Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations General Assembly Official Records: Twenty-ninth Session
Addendum to the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Supplement No.12A (A/9612/Add.1)
REPORT OF THE TWENTY-FIFTH SESSION OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER'S PROGRAMME * (Geneva, 14-22 October 1974)
1. The Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's programme held its twenty-fifth session from 14 October to 22 October 1974 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. F. L. Kellogg (United States of America)
Vice-Chairman: Mr. I. C. T. Mponzi (United Republic of Tanzania)
Rapporteur: Mr. R. M. Peek (Australia)
B. Representation on the Committee
3. The following members of the Committee were represented:
|Germany Federal Republic of
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
|United Republic of Tanzania
|United States of America
4. The Governments of Argentina, Burundi, Chile, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, the Khmer Republic, Liberia, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Republic of Viet-Nam, Romania, the Sudan, Senegal and Thailand were represented by an observer, as was the sovereign Order of Malta.
5. The United Nations system was represented as follows: the United Nations, the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator (UNDRO), the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Development programme (UNDP), 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) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
6. The following intergovernmental organizations were represented by observers: the Commission of the European Communities, the Council of Europe, the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration (ICEM), the League of Arab States; the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Organization of American States.
C. Introductory remarks by the Chairman
7. In welcoming the representatives, the Chairman paid special tribute to the presence of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Sonja of Norway, attending as a special observer of the Norwegian delegation, and of Mr. Eteki, Administrative Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity. He drew attention to the main items to be considered by the Committee, and stressed the non-political nature of humanitarian assistance to those who suffered the plight of refugees.
D. Adoption of the agenda - decision of the Committee
8. The Executive Committee decided to adopt the following agenda:
(1) Election of officers
(2) Adoption of the agenda (A/AC.96/502/Rev.2)
(3) Statement by the High Commissioner and general debate (A/AC.96/INF.142 and 144)
(4) international protection (A/AC.96/508 and Add.1 and 2)
(5) Voluntary funds accounts for 1973 and report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/505 and Add.1)
(6) UNHCR activities in the field of assistance to refugees in 1973 and 1974 (including resettlement of refugees) and proposed Voluntary Funds Programme and Budget for 1975 (A/AC.96/506 and Add.1 and A/AC.96/509)
(7) Status of contributions and over-all financial situation for 1974 and 1975 (A/AC.96/507)
(8) Any other questions (A/AC.96/510)
(9) Consideration of the draft report on the session
II. STATEMENT BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER AND GENERAL DEBATE (Agenda item 3)
A. Statement by the High Commissioner
9. In his opening statement (annex I), the High Commissioner thanked the Governments and non-governmental organizations for the contributions, financial or otherwise, which they had made to the work of his Office. He was particularly gratified by the major success of the campaign of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which, under the chairmanship of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Sonja of Norway, had achieved truly remarkable results.
10. The High Commissioner reviewed the main developments in respect of material assistance and international protection. He said that the emergence of new problems of refugees and displaced persons and the deterioration of certain existing situations had considerably increased the workload of his Office. In view of the situation of refugees from Burundi and Chile, the target for the 1974 programme had had to be increased to $11.8 million while the proposals for 1975 involved allocations in an amount of $12.3 million. A considerable part of these funds were intended for assistance to refugees in Africa. Since the last session, his Office had further strengthened contacts with the liberation movements, particularly in the context of voluntary repatriation of the refugees from the territories concerned, and the considerable effort that would be required within the framework of the United Nations system to settle them in their country of origin. Meanwhile, these refugees continued to receive UNHCR aid in their present countries of residence. In Latin America further efforts would be required for the settlement, resettlement through migration and family reunion of refugees from Chile.
11. With regard to the all-important question of protection, the High Commissioner stated that some further progress had been accomplished in respect of new accessions to legal instruments for the benefit of refugees and the promotion of a draft Convention on Territorial Asylum. Of 91 States which had indicated their views on this matter, 76 had given a positive response. The High Commissioner drew special attention to the so-called "safe havens" established by the Chilean National Committee for Aid to Refugees in that country which might be considered as a significant innovation in the development of legal practices relating to asylum. On the negative side, however, there had been flagrant violation of the principles of asylum and non-expulsion in the country of origin of refugees. There had also been many cases of individual refugees kept in detention for varied reasons, as indicated in a survey undertaken by UNHCR. The most tragic cases were those of individual refugees who had been returned against their will to their country of origin. Every effort would be made to put an end to this situation.
12. At the request of the Iranian Government, a representative of the High Commissioner went to Iran in August to visit camps where large numbers of Kurdish Iraqis are living. The representative received all assistance to visit these people from the Government. Substantial funds for emergency aid have already been made available and although no formal request for material assistance had been made by the Iranian Government, the Office continued to follow the situation closely.
13. With regard to the special operations carried out by UNHCR outside its regular activities, the High Commissioner referred to the successful completion of the operation bringing assistance to Uganda Asians of undetermined nationality and of the massive repatriation operation in the South Asian subcontinent. The High Commissioner had since then been called upon to deal with three further important problems. At the request of the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner, was promoting a solution to the delicate problems of thousands of nomads from Mali in various neighbouring countries. A permanent solution to their problems might be found in the course of 1975. His Office had also been requested to assist in the rehabilitation of uprooted and displaced persons in the Indo-China peninsula. The first phase of the programme covering the period 1974-1975 was estimated to cost $12 million.
14. This latter problem, as well as the new problems which had to be met under the regular Programmes for 1974 and 1975, had been brought to the Committee's attention through a meeting with permanent representatives in Geneva of Governments members of the Committee, which had taken place in July of this year.
15. The High Commissioner also recalled that his Office was co-ordinating humanitarian assistance in Cyprus, at the request of the Secretary-General and with the concurrence of the parties concerned. The response to his appeal for funds had been encouraging in that $14.5 million in cash and kind had been contributed so far towards the $22 million target of the assistance programme covering requirements from 1 September to 31 December 1974. Considerable additional assistance had been provided through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on a bilateral basis. Permanent representatives in Geneva of States members of the United Nations and the specialized agencies had been kept informed through a meeting held in September.
B. General debate
16. On behalf of the Committee, the Chairman expressed warm appreciation for the inspiring Nansen Medal award ceremony which had taken place on the opening day, and paid tribute to the recipient of the Medal, the Right Reverend Bishop Helmut Frenz.
17. The representatives who took part in the general debate expressed their appreciation of the comprehensive account given by the High Commissioner. They noted that the Office was efficiently discharging the manifold tasks entrusted to it, including the regular programmes and special operations carried out under the terms of good offices resolutions of the General Assembly and at the request of the Secretary-General.
18. Many representatives voiced their deep concern about the continuing emergence of new problems of refugees and uprooted persons. They deplored the fact that thousands of innocent human beings should be forced to flee their homes, lead a precarious existence and often have to wait many years before being able to resume a normal life. Some representatives stressed that the only real solution would consist in eliminating the causes of the refugee problem.
19. In referring more specifically to the annual assistance programmes of UNHCR, members of the Committee recognized the need to increase the target of the 1974 programme and to adopt a 1975 target of a similar order of magnitude. The reasons for these increases had been brought to their attention at the consultation between the High Commissioner and the representatives in Geneva of members of the Executive Committee, held in July, and had been fully explained in the documents submitted to them.
20. The Administrative Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity, Mr. W. Eteki, made a statement in which he recalled the close and fruitful co-operation which characterized the relations between UNHCR and his Organization. This was of special importance since Africa was the continent where refugee problems were most numerous, as reflected in the annual programmes of UNHCR in recent years.
21. The Organization of African Unity welcomed the recent developments affecting the Territories under Portuguese administration in Africa. Substantial assistance would be required to help the refugees from those Territories to return and settle in their homelands. Careful preparation, in close co-operation with the liberation movements, of reception arrangements would be required in order to facilitate the resettlement of the returning refugees, and enable them to make an early contribution to the social and economic development of these countries. The full support of the international community in meeting this challenge was indispensable.
