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Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1989

Executive Committee Meetings

Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1989

1 September 1989
General Assembly Official Records. Forty-fourth Session. Supplement No.12 (A/44/12). United Nations, New York, 1989


1. The year under review was unique and, in any respects, historic. Events occurred that, for the first time in many years, lent real hope for solutions for nearly half of the world's refugee population. At the same time, new and often dramatic refugee situations emerged and, in yet other instances, long-standing refugee problems worsened. Both in areas where prospects for solutions occurred, or where possibilities for long-term solutions were more qualified, the efforts of UNHCR in successfully meeting those opportunities and challenges became more vast and complex. This underlined the need for more recourse to international co-operation, consultations and solidarity in the approach to the humanitarian responsibilities of the Office.

2. In view of that situation, three important international conferences were held. The International Conference on the Plight of Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Southern Africa was convened by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and took place in Oslo from 22 to 24 August 1988. The Conference adopted a Declaration and Plan of Action (A/43/717 and Corr.1, annex, subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations at its forty-third session (resolution 43/116 of 8 December 1988), as well as by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme at its thirty-ninth session. Secondly, the International Conference on Central American Refugees, convoked by the Governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua, took place at Guatemala City from 29 to 31 May 1989. It was followed by the International Conference on Indo-Chinese Refugees, which was called for by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and took place at Geneva on 13 and 14 June 1989. It would thus appear that bilateral or multilateral co-operative efforts between the Office and Governments, agencies of the United Nations system, and governmental and non-governmental organizations were on the increase. Several consultations and agreements, memoranda and letters of understanding, particularly in the fields of legal protection, international and inter-agency co-operation, refugee aid and development, and various aspects of durable solutions were concluded during the period under review.

3. The opportunity to find, through voluntary repatriation, a lasting solution for the Afghans, the world's largest refugee population, was created with the signing at Geneva of a bilateral agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan in April 1988. While several initiatives in various forums were made to exploit that opportunity, repatriation on a large scale was realized mainly in Africa during the reporting period. The return from the Sudan to their country of origin of over 80,000 Ugandan refugees was the largest such movement anywhere in the world. In Southern Africa, the Tripartite Agreement, signed on 22 December 1988 by the Governments of Angola, Cuba and South Africa (A/43/989, annex), paved the way for the implementation of Security Council resolution 435 (1978) of 29 September 1978, the independence of Namibia and, as a result, the organized return home of several thousand Namibian refugees. UNHCR has been assigned specific responsibility within the framework of Security Council resolution 435 (1978) for the timely repatriation of Namibian refugees and exiles.

4. Elsewhere in Africa, 53,000 of the 55,000 Burundi who had fled to Rwanda in August 1988, 69,000 Mozambicans, over 7,000 Ethiopians, 3,300 Zimbabweans and 1,800 Chadians returned from refuge to their countries of origin. Outside Africa, the largest single repatriation involved the return of about 45,000 Iraqi Kurds to Iraq under the terms of an amnesty, while an almost similar number, some 43,000, Sri Lankan Tamils have returned home from India since the signing of an agreement between those two countries on 29 July 1987. In Central America, Nicaraguan, Salvadorian and Guatemalan refugees continued to return home. The total number of returnees at the close of the reporting period was almost 14,000 persons.

5. Globally, however, the impact of those encouraging and positive achievements was qualified by the increase in the number of asylum-seekers, refugees and related humanitarian categories. In western Ethiopia, the number of Sudanese refugees rose from nearly 260,000 to 350,000 and, in the eastern region, over 300,000 Somali refugees entered the Jijiga and Aware districts. Another several thousand Ethiopians, Mozambicans and Sudanese were also displaced and became refugees in neighbouring countries. Those same tendencies occurred in South-East Asia, where the number of asylum-seekers rose by over 11 per cent over the 1987 figure, and in Europe, where the number increased by almost one third from 188,000 in 1987 to 240,000 during the reporting period.

6. There were also two aspects to the situation in the field of protection. On the positive side, more States acceded to the major international and regional instruments on refugees, bringing the total number of signatories to either or both the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, to 106. Yet this further validation of the international humanitarian law of refugees was offset by the increase in unilateral measures by States that not only deteriorated the plight of asylum-seekers and refugees, but even posed a threat to the humanitarian institution of asylum. Those included new or revamped legal or administrative measures relating to admission, immigration, detention and screening procedures intended to, or resulting in, deterring the movements of asylum-seekers, whether they were arriving at their first, or had crossed several other, borders. Measures which may have been taken in light of valid political, economic or security needs in the context of more general migratory flows, occurring for economic reasons have, nevertheless, adversely affected the plight of asylum-seekers and refugees and threatened the humanitarian principles and practices universally recognized as essential for their protection. Similarly, the continuing violence against the person or property of asylum-seekers fleeing by sea necessitated greater efforts for rescue at sea under the Anti-Piracy Programme and the Rescue at Sea Resettlement Offers and Disembarkation Resettlement Offers schemes. Unfortunately, those efforts somewhat fell between the reluctance of shipmasters and shipowners to meet their humanitarian responsibilities at sea and frequent denial by port States of the right of disembarkation to those who might have been rescued. Finally, in 1988, there were still incidences of arrest and detention of refugees without trial, armed attacks on refugees and refugee settlements, expulsion, refoulement and others, which are discussed more fully in chapter II below. That necessitated, on the part of the Office's protection functions, greater frequency in, and more complementarity between, direct interventions to ensure the protection of refugees and asylum-seekers and the promotion of knowledge about and better understanding of the principles of refugee law.

7. Additionally, the approach of the Office was underlined by flexible and imaginative solutions taken within the framework of the international humanitarian law relating to refugees, the principle of international solidarity and burden-sharing and the specific conclusions of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme. In this connection, various important initiatives were, and continue to be, undertaken by the Office in line with the conclusions reached by the Executive Committee at its thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth sessions on, among others, military attacks on refugees and settlements, refugee women and children, irregular movements of asylum-seekers and promotion of refugee law.

8. During the reporting period, the Office continued to pay close attention to the search for durable solutions and issues related to refugee aid and development. Resettlement remained the principal durable solution for refugees in Indo-China, of whom about 50,000 were resettled to third countries; 21,000 left Viet Nam under the Orderly Departure Programme, while another 156,000 remain in UNHCR-assisted camps. In most regions, refugee emergencies frequently occur in the context of already existing large refugee populations. Accordingly, the Office continued, on the one hand, to foster local integration in the country of asylum as the best solution to the refugee problem in those regions, while, on the other, stepping up its emergency preparedness and response capabilities. Bridging refugee aid and development, in particular promoting actions beyond programmes of UNHCR, as well as initiating or facilitating the phasing out of relief assistance itself, characterized the approach of the Office in those countries serving as host to very large refugee populations. Thus close co-operation between UNHCR and, among others, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), evolved to ever higher levels.

9. Unfailing support for the High Commissioner's programmes from the international community continued. The expenditure from voluntary funds was $544,836,435, representing $395,295,200 under General Programmes and $150,202,200 under Special Programmes.

10. At the end of 1988, the United Nations General Assembly elected the High Commissioner, Mr. Jean-Pierre Hocké, to a second three-year term.



11. Developments in the field of the international protection of refugees have once again demonstrated the magnitude, the variety and the complexity of the circumstances leading to refugee flows. The common factor in those flows is that the refugees have been compelled to uproot themselves and their families from their homes to find safety and protection elsewhere.

12. Although a majority of States met their international obligations to admit refugees and asylum-seekers into their territories and to treat them in accordance with internationally recognized humanitarian standards, a number of serious problems remained in the field of international protection. For example, the unjustified detention and refoulement of thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers were reported in a number of countries. In other instances, the refusal by States to admit refugees and asylum-seekers forced them into a situation of refoulement.

13. The magnitude and seriousness of those and other problems underscored the importance of the principle of international solidarity for the protection of refugees. Against that background, the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme adopted a conclusion at its thirty-ninth session, in which it underlined its deep concern about the gravity and complexity of refugee problems throughout the world, the serious violations of human rights that accompany them and the dislocation and distress they cause for the millions of individuals involved. It reaffirmed that refugee problems were the concern of the international community and stressed that the principle of international solidarity played a fundamental role in encouraging a humanitarian approach to the grant of asylum and to the effective implementation of international protection in general.

14. In the Middle East and South-West Asia, there were several signs that pointed to the end, or at least reduction, of conflicts prevailing in the regions, although the number of asylum-seekers and refugees originating from the regions continued to increase. Hopes were raised for large-scale repatriation of refugees in the region and, in the case of the agreement signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan, UNHCR was requested to co-operate and provide assistance in the repatriation of Afghan refugees. Agreements signed separately with the two contracting parties highlighted the responsibility of the Office with respect, among other things, to the voluntary nature of the movements, monitoring the conditions and consequences of those movements, as well as the fulfilment of the relevant arrangements and guarantees provided for in the Agreements. UNHCR started to make the necessary preparations, including training in the field of protection, to fulfil those obligations.

15. In South-East Asia, the situation remained complex, as more asylum-seekers continued to be received in the region. Preserving the institution of first asylum and respect for basic human rights of the refugees remained a primordial concern for UNHCR. During the reporting period, Hong Kong was the first in the region to institute a refugee determination procedure for Vietnamese arrivals. UNHCR was involved in the setting up of those procedures and closely monitored their implementation. Meanwhile, several hundred applications from Vietnamese people wishing to return home were received by UNHCR, which, on 13 December 1988, concluded a memorandum of understanding with the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam on the matter. During its thirty-ninth session, the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme welcomed the call by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to convene an International Conference on Indo-Chinese Refugees to find comprehensive and durable solutions. The Conference took place in June 1989.

16. During the reporting period, Africa witnessed large movements of voluntary repatriation organized under the auspices of UNHCR. Additionally, in accordance with Security Council resolution 435 (1978) and other relevant Security Council resolutions, arrangements were made for the repatriation of Namibian refugees and the process commenced during the reported period. Meanwhile, new influxes took place in a few asylum countries. This was particularly true in the Horn of Africa, where large-scale cross-border movements led to intense suffering by the affected persons and where the most acute protection problems consisted in ensuring their physical safety. Finally, the International Conference on the Plight of Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Southern Africa was held at Oslo from 22 to 24 August 1988. The Conference adopted an important Plan of Action (A/43/717 and Corr. 1, annex), the implementation of which has already been commenced.

17. The situation of refugees in Central America continued to be of concern to UNHCR. The region continued to see an outflow of refugees, the majority of whom are concentrated in camps and are usually not granted the full treatment outlined in the provisions of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.1 The standard of living, as well as the protection of most of those refugees, is precarious at best. The recognition of this refugee problem at the Esquipulas II Summit Meetings (A/42/521-S/19085, annex, sect. 8), and the adoption in April 1988 by the General Assembly of a Special Plan of Economic Co-operation for Central America (A/42/949, annex) was thus particularly important. This plan makes assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons a "priority" and recognizes that, unless the conditions for development in the area are created, there will be no long-term solutions to refugee problems in Central America. Within the framework of finding practical solutions for the refugees, the Governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua agreed in September 1988 to convene an International Conference on Central American Refugees, which was held in Guatemala from 29 to 31 May 1989.

18. In Europe and North America, issues of international protection continued to be a priority of UNHCR during the reporting period. Important changes occurred in national legislation relating to asylum-seekers and refugees in a number of countries in the region. In view of those new legal developments, several Governments requested the assistance of UNHCR in training officials dealing with requests for asylum. On another important issue, following consultations in a number of regional forums, such as the Council of Europe, the European Communities and the Schengen Group (Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands), a convergence began to emerge on the principle that the country that first admitted an asylum-seeker on its territory would be the country responsible for examining the asylum request. That question is of particular importance in relation to the stated aim of the Twelve member States of the European Community to abolish internal frontier controls by 1992. At the same time, countries in the region have increased the number of nationalities subject to entry and transit visa requirements and have enforced sanctions against carriers transporting passengers without required entry documents. UNHCR has continued to attach high priority to dialogue within governmental and regional forums in order to ensure that efforts at harmonization of asylum policies are based on internationally accepted humanitarian standards and principles, and to work towards a set of policies that can effectively address the problems currently being faced.

B. Principles of international protection

1. Admission and asylum

19. It is a prerequisite for the physical safety of any asylum-seeker that he or she be officially admitted into the territory of a State. A person who leaves his country of origin for fear of persecution in the sense of article I of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, or as a result of external aggression, occupation, foreign domination, events seriously disturbing, in part or in the whole, public order, in his country of origin or nationality, or habitation has a primary and essential need to be admitted into the territory of another State.

