greek law, with the result that refugees felt at a disadvantage. The Ministry of Social Affairs would make every effort to collect the sums due.
Decision of the Committee
142. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note of the accounts for the year 1969 and of the financial statistics for the period 1965-1969 (A/AC.96/430), as well as of the report of the Board of Auditors submitted in respect of the financial year 1969 (A/AC.96/439);
(2) Also took note work satisfaction of the report on investments for the year ended 31 December 1969 (A/AC.96/431).
B. Status of contributions and over-all financial situation for 1970 and 1971(agenda item 13)
143. The Committee considered the report on the status of contributions and the over-all financial situation for 1970 and 1971 as at 31 July 1970 (A/AC.96/437) and a note concerning the UNHCR record "World Star Festival (A/AC.96/435).
144. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing document A/AC.96/437, and reporting on developments since July 1970, said that it was expected that the 1970 Programme target, increased by the Committee at its present session from $5,769,400 to $6,029,400, would be met thanks to the increase in the number of contributing Governments and to new or substantially increased contributions made by several countries. The High Commissioner intended to address an appeal to Governments in early October to help meet the increased target of $6,572,000 of the 1971 Programme.
145. Contributions to projects outside the Programme, totalling $1,220,000 on 31 July, had since risen to $1, 575,000, of which some $1,000,000 was earmarked for the Education Account. Over $1,430,000 of the $1,575,000 had been forthcoming from Scandinavian countries.
146. Representatives welcomed the fact that governmental participation in the UNHCR Programme had reached a high percentage of the target and agreed that, as proposed to the Committee at its twentieth session, every effort should be made to increase to one hundred the number of governmental contributions, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of UNHCR.
147. In the course of the session announcements in respect of new or increased contributions were made as follows:
The Government of Australia would maintain its contribution to the UNHCR Programme in 1971 at the same amount as in 1970, i.e. $196,000.
The Canadian Government's contribution for 1971 is likely to remain the same as that for 1970, i.e. $US 370,370, subject to parliamentary approval.
The Government of the Republic of China would contribute $10,000 in 1971, an increase of $2,500 over the contribution for 1970.
The Government of Denmark, subject to parliamentary approval, would increase its contribution from $253,300 in 1970 to $306,000 in 1971, which represents an increase of approximately 21 per cent. The Danish Board of Technical Co-operation with developing Countries pledged for 1971 an unearmarked grant of $277,000 for education or technical assistance projects, which represents an increase $64,000 over the amount of $213, 000 given in 1970.
Federal Republic of Germany
The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, subject to parliamentary approval, would increase its contribution to the UNHCR Programme for 1971 by DM200,000, from $410,000 in 1970 to $465,000 in 1971.
The Government of France, subject to parliamentary approval, would increase its contribution from $389,000 in 1970 to $450,000 in 1971, an increase of $61,000 or about 15 per cent.
Subject to Senate approval, the Italian Government would make a special contribution of $100,000 to the Education Account in 1971 for the benefit of African refugees.
Subject to parliamentary approval, the Netherlands Government would raise its contribution to the UNHCR Programme from $180,000 for 1970 to approximately $195,000 in 1971, an increase of guilders 50,000 or about 8.3 per cent.
The Norwegian Government, subject to parliamentary approval, announced a 25 per cent increase in its contribution to the Regular Programme for 1971 bringing the total contribution to $345,000, and announced also a 25 per cent increase in its contribution to the Education Account from $60,000 in 1970 to $75,000 in 1971.
The Government of Sweden's total contribution to the UNHCR Programme for 1971 would be $1 million. Of this sum, $600,000 represented the regular annual contribution, increased by $200,000 over that for 1970, and the remaining $400,000 a special contribution for education or other UNHCR activities inside or outside the Programme. Subject to parliamentary approval, the total of the Swedish contribution in 1972, including the regular contribution and the special contribution, would amount to $1.1 million and that for 1973 to $1.2 million.