22. Members of the Committee expressed appreciation to the Organization of African Unity and to the Governments in Africa for their co-operation in solving the considerable problems of refugees on that continent. They noted with appreciation the statement made by the Administrative Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity as well as representatives and observers of African States concerning developments which had taken place in the process of decolonization of colonial territories in Africa. The Committee hoped that the orderly voluntary repatriation and settlement in their home countries of refugees from Guinea-Bissau and Territories at present under Portuguese administration could be achieved. Several members of the Committee suggested that, taking into account the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, the High Commissioner should prepare, in co-operation with the Organization of African Unity and upon the request of the parties concerned, contingency plans for the operations required. Considering the magnitude of the problems, several representatives expressed the hope that Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations would give the High Commissioner their full support in planning and carrying out these operations. The Committee adopted a decision on this subject, the text of which may be found in paragraph 80 (m) below.
23. Many representatives paid tribute to the action taken with a view to solving the new problems of refugees in Latin America and expressed their hope that Governments and the High Commissioner would continue generously to contribute, in their respective fields of competence, to the resettlement and transport of refugees from Chile.
24. In the course of the discussion and during the session, mention was also made of the problems that were still to be faced in respect of refugees in Europe, including those who had arrived in increasing numbers from other continents.
25. With regard to the international protection of refugees, members of the Committee emphasized that respect for human rights was at the core of the problem. Several speakers expressed serious concern at the violation of those rights which had been brought to their attention by the High Commissioner and encouraged him to continue to foster scrupulous respect of those rights, including in particular the principles of asylum and non-expulsion. Some speakers noted that there was a growing number of persons, referred to as de facto refugees, not strictly falling within the UNHCR mandate, who were facing similar problems as those of refugees. The concept of "refugee" was becoming increasingly complex, the more so since different organizations and some Governments did not always apply the same criteria. This important problem deserved considerable further study.
26. In stressing the importance of the protection functions of UNHCR, several representatives shared the view, expressed by the representative of Belgium, that the work of UNHCR in this field should be considered more fully by the Executive Committee, the more so since it was not reviewed in depth by another United Nations organ.
27. The tragic problems of individual cases and of the handicapped were also mentioned by several speakers who fully agreed that every possible effort should be made to improve the situation of such persons.
28. While it was recognized that the special tasks carried out by the High Commissioner did not come within the mandate of the Committee, many speakers expressed their satisfaction at the completion of the special programme for the repatriation and resettlement of Sudanese, and the airlift on the South Asian subcontinent. Members considered it as an indication of the confidence placed in the High Commissioner and his Office that he had recently been entrusted with further special tasks including promotion of durable solutions for nomads in the Sahel and humanitarian aid to displaced and uprooted persons in the Indo-China peninsula. They noted with satisfaction the High Commissioner's role as the Co-ordinator of United Nations Humanitarian Assistance in Cyprus. The representatives of Greece and Turkey, some other members of the Committee, as well as the Observer of the Republic of Cyprus expressed their appreciation for the report he had given on his activities there. Some members voiced their humanitarian concern at the plight of the displaced persons, while some others expressed the hope that the displaced persons might soon return to their homes, irrespective of their ethnic origin or religion.
29. The representative of Turkey said that the problem of displaced persons in Cyprus had existed for a long time and that all political problems had to be resolved by political means. The observer of the Republic of Cyprus stressed the strong desire of all his countrymen who were displaced persons to return to their homes and land. It was urged that further contributions in response to the United Nations appeal be forthcoming, and the hope was expressed that a solution could soon be found.
30. Referring to the High Commissioner's comments on the problem of Kurdish refugees in Iran, the representative of Iran spoke of the 100,000 Kurdish refugees now living in his country. The High Commissioner and the International Red Cross had been informed of the situation, and recently notes had been exchanged between the Red Lion and Sun Society of Iran and the Red Crescent Society of Iraq to arrange voluntary repatriation of these refugees but without result. The representative expressed the hope that voluntary repatriation would take place soon under international supervision.
31. The Observer of Iraq referred to the steps that had been taken by the Red Crescent Society of Iraq on this question and its contacts with the Iranian Red Lion and Sun Society in order to promote immediate measures for the return of the Kurdish Iraqis who are at present living in Iran. In its contacts with the Iranian Red Lion and Sun Society, the Iraqi Society had indicated that the amnesty law would be applied to these persons.
32. In the course of the discussion, several representatives drew attention to the importance of the regular activities carried out by the High Commissioner under the terms of his mandate. They noted with appreciation that these were being fully maintained in spite of the many new demands that were being made on UNHCR and that it had proved possible for the Office, even in these circumstances, to carry on without an appreciable increase in staffing. Considering the scope of the special tasks entrusted to the High Commissioner and the large sums involved in financing them, the question arose as to whether the role of the Executive Committee in this connexion should not be reviewed so that it would be in a better position to give advice on the administrative and financial aspects of these tasks. Some representatives wondered whether it might not be useful to give further thought to the terms of reference of the Executive Committee.
33. The High Commissioner made a statement in which he suggested that UNHCR activities outside the regular programme might be placed in an appropriate institutional framework and proposed that this important question should be further studied. He also suggested that, in order for his Office to get the benefit of the Committee's advice on the special tasks entrusted to him, he might report on them to the Committee in the same manner as his Office was now reporting on other activities financed from trust funds and administered in the framework of his regular programme. The Committee welcomed his suggestion which is reflected in the decision below.
34. The Committee paid a special tribute to the Norwegian Government and people for the magnificent result achieved by the recent fund-raising campaign under the chairmanship of Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Sonja of Norway. During the discussion and in the course of the session important announcements were made by Governments and by the observer for the Commission of the European Communities in respect of contributions, the details of which are listed in a subsequent section, concerning financial questions. Several representatives emphasized that the increasing financial obligations in respect of aid to refugees should be equitably shared by the largest possible number of countries.
35. The Committee had occasion to note the considerable support given to UNHCR in its regular programme and in its special tasks by United Nations agencies and other intergovernmental organizations. Some representatives emphasized the need to develop further this co-operation with a view to enabling the organizations concerned to undertake those activities for the benefit of refugees which came within their own sphere of competence.
36. In a statement to the Committee, the observer for the Refugee and Migration Commission of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies drew particular attention to the legal and social problems facing new refugees and the so-called de facto refugees in Europe. On several occasions during the session tribute was paid to the important contribution of voluntary agencies to the work for refugees.
37. A number of representatives made statements concerning the situation of refugees in their country, the assistance provided to them and the possibility of admission of refugees for resettlement, the details of which may be found in the relevant summary records of the session.
Decision of the Committee
38. The Executive Committee:
(a) Took note with appreciation of the introductory statement by the High Commissioner and of the progress accomplished by his Office;
(b) Pledged its continued support to the Office in the discharge of its manifold tasks, both as regards regular activities and other essential humanitarian tasks undertaken by it;
(c) Took note with interest of the various suggestions made on the role and work of the Executive Committee which the High Commissioner undertook to study and report on to the next session of the Committee;
(d) Invited the High Commissioner within the framework of programme budgeting to report to the Executive Committee on his special tasks in the same manner as he reported on other activities financed from trust funds under his regular programme.
III. INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION (Agenda item 4)
39. In introducing the note on international protection (A/AC.96/508 and Corr.1 and Add.1-2), the Director of Protection emphasized that the questions of asylum and non-refoulement continued to be a main preoccupation of the Office. The positive response of a great majority of States to the proposal concerning a Convention on Territorial Asylum had been encouraging. Adoption of such a convention would mean an important advance in securing the protection of refugees. He expressed the hope that no time would be lost in preparing for a Conference of Plenipotentiaries to deal with the draft text.
40. The need for a convention became evident when it was realized that some States flagrantly disregarded the principles of asylum and non-refoulement. Refugees had been returned to their countries, and others threatened with expulsion. Cases of abduction had occurred. In some of these cases the Office had been able to intervene with success.
41. Sustained efforts had been made to promote additional accessions to international instruments relating to the status of refugees. In States which had not ratified the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 19511 and the 1967 Protocol thereto2 it might be possible in the meantime to make progress by negotiating bilateral arrangements between the Government and the Office.