20. Where there is no formal legal obligation for States to admit asylum-seekers, responsibility to admit derives from broader obligations towards refugees, which depend, for their fulfilment, on the person being admitted and having his or her status determined. In General Assembly resolution 428 (V) of 14 December 1950, to which the statute of UNHCR is annexed, the Assembly specifically called upon Governments to co-operate with UNHCR in the performance of its functions "especially by admitting refugees to their territories". In the Final Act of the United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons, it was stated that:

"The Conference, considering that many persons still leave their country of origin for reasons of persecution and entitled to special protection on account of their position,

Recommends that Governments continue to receive refugees in their territories and that they act in concert in a true spirit of international co-operation ... "2

21. Being a refugee and the need to be offered some form of asylum are also inextricably linked. Asylum, in its territorial sense is, broadly speaking, the total amount of protection provided by a State to refugees on its territory, in the exercise of its sovereignty. The right to grant asylum, on a temporary or permanent basis, is a State's prerogative. However, an individual's right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution has received universal recognition, for example in article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1967 Declaration on Territorial Asylum.

22. In practice, States do exercise their sovereignty to admit and to grant asylum. It was encouraging to note over the reporting period that many countries continued to apply liberal asylum policies, granting the persons concerned de jure or de facto asylum on a permanent or temporary basis. In that context, it should be underlined that the majority of the countries that grant asylum, particularly in situations of large-scale influx of refugees into their territories, are among the world's poorest.

23. Despite an overall satisfactory situation with respect to admission and asylum, some worrying trends continued to be observed during the period under review. A number of countries, for example, have recently introduced restrictive policies, regulations and/or practices aimed at reducing the number of asylum-seekers. Those have included the adoption of measures of so-called "humane deterrence" through the use of prolonged and often unjustified detention. Further, several countries refused to examine asylum requests based on a strict interpretation of the notion of "country of first asylum", despite the fact that neither basic protection nor humane standards of treatment were always provided in those latter countries.

24. Partly as a result of the increase in the number of asylum-seekers who travelled considerable distances (with or without interruption) to seek refuge, a growing number of States reinforced visa restrictions for certain nationalities and introduced heavier penalties on airlines transporting insufficiently documented asylum-seekers or aliens. The Office noted with concern that even more countries were either contemplating or actually in the process of adopting similar measures.

25. Other related tendencies included adoption of summary administrative measures and/or screening procedures at borders to deal with asylum requests - not always accompanied by adequate or regular legal guarantees - particularly those considered to be "abusive" or "manifestly unfounded". Furthermore, some States continued to resort to unduly strict interpretations of the notion of a refugee as defined in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol thereto,3 along with the requirement that the asylum-seeker should meet unrealistic standards of proof.

26. Those measures led to an increased number of rejections at the border, push-offs, the creation of "orbit situations" and attempts to return asylum-seekers to countries through which they had travelled in transit, regardless of the risk involved or their lack of proper documentation. The Office is aware of instances in which asylum-seekers who were thus denied admission were subjected to particularly severe punishment on being returned to their country of origin.

27. Despite the universally accepted principle that the granting of asylum is a peaceful and humanitarian act, which should not be regarded as unfriendly by another State, some, particularly neighbouring States, continued to refuse asylum to certain groups of asylum-seekers for considerations relating to their bilateral relations with the countries of origin of such asylum-seekers. Similarly, the Office also noted with concern that many refugees (including some who had not yet been formally recognized as such) were subjected to discriminatory treatment in connection with admission or determination of their status owing to their race, nationality, religion or ethnic origin. It is, however, a basic principle of international protection, embodied in article 3 of the 1951 Convention, that States shall treat refugees without discrimination as to their race, religion or country of origin.

2. Non-refoulement and expulsion

28. Foremost among the principles relating to the protection of refugees is that of non-refoulement. That principle envisages that no person shall be subjected to measures such as rejection at the border, or, if already in the territory of a country of refuge, expulsion or forcible return to any country where he or she may have reason to fear that his or her life, physical integrity or freedom would be in danger because of reasons pertinent to refugee status.

29. A person formally applying for refugee status or who is in a refugee-like situation should also be protected against forcible return. The application of the principle of non-refoulement does not presuppose the formal recognition of refugee status. The principle has been embodied in a large number of international legal instruments, as well as in several national and regional legislations. Its recognition is also reflected in the practice of States and it can be regarded today as jus cogens.

30. Another basic principle in the protection of refugees is found in article 32 of the 1951 Convention, which provides that a State shall not expel a refugee who is lawfully in its territory except on grounds of national security and public order. The exceptions to that principle are strictly defined in paragraphs 2 and 3 of article 32 of the 1951 Convention. As in the case of non-refoulement, the prohibition of expulsion does not presuppose the formal recognition of refugee status. Furthermore, expulsion, even if it might not result in such grave consequences as refoulement, is nevertheless prohibited if it is obvious that such a measure might involve considerable hardship for the person concerned.

31. In spite of broad consensus on those principles, UNHCR is aware that their violation not only continued in many countries, but also increased over the previous year. Cases of expulsion or refoulement were reported in several countries in all parts of the world, involving a total of several thousands of people.

32. The measures of expulsion or refoulement took various forms. They included, in some countries, expulsion on the grounds of illegal entry or presence without due regard being paid either to qualification for refugee status of the persons involved or to the requirements of article 31 of the 1951 Convention. In still other countries, the measures included expulsion orders, non-admission of stowaway asylum-seekers, push-offs of boat arrivals and interdiction on the high seas. Although many instances of expulsion often involved single individuals, the measures were, in several others, taken on a large scale and involved thousands of persons.

33. Another development of concern to the High Commissioner during the reporting period was the change in attitude by a number of States towards groups of "long-stayers", for whom no durable solution had yet been found. Those refugees were subjected to threats of refoulement, with UNHCR often receiving, in such instances, inadequate time to secure their admission to other countries. Owing to the quick response of a number of resettlement countries, however, satisfactory solutions were often found.

3. Detention

34. Unjustified measures of detention constitute a basic violation of the human rights of refugees. Unfortunately, the detention of asylum-seekers and refugees remained a major cause for concern for UNHCR during the reporting period. Many asylum-seekers and refugees continued to be detained for no other reason than that of illegal entry or presence, regardless of the fact that the irregular entry or presence was exclusively, or mainly, due to the need for those persons to find refuge.

35. While situations may occur where detention of individual asylum-seekers may be justified, for example, upon arrival or to verify identity, both article 31 of the 1951 Convention and conclusion 44 (XXXVII) of the Executive Committee4 impose strict limitations on the resort to detention measures in such cases. The indefinite or prolonged deprivation of liberty is completely unjustifiable according to those limitations and detention of refugees can be resorted to only exceptionally.

36. Although conclusion 44 (XXXVII) of the Executive Committee was adopted by consensus, UNHCR noted with regret that the qualifications contained therein have had little impact on the practices of States in this field. On the contrary, as mentioned earlier, detention under harsh conditions, for long periods and without justifiable cause continued to prevail in a number of countries. Furthermore, problems of access by UNHCR to asylum-seekers and refugees held in detention were encountered in several countries.

4. Security of refugees

37. It is fundamental to the international protection of refugees that their rights to life, liberty and security are guaranteed. Those rights imply protection from loss of life, injury and other bodily or psychological harm. They also include protection from any action that might endanger, or threaten to endanger, the safety and dignity of refugees. Although I t is the primary responsibility of the country of asylum to ensure the safety of refugees on its territory, UNHCR, in its international protection functions, has a direct and essential interest in ensuring that the safety of persons under its mandate is not threatened or violated.

38. It may be recalled that the Executive Committee, in its conclusion 48 (XXXVIII),5 condemned, and called on States to abstain from, all violations of the rights and safety of refugees and asylum-seekers, in particular, military and armed attacks on refugee camps and settlements. That conclusion, in which the Executive Committee also urged States to ensure that the civilian and humanitarian character of refugee camps and settlements is maintained, was, at the time of its adoption, considered an important step towards dealing with the problem of armed attacks. UNHCR was, however, seriously concerned by the cases in a few countries in which military attacks on refugee camps occurred during the reporting period. Those attacks, which took place mainly in the Middle East and in Africa, resulted in the loss of many lives, including those of women, children and elderly persons, as well as among the civilian population living in the areas affected. There were also instances of rape, abduction or other types of physical abuse of refugees.

39. The practice of forced recruitment into armed groups, guerrilla bands or regular armies, affecting mainly young male refugees, continued in many parts of the world. That practice obviously constitutes a violation of the refugees' right to their safety and integrity, and also runs counter to the strictly civilian and humanitarian character attached to refugee status, refugee camps and settlements, which all parties are obliged to maintain and respect.

40. There were also reports of the use of violence against refugees during flight, particularly in the waters of South-East Asia, where asylum-seekers fleeing in boats were attacked by pirates, with many deaths, abductions, rapes and other injuries reported. Efforts by the Office to curb such attacks through the Anti-Piracy Programme continued throughout the period under review. Furthermore, previously initiated actions were also followed up to continue promoting rescue at sea through the Rescue at Sea Resettlement Offers and the Disembarkation Resettlement Offers schemes.

5. Stowaway

41. During its thirty-ninth session, the Executive Committee adopted conclusion 53 (XXXIX), in which it recognized the particularly vulnerable situation of stowaway asylum-seekers. It recommended that stowaway asylum-seekers should, like other asylum-seekers, be protected against forcible return to their country of origin. It also recommended that, without prejudice to any other responsibilities of the flag State, stowaway asylum-seekers should, whenever possible, be allowed to disembark at the first port of call and have their refugee status determined by the authorities, although those actions would not necessarily imply durable solutions in the country of the port of disembarkation.6

C. Protection of refugee women and children

42. Although significant steps have been taken by UNHCR to address the specific needs of refugee women and children as regards international protection, and to promote viable durable solutions for them, much still remains to be done.

43. Many violations of their safety, dignity and integrity were reported during the period under review. Physical violence, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and discrimination were among the violations reported.

44. In some instances, refugee women and girls were subjected to such treatment under the threat of denial of asylum, refugee status or adequate assistance. In adopting conclusion 54 (XXXIX),6 the Executive Committee called for the reinforcement of the preventive measures initiated by the Office and other concerned agencies, to enhance the physical security of refugee women. That conclusion also called for States to support the Special Resettlement Programme for Women-at-risk, the objective of which is to provide appropriately adopted admission possibilities and integration support for women refugees, who are particularly vulnerable to conditions obtaining in their country of asylum. Other activities of the Office relating to refugee women are reported in chapter III. B.9 below.

45. Concerning refugee children, it may be recalled that, in 1987, the Executive Committee adopted conclusion 47 (XXXVIII) dealing with their needs and problems.5 In August 1988, UNHCR issued a set of Guidelines on Refugee Children, which stressed the specific protection needs of that most vulnerable of groups among the refugee population. But, in several reports received during the reporting period, refugee children were subjected to physical and/or psychological violence, exploitation, forced labour or recruitment, as well as to arbitrary detention measures. Owing to their age or because they were unaccompanied, they also faced particular problems with respect to their admission, registration and determination of their refugee status. Other activities undertaken for the benefit of refugee children are reported in the Chapter III. B.10 below.

D. Rights of Refugees

1. Economic and social rights

46. It is essential for the integration of refugees and for the preservation of their dignity and self-respect that they are granted social and economic rights. It is often overlooked that the rights of refugees do not cease once determination of their status and their admission to asylum has been completed. The 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol provide for a range of social and economic rights for refugees, including, inter alia wage-earning employment, self-employment, public education, public relief, artistic rights and industrial property, juridical status, right of association, welfare and social security.

47. It was encouraging to note that many States have continued to grant refugees social and economic rights that often go beyond the minimum standards provided in the 1951 Convention. Where States have encountered practical difficulties in ensuring that refugees are granted those rights, UNHCR assistance programmes have been implemented to supplement the measures taken by the asylum State, not only for the benefit of refugees and asylum-seekers, but also, often, the local population. As in previous years, the Office found that the main obstacles to the enjoyment by refugees of social and economic rights were from the limited capacity or development of the host countries in the socioeconomic sphere. These are dealt with more extensively in chapter III below.

2. Documentation

48. It may be recalled that, at its thirty-eighth session, the Executive Committee adopted conclusion 49 (XXXVIII) on travel documents for refugees.5 Although the Executive Committee expressed satisfaction that the majority of States parties to the 1951 Convention and/or the 1967 Protocol followed (and sometimes exceeded) the provisions contained in article 28 of the 1951 Convention and in its conclusion 13 (XXIX),7 it noted that problems continued to exist in some countries. It urged the adoption of legislative or administrative measures necessary for the effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention and Protocol concerning the issue of the Convention travel documents. It also urged States that were not parties to the above instruments to take appropriate measures to ensure that refugees were issued appropriate travel documents under conditions as similar as possible to those attached to the Convention travel document.