The Swiss Government intended to raise its contribution to the UNHCR Programme from $185,000 for 1970 to approximately $208,000 for 1971, an increase of Sw. Fr. 100,000 or 12.5 per cent. Furthermore, a contribution of Sw. Fr. 100,000 ($23,000) was under consideration, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of UNHCR.
United Republic of Tanzania
The Government of the United Republic of Tanzania would contribute 25,000 Tanzanian shillings ($3,500) for the Programme of 1970 and hoped that it might be possible to announce a contribution for 1971 at the Pledging Conference.
Sovereign Order of Malta
The Sovereign Order of Malta is prepared, should the need arise, to make available $2,000 for the repatriation of Nigerian children.
148. Introducing the note on the UNHCR record "World Star Festival", the representative of the High Commissioner pointed out that, produced and sold on a purely commercial basis, the record had made a net profit of between $850,000 and $900,000. The record manufactured in thirty countries, had sold more than 1,100,000 copies in 106 countries. Some forty Governments had agreed to waive or remit taxes and duties on the sale or importation of the record. Thanks were due to UNHCR's commercial partners, to other United Nations agencies, Refugee Councils, United Nations associations, Red Cross Societies and other non-governmental organizations which had contributed to the record's success.
149. Appreciation was expressed for the increased financial contributions announced during the session.
Decision of the Committee:
150. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note of the reports submitted by the High Commissioner in document A/AC.96/437 on the status of contributions and in document A/AC.96/435 on the long-playing record "World Star Festival";
(2) Expressed satisfaction at the increase in the number of contributing Governments;
(3) Expressed the hope that this support would further increase in 1971, taking into account, in particular, the increased financial target;
(4) Urged Governments which regularly contribute to the UNHCR Assistance Programme to increase their financial support and expressed the hope that the widest possible number of Governments would become regular contributors;
(5) Recommended that the High Commissioner should continue his appeals for financial support for his assistance programme.
151. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note of the allocations made from the Records Account for the period 30 September 1969 to 30 June 1970 as indicated in the note concerning the UNHCR Record "World Star Festival (A/AC.96/435, annex);
(2) Expressed deep appreciation to the artists, record companies and copyright holders whose generous contribution had made it possible to issue for sale at the World Fair in Osaka a special souvenir record entitled "UN Record EXPO'70";
(3) Took note that the High Commissioner plans to issue a fourth long-playing record.
C. Regular budget of UNHCR for 1971 (Agenda item 14)
152. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the regular budget for 1971 (A/AC.96/442), said that a summary of estimated expenditures for 1971 was given in tables 18-1 - 18-2 of the document. The Advisory Committee on Administrative and budgetary Questions had recommended to the General Assembly the adoption of the UNHCR regular budget for 1971 in its totality. No provision for contingencies had been included in the budget, but the High commissioner had the possibility of submitting supplementary estimates in November 1970 to cover any unexpected requirements that, might arise in the course of the year.
153. During the session attention was drawn by the representatives to the need for the High Commissioner to maintain adequate staff in the branch offices in Europe and elsewhere, in particular in view of the requirements of international protection.
Decision of the Committee:
154. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note of the regular budget of UNHCR for 1971 (A/AC.96/442);
(2) Also took note with satisfaction of the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions that the General Assembly approve the High Commissioner's estimates as submitted.
CHAPTER X PROPOSED ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE OBSERVANCE OF THE TWENTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF UNHCR (Agenda item 6)
155. The chairman drew attention to the fact that, while there had been a tendency within the United Nations system to discourage too many celebrations and observances, it had always been understood that exceptions should be made for voluntary funds programmes such as UNHCR which need to take advantage of every opportunity to elicit more good will from the public at large.
156. Introducing the note submitted by the High Commissioner (A/AC.96/432 and Add.1), the representative of the high Commissioner stressed that the observance of the anniversary was intended to draw public attention to the needs of refugees so as to give more impetus to the work of assistance for them.