42. He recalled that the States which had ratified the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (A/CONF.9/15) had already agreed that UNHCR should assume the responsibility provided for under article 11 of the Convention. This matter would be considered by the General Assembly at its current session.
43. The task of the Office in connexion with the compensation of refugees by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany was expected to be completed by the end of the year. On the other hand, the Government of Uganda had agreed that the Office should be the channel for claims lodged by Asians of undetermined nationality who had left Uganda.
44. The High Commissioner remained very concerned at the legal problems of individual refugees. In 1973, some 4,000 individual cases had been brought to the attention of UNHCR headquarters, and a similar number was likely to emerge in 1974. Many other such cases were being considered by branch offices. Much effort was devoted to the reuniting of refugees with their family members, but the Office was encountering serious obstacles in this respect.
45. The High Commissioner was giving much attention to the problem of .de facto refugees who could not be recognized under the 1951 Convention but who were unable or unwilling to return to their country. These refugees were suffering many legal handicaps and their position would be further studied. In a subsequent statement, the Director of Protection expressed his concern that the meeting of a Committee of Experts to study the draft convention on Territorial Asylum might have a delaying effect on the convening of the Conference of Plenipotentiaries.
46. Many speakers reaffirmed that protection was the primary function of the Office of the High Commissioner under its Statute and were gratified to note some of the imaginative initiatives that had been taken during the period under review. One representative made a special mention of the safe havens established in Chile which might usefully complement the practice of diplomatic asylum. One representative emphasized that UNHCR should give priority both in terms of staff time and other resources to protection activities.
47. Several speakers, while regretting that the rate of accession to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol was rather slow, were pleased to learn that further accessions were expected, and that the OAU Convention concerning the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems In Africa of 19693 as well as the United Nations Convention of 1961 concerning the Reduction of Statelessness had received the necessary accessions for their coming into force.
48. Some representatives stated that they supported the proposed arrangement whereby UNHCR would channel claims lodged by Asians of undetermined nationality who had left Uganda.
49. With regard to the question of asylum and non-refoulement, one representative, supported by several other speakers, expressed the hope that the High Commissioner would continue to make the most vigorous representations with a view to ensuring that the human rights of refugees were scrupulously respected. Some representatives stated that their Governments applied strictly the principles of asylum and non-refoulement.
50. The representative of Italy gave an account of the problems his Government was facing in granting asylum to a considerable number of refugees. Italy, being a country of first asylum, was compelled by humanitarian reasons and in order to comply with the international legal instruments in force, to admit asylum seekers whether or not they were considered to be eligible under the 1951 Convention. Since immigration countries tended to favour the resettlement of those eligible refugees who were young and fit, a large number of other asylum seekers remained in the country and constituted an increasing financial burden. He expressed the hope that this problem would receive attention together with that of the de facto refugees so that there should be an equalization of burdens between the States parties to the 1951 Convention.
51. Most representatives who spoke on the question of the draft convention on Territorial Asylum were pleased to note that the great majority of some 90 communications received by UNHCR from Governments on this subject had been in favour of the adoption of such a convention. The representative of the Netherlands, while concerned that the Conference of Plenipotentiaries should be held as soon as possible, felt that the present text of the Convention might usefully be improved by first submitting it to a group of governmental experts to be designated by the General Assembly, on the understanding that the Conference of Plenipotentiaries would be held as soon as possible thereafter. The great majority of representatives who took part in the debate supported this proposal, which was adopted by the Committee.
Conclusions of the Committee
52. The Executive Committee:
(a) Reaffirmed the importance it attaches to International Protection as the primary function of UNHCR;
(b) Agreed that the High Commissioner's staff dealing with protection matters should be strengthened, bearing in mind the recommendations of the recent survey of the Administrative Management Service, if necessary by using the programme reserve;
(c) Expressed deep concern at the repeated flagrant violations of the human rights of refugees falling within the terms of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees including the fundamental principles of asylum and non-refoulement;
(d) Recommended that the High Commissioner continue to make the necessary representations to Governments concerned in cases of such violations;
(e) Took note of the establishment of a unit to deal with compensation claims of Uganda Asians of undetermined nationality, as agreed upon by the Government of Uganda;
(f) Reaffirmed its view that a Conference of Plenipotentiaries on Territorial Asylum should take place as soon as possible, and recommended that the Conference should be preceded by a meeting of a group of governmental experts to review the present text of the Draft Convention; expressed the hope that special attention be given to the situation of de facto refugees, in particular within the frame of the preparatory work for the aforementioned draft Convention on Territorial Asylum;
(g) Recommended that the views in subparagraph (f) above be conveyed to the General Assembly of the United Nations.
IV. UNHCR ASSISTANCE ACTIVITIES IN 1973-1974 AND PROPOSED VOLUNTARY FUNDS PROGRAMME AND BUDGET FOR 1975 (Agenda item 6)
53. Introducing the report on UNHCR Assistance Activities in 1973-1974 and proposed Voluntary Funds Programme and Budget for 1975 (A/AC.96/506 and Add.1), the Director of Assistance said that this report was submitted to the Committee for the first time within the framework of the new programme and budget cycle, following the recommendations made by the Executive Committee at its third special session in May 1973 (A/AC.96/486). The report presented global data relating to the annual assistance programme as well as expenditures from the Emergency Fund, the Education Account and other trust funds. In the addendum to the document, information was given concerning the UNHCR regular budget, and also consolidated data on the total regular programme.
54. The Director of Administration and Management drew attention to the fact that this was the first time that a major component of programme support and administrative expenditures was included in the document, and also the first time the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the document (A/AC.96/509) had come before the Executive Committee for review. He then briefly outlined the main new features of the document and commented on ACABQ's recommendations.
55. Referring to the 1973 programme, the Director of Assistance said that salient features during that year were: the voluntary repatriation of refugees to the south Sudan, which had brought to an end a major problem, the problem of Burundi refugees, and developments in Chile. In 1974 the two largest allocations within the revised target of $11,808,000 were for assistance to refugees in Latin America and to refugees from Burundi in the United Republic of Tanzania. Referring to the financial target of $12,316,000 for 1975, he said that emphasis in 1975 would be similar to that in 1974. In conclusion he pointed out that while long-term project planning was not feasible in view of the nature of refugee problems, UNHCR was devoting an increasing amount of time and funds for medium-term project planning, in close co-operation with other members of the United Nations system, and with the assistance of planning consultants recruited especially for this purpose.
56. The members of the Committee who spoke expressed satisfaction with the new presentation of the report which was found more concise and manageable than the documents submitted to past sessions. The inclusion of all relevant data in one single document had facilitated understanding of the High Commissioner's assistance activities and of their financing.
57. During the Committee's detailed examination of the various chapters a number of specific questions were raised. These questions and the replies to them may be found in the summary records of the 254th and 255th meetings. These records also give details of the measures of assistance taken at the national level for the benefit of refugees, to which many representatives referred in their statements.
58. It was generally observed that most of the High Commissioner's regular assistance activities continued to be centred in Africa, where refugee problems were greatest and where large numbers were still in need of assistance. This would be further emphasized in the coming year with large-scale assistance which was likely to be needed to facilitate voluntary repatriation and local settlement in their home countries of refugees from Territories hitherto under Portuguese administration. It was recalled, however, that local settlement projects were still vitally important for other groups of refugees in order to promote and facilitate integration.
59. The representative of the Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA), who was given the floor with the Committee's consent to speak on the question of voluntary repatriation of refugees from Angola, referred to the recent development which had brought liberation to the Angolan people. With the recognition by the Portuguese Government of their right to self-determination, a new era had opened for the Angolan nation.
60. He acknowledged with gratitude the assistance, mainly in respect of health and education, which had already been provided by UNHCR to Angolan refugees in Zaire. The task now to be fulfilled was that of facilitating the repatriation and resettlement of these large numbers of refugees. On behalf of the President of FNLA, the representative transmitted to the High Commissioner a formal request for assistance in meeting this formidable challenge.