49. The main obstacles concerning Convention travel documents remained those related to restrictions on their issue, geographical and temporal validity, return clauses, acceptability or renewal, the transfer of responsibility for their issue and obtaining visas.

50. Many States continued to issue identity documents to refugees during the reporting period, sometimes with UNHCR assistance. Those documents attested to the refugee status of the holders, thereby enabling them to benefit from various rights. In other countries, however, several thousand refugees or asylum-seekers were not provided with any documentation whatsoever, which often resulted in protection problems.

51. The Office remained concerned about the trend noted in last year's report relating to the practice by some asylum countries of contacting the authorities in refugees' or asylum-seekers' country of origin for any of various reasons connected with such refugees or asylum-seekers.

3. Family Reunification

52. Family reunification is consistent with respect for the principle of family unity. During the period under review, some progress was achieved in that area, for instance, through the lifting in some countries of restrictions affecting persons seeking family reunification. Some States also showed flexibility with documentation requirements, especially in cases where refugees were unable to provide sufficient proof of family ties.

53. Despite such progress, obstacles still remained in certain countries, resulting in either lengthy and cumbersome reunification procedures or the violation of the right of refugees to reunification. Obstacles also remained with respect to the standard of proof required in claims of family ties, as with obtaining exit visas from the country of origin.

4. Naturalization

54. Article 34 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees calls upon contracting States to facilitate the assimilation and naturalization of refugees by establishing the necessary implementing legislations. Such a solution is, of course, particularly important for refugees who are well integrated in their country of asylum and for whom voluntary repatriation cannot be envisaged. In this connection, the Office was encouraged by the example in some countries in which a significant number of refugees were naturalized. In a few other instances, however, the Office noted that the costs, the length or the complicated procedural aspects of naturalization processes prevented some refugees from availing themselves of that possibility.

E. Voluntary repatriation

55. It is one of the primary tasks of the Office to facilitate and promote the voluntary repatriation of refugees. The primary importance of voluntary repatriation as the best solution to refugee problems has been reaffirmed on a number of occasions in resolutions of the General Assembly and in conclusions of the Executive Committee.

56. During the reporting period, UNHCR was encouraged by the return of over 270,000 refugees to their respective countries of origin. The vast majority of those movements took place on the African continent as well as in Central America and South and South-East Asia. Many refugees returned spontaneously, while others sought UNHCR assistance. Further details on voluntary repatriation activities in 1988 will be found in chapter III below.

F. Statelessness

57. Stateless persons constitute a largely unprotected and vulnerable group of people, whose problems have so far received inadequate international attention. UNHCR was designated by the General Assembly in resolutions 3274 (XXIX) of 10 December 1974 and 31/36 (XXXI) of 30 November 1976, pursuant to article 11 of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, as the body "to which a person claiming the benefit of this Convention may apply for the examination of his claim and for assistance in presenting it to the appropriate authority".8 Given the fact that only 11 States are parties to the 1961 Convention, however, the number of persons who may benefit from it is still extremely restricted. Although the case-load for UNHCR is numerically small, the problems of statelessness, where they arise, are complex and too often intractable because of the rigid positions maintained by States, with tragic consequences for the individuals or family groups involved.

58. Many refugees are also stateless persons. They have often become stateless de jure, that is, through deprivation of nationality or as a consequence of conflicting municipal laws. Others are de facts stateless, in the sense that they cannot avail themselves of the protection of an effective nationality. Refugees who are stateless have continued to benefit from the protection and the assistance of UNHCR, which endeavours to facilitate durable solutions.

59. The actions of UNHCR in this field during the reporting period included aid and advice in relation to naturalization, registration of births and assistance in obtaining travel documents and in claiming rights attached to permanent residence. Besides fulfilling its humanitarian responsibilities to stateless refugees within the framework of its mandate, UNHCR endeavoured to promote measures by States to benefit stateless persons, including accession to the 1954 and 1961 Conventions on Statelessness and the adoption of legislation implementing those instruments.

G. International refugee instrument and determination of refugee status

60. Over the reporting period, the Office continued and intensified its efforts for the increased accession by States to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its Protocol of 1967. Mozambique ratified the 1967 Protocol, the State of Samoa ratified the Convention, and Hungary acceded to both instruments, thus bringing the number of States party to one or both instruments to 106. The Office also continued its efforts to promote the withdrawal of the limitation, which is still maintained by eight States, on the geographical application of the 1951 Convention.

61. At the regional level, the Office noted with satisfaction that four more African States, Cape Verde, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland, became parties to the OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa of 10 September 1969,9 bringing to 41 the number of accessions to that instrument.

62. Since its twenty-eighth session, the Executive Committee has repeatedly stressed the need to establish specific procedures for the determination of refugee status. It has recommended that those procedures should be aimed at enabling asylum-seekers and refugees to benefit from the various rights and standards of treatment accorded to them by the international community in general. It has also recommended that those procedures should meet certain specified minimum requirements and that they should enable UNHCR participation in an appropriate form.

63. During the reporting period, a number of countries in different parts of the world adopted legislative or administrative measures changing existing, or establishing new, procedures for determining refugee status. The effects of those procedures, particularly as regards asylum-seekers' claim to admission and refugee status, have been dealt with elsewhere in the present chapter (see section B above).

H. Promotion and dissemination of refugee law

64. In view of the difficulties encountered in the protection of refugees, particularly the trend towards restrictive asylum policies and violation of the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers, the promotion of a wider knowledge of the principles of refugee law and protection received special attention in 1988. That particular activity was also required by conclusion 51 (XXXIX), adopted by the Executive Committee at its thirty-ninth session, thereby underscoring the important role in protection played by promotional activities.6 The most important promotional efforts were the seminars held for government officers, personnel of non-governmental organizations and other target populations in Hong Kong, Malawi and Zimbabwe. The Office also participated in training courses for, respectively, members of the Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada and the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service in Europe. The San Remo course in refugee law was, for the first time, held twice. In addition to various other training efforts, co-operation was continued with Oxford University Press in the preparation of the International Journal of Refugee Law the first issue of which was issued in 1989. The Office also pursued efforts to promote more accessions to the international refugee instruments, the results of which have already been noted.

65. The UNHCR Centre for Documentation on Refugees continued its efforts to strengthen and systematize the information and documentation policy of the Office and made its various information facilities available to a greater circle of users. The publication of Refugee Abstract continued and the Centre also produced, in co-operation with Save the Children Alliance, A selected and annotated Bibliography on Refugee Children.


A. Introduction

66. During 1988, UNHCR continued to co-operate actively with concerned Governments and the international community in efforts to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees throughout the world.

67. The promotion of durable solutions, that is, voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement, remained the primary and long-term objective of the assistance programmes of the Office. UNHCR responded to requests for emergency assistance for many new arrivals and continued to pursue care and maintenance programmes for refugees for whom no immediate solution could be found. Whenever feasible, relief-oriented programmes have also aimed at promoting basic self-sufficiency activities among refugees. During 1988, there was potentially significant progress in the promotion of integrated measures to address the needs of areas affected by the presence of refugees, and in the mobilization of the competent international development institutions to that end.

68. Total UNHCR expenditure in 1988 amounted to some $565.1 million (see annex, table 1). Of that total, voluntary funds expenditure represented $545.5 million, including $395.3 million under General Programmes and $150.2 million under Special Programmes. Voluntary funds expenditure in 1988 increased over the 1987 figure by some $84 million, which reflects additional requirements owing to the emergence of new refugee situations, changes in programme content and an overall higher rate of programme delivery.

69. The efforts of UNHCR to improve the management of assistance programmes continued and included vigorous training programmes for staff to apply modern management tools and techniques, the organization of programme management workshops for the implementing partners of UNHCR and regional seminars on refugee-related issues. The development and implementation of the Financial and Management Information System proceeded apace during 1988. t is envisaged that this system will eventually provide more accurate, timely and meaningful information to assist decision makers.

70. The following paragraphs provide a summary of the major areas of assistance, as well as an overview of significant developments, in each of the geographical areas covered by the five regional bureaux. Detailed information on expenditure levels for each country or area programme is given in the annex, tables 1 and 2.

B. Major trends in assistance

1. Emergency response

71. The emergency activities of UNHCR during the reporting period fell into two broad categories, namely, emergency response and emergency preparedness.

72. With regard to emergency response, assistance is a major aspect of the response of UNHCR to refugee emergencies, and there was frequent resort to the Emergency Fund, which allows the High Commissioner to allocate up to $10 million annually. In 1988 $9.9 million were obligated from that Fund in response, mainly, to emergencies occurring in Africa and in South West Asia. In Africa, the Office responded to emergencies in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda.

73. As far as preparedness is concerned, UNHCR was involved in a coordinated effort by the United Nations family to promote national emergency preparedness and response planning in the southern African region. The Office supported workshops dealing with multi-sectoral emergency planning in Malawi, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe during late 1988 and earl y 1989. For the first time, preparedness for and response to influxes of refugees have been integrated into national emergency plans.

74. The Emergency Management Training Programme continued in 1988. To date, the Programme has trained over 600 staff of UNHCR and its operational partners. The programme has made a considerable contribution towards defining institutional memory, sharing experience, improving co-ordination and increasing performance generally.

75. Additional emergency preparedness resource materials were developed during the reporting period. Ten new profiles in the series were completed, including those of Democratic Kampuchea, Malawi, Mexico and 7 Central American countries, bringing the total to 16. An extensive evaluation was carried out on the uses of the UNHCR Handbook for Emergencies over the past seven years and a revised edition is in preparation.

76. UNHCR is also developing several emergency systems to improve response to emergencies. Those include developing a roster of trained personnel to respond quickly to emergencies, a project on early warning of refugee influxes or flows, and a feasibility study on establishing emergency stockpiles.

2. Care and maintenance

77. Political, physical, environmental or socioeconomic factors often preclude the rapid identification and implementation of durable solutions or measures which would make refugees self-sufficient. Pending the identification and implementation of durable solutions, UNHCR provides intermediate assistance in the form of care and maintenance. That may include the provision of food, shelter, water, health services and sanitation, clothing, household utensils and basic education. Whenever feasible, those programmes also include vocational training or small-income-generating activities that prepare refugees for a more productive life and promote a reasonable degree of self-reliance.

78. In 1988, the largest single care and maintenance programme was the assistance programme for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, for which $43.3 was obligated under the 1988 General Programmes. Over $6.2 million of this was devoted to income-generating and self-sufficiency activities. Other countries in which major care and maintenance programmes were implemented included Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia and Thailand.

3. Self-sufficiency activities

79. UNHCR continued to pursue self-reliance as an integral part of its assistance activities and, in particular, to provide refugees more economic opportunities, employment and self-employment.

80. Several obstacles were encountered, principally the fact that, in many countries, populations hosting refugees suffer from impediments to their economic development similar to those suffered by the refugees. Efforts to promote refugee self-sufficiency are, therefore, aimed increasingly at achieving a more general economic impact. Thus assistance towards self-sufficiency has become more widespread, but, at the same time, less direct. More support has gone to institutions and into infrastructure in order to achieve a greater degree of sustainability.

81. At the same time, the refugee operations as such were recognized as vehicles for economic development. A number of new collaborations with other United Nations organizations were initiated, particularly in preparation for major repatriation exercises occurring in the context of regional or in-country peace efforts. In many cases UNHCR redirected its operational expenditure towards achieving economic improvements for refugees and refugee-affected areas. More local purchase of relief items from refugee producers and contracting more care and maintenance requirements to small businesses in the refugee-affected areas would thus expand (self-)employment opportunities for both hosts and refugees.

4. Durable solutions.

82. The primary objective of all UNHCR activities is the achievement of durable solutions through voluntary repatriation, local integration in the country of first asylum, or, where these are not possible, resettlement in another country. In 1988, $239 million were obligated for the promotion of all three durable solutions. Of that amount, some $27.8 million was made available under Special Programmes for the rehabilitation of returnees in their countries of origin.

Voluntary repatriation

83. During 1988, the Office continued to promote and support efforts towards the voluntary repatriation of individuals or groups of refugees. The largest movement during the year involved the spontaneous and organized return of over 80,000 Ugandan refugees. Other major repatriation movements in Africa during 1988 involved some 53,000 Burundi refugees from Rwanda, approximately 69,000 Mozambicans from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, some 7,000 Ethiopians from Djibouti and Somalia, some 3,300 Zimbabweans from Botswana and some 1,800 Chadians from the Central African Republic and the Sudan.