157. During the meeting and also in the course of the session many representatives welcomed the observance of the twentieth anniversary of UNHCR. They pledged their Governments' general support for the proposed plans. Some representatives also indicated that their Governments would be prepared to highlight the event in an appropriate manner in their respective countries.
158. One representative stressed that the observance of the anniversary might also contribute to an increase in concerted action by the United Nations system in the social field and to the maintenance of good relations between States. He also felt that the emphasis should be placed on UNHCR's capacity for further achievements once it received the fuller financial and other support required for this purpose.
159. In the course of the Committee's discussion the question arose as to whether the twentieth anniversary should be observed in the framework of the summer session of the Economic and Social Council in 1971 or, as suggested by some representatives, on the occasion of the Executive Committee's autumn session. The Committee agreed that the twentieth anniversary of UNHCR and of the signing of the 1951 Convention be observed together with the fiftieth anniversary of the inception of international assistance to refugees by Fridtj of Nansen, during the twenty-second session of the Executive Committee in October 1971, while the discussion of the high Commissioner's annual report at the summer session of the Economic and Social Council would also provide an opportunity to highlight the work of assistance for refugees.
160. An exchange of views also took place on the suggestion made by the representative of Italy that one of the projects in the UNHCR Assistance Programme be chosen as an "Special Anniversary Project and that an appeal might be launched for special contributions in cash or in kind to such a project. While the suggestion was supported on the ground of its practical purposes, the question arose as to whether it might not be preferable to take advantage of the observance to promote the work of UNHCR as a whole rather than to finance one particular project. It was pointed out furthermore that the High Commissioner intended to address a special appeal to Governments for their increased financial participation in the UNHCR Assistance Programme. It was accordingly agreed that the matter be further studied.
161. Several representatives wondered whether the amount of up to $60,000 to be taken from the Programme's reserve for public information purposes in connexion with the anniversary was not too high. One representative thought that this expenditure might be reduced if Governments assumed responsibility for some of the proposed activities. The Committee noted from the ensuing discussion that the activities to be financed from the amount under reference were to be carried out by UNHCR on an international basis well ahead of time. The amount of up to $60,000, which represented an increase of up to $30,000 in the usual allocation of $30,000 for public information, was needed to enable UNHCR to provide increased information, including television reports on its activities in the field, and to assist voluntary agencies in countries where large fund-raising campaigns were being planned. It was believed that a sizeable return would be obtained in the form of contributions from the voluntary agencies' campaigns to the work of UNHCR outside the Programme. One agency had already pledged an amount of $60, 000 from its potential campaign proceeds to project within the UNHCR Programme.
162. The details of questions and replies in connexion with the UNHCR/UNRWA Stamp and with the issue of UNHCR's fourth long-playing record may be found in the summary record of the 206th meeting.
Decision of the Committee
163. The Executive Committee:
(1) Took note of the proposals submitted to it in respect of the observance of the twentieth anniversary of UNHCR;
(2) Agreed that the anniversary be officially observed at the twenty-second session of the Executive Committee in October 1971 together with the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the 1951 Convention and the fiftieth anniversary of the inception of international work of assistance for refugees by Fridtj of Nansen, while the discussion of the High Commissioner's annual report at the 1971 summer session of the Economic and Social Council would also provide a suitable opportunity to highlight the work of assistance for refugees;
(3) Authorized the High Commissioner to draw on the 1971 Programme Reserve up to a maximum of $60,000 for the purposes indicated in paragraph 11 of document A/AC.96/432/Add.l and to commit part or the whole of this amount during the last quarter of 1970;
(4) Requested the High Commissioner to bring the proposed plans for the observance of the UNHCR's twentieth anniversary to the attention of the General Assembly and, through the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination, to the attention of the other members of the United Nations system;
(5) Decided to leave it to the High Commissioner's discretion to examine the possibility of drawing up a special project to be financed from extraordinary contributions made on the occasion of the anniversary.