61. The representative of Uganda proposed that a paragraph should be included in the Committee's decision to reflect the possibility that a large number of refugees from Portuguese Territories in Africa would soon be able to return to their homes and would need considerable assistance to this end.
62. The observer for Burundi informed the Committee that several thousand refugees from that country had recently made known their desire to return. Appropriate measures had been taken by the Government of Burundi to facilitate this movement, which it was hoped would also benefit from the assistance of the international community.
63. The observers of the Khmer Republic and of the Republic of Viet-Nam expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by UNHCR to the Khmer refugees in the Republic of Viet-Nam. In view of the continued plight of this group, they appealed for further assistance to be provided in 1975. The Director of Assistance assured the Committee that more would be done for this group as soon as necessary funds were made available. One representative expressed the concern of his Government for the needs of this group, and indicated its willingness to provide financial support for this purpose.
64. Several representatives pointed out that there was a continued increase in the number of asylum seekers in some European countries. Referring to the heavy charge borne by the asylum countries, one representative said that international assistance was still required for these refugees.
65. Two representatives described the increased efforts made in traditional countries of first asylum in Europe to curtail the waiting periods imposed on refugees accommodated in camps by improving the process of their permanent resettlement.
66. During the session, several speakers recalled that UNHCR assistance activities in Latin America had been characterized throughout the year by the major new needs resulting from the events in Chile. The increased resources proposed for this purpose had been included in the revised programme for 1974 and proposed programme for 1975. Several representatives noted with satisfaction the successful results of the initial resettlement phase of UNHCR's assistance to refugees from Chile, but stressed that many problems remained, notably the permanent resettlement of those accepted on a transit basis in other countries of Latin America or in Europe, as well as the reunion of divided families. They pledged their continued support to efforts to solve these problems.
67. In a statement to the Committee, the observer for Chile recalled the full co-operation provided by his Government to the efforts of the international community in bringing assistance to refugees in his country, notably in connexion with the establishment of the National Committee for Aid to Refugees which had been operated by church groups and voluntary agencies in Chile. The role of the Chilean Government in authorizing this Committee to organize "safe havens" to accommodate refugees and facilitate their resettlement had been acknowledged, he recalled, by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Fernz, recipient of the Nansen Medal, and by the representative of the High Commissioner in Chile. He also emphasised that his Government had fully implemented the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees, a fact which had been publicity recognized by the High Commissioner's Chargé de Mission in Santiago.
68. With regard to UNHCR activities in the Middle East and North Africa, the representative of Algeria drew attention to the acute needs of the nomadic refugees in south Algeria to whom the Algerian Government had provided substantial assistance in 1973. The international community had already given proof of its concern for the populations of the Sahel region. In view of the serious difficulties they still faced, he urged that Governments provide them with increased assistance, addressing a special appeal to the High Commissioner. In this connexion, the Committee learned from the Director of Assistance that the High Commissioner proposed to pursue his contacts with the Algerian Government on the subject of these nomads.
69. On the subject of the resettlement of refugees, several representatives referred to the efforts of their Governments in seeking to improve the efficiency of existing mechanisms, notably for the benefit of handicapped refugees. The Director of Assistance paid tribute to the support already given to the "Ten or More Plan", proposed by the High Commissioner at the twenty-fourth session, by Belgium, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and noted with gratitude the favourable consideration it was being given by the Government of Canada. He observed that the "Ten or More Plan" could henceforth be considered a successful working proposition.
70. With regard to the counselling of refugees, the Director of Assistance informed the Committee of progress recorded in the past year in the establishment of refugee counselling services in Africa. Notwithstanding some initial difficulties, such services were now functioning in Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, the Sudan and the United Republic of Tanzania. Similar services had also been successfully established in other areas, notably in Latin America.
71. Referring to the Education Account, the Director of Assistance pointed out that 95 per cent of these funds had been allocated to Africa,, Expenditures in 1974 would reach just over $1 million, distinctly more than in 1973. He paid tribute to the valuable services provided by the consultants seconded to UNHCR by UNESCO. UNHCR was deriving great benefit from the professional expertise of these consultants both at headquarters and in the field.
72. A number of speakers recognized the importance of the High Commissioner's capacity to intervene swiftly, when necessary, through allocations from the Emergency Fund. They agreed that flexibility was essential in the field of humanitarian relief, and endorsed the High Commissioner's proposal that the Committee recommend to the General Assembly that the limit on the annual allocations from the Emergency Fund be raised to $2 million on the understanding that, as hitherto, the amount for any single emergency would not exceed $500,000.
73. Many representatives expressed concern with regard to the severe loss of purchasing power suffered, due to rising costs, by beneficiaries of annuities or similar allowances, and its consequences upon the situation of these refugees, who were mostly aged or handicapped.
74. he Committee established an ad hoc working group, consisting of representatives of Australia, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey and the United States, to study the problem and to make recommendations to the Committee in plenary session. The working group appointed the representative of the United States as its Chairman and the representative of the Netherlands as its Rapporteur.
75. The working group examined a note on the adjustment of annuities, prepared by the secretariat and recognized the urgent need to increase the annuities or similar allowances so as to assure the recipients of a minimum acceptable level of subsistence according to criteria indicated for each of the countries of residence concerned. It noted that while provisions for limited adjustments had been included in the allocations for 1975 the amounts were by no means sufficient.
76. The Executive Committee endorsed the report of the working group and included its proposed recommendations in paragraph 80 (f) below.
77. A number of speakers recorded their appreciation of the comments and recommendations provided by ACABQ and communicated to the Committee in document A/AC.96/509, They expressed the hope that the recommendations could be implemented. Replying to an inquiry concerning the recommendation that future reports should indicate all programme support and administrative costs of individual country and area programmes, including those borne by the regular budget, the Director of Administration and Management informed the Committee that the implementation of this recommendation would imply considerable additional work and pose certain technical problems, but that it was expected that these could be overcome.
78. With regard to the revised target for 1974 and the proposed target for 1975, several representatives observed during the session that the increased figures resulted inevitably from the recent unforeseen developments on which the High Commissioner had reported both at the informal meeting of the Committee in July 1974 and in his opening statement at the present meeting. There was general agreement that the levels proposed were realistic and justified. One representative expressed the hope that circumstances would be such as to avoid a further increase in the target in 1976.
79. The Committee noted with satisfaction the positive developments which had occurred over the past year to strengthen further the co-operation between UNHCR and other members of the United Nations system regarding assistance activities both inside and outside the regular programme. In the course of the session, statements giving details of this co-operation were made by the representatives of UNICEF, WFP, FAO and UNESCO, while a message was also transmitted from the ILO and from WMO.
Decision of the Committee
80. The Executive Committee:
(a) Took note with satisfaction of the results achieved by the High Commissioner in the field of assistance to refugees in 1973 and of those reported in respect of the first months of 1974;
(b) Took note of the allocations made by the High Commissioner from the Emergency Fund and from the proceeds of the UNHCR Record Scheme during the period 1 October 1973-31 May 1974;
(c) Took note with appreciation of the observations of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions submitted in document A/AC.96/509, and requested the High Commissioner to bear the Advisory Committee's recommendations in mind when preparing the programme and Budget for 1976;
(d) Approved the revised financial target, of the UNHCR Assistance Programme for 1974 in an amount of $11,808,000;
(e) Approved the new and revised projects for 1974 outlined in document A/AC.96/506, and the revised appropriations for 1974 set out in annex II to the present report;
(f) Approved the recommendations of the ad hoc working group on the adjustment of allowances and annuities to aged and/or handicapped refugees and accordingly:
(i) Invited the Governments of the countries concerned to make every effort to:
a. Assume an increasing share and eventually the totality of the cost involved in assuring aged and/or handicapped refugees adequate, regular income;
b. Introduce social legislation which would place aged and/or handicapped refugees on a par with nationals in respect of social security benefits;
(ii) Urged the High Commissioner to pursue his démarches with Governments, in particular Governments of industrialized countries, with a view to ensuring the realization of the objectives under (i) .a. and b. above.