84. Following the signing of the Accord between India and Sri Lanka on 29 July 1987, UNHCR launched a special programme to promote the return of Sri Lankan Tamils from India. By 31 March 1989, some 42,900 Tamils had returned from India and were provided with immediate assistance and rehabilitation. After the announcement of the amnesty for Iraqi Kurds, some 45,000 refugees were repatriated to Iraq before the cessation of the amnesty on 6 October 1988.

85. In Central America, the repatriation of Guatemalans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorians continued, with some 13,000 persons assisted to return to their countries of origin.

Location integration

86. Where voluntary repatriation is not feasible in the foreseeable future and the Government of the host country is agreeable, settlement or local integration projects are implemented to help refugees attain a level of self-sufficiency comparable to that of the local population. The majority of refugees, for whom local integration is the most likely of the three possible durable solutions, are of rural background. The number of urban refugees settling in towns, however, is increasing considerably and that has necessitated expanding and varying programmes for self-reliance, which otherwise tend to focus on rural settlements. By making more intentional linkages between needs assessment, case management, supplementary assistance and education or training, on the one hand, and the promotion of employment, self-employment and other income-generating activities, on the other hand, it is felt that possibilities for attaining durable solutions will increase.


87. Resettlement continued to be the only feasible solution for a significant number of refugees, whose security, health or family situation warranted UNHCR intervention to seek resettlement in a third country.

88. Particular attention was paid to the needs of the disabled and medically at risk for whom the necessary treatment was not available in the country of first asylum, including victims of torture. Unaccompanied minors also received careful attention, as did the special needs of refugee women, who were found particularly vulnerable to conditions obtaining in their country of asylum. In that context, UNHCR worked with resettlement countries in the definition and implementation of programmes aimed at providing appropriately adapted admission possibilities and integration support for such women.

89. In 1988, a total of 50,686 Indo-Chinese, of whom some 47 per cent are Vietnamese, 34 per cent Lao and another about 18 per cent Kampuchean, were resettled. Under the Orderly Departure Programme, a total of 21,275 persons left Viet Nam for family reunions abroad. A total of 2,703 refugees were rescued at sea in 1988, of whom 969 benefited from the Rescue at Sea Resettlement Offers, while 561 persons disembarked and were resettled under the Disembarkation Resettlement Offers.

90. Over 29,000 persons of various European origins benefited from resettlement opportunities offered by traditional countries of immigration. A total of 2,312 refugees were resettled from Africa, over 5,500 from the Middle East and some 1,980 from the Americas. Some 5,600 persons have been resettled under programmes of assistance for disabled refugees and their families.

91. Expenditure incurred by UNHCR for the promotion of resettlement and for the transportation costs of refugees to countries not in a position to assume such costs themselves amounted to some $18.8 million under General Programmes.

5. Social services

92. During 1988, social services programmes continued in both urban and rural areas with emphasis on activities aimed at promoting the sustainable self-sufficiency of refugees. The network of country and regional project officers continued to work on the development and improvement of case management systems for urban refugees, and also pursued more actively the promotion of community development activities in rural areas. Using an integrated/multi-sectoral approach, social services staff contributed to the effective implementation of activities in other sectors, such as health care, health education, nutrition and sanitation, self-help and self-sufficiency community services programmes.

93. In 1988, a total of 70 counselling projects were implemented in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, at a cost of $4.3 million. Those included counselling to individual refugees, families and groups, including provision of information on the availability and use of community resources. Referral links were established and maintained to facilitate access for refugees to employment, self-employment, training and education, health services, housing facilities and social security. Social workers were instrumental in the implementation of care and maintenance and educational assistance projects and in promoting self-help and income-generating activities.

94. An analysis of case management systems was carried out in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Greece, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, the Sudan and Togo in order to provide a basis for developing programme models and innovative approaches for urban refugees. The results of the analysis are being collated and assessed. At the end of 1989, a technical consultation of social services/education officers and experts in this field will take place to review the findings of the case management analysis. Guidelines on case management and clear policy on assistance to urban refugees will be developed from that analysis.

95. Special attention was paid to refugees with special needs, such as unaccompanied minors, single-parent families, disabled persons, single women and elderly refugees, to ensure that their particular needs were suitably met. In rural settlements, camps and reception centres, community-based development activities, the training of refugee leaders and para-social workers, and the promotion and organization of refugee participation were established. Regional and country training workshops were organized at Dakar, Harare, Karachi and Lusaka to improve and upgrade the technical skills of social and community development workers in rehabilitation, income-generation activities, employment counselling, interviewing techniques and working with interpreters.

96. Medical facilities and physical, social or mental treatment and rehabilitation support were made available to disabled refugees in several countries of asylum In 1988, a total of 13 projects were implemented by UNHCR field offices and/or UNHCR implementing partners at the country level and some 13,000 refugees were assisted at a cost of $1.1 million, obligated under the General Programme of assistance to disabled refugees. The special UNHCR medical evacuation programme enabled 72 disabled and critically ill refugees, who could not be treated locally, to be referred to medical centres abroad at a cost of $44,325. Beneficiaries included torture victims and physically or mentally disabled refugees.

97. In November 1988, a technical consultation took place on guidelines for working with disabled refugees. The consultation was attended by experts in the field of disabilities from the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the International Initiative Against Avoidable Disablement (IMPACT), UNHCR and selected international non-governmental organizations concerned with disabilities. The draft guidelines will be finalized in 1989.

98. Continuing emphasis has been placed on integrating the disability component within UNHCR general assistance projects, including skills training and income-generating activities. Increased attention is also being directed to the monitoring of child development, immunization and nutrition at community levels, to prevent and facilitate early detection of disabilities.


99. In 1988, primary education continued to be provided through educational assistance components included in multi-sectoral projects. UNHCR had more than 110 programmes world wide in the fields of post-primary, vocational/technical and academic education. In-service training, literacy, adult education, skills and language training, together with cultural orientation, constituted the main activities under informal educational assistance projects. At the secondary and tertiary levels, close to 16,000 students benefited from scholarships. Some $11.8 million was spent in 1988 for those programmes. Approximately 32 per cent of the students took technical training courses, while 55 per cent attended secondary school and 13 per cent pursued university studies.

100. UNHCR has promoted educational co-ordination between the Ministries of Education of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, in order to improve the quality of the Mozambican curriculum in refugee camps, to develop a refugee teacher-training scheme, and to provide Mozambican textbooks to about 70,000 refugee children. A strategy and activities for phasing in-service teacher training and other refugee educational schemes into the national system of Somalia have been undertaken. Guidelines for primary education for refugee children are being prepared and will be issued during 1989. A thorough evaluation of UNHCR programmes with the South West Africa People's organization (SWAPO) on refugee students assisted in West Africa under the auspices of that organization is being used as a basis for an adequate strategy in the process of eventual repatriation.

6. Supplies and Food Aid Service

101. Responsibility for the purchase of supplies for refugees and for the operations of UNHCR, as well as global food-aid planning and tracking of food-aid shipments, rests with the Supplies and Food Aid Service (SFAS). In 1988, SFAS issued orders for goods valued at $70.9 million. The goods were obtained from 34 countries and shipped to 45 others in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. The following main items were purchased in monetary terms: tents, tarpaulins and sheeting; passenger and commercial vehicles, spare parts, fuel and lubricants; medical drugs, equipment, supplies and vaccines; foodstuffs; permanent shelters, such as warehouses, and other prefabricated houses; water supply and water-treatment equipment; agricultural seeds, hand tools and machinery; textiles; household and domestic items; educational equipment and supplies; computer hardware and software; and insurance and freight-forwarding services.

102. The World Food Programme (WFP) traditionally supplies about two thirds of food requirements of UNHCR. In 1988, some $72.9 million in food aid was channelled through UNHCR.

7. Phasing out phasing in of assistance

103. Once durable solutions have been found for refugees, international assistance ceases and the Government of the host country assumes overall responsibility for further material, social and economic needs. It is considered that a durable solution has been achieved when basic needs of refugees are met in a self-sustaining manner at levels comparable to those prevailing among the local population. UNHCR endeavours to promote self-sustaining durable solutions by the planning and implementation of projects that:

(a) Are technically and economically viable;

(b) Promote refugee participation and self-management;

(c) Are planned within the framework of national or regional development plans;

(d) Involve local institutions in planning and implementation.

104. In fragile economies, it is increasingly the case that, even though refugees' subsistence levels are on a par with those of the local population, that level is unsatisfactory or unstable. Unforeseen circumstances may cause imbalance or disruption in refugee communities, their economy and their environment (for example, one poor harvest could reintroduce the need for relief aid or an unexpected population growth may call for new schools or the exploitation of more land, for which additional assistance may be required). Environmental damage caused by overuse of natural resources by refugees may call for rehabilitation projects. Much of the required post-handing-over assistance is of a developmental nature and UNHCR is, therefore, increasingly acting as a catalyst to engage development agencies, such as the World Bank, UNDP and IFAD, in taking over refugee assistance programmes after the phasing out of UNHCR assistance.

8. Evaluation of assistance activities

105. Evaluation efforts during 1988 concentrated on in-depth evaluations of major UNHCR operations as a means of improving and reshaping field operations, as necessary. The evaluations concentrated primarily on the extent to which assistance activities were consistent with the durable solutions envisaged in various country programmes. In addition, however, evaluations attempted to cover other operational aspects, including protection activities, implementing arrangements, organization structures and staffing levels.

106. During the year, major evaluations of country and regional programmes were carried out in west and southern Africa, the Horn of Africa and Latin America. Evaluation of various headquarters and field functions, such as social services activities, were also undertaken. In all the evaluations carried out during 1988, particular emphasis was placed on evaluation follow-up.

107. In 1988, the UNHCR self-evaluation system also underwent the first major change since the system was formally introduced in 1980. With the introduction of field statements of objectives for each country, self-evaluations are now prepared for all major operational activities rather than for the individual projects implemented as part of the overall assistance programme. Initial assessments indicate that this approach will provide far more useful overview and broader coverage of field activities than the previous system.

108. In addition to those evaluation activities, more specialized evaluation was carried out through the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Operations Review. The committee was established in July 1987 with the main objective of developing procedures to ensure systematic follow-up on recommendations relating to programme implementation and planning with a view to proposing initiatives to ensure an ongoing review mechanism for all programme activities.

109. In the latter part of 1987 and the first half of 1988, operation review teams undertook programme reviews of 10 countries in which UNHCR was operating. Streamlined plans of action were prepared, which were further reviewed and updated during the target review exercise undertaken in May/June 1988.

110. In the latter part of 1988, a country-by-country review exercise was undertaken to consider programme strategies within several other countries and to determine areas where change, improvement or re-direction appeared desirable. Considerable feedback was provided to field offices concerning issues for incorporation in their updated statements of field objectives for 1989 and 1990.

111. In early 1989, an operation review mission was undertaken to the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a result of which changes are being considered in the programme content being offered to refugees in that country.

112. In 1989, the Ad - Hoc Committee will continue with the review mechanism and will concentrate on activities towards further reducing staff and increasing financial resources. It is expected that missions of the Operation Review Teams will be fielded to three or four countries in which UNHCR has major programmes.

9. Refugee women

113. In February 1988, the UNHCR Steering Committee on Refugee Women was established under the chairmanship of the Deputy High Commissioner to consolidate the special attention that UNHCR has in recent years paid to the protection and assistance needs of refugee women. The functions of the Committee are to:

(a) Assess the progress achieved in strengthening and reorienting existing policies and programmes in favour of refugee women, both in terms of international protection and material assistance;

(b) Review and develop further current UNHCR assistance policies, procedures and guidelines;

(c) Improve the institutional data base and resource material available within UNHCR concerning the special needs/potentials of refugee women;

(d) Ensure that human resources available in UNHCR are adequate to permit appropriate staffing for activities on behalf of refugee women;

(e) Promote increased public awareness of the special problems of refugee women, and develop and implement UNHCR information strategies for those purposes.

114. UNHCR submitted a report to the Executive Committee at its thirty-ninth session that outlined the nature and scope of the problems refugee women face, specifically with regard to:

(a) International protection, assistance and durable solutions;

(b) Specific protection issues concerning refugee women;

(c) Resettlement;

(d) Needs and potential of refugee women in various sectors of assistance;

(e) Health, nutrition, water and sanitation;

(f) Education and social services;

(g) Domestic fuel supply and economic activity.

115. The Executive Committee considered the report and adopted a number of conclusions, which, among other things, called on the High Commissioner to introduce further effective measures to integrate women's issues at all stages within the programme planning cycle. Accordingly, UNHCR has formulated a detailed work-plan with a view to integrating the needs of refugee women into the mainstream of UNHCR work. Efforts are being concentrated on institutional changes aimed at ensuring that the needs of women as a special group are systematically considered and regularly reported upon, from the assessment of needs through to monitoring progress achieved and evaluation of final results.