ANNEX I OPENING STATEMENT BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER TO THE TWENTY-FIRST SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER'S PROGRAMME
As we gather to review what has been done during the past year and to consider UNHCR's plans for achieving lasting solutions to refugee problems, it is necessary to pause and reflect on the recent tragedy which has struck thousands of refugees in Jordan who do not come within the mandate of UNHCR but who depend for their livelihood on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). If there has been such a heavy toll in human lives inside and outside the refugee camps, if the news media of the world have concentrated so much on the situation in Jordan, this is due to the fact that for this group of refugees, a permanent solution has not been found. Here is, I think, a significant example of the futility of relief without any permanent solution in sight. The lack of a solution and the consequent lack of progress in that part of the world, notwithstanding the tremendous sums that have been made available for relief, should serve to show the importance of carefully planned permanent solutions for refugees who are our own concern. However, the stage has unfortunately not yet been reached at which more permanent rehabilitation can be foreseen. Among the people who have suffered in this terrible upheaval, there are a number of refugees within the mandate of UNHCR. We have therefore decided to earmark a token contribution from our Emergency Fund, as has been done in the past when natural or man-made disasters have struck in areas where refugees under the UNHCR mandate are living. This contribution has been transmitted through the International Committee of the Red Cross. A note on this subject will be submitted to the Committee.
This has been a busy year in the United Nations. The "Study of the capacity of the United nations development system prepared by Sir Robert Jackson has contributed a certain dynamism to the discussions held in the various governing bodies of United Nations agencies. A number of fundamental notions regarding the over-all structure of the United Nations system were discussed and naturally this could not leave UNHCR indifferent. The Executive Committee has repeatedly stressed its desire that co-ordination between UNHCR and the other members of the United Nations system be improved and strengthened, and that co-operations be increased, especially in the field of rural settlement, which may lead to developments in which the other United nations agencies have a big role to play. We believe indeed that what we do in a modest way in the field of settlement of refugees, particularly in Africa, contributes tangibly to the development of the area where the refugees are located. We also believe that rural development schemes carried out by UNDP or the specialized agencies benefit the areas where the refugees within my competence are settled. Most United Nations activities are interrelated and whatever affects the UNDP or the specialized agencies, and has been taken into consideration by Sir Robert Jackson's survey, may also affect UNHCR.
I follow these discussions as someone who is deeply interested in the strengthening and streamlining of the United Nations as a whole. I did not feel it necessary this year to introduce my annual report in the Economic and Social Council before its transmission to the General Assembly, and the Council decided just to take note of it. I intervened during the debate, however, on another point of the agenda connected with assistance to people in areas still under colonial administration, and with the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. I was able to testify again before the Council on what UNHCR has done for refugees in this category in Africa. I was glad to note that the Economic and Social Council, the Fourth Committee and the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples expressed satisfaction with UNHCR's results in the implementation of the resolutions dealing with these categories of peoples for whom still more could and should be done.
It was also in the same spirit that I chaired an ad hoc sub-committee of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination, which was convened here shortly before the summer session of the Economic and Social Council to discuss how best the United Nations humanitarian agencies might co-ordinate and strengthen assistance to victims of natural disasters. My aim here was to try to develop the role and responsibilities of the United Nations for the victims of natural and possibly quarters of the international community, that if the United Nations is unable to maintain peace, then it has an implicit responsibility to care for the victims of the conflicts which could not be prevented. The ad hoc meeting of the ACC was able to submit a basis for the formulation of the resolution on this question which was subsequently adopted.
We welcome all resolutions adopted on co-ordination as we hope that it will facilitate the handing over of many of our own responsibilities in the field, when the refugees have reached an adequate level of self-sufficiency so that further development of the region, and of the local people in the area in which they are settled.