(iii) Authorized the High Commissioner to raise the proposed financial target of the UNHCR Voluntary Funds programme for 1975 ($12,316,000) by an amount of up to $340,000 to supplement the payments of allowances and annuities in accordance with the rates proposed by the High Commissioner and considered by the ad hoc working Group, to the extent that these additional requirements could not be met from national sources.
(g) Approved the financial target of the UNHCR Voluntary Funds programme for 1975 in an amount of $12,656,000 (see paragraph (f) (iii) above);
(h) Approved the country and area programmes and the over-all allocations for 1975 outlined in document A/AC.96/506, and the appropriations for 1975 set out in annex II to the present report;
(i) Authorized the High Commissioner to effect such adjustments in projects, country or area programmes and over-all allocations as may be required by changes affecting the refugee situations for which they were planned, using the Reserve where necessary, and requested him to report such adjustments to the Committee at its next session;
(j) Took note of the estimates and protections of expenditure and posts financed from the Emergency Fund and various trust funds in 1974 and 1975 contained in tables 13 II, IV, v, VII and VIII of document A/AC.96/506 and Add.l;
(k) Decided to recommend to the General Assembly that it authorize the High Commissioner to allocate from the Emergency Fund, under the general directives of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's programme, up to $2 million annually for emergency situations, it being understood that the amount made available for one single emergency shall, as heretofore, not exceed $500,000 in any one year;
(l) Approved the proposals contained in paragraphs 125 and 129 of document A/AC.96/506;
(m) Recommended that the High Commissioner, taking into account the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly, should continue his consultations with interested parties, including the organization of African Unity, in order to make available means for the voluntary repatriation of refugees from Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique with a view to their resettlement in their countries.
V. FINANCIAL QUESTIONS
A. Voluntary Funds Accounts for 1973 and report of the Board of Auditors (Agenda item 5)
81. Introducing this item, the representative of the High Commissioner pointed out that the report before the Committee (A/AC.96/505) incorporated information previously presented in three separate documents, relating respectively to Voluntary Funds Accounts, the report of the Board of Auditors and the report on investments. The new presentation was designed to facilitate the Committee's examination of these interrelated items, while permitting a saving in volume. The report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) was contained in the addendum to the report.
82. Commenting on salient features of the information contained in the report, he drew special attention to the fact that in statement II the cost of grant-in-aid to the United Nations budget was appearing for the last time as a separate item under programme support and administration. With the introduction of the programme budget procedure, these costs would henceforth be charged directly to the Voluntary Funds and therefore included as an integral part of administration and programme support costs. As regards investments, the Office had continued its policy of diversified placements in European currencies. This policy, combined with fluctuating exchange rates had yielded substantial earnings in 1973, which had made a welcome contribution towards meeting increased financial requirements. There were, however, indications of lesser earnings from this source for the current year. Commenting then on the average investment rates shown in schedule 12, he drew attention to the increase recorded in 1973 as compared with the previous year. In view of the current economic crisis and unfavourable trend of the investment market, priority was being given to the security of investments.
Decision of the Committee
83. The Executive Committee:
(a) Took note of the accounts for the year 1973, the investments made during that year and the report of the Board of Auditors (A/AC.96/505);
(b) Took note of the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions in respect of the accounts for the financial year 1973 (A/AC.96/505/Add.1) and the Board of Auditors' report thereon.
B. Status of contributions and over-all financial situation for 1974 and 1975 (Agenda item 7)
84. The representative of the High Commissioner, introducing the report (A/AC.96/507) relating to this item, recalled that UNHCR had again been called upon in the past year to undertake several major assignments outside the annual programme. The financial contributions to these assignments, listed in tables III, IV and V of the report, reflected the generous support provided by the international community to these assignments, to which he paid due tribute. He was pleased to announce that the revised target of $11,808,000 for the 1974 programme was likely to be met, thanks to the special contributions for refugees from Chile. As indicated in table VII of the report, a further $2,650,000 was required, however, to meet the target for 1975. Recalling that the High Commissioner's regular assistance to refugees under the mandate constituted, together with his activities in the field of international protection, the cornerstone of the work of UNHCR, he urged that the maximum number of Governments should announce increased contributions towards the 1975 programme at the annual pledging conference scheduled to be held on 2 December 1974 in New York.
85. The Committee welcomed the announcement of contributions made during the session as shown in detail below:
The representative announced that, subject to Parliamentary approval, his Government would increase its contribution to the UNHCR programme for 1975 to an amount of $A 320,000
The representative of Austria stated that, subject to Parliamentary approval, his Government's contribution to the UNHCR annual programme in 1975 would be the same as in 1974, namely ANS 780,000.
The representative informed the Committee that his Government would continue to contribute its share to the High Commissioner's annual programme in 1975. It was also intended, as in previous years, to make an unearmarked contribution in 1975 for educational and other technical assistance.
He also stated that a contribution of D. Kr. 300,000 ($US 49,180) for aid to refugees in Latin America would be transferred to the UNHCR account in Copenhagen as soon as the High Commissioner required this amount.
The observer announced a contribution of $5,000 towards the repatriation of refugees to Territories previously under Portuguese administration.
The Government of Greece would continue to give material and financial support towards the operation for humanitarian assistance in Cyprus.
The representative announced that, subject to Parliamentary approval, his Government would increase its contribution to the UNHCR annual programme from Gds 1,500,000 ($576,923) in 1974 to Gds 2,000,000 ($740,741) in 1975.
The Government of Nigeria was examining the various appeals for funds received from the High Commissioner and has accepted in principle to make a token contribution towards humanitarian assistance in Cyprus. The High Commissioner would be informed in due course of the Government's decision with regard to other appeals.
The representative of Norway informed the Committee that, subject to Parliamentary approval, the Norwegian contribution to the UNHCR programme for 1975 would be N. Kr. 5,500,000 ($996,377) which represented an increase of N. Kr. 1,000,000 ($181,159) compared with 1974. Of this sum, N. Kr. 2,100,000 ($380,435) would be earmarked for activities under the High Commissioner's Education Account.
The Government of Norway had also decided to contribute N. Kr. 500,000 ($90,580) towards humanitarian assistance in Cyprus, and this sum would be paid shortly.
The representative assured the Committee that any special requests from the High Commissioner would continue to be viewed sympathetically, as in the past.
The representative announced that the Government of Sweden would contribute an amount of $1,400,000 for the year 1975. For 1976, the Swedish contribution would amount to S. Kr. 6,900,000 (approximately 1,500,000) and for 1977 would be S. Kr. 7,500,000 (approximately $1,600,000).
The representative stated that a decision from his Government with regard to a contribution for humanitarian assistance in Cyprus was expected shortly. He envisaged that the amount of Sw. Fr. 500,000 ($167,785) would be made available to the High Commissioner for this purpose.
United States of America
The representative of the United States of America outlined the financial assistance already given to students at the Nkumbi International College in Zambia in the amount of $150,000, and informed the Committee that subject to the appropriation of funds by congressional and treasury authorities his Government would continue to support these students in 1975.
His Government had already pledged support to the High Commissioner's appeal for humanitarian assistance in Cyprus in an amount of $3 million, and would endeavour to contribute a further $4.3 million making a total contribution of $ 7.3 million. In addition, the United States Government was actively considering a contribution in response to the High Commissioner's appeal for aid in Indo-China.
The representative announced that the Government of Venezuela had approved a contribution of $10,000 towards UNHCR activities for refugees from Chile, and that this amount would be paid shortly.
The representative announced to the Committee that his Government had decided to make a contribution in kind to the value of $20,000 for assistance to refugees and displaced persons in areas under the control of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Viet-Nam, the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam and in the Kingdom of Laos. He also stated that his Government's contribution to the annual progress of UNHCR, which was normally $10,000 annually, would be increased to $15,000 in 1975.
The Government had also made a contribution of $30,488 to the United Nations Humanitarian Assistance in Cyprus.