116. In order to co-ordinate, integrate and oversee the process throughout UNHCR, the post of Senior Adviser on Refugee Women was created and a qualified and experienced candidate selected to assume that function. The post of Senior Technical Adviser, to deal with programming aspects in relation to refugee women, has also been created at headquarters.

117. It has been recognized that the training of staff at every level is fundamental for the acquisition of detailed knowledge and understanding of the needs and roles of refugee women. Therefore, the Steering Committee for Refugee Women approved courses for UNHCR staff on gender impact on refugee aid and development projects. The first course, based on the workshop entitled Women in Development, offered by the Harvard Institute for International Development, is scheduled to take place in September 1989 and both senior and mid-level staff will be involved.

118. Public information activities are an essential aspect of the strategy of UNHCR to raise public awareness of the problems of refugee women. The Public Information Service issued a series of 20 colour-slides, published a dossier on refugee women in the September issue of the magazine Refugees, mounted a photo exhibition on refugee women at the NGO International Consultation on Refugee Women, and is in the process of co-producing a documentary film on refugee women with a major television company. This year the Centre for Documentation on Refugees will publish its updated version of the Selected and Annotated Bibliography on Refugee Women.

119. In order to provide the Office with an improved system for the collection and maintenance of basic socioeconomic and demographic data on populations of concern to it, including refugee women and children, UNHCR has taken steps to develop a programme to break down basic refugee statistics by gender and age.

120. In complying with the Executive Committee's conclusions urging the High Commissioner to explore and build upon the experience obtained by other United Nations organizations, UNHCR made further contacts with several specialized agencies, including UNESCO, UNIDO, FAO, ILO and UNDP to establish new or to continue existing priorities for co-operation in the relevant fields that will benefit refugee women.

121. UNHCR has also established close collaboration with the NGO International Working Group on Refugee Women, whose objectives are to share information about current developments in working with refugee women, and to advocate refugee women's concerns with Governments, UNHCR and within their own organizations. UNHCR was actively involved in the International Consultation on Refugee Women, held at Geneva in November 1988.

122. Furthermore, UNHCR participated in various international meetings, in particular, the thirty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women, held at Vienna from 29 March to 7 April 1989, at which a resolution concerning refugee and displaced women was adopted.10 Subsequently, it participated in the thirteenth Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Meeting on Women also held in Vienna. It is now preparing to take the lead for one of the themes at the thirty-fifth session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 1991, which will deal with the question of refugee and displaced women and children.

10. Refugee children

123. Approximately half of the world's refugees are children below 18 years of age. Recognizing that children have special needs that must be taken into account in the protection and assistance initiatives of the Office, UNHCR established in 1987 a Working Group on Refugee Children. The initial focus of the Working Group was to develop guidelines for field offices in their activities concerning refugee children.

124. In August 1988, UNHCR distributed to all its officers Guidelines on Refugee Children. This document calls attention to the particular problems faced by refugee children, presents the policies that guide the action of UNHCR in those areas and specifies measures to be taken by field offices. Recognizing that technical and financial resources beyond those of the Office are needed to address refugee children's needs adequately, the Guidelines have also been distributed widely to Governments and to relevant United Nations bodies and non-governmental organizations.

125. Among the issues addressed in the are determination of refugee status, registration of births, nationality and statelessness, safety and liberty, physical health, prevention and treatment of disabilities, mental health, education, unaccompanied minors and the effects on children of extended residence in refugee camps.

126. Prominent among its other activities with other organizations during the reporting period, the Working Group met in September 1988 with representatives of Save the Children Alliance to consider collaboration beneficial to the Group's work. The results of those and other consultations are now being utilized to develop a comprehensive work plan for future activities of UNHCR on behalf of children.

127. Unaccompanied minors are generally the most vulnerable of the refugee children. In August 1988, a mission was carried out jointly with Rädda Barnen (Save the Children, Sweden) to plan appropriate services in the Fugnido camp in western Ethiopia, where half of the 37,000 camp residents were unaccompanied boys. In several European countries there has been an influx of unaccompanied minor asylum-seekers, for whom UNHCR has received requests from the Governments concerned to assist in providing durable solutions. Unaccompanied minors also continued to be of primary concern among the Indo-Chinese refugees and asylum-seekers in South-East Asia, where UNHCR gives particular attention to their care and to promoting durable solutions for them.

128. UNHCR contributed to the technical review of the draft Convention on the Rights of the Child and took part in the Working Group thereon of the Commission on Human Rights in November and December 1988, as well as in the plenary session in February 1989. The Office also took part in the Conference on the Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in the Application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, convened by the NGO Committee of UNICEF on 11 April 1989.

C. Regional developments in Africa

129. The overall number of refugees in Africa increased again during this reporting period. The influxes from Mozambique into Malawi and from the Sudan into south-west Ethiopia continued, but at reduced rates. Two new influxes occurred without advance warning: that from North-West Somalia into east Ethiopia and that from Burundi into Rwanda. The great majority of the Burundi refugees repatriated voluntarily within a few months of their arrival and there were other significant repatriation movements to Chad, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. (For details of those movements, see the relevant paragraphs below.

130. New and continued influxes again required the mobilization of substantial emergency assistance. Progress in the promotion of self-reliance continued to be mixed. The benefits of better harvests in some countries were offset by the effects of the economic difficulties still confronting many countries of asylum. Progress continued to be made in the promotion of measures to meet the needs of areas affected by the presence of refugees in an integrated manner, within the framework of national development plans and with national and international development institutions taking the lead in their areas of competence.

131. While asylum was generously offered to thousands of new refugees, arrangements to ensure the protection of refugees and respect of the strictly humanitarian and civilian nature of their camps and settlements proved inadequate on a number of occasions. Cases of refoulement were reported. UNHCR drew those problems to the attention of the authorities concerned and took other action, as appropriate. Institutional arrangements for the protection of refugees were further strengthened. The Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland and the Republic of Cape Verde acceded to the 1969 OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. Mozambique, in addition to acceding to this regional refugee instrument, also ratified the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees.

132. The largest increase in the number of refugees took place in Ethiopia. During the reporting period, the number of Sudanese refugees in the four camps in south-west Ethiopia rose from nearly 260,000 to nearly 350,000. The majority of the new arrivals were women and children. Concerted action by the Government and he international community improved the health and nutritional status of the refugees. A number of logistic and other problems, including the effects of flooding in August and September 1988, were successfully overcome, but the remote location of the camps and the seriously malnourished state of some new arrivals demanded a continuing high level of financial, material and infrastructural support for this operation.

133. Beginning in mid-1988, over 300,000 Somali refugees entered the Jijiga and Aware districts of south-eastern Ethiopia. That influx into an area devoid of significant natural resources and difficult of access posed great problems for the provision of timely emergency assistance. A major relief operation, involving airlifting of vital supplies, was launched to provide assistance to the refugees in five environmentally fragile and isolated locations. Significant material and other resources of the Government and international and non-governmental organizations were deployed to meet the urgent need for food, water, shelter and health care. Some major problems remained to be resolved at the end of the reporting period, including the identification of an assured water source and in relation to the regular provision of a full basic-food ration, improved sanitation, primary health care and shelter. Given the natural and economic constraints of the region, prospects for the promotion of any significant level of self-reliance are extremely limited. A difficult and costly care and maintenance operation will be necessary until such time as developments allow the voluntary return of those refugees to North-West Somalia.

134. Prospects for a durable solution to the problem of Ethiopian refugees in Somalia improved during the reporting period and were the subject of detailed and high-level discussions between UNHCR and the Government of Somalia. Even before the restoration of diplomatic relations between the two Governments in April 1988, voluntary repatriation, both organized and spontaneous, and the temporary movement of refugees between the two countries indicated that peaceful conditions prevailed in the home areas of the refugees and that the great majority should be able to repatriate voluntarily. UNHCR and the Government of Somalia have agreed on the basic components of a solution and on the need to redirect the programme towards that solution and away from continued relief assistance.

135. Within Somalia, the new direction of the programme includes the promotion of area development and rehabilitation projects that aim at creating durable economic assets and helping redress the ecological and other consequences of the presence of refugees. Another objective is to ensure that refugee services that can contribute to national development are integrated within national structures. To complement that approach, in addition to direct assistance to repatriates, plans are being made for rehabilitation and development programmes in their home areas in Ethiopia. Discussions with the Government of Somalia on the modalities to achieve the agreed objectives were continuing at the end of the reporting period.

136. The UNHCR assistance programme in North-West Somalia was seriously disrupted following the outbreak of conflict at the end of May 1988. A number of refugees repatriated spontaneously, some fled the camps and others became involved in the conflict, thereby becoming ineligible for any further UNHCR humanitarian assistance, Conditions prevented the proper monitoring of the use of humanitarian assistance for refugees. Agreement was re ached with the Government in February 1989 on the re-registration of all refugees remaining in camps in North-West Somalia and on their relocation, as necessary, to areas where their security was better assured and the conditions for the delivery of humanitarian assistance could be met. That operation has started.

137. There were some 30,000 new arrivals in eastern Sudan from Ethiopia in the latter half of 1988, the majority of whom were fleeing armed conflict. They were accommodated with relative ease at existing reception centres. Measures to increase self-reliance of the 258,000 Ethiopians assisted in the established settlements and at reception centres were actively pursued.

138. More than half of the estimated Ethiopian refugee population in eastern Sudan has spontaneously settled in towns and rural areas, and is therefore unassisted. UNHCR co-operated closely with the World Bank in the preparation of an agricultural project in south Kassala, which will benefit small farmers, including refugees in the settlements, unassisted refugees and nationals. The multi-sector programme was ready for implementation in early 1989. In that context, UNHCR worked closely with UNDP in actions to link refugee assistance to national development. Four technical missions to formulate suitable projects for presentation to interested donor Governments and agencies took place in the first quarter of 1989.

139. The deteriorating security situation in southern Sudan led to the influx of some 30,000 Sudanese refugees into northern Uganda in March 1989. Emergency assistance was mobilized, in part using resources that could be redeployed from the returnee operation, and a UNHCR field presence was maintained in the area.

140. In August 1988, events in the north of Burundi provoked the sudden flight of some 55,000 refugees to Rwanda and necessitated immediate emergency assistance. A quadripartite commission was established, comprising representatives of the Governments of Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire and of UNHCR, and with representatives of OAU as observers, in order to promote conditions and a climate that could lead to the early voluntary return of those refugees. This began spontaneously in October 1988 and subsequently continued through UNHCR-organized convoys. The great majority of the refugees had returned within two months and, at the end of the period, only a small number remained in Rwanda. UNHCR maintained an international presence in the areas to which the refugees had repatriated.

141. In southern Africa, Malawi continued to receive tens of thousands of Mozambicans fleeing insecurity in their country. From some 450,000 reported on Malawian soil on 1 April 1988, the number had increased to over 630,000 a year later. The refugees are scattered throughout the nine districts of central and southern Malawi both in camp-like situations arid living with nationals. The influx, estimated at some 20,000 per month in 988, slowed somewhat in 1989, a trend that allowed UNHCR to begin consolidating the emergency programme.

142. Assistance was provided to over 100,000 Mozambicans in the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and emergency programmes were consolidated. By 1 January 1989, 13,000 Mozambicans had been transferred to a new settlement site at Ukwimi in the Eastern Province of Zambia, and the remaining 11,000 Mozambicans in border areas were to be moved by the end of 1989.

143. Preparations for the repatriation of Namibians were intensified in the second half of the reporting period. The plan for the transition of Namibia to independence set out in Security Council resolution 435 (1978), of 29 September 1978, assigns UNHCR specific responsibility for the timely repatriation of Namibian exiles under the overall authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and within the framework of the activities of the United Nations Transition Assistance Group. Several planning and technical missions to the region were carried out and, by the end of the reporting period, arrangements were well advanced.

144. The number of South African refugees reported to have found asylum in southern Africa remained broadly stable at some 35,000, of whom over half received UNHCR assistance. The problems of those and other refugees throughout southern Africa were addressed by the International Conference on the Plight of Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Southern Africa, in the organization of which UNHCR was involved as a member of the Conference's Steering Committee. The Conference adopted the Oslo Declaration and Plan of Action (A/43/717 and Corr.1, annex), which was subsequently endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations (resolution 43/116). The Declaration and Plan of Action called for or recommended important international actions in the field of protection, assistance, refugee aid and development, emergency preparedness, public information and mobilization of resources to deal with the deteriorating humanitarian situation in southern Africa. Many of the actions envisaged by the Declaration and Plan of Action on the part of UNHCR could be carried out within ongoing programmes or operations in the region and thus were started during the period under review. A more general plan for the follow-up of the Declaration and Plan of Action has been drawn up. Other activities relating to the implementation of the Declaration and Plan of Action are discussed in chapter IV below.