We have faced certain set-backs during this year. First of all, in some countries, rural settlement schemes were held up for reasons linked with political problems. Sometimes funds requested from the Executive Committee had to be held in abeyance until local conditions would allow the projects to start. We also sometimes had to face difficulties arising from insufficient or inadequate technical advice in rural areas to establish a sound basis for projects involving investments which we could justify before this Committee. We also suffered in some areas from the lack of operational partners, because a number of voluntary agencies still do not have an effective network in Africa. The very close, effective voluntary agency partnerships from which we continue to benefit in Europe must still be strengthened and developed in other areas where our Office is facing tremendous challenges. With regard to rural settlement, we have sometimes over-simplified and tried to be too pragmatic, and we have now come to realize that the sociological element should be taken more fully into account. Thus the smooth progress of rural settlement in certain countries or areas was hampered by living conditions or by sociological differences between the refugees and the local population. We are now trying to remedy this by sending small flexible teams to give the necessary guidance in a specific area as to how integration can best be promoted, and how the refugees may adapt to new circumstances. In this way I believe we will able to avoid similar set-backs in the future.
I must also stress that the so-called phasing out by UNHCR has been delayed considerably because of the constant influx of new refugees into the same countries of asylum . And I fear that as long as a foreign administration still prevails and while independence has not been achieved in many parts of Africa new influxes of refugees are likely to occur in many countries adjacent to those which are still under colonial administration. There are of course also refugees from independent African countries. But there are indications that the situation is becoming stabilized and that there is no massive influx at present from areas which were deeply troubled immediately or for some years following independence. At any rate, if UNHCR is experiencing difficulty in phasing out its programmes it is because new refugees are arriving in countries where projects have been put into effect for others of the same background.
During the session, we will discuss in greater detail how UNHCR contributes to integration through education. The African Governments and other members of this Committee have stressed the need for universal primary education for nationals of the countries of residence of refugees. However, these African countries are unable to provide education for more than a certain percentage of their own children. When we started primary educational schemes in Africa, we tried to provide for refugees the same opportunities as those enjoyed by the local children. We avoided making of them a privileged community. When we first provided for primary school in some projects, the rate of admission of local children to primary schools was 30 or 50 per cent of the population and we aimed at a similar ratio for refugee children. However, the rate of admission of the local children has now risen in some instances to 75 per cent. As a result, the primary schools which we provided for refugee children can no longer meet the demand so that we may have to request the Committee to authorize funds for new primary schools also in settlement areas where the refugees in the last few years have achieved a level of self-sufficiency which would permit UNHCR to phase out other forms of assistance.
In the field of secondary education, which as you know is funded through the Education Account and not under the Programme, we have also made some improvements among which I would mention the excellent arrangement which we now have with the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa, which is administered through the UNDP Resident Representatives. Under this arrangement, UNHCR, through its Education Account, meets the need for secondary education of refugees up to the first level (more or less equivalent to the Cambridge School Certificate, or "premier cycle"). The United Nations Programme then ensures secondary education and vocational training facilities, up to the higher level (Higher School Certificate or Baccalauréat). I believe that the arrangement that we have concluded with the United Nations Programme is in line with the wishes of the Executive Committee and with the United Nations resolutions on assistance to people from territories under foreign administration.
Since the last session we have received a request from the Government of the republic of Vietnam for assistance to a group of refugees who came from Cambodia in the course of recent events in that in that country. The details of the request will be given later in the session. I should like to say at the outset, however, that we responded very quickly. The request was received in April. In May the Director of the Africa/Asia Division proceeded to the Republic of Vietnam and Cambodia. As this is an obvious humanitarian problem of serious dimensions and a number of refugees who are of concern to UNHCR were involved, it was decided to contribute $50,000 from the Emergency Fund to Vietnam through the Red Cross of that country, and the same amount, through the Cambodian Red Cross, to the Government of Cambodia which had also requested assistance from UNHCR. It was also decided to appoint a Chargé de mission to maintain a UNHCR presence in the area, who will be taking up his functions in Saigon within the next few weeks, and who will also be accredited to Phnom Penh.