Decision of the Committee
86. The Executive Committee:
(a) Took note of the report submitted by the High Commissioner on the status of contributions to UNHCR voluntary funds and the over-all financial situation for 1974 and 1975 (A/AC.96/507);
(b) Took note of the fact that, as in previous years, the High Commissioner had been called upon, in 1974, to raise substantial funds for special operations and refugee situations in addition to the UNHCR annual programme;
(c) Noted with particularly for refugees from Chile, the High Commissioner would be able to meet the increased target of the 1974 Programme;
(d) Recognized that increased governmental support would be necessary to permit, the full financing of the UNHCR annual programme for 1975;
(e) Urged Governments to meet this challenge by increasing their financial contributions for 1975.
VI ANY OTHER QUESTIONS
87. On behalf of his Government, the representative of Uganda extended to the Committee an invitation to hold its twenty-sixth session scheduled to take place in the autumn of 1975, in Kampala. The Committee took note of this invitation with gratitude and requested UNHCR to study the various practical aspects which it entailed, in consultation with member Governments and the United Nations services concerned. The Government of Uganda would, in due course, be informed of the results of these consultations.
ANNEX I Opening statement by the High Commissioner to the twenty-fifth session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme
Before reporting on UNHCR activities, may I be permitted to extend a warm welcome to Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Sonja of Norway. The honour and privilege of her presence among us this morning is yet another manifestation of the deep interest that Norway has always had in the cause of refugees.
The Nordic countries have long been known for their support of this cause, and the Committee will recall a number of very successful campaigns carried out in the past by their Refugee Councils. I am now very happy to be able to inform you that a campaign conducted by the Norwegian Refugee Council, just eight days ago, on Sunday, 6 October, has broken all precedents - on that one day the people of Norway contributed $3.5 million for refugees. That such an amount can be raised in one day in a country with a total population of 4 million is so remarkable that it must, on a per capita basis, be a world record.
The credit for this magnificent result is due not only to the generosity of the Norwegian people but also to those who planned and carried out the campaign - to the Norwegian Refugee Council - and to the campaign committee of which Her Royal Highness graciously consented to act as Chairman.
The association of distinguished personalities with a cause is often meant only to lend prestige to it. However, Her Royal Highness did very much more than that. Not only did she take an active part in Board meetings and in over-all planning, but she also travelled widely throughout the country to speak in support of the campaign. It is therefore with deep gratitude for her personal involvement in "Refugee 74" that we welcome Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Norway to this Executive Committee.
May I be permitted also to welcome the Administrative Secretary-General of the Organization of African Unity. We are most encouraged by the active interest of his organization in our work and by the unrelenting support that it has always given my Office. We are honoured that Mr. Eteki should have found time to be personally present at this meeting.
Last but certainly not least, Mr. Chairman, may I extend to you and to your colleagues, the distinguished Vice-President and the Rapporteur, my sincere congratulations on your election. Your close, personal association with our work is well known to all, and I am sure that your guidance will be precious to the deliberations of this Committee. While welcoming you, the distinguished Vice-President and the Rapporteur, may I also express our appreciation to the outgoing office-bearers, Ambassador Herbst, Ambassador Barton and the Rapporteur, Mr. Arim.
The past year has been a very busy one for UNHCR not only because of deterioration in certain existing situations, but also on account of new upheavals requiring immediate attention. During the past four months I have twice had occasion to share with you our preoccupations in special consultative meetings once in July with members of this Committee and again more recently in September, in a wider meeting to apprise Governments of new and tragic developments in the field of refugees and uprooted persons. Besides the normal UNHCR workload which, unfortunately, continues to be heavy, we have been called upon to assist in new situations: Cyprus where, at the request of the Secretary-General, UNHCR is co-ordinating humanitarian assistance; a programme in Indo-China launched with the support of the Secretary-General on the basis of requests received from various parties in the area; the problem of Kurdish refugees, and humanitarian efforts on behalf of certain groups of nomads in the Sahel.
Before commenting on these new developments, I should like, according to the tradition of this Committee, to review our normal activities within the framework of the Regular UNHCR Programme, which has been considerably affected by a significant increase of activities. This is evidenced by the fact that the revised target for 1974 is expected, with the approval of the Committee, to reach $11.8 million as against the initial target of $8.7 million. This sharp increase of some 35 per cent is mainly due to the influx of refugees from Chile into neighbouring countries, a movement which could not have been foreseen when the 1974 programme was presented, and to the increase in the requirements for the growing group of refugees from Burundi. Information on this subject was shared with members of this Committee during the meeting on 24 July. I should like to emphasize here the importance of such consultative meetings of the Executive Committee because they not only permit me to share my concern with member Governments, in good time, but also enable these Governments to take speedy action in support of our work. Their usefulness has been amply demonstrated this year and I am happy to inform the Committee that, thanks to further special contributions recently made towards the Chile operation, particularly from the United States of America and the United Kingdom, it now seems likely that the proposed target for 1974 of $11.8 million will be fully financed from voluntary contributions.
The target of the programme proposals submitted to you for 1975 is $123 million. At the meeting of 24 July, I already voiced my concern in regard to this increase. My colleagues will be giving you details of this Programme's components in the course of your deliberations, It is my sincere hope that Governments will respond generously towards these vital requirements, which you will be discussing during the coming days.
Turning now to a brief review of the salient features of our Regular programme, I should like to state that during 1974 the problems in Africa continued to be of primary importance and to absorb the largest fraction of funds devoted to normal assistance activities,
The Burundi refugees have remained a major source of concern in 1974 and are likely to remain so in 1975. While numbers have decreased in Rwanda and Zaire, there has been a concentration in the United Republic of Tanzania (over 90,000) where 1974 expenditure will exceed $2 million. It is expected that the 1975 figure will reach an almost equal amount. Progress in the settlement in Tanzania and in Rwanda is satisfactory. In Zaire, the Government has only recently made a decision of principle to resettle the 20,000 remaining Burundi refugees further inland. As plans are not yet finalized, only a modest allocation of $250, 000 is foreseen in the 1975 target.
While most refugee problems are gradually finding a solution in neighbouring countries of asylum, the major new development in Africa is, without doubt, the liberation of Territories hitherto under Portuguese administration. Guinea-Bissau is already an independent Republic and Mozambique has a transitional government. The independence of Angola is expected to follow in due course.
Many contacts have taken place between the leaders of the new Republic of Guinea-Bissau, of the transitional government in Mozambique and of the liberation movements of Angola, and the United Nations system. A considerable effort will no doubt be required from the Organization as a whole to help the new States in every aspect of their economic and social development.
Refugees in neighbouring countries represent a considerable fraction of the total population of Guinea-Bissau and Angola (10 per cent or more). As regards Mozambique, refugees still represent a large proportion of the original population of the northern and western parts of the country. It is well known, in connexion with its assistance programme, that UNHCR has, through the years, maintained close contacts with the liberation movements. Since the last session of the Executive Committee, we have further strengthened these contacts with all recognized liberation movements, and these have concentrated more recently on two specific aspects: (a) modalities of voluntary repatriation of the refugees and the support required to enable their resettlement in their country of origin, and (b) continued support to refugees in their present countries of asylum, in co-operation with the liberation movements, particularly in such fields as education and health.
I might mention in this connexion that the global amount of $1 million foreseen within the 1975 target will be mainly devoted to running costs in existing settlements and interim projects pending the massive repatriation. I will naturally keep member Governments informed of the developments in this field, but I believe it reasonable to expect that in 1975 a considerable effort will be necessary to assist the massive repatriation and resettlement in home countries.
I need hardly add that any specific UNHCR programme would naturally be co-ordinated with general efforts of the United Nations system towards economic and social development of these new States.
The consequences of events in Chile during September 1973 have had a considerable impact on UNHCR work in Latin America. Governments have been kept regularly informed of our efforts in this tragic situation. I am happy to be able to report today that, thanks to the assistance and co-operation of a great number of Governments, governmental and non-governmental organizations, some 3,000 foreign refugees in Chile have been resettled in other countries. However, there are still a few cases in Santiago, and there is also the important problem of family reunion. Some 600 dependants have already been reunited, but a larger number remain on the waiting list. UNHCR continues to maintain a charge de mission in Chile.