145. During 1987, expenditure in Africa under UNHCR voluntary funds totalled $250.1 million, of which $175.3 million were obligated under General Programmes, the greater part for care and maintenance operations, and $74.9 million under Special Programmes, the greater part for the needs of newly arrived refugees.

D. Regional developments in Asia and Ocean


146. Humanitarian problems in South-East Asia became the subject of renewed international focus during 1988 as Governments concerned began to deliberate on a new approach to deal with increasing demand for asylum in the region. In South Asia, UNHCR continued to monitor the repatriation of Sri Lankan Tamils from India and to help in their reintegration. UNHCR offices in the region dealt with a growing number of non-Indo-Chinese individual asylum-seekers (consisting mainly of Afghans, Burmese, Iranians and Tamils). During 1988, some $68 million was spent in some 20 countries and territories where UNHCR maintains an office or programme. The major share went to care and maintenance costs; substantial amounts were nevertheless allocated to promotion and realization of repatriation, local integration and resettlement programmes.

Indo-Chinese refugees

147. By the end of 1988, some 156,000 Indo-Chinese asylum-seekers remained in UNHCR-assisted camps in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Thailand remained host to the major portion of the case-load. Some 107,000 persons under the UNHCR mandate and an additional 300,000 displaced Khmer under the United Nations Border Relief Operation/International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) mandate still remained on Thai territory during the reporting period. In spite of extensive efforts to promote voluntary repatriation, resettlement remained the principal durable solution. The increase in arrivals, particularly of the "boat people", could not be offset by resettlement of some 50,000 Indo-Chinese in third countries and the number of registered asylum-seekers in camps in South-East Asia thus rose by 11.5 per cent compared to the previous year. That growth was particularly elevated in Hong Kong and Malaysia. Progress was made, however, with the Orderly Departure Programme from Viet Nam, which has been reactivated. More than 21,000 persons left through this channel during 1988 and that figure is likely to be surpassed in 1989.

148. In June 1988, the Hong Kong authorities established a refugee eligibility determination mechanism to examine the claims of asylum-seekers to refugee status. This also ushered in a process of liberalization of the detention conditions under which refugees had hitherto lived. A statement of understanding on the above subject, signed on 20 September 1988 between Hong Kong and the Office, paved the way for UNHCR to take up its traditional role of monitoring the determination procedure.

149. In July 1988, the Foreign Ministers of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) called for the convening of an international conference on Indo-Chinese refugees (A/43/510-S/20091, para. 23). That proposal was endorsed later in the year by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme and by the United Nations General Assembly (resolution 43/119). Extensive preparatory consultations were undertaken under the auspices of UNHCR. A draft Declaration and Comprehensive Plan of Action, incorporating elements of a new multilateral approach to the problem of asylum-seekers from Indo-China, was endorsed by the parties concerned at a Preparatory Meeting convened by the Government of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur from 7 to 9 March 1989. The Conference was held at Geneva on 13 and 14 June 1989.

150. Further to the declaration in July 1988 by the Government of Viet Nam of its readiness to tackle the problem of the out-flow of asylum-seekers, a memorandum of understanding was signed late in 1988 between the Government of Viet Nam and UNHCR. While the scope of that understanding extends beyond the issue of voluntary repatriation, the latter forms its main subject. Conditions and procedures for the return to Viet Nam are outlined. Under those arrangements, a first group of 75 individuals has already voluntarily returned to Viet Nam, where UNHCR will assist them in reintegrating in their places of origin. Another 114 persons were awaiting return from Hong Kong.

151. Following a joint mission undertaken by the Government of China and UNHCR at the end of 1987 to review the input of UNHCR assistance into the local settlement of some 280,000 persons in China, further assistance was provided in 1988 with a view to bringing the refugee population to full self-sufficiency.

152. In January 1989, UNHCR signed an aide-mémoire with the authorities at Phnom Penh outlining conditions and procedures for voluntary repatriation of refugees to Kampuchea. While the number of persons who have so far opted for repatriation has been insignificant, it is hoped that, within the framework of a peace accord among the parties to the conflict in the area, large numbers of refugees and displaced Khmer population will return home. Some groundwork was under way in anticipation of such a development.

153. During 1988, some 270 refugees returned to the Lao People's Democratic Republic under UNHCR auspices. In addition, a total of 62 persons among the "screened out" Lao in Thailand have so far been readmitted to the Lao People's Democratic Republic under the arrangements finalized on 6 October 1986. Early in 1989, arrangements for the creation of a tripartite committee, composed of the Governments of Thailand and of the Lao People's Democratic Republic as well as UNHCR, were under way in order to accelerate voluntary repatriations from Thailand to the Lao People's Democratic Republic.

154. In Papua New Guinea, the Irian Jayan refugee population relocated from border areas to East Awin in West Sepik Province stood at 3,135 as at 31 December 1988, while some 5,000 are still accommodated at border camps pending their transfer to East Awin or their repatriation on a voluntary basis. During 1988, 358 persons voluntarily repatriated to Irian Jaya under UNHCR auspices.

Sri Lanka

155. Following the signing of the Peace Accord on 29 Jul y 1987 between India and Sri Lanka, UNHCR, at the request of the Government of Sri Lanka, launched a Special Programme of Limited Assistance to promote the return of Sri Lankan Tamils from India. The Government of India then organized the transportation of returnees from Rameswaram in India to Talaimannar and Kanke santhurai in Sri Lanka. UNHCR, together with the Sri Lankan authorities, was responsible for the reception, registration and initial assistance to returnees at the points of entry. Transit facilities at Talaimannar and Kankesanthurai were established for reception, medical screening and accommodation. Immediate relief assistance was provided to returnees upon arrival in Sri Lanka. By the end of March 1989, some 43,000 Tamils benefited from UNHCR assistance, of whom 25,610 returned through organized channels, while some 17,290 returned spontaneously. In addition, some 5,000 internally displaced families received housing assistance under the UNHCR programme. Reintegration assistance under the Special Programme will eventually be provided also to those Sri Lankan Tamils voluntarily returning home from countries other than India. By the end of 1988, some $8.3 million had been spent towards the implementation of the programme.


156. At the beginning of 1989, there were 6,614 registered refugees in India, including 4,866 from Afghanistan and 1,656 from the Islamic Republic of Iran. UNHCR assistance included primary and secondary education for children, as well as higher education and vocational training for adults. Some 134 ill and handicapped refugees were also assisted. In 1988, a total of 1,002 refugees, comprising 23 Afghans, 276 Iranians, 2 Ethiopians and 1 Somali, departed for resettlement in third countries. During the same period, 62 Afghans and 30 Iranians voluntarily repatriated to their countries of origin with UNHCR assistance.

E. Regional developments in Europe America

157. The number of new asylum-seekers in Europe continued to increase in 1988, reaching approximately 240,000, as compared to 188,000 in 1987. Most of that growth was accounted for by asylum-seekers of European origin, reversing the trend of previous years. In addition to that number, some 13,000 asylum-seekers from Romania were received in Hungary, which sought the co-operation of the High Commissioner and acceded in March 1989 to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

158. Another 50,000 Iraqi nationals were admitted to Turkey and granted temporary sanctuary. Although not covered by the terms of Turkey's accession to the 1951 Convention, that group (of whom 37,000 remained in Turkey as at March 1989) receives assistance and protection from Turkey pending a durable solution.

159. UNHCR maintained close contact with Governments and non-governmental organizations in the region to ensure that the response to the continuing influx of asylum-seekers, and to the large backlog of applications for asylum or refugee status, preserves the humanitarian tradition and the principles of the Convention and Protocol. UNHCR also remained concerned about the fate of persons not necessarily falling within the scope of those instruments, but who, none the less, cannot return to their countries of origin without serious risk to their life or security.

160. For geographical and historical reasons, the refugee situation in North America differs from that in Europe. Both Canada and the United States are major resettlement countries, although in the past few years they have also expanded their role as countries of first asylum. In the latter months of the period under review, a sharp increase occurred in the number of Central American asylum-seekers entering the United States through its southern borders. The United States introduced accelerated procedures to determine the eligibility of those asylum requests, without, however, changing relevant legislation or modifying the essential features of its established procedure. In Canada, some decrease was noted in the number of new asylum requests following the entry into force of a new asylum law on 1 January 1989.

161. On the regional level, the movement in Europe towards unified policies and practices in the economic, financial, social and political fields will have important implications for refugees and asylum-seekers. While efforts in that direction are under way in the Council of Europe, the European Communities and the Schengen group, UNHCR, for its part, has continued to provide and participate in regional forums for consultations with Governments with a view to ensuring a humanitarian approach to the implications of unification for refugees and asylum-seekers. Thus, major consultations among Governments and UNHCR, which started in 1985 at Geneva, continued with a meeting hosted by the Government of Norway at Oslo from 18 to 20 May 1988. That meeting, attended by 12 Governments and UNHCR, was marked by a constructive and forward-looking approach to the issues at hand. The next Consultative meeting took place at Vienna from 19 to 21 June 1989, with 14 States participating; the United States and Finland were invited as new participants.

162. A particularly encouraging feature of the collaboration of UNHCR with the Governments in Europe and North America was the request extended by several countries to UNHCR to participate in training national officials responsible for the receipt and consideration of asylum requests. Several training courses of that type were held during the period under review and UNHCR expects to expand that activity in the coming year.

163. During 1988, the operational expenditure of UNHCR in Europe and North America amounted to some $20.4 million, of which $19 million were under General Programmes and the balance under Special Programmes. UNHCR continued its support for projects in the field of legal and social counselling, assistance to the aged, handicapped or other vulnerable groups, and the promotion of activities to facilitate durable solutions. Care and maintenance were provided to destitute refugees in a few countries, particularly in south-eastern Europe. Resettlement continued to be an important focus of activity in that part of the region, where social and economic conditions justify recourse to the principle of international burden-sharing.

164. An agreement concluded in August 1988 between the Governments of France and Suriname and UNHCR led to the creation of a Tripartite Commission to supervise the voluntary repatriation of some 8,000 Surinamese nationals on French territory.

F. Regional developments in Latin American and the Caribbean

165. By the end of 1988, 123,959 refugees had received UNHCR assistance in the Central American region and Mexico. In Costa Rica, 28,594 refugees were assisted both in urban and rural areas. The labour programme enabled 800 refugees to obtain official permanent work permits. In Honduras, after the repatriation of a large number of Miskitos and Sumos, the two massive repatriation movements of August and November from the Mesa Grande Camp and the weekly year-round repatriations, 37,069 refugees remained at the end of 1988. Of those, 13,325 are Salvadorians, 9,730 Nicaraguans of Indian origin, 13,583 Nicaraguans of non-Indian origin and 431 Guatemalans. Material assistance was maintained at the same level for all refugee groups in that country. There were 41,273 Guatemalans in Mexico. Feasibility studies of the multi-year plan aimed at achieving refugee self-sufficiency in Campeche and Quintana Roo have been completed, while programmes aimed at improving living conditions of the refugees in Chiapas were reinforced.

166. The number of returnees increased considerably in 1988, especially from Honduras. In 1988, 2,476 Salvadorians returned and 7,965 Miskitos and Sumos repatriated from the Honduran Mosquitia. During the same period, 1,921 Guatemalans returned from Mexico. In addition, smaller repatriation movements have taken place from the Dominican Republic (800 Haitians) and Costa Rica (303 Guatemalans, Nicaraguans and Salvadorians). The total number of returnees in 1988 was 13,684 persons. The offices in El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua continued assessing the overall welfare of the returnees. UNHCR has supported the rehabilitation of communities of returnees and provided immediate assistance.

167. In southern Latin America, the estimated refugee population stands at 23,900, of whom 7,370 received UNHCR assistance. While new Chilean asylum-seekers were registered, approximately 900 refugees were assisted in their repatriation, mainly to Chile.

168. During 1988, UNHCR expenditure in Latin America and the Caribbean totalled $39.3 million, of which $32.8 million were under General Programmes and $6.5 million under Special Programmes.

169. A tripartite agreement between France, Suriname and UNHCR referred to earlier examined the ways and means of facilitating the voluntary repatriation of Surinamese refugees at present in the French Overseas Department of Guiana. Currently, UNHCR is in the process of opening an office in St. Laurent, French Guiana, and establishing its presence at Paramaribo to monitor the situation.