We are following closely developments in Latin America, where we may face new problems. We are also following the situation in the Caribbean, and also the problems of some minority groups both in the Middle East and in the eastern part of Africa, who may be in need of assistance or protection in the future.
I should also like to refer to the welcome cessation of the conflict in Nigeria. Following my recent visit to Addis Ababa for the summit meeting of the Organization of African Unity, and also as a result of my talks with the Head of State of Nigeria beginning in January of this year, and other contacts with Gabon and the Ivory Coast, UNHCR was asked by the parties concerned to lend its good offices with a view to facilitating the repatriation of the children who had been evacuated during the war and who must be reunited with their families. I have just received a very encouraging message from the Director of Operations who is now in West Africa and who will report in more detail.
In the field of resettlement, our operations are continuing smoothly, thanks to a particularly fruitful co-operation with the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the voluntary agencies. I must mention to the Committee, however, that in some European countries we are running the risk of a backlog in applications for refugee status. Some Governments are finding it difficult to deal with them because of their number and the nature of the cases. Some may thus be left pending for six months or a year. The problem is eased at present by the fact that most of these applicants have found employment. Should there be the slightest recession, however, the refugees would be the first people to feel its effects. I therefore appeal to governments to deal with the applications more quickly. This is particularly important for those refugees who depend on the decision which the Government alone can take and which affects placement, training, and sometimes resettlement.
We have also tried to promote voluntary repatriation in accordance with our Statute and have been successful in a number of cases, both in Africa and in Europe. We believe that in order to facilitate voluntary repatriation, Government should not be too strict with regard to the legal status of refugees they can return home. Of course, repatriation should always be voluntary, and I regret to say that since the last session there have been a number of cases of forcible repatriation, which is a cause of great concern. An individual who has good reasons to fear persecution for political reasons is not fleeing from justice. When a person is a refugee for political reasons, he has no hope of defending himself. To hand him back to the authorities of his country of origin is the most serious infringement of an individual's human rights and is contrary to the principles which UNHCR and this Committee try to uphold - I then realize the limitations of diplomatic action, which means very little to the human being who has already lost all hope.
Coming now to the problem of statelessness, I should like to appeal to all Governments to ratify the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. It is abnormal indeed that the children of refugees, born in countries where their parents have been settled, sometimes for more than a generation, should continue to be born as stateless refugees. So far, the only Governments which have acceded to this instrument are Sweden and the United Kingdom. I hope their example may be followed by many others.
We are facing a new refugee problem in Europe, and this new problem does not concern European refugees but refugees from Africa who looking increasingly for assistance from UNHCR and from the government of the country in which they find themselves. These are Africans who left their countries, became refugees in Africa, and then obtained scholarships abroad. They finished their studies but could not find work, some wanted to continue their education. In many European capitals, they turn to UNHCR branch offices or to the competent government authorities. I am sure the Committee will agree that most of these people should be given an opportunity to return to Africa to help in the development of their continent, until such time as they can return to their home countries. We are therefore seeking ways, with the Governments concerned and with the OAU Bureau for the placement and Education of Refugees, of helping these people to return to Africa.
I feel that while we have succeeded in the rural areas in Africa we may be failing in the cities. The new problem of non-European refugees in Europe is nothing compared to the difficulties facing us today in Africa itself. The great challenge of 1971 for this Committee and for UNHCR will be to find solutions to the problems of individual cases in the cities of Africa.
They belong to three categories. First, among the many people who leave the rural settlements and drift into the cities are many refugees looking for a better future and some kind of change. This is not only a refugee problem, for the rural exodus is one of the great problems of our time. There are also the refugee students in search of education or vocational training. Then there is a small group of persons who come to the branch offices of UNHCR and expect to receive assistance but who try to take advantage of their refugee status.