At the same time thousands of Chileans have sought refuge in Argentina, which has caused a completely new programme to be started in this country, mainly to assist local settlement. There are also resettlement problems for foreign refugees from Chile who have been accepted in transit, and for those Chileans who wish to go to other countries of durable asylum.
Several thousand Chileans have gone and are still going to Peru, which has offered transit facilities and where a resettlement programme of considerable scope had to be set up. A charge de mission has been dispatched to Lima.
Chilean refugees have been scattered all over the Latin American continent and we are faced with a challenging task, particularly in regard to individual cases. Many Chilean and other Latin American refugees have been accepted in countries all over Europe, as well as in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This resettlement has brought about intensified contacts with countries which had not in the past accepted significant numbers of refugees. In this connexion, I should like to mention, in particular, the laudable efforts made by Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Germany, Romania and a number of other countries in facilitating the settlement of a substantial number of uprooted persons.
Activities of UNHCR on behalf of refugees from Chile have been financed mainly from trust funds, in an amount of some $2.5 million in 1974, The Executive Committee is now requested to regularize the situation by integrating these activities in the revised 1974 target. As I mentioned earlier, this revised target, thanks to trust funds already received and to other contributions, will be fully financed and should not require new contributions from Governments.
In Europe, UNHCR assistance activities have been maintained during the year at about the same level as in preceding years. Work has concentrated mainly in the field of protection of the rights of refugees. Some progress has also been recorded as regards outstanding problems. This is particularly the case in Italy where the situation in various camps, including Capua, has considerably improved, I mention this since I recall that this Committee expressed legitimate concern on past occasions regarding conditions in these camps. I should also like to mention the initiative taken by a number of European voluntary agencies to look into the problem of what might be termed as "de facto" refugees in Europe. An interesting study on the subject has just been completed I am also happy to state that the response of various European countries to UNHCR requests for financial support to operations inside and outside the regular programme, has continued to be generous. Similar generosity has been shown by several countries in Europe as regards the resettlement of refugees of both European and non-European origin including, in particular, Uganda Asians of undetermined nationality and Chileans.
Turning now to Asia, I am glad to be able to say that the activities of UNHCR carried out in past years in various countries have been practically phased out, and it is felt that very little, if any, UNHCR assistance is required further. On the other hand the Regional Office in Bangkok is concentrating on new areas in order to stimulate interest in UNHCR activities on the part of Governments which so far have not followed our work so closely. Recently, I myself had occasion to visit Japan at the invitation of the Government, while the UNHCR Regional Representative has visited a number of other countries, including Malaysia and the Philippines. The major development in Asia as regards UNHCR is, of course, a programme of assistance that has recently been initiated in Laos and Viet-Nam.
I shall be referring to this aspect of our work separately since our activities in Indo-China are being funded from contributions outside the Regular programme.
Members of the Committee will undoubtedly have noticed that not all existing refugee problems are mentioned in the documents on UNHCR activities, but only those causing actual expenditure in the framework of the Regular Programme. One important example is the problem of Kurdish refugees in Iran. The Iranian Government has drawn the attention of my Office to the large influx of Kurdish refugees from Iraq which reached significant dimensions during the first half of 1974. The number of these refugees is estimated by the Iranian authorities to be approximately 100,000. At the invitation of the Iranian Government I asked my Regional Representative to proceed to Iran in the latter part of August 1974. He was received by the Prime Minister and other high officials of the Iranian Government, and was provided with all facilities to visit the refugee camps where he had the opportunity not only to witness the plight of these refugees but also to assess the considerable and very efficient work carried out by Iran's Red Lion and Sun Society. Substantial funds have been available by the Government to provide the refugees with emergency aid of a11 kinds, including shelter, food, medical services and primary education for children, In view of the considerable effort that is being made by the Iranian authorities, no formal request for material assistance has been addressed to my Office. However, we continue to follow closely the situation in view of the potential involvement of UNHCR whose experience and expertise may be of use in this situation, as elsewhere, I need hardly emphasize that we will try our best to contribute towards a satisfactory solution of the problems either through local settlement or voluntary repatriation.
While continuing at an increasing rate to provide material assistance on an emergency basis to groups of refugees,, the Office has by no means neglected the arduous problem of individual cases,, Year after year I have drawn the attention of this Committee to the fundamental importance of individual cases of refugees which can be solved in a satisfactory manner only through a generous and humane attitude and through a liberal policy as regards municipal law. Experience has show that solving the problems posed by a few individual cases is sometimes much more difficult and lengthy a process than planning and implementing a vast settlement project for thousands. Recently, I asked for a survey to be made in different parts of the world of individual cases involving difficult legal problems. The results of this survey, even though carried out on a modest scale, are alarming. It covered over 300 typical cases of detention for the most varied reasons, the main ones being detention pending recognition or pending resettlement or repatriation and detention after dissidence from liberation movements. There was also a high number of cases where delay in eligibility determination and the granting of asylum caused severe hardship to individuals. This is so since in many countries eligibility determination is a prerequisite for asylum.
In the field of individual cases, perhaps the most tragic are those suffering expulsion or refoulement Even though non-refoulement is now widely recognized as a general principle of international law, it still does not command unqualified respect. Sporadic but no less poignant cases of refoulement and expulsion continue to occur. In such cases, very little can be done UNHCR if the Governments themselves do not have a humane attitude, since information on such cases becomes available only after the deed has been done. I will spare no effort to combat these flagrant violations of human rights and to seek corrective measures in every way possible.
The period under review also saw a marked increase of activity in the field of counselling and resettlement. This was necessitated first by a vast and strenuous operation relating to Asians of undetermined nationality from Uganda and, more recently, by the case of refugees from Chile. As regards the problem of handicapped refugees, I am glad to be able to report considerable progress during the last months. The "Ten or More Plan", which was discussed during the last meeting of this Committee, has met with encouraging response from a number of countries. It is expected that the objective of securing more opportunities for the placement of handicapped refugees for whom this plan was envisaged will be fully achieved. On the other hand, there is still need to persuade Governments to decrease the waiting period between the submission of handicapped cases and the reply. Speedy acceptance means avoiding considerable, unnecessary hardship.
The fundamental importance of protection need hardly be emphasized. While continuing to promote a more liberal policy regarding asylum and the admission of refugees in countries of resettlement, as well as the rights of refugees in the field of residence and social welfare, UNHCR also took a number of measures to promote further accessions to international instruments. At present, 65 Governments are Parties to the 1951 Convention while 58 have acceded to the 1967 Protocol. Recently a new effort was made to promote further accessions with the assistance of eminent members of World Peace Through Law, and I have appealed to 73 Governments which have not yet acceded to the 1951 Convention and/or the Protocol to do so. You yourself, Mr. Chairman, have been very actively supporting this initiative and I wish to thank you for your help. The OAU Convention came into force on 19 June this year; 14 African States are already parties to it.
As regards the question of the draft Convention on Territorial Asylum, you will recall the approach made by me to member Governments of the United Nations, seeking their advice. To date, 91 States have made known their views. I am encouraged to note that of these, 76 are in favour of strengthening the law on territorial asylum by the adoption of a Convention within the framework of the United Nations. This question will, of course, be receiving the attention it deserves at the General Assembly later this autumn.
In the field of asylum, it may be of interest to mention the experience gained during the Chilean crisis as regards so-called "safe havens". The Agreement on the use of "safe havens" may be considered an innovation of great significance in the development of the law and practice relating to asylum and human rights. While the legal basis and status of this device must await authoritative formulation, its use as a temporary refugee by international organizations for persons compelled to leave a country has been invaluable.