170. In a communiqué issued at San Salvador on 9 September 1988, the Governments of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua called for the convening of the International Conference on Central American Refugees. The general objective of the Conference, which took place at Guatemala City from 29 to 31 May 1989, was to examine needs and to develop concrete proposals for practical solutions to the problems of Central American refugees, returnees and displaced persons. Subsequently, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the decision to convene the Conference (resolution 43/118), thereby laying the foundation for the organization of the Conference. It requested the Secretary-General to invite all States to participate in the Conference and charged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with its organization, in co-ordination with UNDP and the United Nations system. Based on commitments towards solutions made by each of the affected countries of Central America, including Belize and Mexico, the objective of the Conference was to endorse a plan of action containing a package of solutions and programmes to be supported by the international community.

G. Regional developments in South-West Asia, North Africa and the Middle East

171. UNHCR took a number of steps in 1988 to prepare for the voluntary repatriation of Afghans. Those have included the signature of agreements with each of the two Governments parties to the Geneva Accord and extensive discussions with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and various representatives of the Afghan refugees with a view to defining the conditions of voluntary repatriation, and outlining material assistance activities needed to support it. UNHCR also participated in a number of inter-agency missions inside Afghanistan.

172. The activities in support of the voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees are being stepped up in 1989. To that end, UNHCR is continuing its close co-operation with the Office of the United Nations Co-ordinator for Humanitarian and Economic Assistance Programmes relating to Afghanistan and other partners of the United Nations system, particularly the World Food Programme, with a view to pursuing the specific objectives deriving from the international mandate of UNHCR and the Geneva Accords. A satisfactory process of return will require that:

(a) Afghan refugees are in a position to decide of their own free will the timing and manner of their return;

(b) Refugees, upon their return, benefit from living conditions that will allow them to integrate rapidly.

173. The operational approach to meet those objectives has been designed in three main areas. The first component concerns activities directly linked to the international protection of the refugees and the spontaneous returnees. The second component consists of activities to build an appropriate response capacity in the event of large-scale repatriation movements. The final component concerns direct support to the returnees in Afghanistan.

174. During 1988, a total of $12 million was obligated for the activities described above and projected requirements for 1989 amount to $61.2 million.


175. While assistance to the over 3 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan met their basic needs, the prospects of the voluntary return of refugees to Afghanistan in 1989 necessitated a redirection of the programme. Since the second half of 1988, strong emphasis has been given to preparations for repatriation, especially in the sectors of health and training.

176. Assistance is being delivered to newly-arrived refugees who have come from areas near the border of Afghanistan, where there has been intensified military conflict. According to Government of Pakistan sources, more than 50,000 new arrivals entered Pakistan between October 1988 and March 1989.

177. The second UNHCR/World Bank income-generating project for refugee areas in Pakistan, amounting to $40 million, entered the second half of its scheduled three-year period in April 1989. Implementation of the scheme has shown firm progress. The income-generating opportunities offered under this project remain vital to the refugees who cannot return to Afghanistan.

Islamic Republic of Iran

178. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, the High Commissioner continued his programme in favour of Afghan refugees by complementing the country's own considerable contributions to their care and maintenance. In the health sector, UNHCR assistance comprised training of Afghan health workers and birth attendants, provision of drugs, medicines, health kits, X-ray units, cold chain, etc. Six sites for potable water were developed. Other assistance included logistic support, sewing and carpet-weaving training for Afghan women, construction of bakeries, bath houses, primary schools and teachers' living quarters, the procurement of paper for textbooks and the construction of roads to enable access to refugee settlements. Obligations during 1988 totalled $10.6 million.

179. Also in 1988, the High Commissioner acted upon a request by the Islamic Republic of Iran to assist some 70,000 Kurdish refugees from Iraq, who arrived in that country between March and October 1988. That assistance comprised, medicines, health kits, transportation, domestic utensils, containerized health posts, materials to construct shelters for refugees, water tanks and prefabricated warehouses. In view of the harsh climatic conditions during the winter, UNHCR also provided winter clothes, supplementary food and transportation of 11,000 refugees to and from areas of temporary shelter. Obligations for assistance to Kurdish refugees in 1988 totalled $8.3 million.

Middle East and North Africa

180. The Regional Office at Manama continued to monitor UNHCR activities in the Gulf countries, mainly on protection matters. A large influx of Somalis into the region occurred in 1988 after the events in northern Somalia. The Regional Office at Beirut continued to provide vital assistance to some 5,900 stateless refugees in the area.

181. The Office of the Chargé de Mission at Sana'a provided assistance in the sectors of health, sanitation and education to approximately 1,000 refugees of Eritrean origin living on the coast of the Red Sea. The largest group of persons (estimated at approximately 70,000-80,000) considered to be of concern to UNHCR in Yemen remain those from Democratic Yemen. UNHCR assistance concentrated on shelter, health and water.

182. During the period under review, UNHCR opened an Office of Chargé de Mission at Baghdad in order to improve the assistance and activities undertaken by the Office for the benefit of refugees in that country.

183. Following the Peace Plan issued by the Secretary-General in 1988, wherein UNHCR was called upon to participate in the census of the Sahrawi refugees and in the repatriation operation, the Office is at present in the process of preparing, in co-operation with all concerned parties, a preliminary contingency plan towards their repatriation. Meanwhile, UNHCR continued to provide assistance to vulnerable Sahrawi groups in Algeria within the framework of the assistance programmes approved by the Executive Committee.


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

184. UNDP continued to administer various projects on behalf of UNHCR in countries where UNHCR is not represented. The two organizations studied ways of incorporating a number of established refugee settlements into national development projects. In November 1988, a meeting took place between the High Commissioner and the Administrator of UNDP to review the progress a year after the signing of the memorandum of understanding between UNHCR and UNDP. Many successful joint actions were implemented in co-ordination with UNDP, including the International Conference on the Plight of Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Southern Africa, and action related to Afghanistan and Malawi. Preparations for the International Conference on Central American Refugees were closely coordinated with UNDP, as well as issues related to Afghanistan, Namibia and South-East Asia.

185. The World Health Organization (WHO) continued to meet the costs of providing a health coordinator for Afghan refugees in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Somalia, WHO completed, on behalf of UNHCR, the design of a control programme for schistosomiasis. At the end of 1988, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) assigned a health coordinator for refugees in Honduras. UNHCR and WHO, together with support from voluntary agencies, prepared a joint revision of contents of the emergency health kit. In addition, WHO has identified a number of health consultants to perform specialized assessments in refugee situations, including a consultant to evaluate a malaria control programme in Pakistan.

186. UNHCR and WHO jointly sponsored the first international conference on nutrition in times of disasters, held at Geneva in September 1988, and collaborated in the revision of a joint publication, entitled Management of Nutritional Emergencies in Large Populations. Also in the health field, UNHCR participated in an inter-agency mission with WHO, UNICEF and UNDP to assess the health needs of refugees and refugee-affected areas in the Sudan.

187. The World Food Programme (WFP) continued to meet the majority of refugees' basic food aid needs and, in certain cases, also provided assistance for refugees involved in productive activities. In 1988, UNHCR and WFP undertook several joint missions, for example, to Algeria, Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Malawi, the Sudan, Swaziland, Yemen, Zaire, Zambia and Zimbabwe, to assess refugee food needs. In 1988, WFP food assistance to refugees amounted to approximately 517,000 metric tons.

188. Provision was made in 1988 for an associate expert from UNESCO to work with UNHCR in the field of refugee education. In the past, UNESCO has participated in various consultancies and in the production of guidelines for refugee primary education. The Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees met with the new Director-General of UNESCO with a view to establishing priorities for co-operation between the two agencies. Co-ordination has been developed in the area of recognition of titles and degrees held by refugee students and scholarship-holders.

189. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has been associated with UNHCR programmes, mainly in Africa and Pakistan, in the fields of primary health care, water supply and basic sanitation. In Pakistan, UNICEF is currently assisting UNHCR in vaccination programmes and strengthening immunization coverage among Afghan refugee women and children by the provision of equipment and technical staff.

190. In 1988, co-operation continued between UNHCR and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in several projects, such as a vocational training project for Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

191. On 10 June 1988, UNHCR and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed an agreement to enhance co-operation between the two organizations in areas such as refugee aid and development, rural income-generating activities, refugee women and rural development programmes. A joint income-generating and environmental rehabilitation project (in the Islamic Republic of Iran - South Khorasan) was appraised in November/December 1988. The last round of negotiations on the project took place in April 1989.

192. After a joint project identification and appraisal mission, an agreement of co-operation was signed at the end of January 1989 between UNHCR and the World Bank concerning the Furjano settlement project in Somalia, which will last for seven years and is budgeted at $3.8 million.

193. In 1988, UNHCR continued its co-operation with the United Nations Educational and Training Programme for Southern Africa and the United Nations Trust Fund for South Africa with regard to training facilities and assistance to refugees from southern Africa. Refugees in various parts of the world have also benefited from fellowships awarded by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

194. Within its 1988 fellowship programme, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) continued to finance fellowships for refugee candidates in various countries of asylum.

195. The United Nations Volunteers programme (UNV) continued to participate actively in refugee programmes by providing volunteers to work in Honduras, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Somalia and the Sudan.

196. Close contact was maintained, and possibilities for co-operation explored, with the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator (UNDRO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

197. In May 1988, a letter of understanding was signed with the United Nations Border Relief Operation concerning co-operation in the field of durable solutions for an estimated case-load of 8,000 Vietnamese refugees in Thailand.

198. UNHCR also collaborated with other United Nations bodies, such as the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). UNHCR also participated in global endeavours of the United Nations system, such as the United Nations Decade for Women: Equality, Development and Peace, and the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons.

B. Relations with other intergovernmental organizations

199. At the invitation of the Government of Cyprus, UNHCR attended the Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement from 5 to 10 September 1988, at Nicosia. The Conference provided an excellent opportunity for the exchange of views and information with high-level delegations on major refugee problems affecting different regions of the world.

200. During the reporting period, UNHCR continued to maintain close co-operation with OAU in various areas. As in previous years, the Office was represented at the twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held at Addis Ababa from 25 to 28 May 1988, and at the forty-eighth ordinary session of the Council of Ministers, held from 19 to 23 May 1988 (see A/43/398, annexes I and II).

201. UNHCR played an active role in the work of various organs of OAU, including the Committee of Fifteen on Refugees, the Co-ordinating Committee for Refugees, the OAU Bureau for Refugees, and the Labour Commission.

202. Those traditional forms of co-operation were further strengthened during the reporting period by activities relating to t he preparation and holding of the International Conference on the Plight of Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Southern Africa, which took place at Oslo from 22 to 24 August 1988. The United Nations, UNHCR, UNDP and OAU worked closely and provided substantial material and financial support to focus the attention of the international community on the serious humanitarian crisis of the southern African region and to promote adequate solutions and resources to those problems. The Conference, which was very successful, adopted a Declaration and Plan of Action calling for greater international solidarity with, and increased assistance to, the peoples and countries of the regions affected by South Africa's system of apartheid and its policy of destabilization (A/43/717 and Corr.1, annex). Since the Conference, various consultations have taken place with OAU and other members of the Conference's Steering Committee to determine ways of facilitating the implementation of the measures proposed by the Conference.

203. Following General Assembly resolution 42/9 of 28 October 1987, in which the Assembly called for the strengthening of co-operation between the United Nations and OAU, steps to reactivate and expand areas of co-operation have been initiated by UNHCR and OAU since the beginning of 1989, including, in particular, regular mechanisms of consultation on specific refugee problems on the Continent.

204. In July 1988, an agreement of co-operation was concluded by UNHCR and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) with a view to reinforcing co-operation in humanitarian issues between the two organizations. In addition to regular contacts and exchange of information, the terms of the Agreement gave the OIC Observer status at UNHCR Executive Committee meetings, and similar status to UNHCR at OIC conferences and activities. UNHCR attended the Eighteenth Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers held at Riyadh from 13 to 16 March 1989, where the refugee situation in the Islamic world was discussed extensively and a resolution adopted on refugees, the role of UNHCR and co-operation between OIC and UNHCR.

205. Co-operation with the Arab League continued through periodic consultations and exchange of information. Discussions were also held regarding a draft agreement of co-operation between UNHCR and the Arab League together with a draft Arab convention on refugees. The possibility of co-operation was also explored with the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALESCO) in concrete areas of assistance to refugees.

206. Co-operation between UNHCR and the Organization of American States (OAS) was maintained notably through UNHCR participation at the OAS General Assembly at San Salvador in November 1988 and through contacts with OAS concerning the International Conference on Central American refugees. In a resolution on the Conference adopted by the OAS General Assembly the Assembly strongly endorsed the convening of the Conference and pledged support for the efforts of the convening countries and of UNHCR to seek concrete solutions to the problem of refugees in the Central American region.