Qualitatively, this is a very difficult problem which has imposed a considerable burden on my office. We must find some opportunities for these individuals for if we simply give them relief, their numbers will grow very quickly and we shall be confronted in Africa by a group of socially handicapped refugees very careful education policy and in increased vocational training to enable them to find employment. We are grateful to the Organization of African Unity for the attention it is giving the problem and place great hope and confidence in the Bureau for the Placement and Education of Refugees. In the final analysis, only the African Governments can make it possible to solve this problem. Our thanks go also to the International University Exchange Fund and other interested agencies which are geared to the provision of better educational and vocational training opportunities in Africa. I believe that if UNHCR can provide small, effective teams to study this problem, and perhaps to establish in some of the African capitals a kind of counselling service suitable to African needs, we can avoid the development of an insoluble problem.
The problems of individual refugees are further aggravated by the laws of some of the countries of residence, such as local refugee control acts or immigration acts, which are not always in accordance with the provisions of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol. Sometimes, too, local legislation is applied to some of the refugees whom we are trying to assist. These refugees are thus declared to be prohibited immigrants although the Governments may have acceded to the relevant international instruments and although we appeal on their behalf, they are sometimes nevertheless extradited. While Governments have the sovereign right to apply legislation in force, I feel that the special situation of refugees should be taken fully into account. Detention or extradition does not solve the problem but only postpones it. The answer lies in speedier and more effective action on the part of UNHCR and the international community, and, at the same time, in a more co-operative attitude on the part of the country of asylum.
Turning now to the financial situation of the office, I am happy to report an improvement. Whereas 50 Government contributed to our material assistance programme in 1966 and 75 in 1969, by the end of this year we hope that approximately 30 Governments will be contributing regularly. The total of governmental contributions has increased by 15 per cent since 1969, from $4 million to $4.6 million. Further, a growing number of Governments have increased their regular contribution to our programme. Twenty-two Governments this year announced higher regular contributions than in 1969. I think this proves that it is not always the same few Governments which carry the burden. This broadens the base of our support and creates a spirit of international solidarity in assistance to refugees. Governments have also contributed very generously to our Education Account and other projects outside the programme, increasing from $800,000 in 1969 to $1.1 million in 1970. All of this would not have been possible without the continuing generous support of the Scandinavian Governments and people.
For 1971, I am submitting a programme target of $6,572,000 which represents an increase of some $542,000 over the revised programme for 1970. There are several reasons for the increase: one, accidental, is that frequently the implementation of a large rural settlement scheme already submitted to the Executive Committee has been delayed until the host Government agreed that it be put into effect. This year, this has occurred in the Congo. The fundamental reason, apart from the constant increase in the cost of living, is that we have to pay much more attention to infrastructure, to the needs of education and health, without which no permanent solution can be achieved. We want to avoid past mistakes and find that a limited amount of additional funds for education or health will ensure a lasting settlement. Also, some of the settlement schemes which we have initiated in recent years, are in very remote parts of Africa, so that transportation costs and logistical difficulties weigh heavily on our finances. I believe, however, that the increase is a small price to pay for the results which I know we can obtain. In conclusion, we must not forget the challenges of the rapid economic and technological changes of the world in which we live, and the political consequences that these have on contemporary society. Refugees are affected by this also, as are our methods of work. What was very revolutionary yesterday - for example, rural settlement - has now become a routine. Now we face the challenge of the individual cases.
I believe that because we have succeeded in some sectors, such as the rural settlement schemes, we should not accept that the Office will simply carry on as before. We must try new ideas, and I rely more than ever on your guidance and on the help that we can receive from the members of the Committee, as well as from the other members of the United Nations system, on all of whom we rely so much to achieve a concerted and productive approach to the solution of the refugee problems in an ever-shrinking world.
(Note: Financial and statistical data tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
1 The Committee decided at its 213th meeting that the question of the repatriation of Nigerian children should be included as a separate section in the report on its twenty-first session (see chapter VII below).
2 United Nations publication, Sales No.: 51. IV. 4.