I should also like to refer briefly to the problem of statelessness which has already been mentioned in this Committee on several occasions. I am glad to be able to say that the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness has received the required number of accessions and will be entering into force in December 1975. Its basic purpose is to enable a person who would otherwise be stateless to acquire the nationality of the territory in which he is born. It thus seeks to secure wider acceptance of the jus soli principle and thereby reduce statelessness for the future. Article XI of the Convention foresees the establishment of a body to deal with the application of the Convention. It is expected that this question will be discussed at the General Assembly this year. There is no doubt that the establishment of institutional machinery within the United Nations will be a great help in solving the problems of refugees in particular, since most of them are de facto stateless.
Members of this Committee are aware that my Office in recent years has been called upon to respond in a variety of complex and challenging situations. The effectiveness of UNHCR's role has depended mostly on its speedy action. The growing number of human upheavals and the fact that I had hesitations on several occasions to use the Emergency Fund, fearing that it would be exhausted before the year end, has brought me to the conclusion that more flexibility is required as regards immediate availability of funds for emergency assistance. It is for this reason that I have proposed to raise the ceiling of annual allocations from the Emergency Fund from $1 million to $2 million, on the understanding that, as heretofore, not more than $500,000 could be allocated during the year for any single emergency situation. I would be grateful to the Executive Committee if it chooses to give me the necessary support.
Turning now to the special operations covered by funds outside the Regular Programme, I am gratified to state that with your support our efforts have been, and continue to be rewarding. The caseload of Asians from Uganda in various transit camps in Europe has now been cleared. Their resettlement was due to the generous policy of various countries of immigration to whom I would like to express our deep gratitude. In all, some $3.4 million of voluntary contributions were received from 12 Governments and were expended during the operation. There are still in certain African countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Zaire groups of Asians who left Uganda. A survey of their difficult situation in India and Pakistan has also been undertaken. Recently a significant development has been the agreement of the Uganda Government that UNHCR be responsible for channelling claims for compensation of assets left behind in Uganda by those departing Asians who are of concern to my Office. Necessary measures are now being taken in this regard.
The south Sudan operation has been successfully completed. The phasing out of our activities dovetailed into the over-all plans of specialized agencies headed by UNDP. I held occasion during the summer to submit the final report to the Economic and Social Council. This report may be found in document E/5483.
As regards the South Asian subcontinent, the operation involving the repatriation under the Delhi Agreement of Bengalis from Pakistan to Bangladesh and of non-Bengalis from Bangladesh to Pakistan has been practically completed to the satisfaction of the parties concerned. In all, UNHCR assisted in repatriating over a quarter of a million human beings through what has been described as the biggest airlift of human beings in history. There still remain some marginal problems to which the attention of UNHCR has been drawn and which are at present under study.
Turning now, briefly, to the problem of nomads in the Sahel, I need hardly recall the vast and tragic problem of the drought in the Sudano-Sahelian area.
One of the sad aspects of this problem is the precarious existence of about 100,000 nomads from Mali in neighbouring countries who have lost all traditional means of subsistence. In March this year, the Secretary-General asked me, upon the request of the President of Mali to promote a solution to the delicate problems of these nomads in the context of the "good offices" functions. I undertook a mission to Bamako in April and a number of other visits have taken place since to study with the local authorities and the Governments of neighbouring countries the eventual solution of this problem. It depends essentially on the reaction of these floating populations to the plans elaborated by the Mali Government. It is expected that, in the course of 1975, it will be possible to find a permanent solution. In the meantime, UNHCR has made available $100,000 for the preparation of an area some 50 kilometres away from Niamey in order to implement the transfer of some 15,000 nomads who are presently in the capital of Niger. This action was taken thanks to a special contribution from AUSTCARE.
With reference to Indo-China, may I recall that during our meeting of 24 July I had occasion to inform member Governments that my Office had been requested to assist in the rehabilitation of uprooted and displaced persons in the Indo-China peninsula. Last month, I was able to announce the initiation of a programme of assistance by UNHCR in Laos and Viet-Nam details of which will be made available in an information note.
In deciding to undertake this programme, I have been guided by a number of considerations which, with your permission, I should like to share with you. Firstly, I have initiated this action with the concurrence of the Secretary-General and am guided by his view that United Nations assistance should be made available to all parties in Indo-China on a purely humanitarian basis.
Secondly, the general framework of this understanding may be found in the unanimous endorsements of the Assembly in recent years of the participation of the High Commissioner, in the context of his "good offices" functions, in those "essential humanitarian actions". For which the Office has, in the words of the General Assembly, "particular experience and expertise". Accordingly in responding to the request for assistance in Laos and Viet-Nam where the requesting parties themselves used the rationale of "good offices" in their formal request, I felt that UNHCR could make a meaningful contribution to the rehabilitation of the displaced populations. Thirdly, the programme has been initiated after careful examination of the fields in which WHCR could play a significant role in line with the offices' essential humanitarian character. Close co-ordination with other international aid agencies and programmes will be maintained to avoid duplication of effort.
The first phase of the programme covering the period 1974-1975 is estimated to cost 42 million, I have already approached a number of Governments for their support and, although a few have already responded favourably, it is my earnest hope that others will wish to give this undertaking their early consideration in order to ensure satisfactory implementation of the programme.
During the meeting with Governments in September upon my return from Cyprus, I had the occasion to give details of UNHCR's role there. At the request of the Secretary-General and with the concurrence of the parties concerned, the Office is co-ordinating humanitarian assistance. I am gratified to state that the response to the appeal by the Secretary-General and myself for funds last month has been encouraging. You will recall that the target on the basis of needs identified by UNHCR amounted to $22 million. As of today, the international community has contributed some $14.5 million in cash and kind towards the list of requirements covering the period from 1 September to 31 December 1974.
Of this amount, more than 7 million were channelled through my Office, $1.3 million through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and 6 million bilaterally. I should like to stress that, in addition, considerable assistance has been given through ICRC and bilaterally for items not included in the programme drawn up by my Office. However, requirements within the United Nations programme amounting to $7.5 million are still uncovered, and I wish to appeal to all countries which have not yet announced their contribution, or have announced only an initial contribution, to consider the level of their support at the earliest possible date. The approaching winter will make additional assistance indispensable in the very near future.
In the case of Cyprus, as indeed in all situations of refugees all over the world, what is fundamental is not an effective operation of emergency assistance but rather speedy solution to the basic problem of uprootedness. Relief serves at best to soothe but not heal wounds - mental and spiritual if not physical - from which all uprooted people suffer. In Cyprus, as elsewhere, the ultimate solution to the problem is not the provision of food, medicaments, clothing and shelter. This solution lies in an altogether different direction.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that even though we have been burdened during the year with new situations requiring special operations, we have tried to ensure that these developments do not overshadow our normal work. I hope and believe that we have succeeded. I would like to assure the Committee that we are fully aware of the challenge which this poses to our small staff. Flexibility, mobility and imaginative associations with operational partners have prevented us from becoming a cumbersome bureaucracy which would have hampered rather than strengthened the absorptive capacity of UNHCR.
The world is increasingly facing new situations .producing refugees and uprooted people. Sometimes, as helpless observers, we can only witness the growth of this malignant illness of our time. When preventive measures cannot produce results, curative measures have to be taken.
Governments are becoming increasingly aware of the fact that human suffering is not any less for an uprooted or displaced person merely because he does not fulfil the classical criteria of refugee status. Recently, an Asian Government requesting UNHCR assistance wrote to me "In terms of human suffering the situation of our displaced .persons is quite analogous to that of refugees who are ordinarily the concern of your Office ...". While it is true that either at the request of the parties concerned or, indeed, at the request of the Secretary-General, we are involved in dramatic situations requiring urgent humanitarian assistance, I would like to pledge to this Committee that our efforts in the domain of our traditional work will continue unabated.
The world is harassed today with problems of over-population, inflation and the food crisis. In many lands, huge masses are facing famine. In the less-publicized world of the uprooted there is a famine due not only to lack of food, but also due to lack of hope. Having lost everything,, there have little to look forward to unless the international community comes to their rescue. If we fail to eliminate the causes of uprootedness, we can at least relieve the famine of hope.
(Note: Financial data tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)
1 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, No. 2545
2 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 606, No. 8791
3 Organization of African Unity document CM/267/Rev.1.