207. At the technical level, the OAS study concerning the legal aspects of mass influxes of refugees, based on case-studies of Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico, neared its conclusion and, therefore, consultations took place between UNHCR and OAS regarding the continuation of the joint study programme on refugees in Central America and Mexico, which was initiated in 1982.

208. UNHCR and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights concluded an Agreement establishing the Fridtjof Nansen Chair of International Refugee Law at the Institute thereby providing UNHCR with an opportunity for more active participation in the Institute's annual inter-disciplinary study programme on human rights. In addition, as in previous years, a UNHCR representative gave lectures at the sixteenth international law course organized by the Inter-American Juridical Committee at Rio de Janeiro.

209. Co-operation with the Council of Europe continued, notably through the participation of UNHCR, in the meetings of the Ad Hoc Committee of Experts on the Legal Aspects of Territorial Asylum, Refugees and Stateless Persons, which pursued efforts to draw up an agreement on the responsibility for examining asylum requests, and in the work of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Demography. The Parliamentary Assembly adopted recommendation 1088 (1988) on the right to territorial asylum.

210. UNHCR continued to follow closely the consultations held under the auspices of the institutions of the European Community regarding developments in the asylum situation in Europe. In that context also, several meetings took place at the senior officials and expert levels with a view to formulating strategies, including approaches based on co-operation, with countries outside the region concerned with refugee outflows.

211. As indicated earlier, UNHCR continued to develop its co-operation with the World Bank as part of the effort to promote actively development activities for the benefit of refugees and returnees and also as a contribution to alleviating the impact of the presence of those groups on affected asylum countries. Noteworthy progress was registered in joint projects implemented in Pakistan for Afghan refugees, and the design of schemes proposed for Malawi, Mexico, Somalia, the Sudan and Uganda was carried further through the speeding up of project identification and joint preparatory missions during 1988 and the first half of 1989. UNHCR also participated, as necessary, in World Bank consultative groups and consortia.

212. Co-operation between UNHCR and the institutions of the European Community (EEC), in particular the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, was further developed through increased contacts and through the formal accreditation of a UNHCR representative to the Community. Within the context of the preparation of the fourth Lomé Convention, UNHCR participated in an observer capacity in discussions of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP)-EEC Commission's working group on refugees.

213. In 1988, the European Community contributed assistance valued at $46.2 million. This important contribution represented, under General Programmes,$5.7 million in cash and $.4 million for the purchase of food and, under Special Programmes $10.7 million was contributed in cash, $12 million to purchase food and 17.3 million in kind. Compared to previous years, the contributions reflected a steady increase in EEC funding for non-ACP country programmes, principally in Central America.

214. Close co-operation between UNHCR and the States members of ASEAN continued throughout the period under review. The most significant aspect of that co-operation was the International Conference on Indo-Chinese Refugees, which took place at Geneva on 13 and 14 June 1989.

215. Traditional co-operation with the Intergovernmental Committee for Migration continued through 1988, assuring expert and comprehensive logistic support to UNHCR for the majority of refugees' travel on resettlement, and at the particularly advantageous rates accorded to them by major airlines. Towards the end of the period under review, and in close consultation with the relevant Regional Bureau at UNHCR headquarters, the Committee agreed to expand its activities in coordinating travel arrangements within the Orderly Departure Programme of Vietnamese from Viet Nam.

C Humanitarian co-operation with liberation movements

216. During the period under review, UNHCR continued its long-standing humanitarian support for refugees under the care of the national liberation movements recognized by OAU and the United Nations: the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO); the African National Congress of South Africa (ANC); and the Pan African Congress of Azania (PAC). Co-operation with those national liberation movements was strengthened and, with improvement in their implementing capability following a number of training workshops in programme management conducted by UNHCR, the level of financial assistance to projects implemented through them in Angola (ANC and SWAPO), the United Republic of Tanzania (ANC and PAC) and Zambia (ANC and SWAPO) was substantially increased and totalled $3.1 million in 1988. The total appropriation for programmes implemented by national liberation movements originally foreseen for 1989 was $5 million. That figure will be adjusted as necessary in the light of the repatriation of Namibian refugees within the framework of Namibia's transition to independence. Those three national liberation movements have maintained their active participation, as observers, in the deliberations of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme.

D. Relations with non-governmental organizations

217. The consolidation of the working relations of UNHCR with the community of non-governmental organizations has remained an essential element of its policy and activities on behalf of refugees. In view of the many non-governmental organizations interested in refugee matters and/or directly involved in the implementation of refugee programmes world wide, the modalities of UNHCR co-operation with voluntary agencies continued during the period under review to be as flexible as possible while attempting to focus on major operational developments.

218. Thus, UNHCR convened ad hoc briefings and sessions to exchange views with interested non-governmental organizations on, inter alia, refugee/returnee situations in Afghanistan, Central America, Ethiopia and Thailand, as well as in southern Africa, in connection with the preparation of the International Conference on the Plight of Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Southern Africa.

219. In August 1988, UNHCR served as host for a two-day consultation on international protection, which was attended by some 40 non-governmental organizations, as well as a one-day meeting in September 1988, which was held prior to the meeting of the Executive Committee. Major operational and protection issues were discussed, as well as specific issues, such as refugee women and children and refugee aid and development. This meeting, the sixth of its kind, brought together over 100 non-governmental organizations.

220. Regular contact with the non-governmental organizations based at Geneva was maintained through UNHCR participation in the monthly Emergency and Disaster Co-ordination Meeting, held at the headquarters of the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

221. In order to obtain a comprehensive picture of the formal arrangements of UNHCR with non-governmental organizations operational partners and implementing agencies, a systematic, computerized review was carried out of all 1988 projects and sub-projects involving non-governmental organizations. Similarly, this data base is intended to include relevant information on joint non-governmental organizations/UNHCR activities in the fields of protection, resettlement, public information and fund raising.

222. On the question of refugee women, UNHCR supported the International NGO consultation on Refugee Women, which was held at Geneva in November 1988 under the auspices of the World Council of Churches and included over 90 non-governmental organizations. In close consultation with the latter, UNHCR also published and distributed the final version of Guidelines on Refugee Children in August 1988. UNHCR further sponsored a three-day consultation on disabled refugees in November 1988 and provided financial support to the international conference on elderly refugees in Europe, entitled Age in Exile, held in November 1988 in the Netherlands.

223. UNHCR continued to ensure that non-governmental organizations personnel would benefit from training workshops on emergency management and financial management information systems. Personnel in the field benefited from UNHCR-organized and sponsored workshops, seminars and training in social and community services, primary education, income-generation and nutrition.

E. Nansen Medal Award

224. The recipient of the 1988 Nansen Medal was Mr. Syed Munir Hussain, Secretary of the States and Frontier Regions Ministry of Pakistan from 1982 to 1987. In that capacity, he supervised the Afghan refugee relief operation for the Government of Pakistan, which caters for the single largest case-load of refugees anywhere in the world and represents the world's largest refugee assistance programme. The Medal was presented at a ceremony held at the Palais des Nations at Geneva on 3 November 1988.


225. Voluntary funds expenditure in 1988 was $54 5 million, as compared with $461 million in 1987. Of this, $395 million was spent on General Programmes ($335 in 1986) and $150 million on Special Programmes and Other Trust Funds.

226. Contributions were received in 1988 from a total of 74 Governments, 58 non-governmental and 8 intergovernmental organizations, as well as donations from private sources. Yet, while financial support from the donor community in 1988 was the highest ever received by UNHCR, it was inadequate to cover all programme needs. Against a General Programmes budget of $420 million, an expenditure of $395 million was made. However, contributions received and secondary income together amounted to only $385 million, forcing the High Commissioner to seek donor approval to advance funds from the 1989 General Programmes Reserve to cover the shortfall.

227. Apart from UNHCR regular appeals to cover General Programme needs, several special appeals were issued during 1988. In the first place, funds were sought to meet the needs of new refugee emergency situations concerning, among others, Mozambican refugees in southern Africa, Somali and Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia, Burundi refugees in Rwanda and Iraqi Kurds in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In addition, appeals were made to cover the financial requirements of returnee programmes (Afghanistan, Burundi, Central America, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Viet Nam, as well as other activities outside the General Programmes, such as the determination of status of Lao in Thailand, the Orderly Departure Programme from Viet Nam and the International Conference on Central American Refugees, which took place at Guatemala City in May 1989.

228. At its thirty-ninth session, the Executive Committee set a target of $429 million for General Programmes in 1989. As at March 1989, the total requirement for voluntary funds in 1989 for both General and Special Programmes, as well as joint undertakings in the area of refugee aid and development, was estimated at over $600 million. In 1989, UNHCR opened the year for the first time without a carry-over of funds and with the 1989 programme reserve already tapped.

229. As at 31 March, total contributions in 1989 for both General and Special Programmes amounted to $223.2 million. Table 3 sets forth in detail those contributions which had been paid or pledged as of that date. Efforts made during 1988 to expand the donor base and increase contributions to voluntary funds were successful in so far as the number of donors increased by 19.6 per cent and income increased by 18.2 per cent. Those efforts will continue, but, if essential refugee needs are to be met, UNHCR must continue to count on increased contributions from traditional donors.

230. The financial support received from the international community has always been most generous. The High Commissioner is very appreciative of that sustained commitment to the humanitarian work of the Office, and counts on its backing to meet the increased needs of 1989.


231. Public awareness of the situation of refugees and asylum-seekers enhances the ability of UNHCR to perform its statutory functions of protection and assistance; the dissemination of information about refugees, therefore, continued to be a priority task for the Office. The Public Information Service of UNHCR has endeavoured to develop its relations with the media, to expand production of printed and audio-visual materials and to organize special events that introduce refugee concerns to a broad audience.

232. UNHCR continued to provide information on refugee situations to media representatives around the world. Formal press briefings were given twice-weekly at Geneva and press releases were issued at regular intervals. UNHCR organized five field trips for groups of journalists to refugee areas in Africa and Central America, and facilitated visits by many individual journalists to refugee camps and settlements in Africa, Asia and Central America. Extensive co-operation was also extended to several major television productions.

233. During the period under review, UNHCR took responsibility for public information activities relating to the International Conference on the Plight of Refugees, Returnees and Displaced Persons in Southern Africa and the International Conference on Central America Refugees. In addition to the seminars organized for journalists, activities included the preparation and dissemination of printed information materials, including photographs, and the production of a documentary film on refugees in southern Africa, which was released in May 1988, and a film on refugees in Central America, which was released in the spring of 1989.

234. UNHCR continued to publish the magazine Refugees monthly in English, French and Spanish, bimonthly in German and Japanese, and quarterly in Italian. Special issues in Arabic, Norwegian and Portuguese were also issued. Regular production of posters, maps, fact sheets, calendars and other information material continued.

235. As part of the Office's effort to strengthen awareness of the plight of refugee women, UNHCR provided a photographic exhibit and other information materials for a conference organized by non-governmental organizations on refugee women, and issued a new poster series on refugee women.

236. The photo-library of UNHCR distributed 32,700 black and white and colour photographs to the media, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations and provided visual material for all of the publications and exhibitions of UNHCR. It also continued to co-produce documentary films on refugee situations around the world.

237. New efforts have been taken to reach the mass public by the organization of special events, such as concerts and exhibitions, and by the use of goodwill ambassadors.

238. Dissemination of information about refugee s cannot be undertaken by UNHCR alone, and co-operation with non-governmental organizations in the information field is a vital element of the information strategy of UNHCR. That co-operation continued, with the ongoing exchange of information, co-production of materials and UNHCR participation in the information campaigns of non-governmental organizations. A particular effort was undertaken to expand production of educational materials, especially in a variety of language versions, for use in secondary schools.

(Note: Statistical and financial tables not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)

1 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 189, No. 2545, p. 137.

2 Ibid., vol. 189, No. 2545, sect. 4-D, pp. 146-147.

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

4 For the report of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High commissioner for Refugees on its thirty-seventh session, see Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-first Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/41/12/Add.1).

5 For the report of the Executive Committee on its thirty-eighth session, see Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-second Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/42/12 Add.1)

6 For the report of the Executive Committee on its thirty-ninth session, see Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-third Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/43/12/Add.1).

7 For the report of the Executive Committee on its thirty-ninth session, see Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-third Session, Supplement No. 12A (A/33/12/Add.1.

8 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 989, No. 14458.

9. Ibid., vol. 1001, No. 14691, P. 45.

10 Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1989, Supplement No.9 (E/1989/27/Rev.1-E/CN.6/1989/1/Rev.1), chap. E-C, resolution 33/6.

11 Includes expenditure amounting to $US 9,943,064 from the Emergency Fund spent in Angola, Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

12 Does not include expenditure for programme support and administration.

13 Includes income-generating activities.

14 Includes assistance to returnees.

15 Includes donations in kind, for example, food.