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UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Regional Overview: East Asia and The Pacific


UNHCR Global Appeal 1999 - Regional Overview: East Asia and The Pacific

1 December 1998

At a time when economic crises in the East Asia region are placing pressures on social cohesion, political stability and traditional asylum practices, UNHCR's principal objectives in 1999 will be promoting asylum, achieving durable solutions for refugees, providing sustainable reintegration assistance for returnees, and seeking ways in which to influence, prepare for, and respond to new refugee outflows. To meet these objectives, UNHCR's activities emphasize the promotion of UNHCR's mandate and global humanitarian goals through constituency building, public awareness activities, and advocacy of refugee rights. Through informal regional fora, such as the Asia Pacific Consultations, UNHCR engages Governments on issues of migration, displacement, asylum and related prevention and preparedness issues. UNHCR will collaborate with concerned Governments on emergency preparedness training and joint contingency planning initiatives.

The largest groups of refugees in the region are in China (291,500) and in Thailand (169,200). The largest assisted returnee groups are in Viet Nam (110,000) and in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (28,000).

Viet Nam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic

Some 1,800 Vietnamese refugees and asylum-seekers who did not meet internationally recognized refugee criteria following the formal completion of the Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indo-Chinese Refugees (CPA) in 1996 remain of concern to UNHCR. The agency will promote self-reliance initiatives and durable solutions for this group (most of whom live in Hong Kong) under post-CPA Special Programme funding. UNHCR will also support the repatriation of some 1,100 of 1,340 Lao who remain in Ban Napho camp in northern Thailand and who no longer meet refugee criteria. In Laos and Viet Nam UNHCR will continue to monitor returnees and provide rural settlement (Laos) and community-based reintegration assistance (Viet Nam) for returnees.

Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the South Pacific

UNHCR's Regional Office in Australia, which covers New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and the South Pacific, will continue to focus on protection-related advice, resettlement, and external relations, emphasizing training and promotion activities. A modest assistance programme, including local integration and support to education, is in place for Irian Jayan refugees in Papua New Guinea, as are care and maintenance activities for needy refugees from Bougainville in the Solomon Islands and a limited number of individual cases in other Pacific locations.


A final contribution to the revolving-fund credit scheme, which was introduced in 1994, will be made in 1999. The scheme fosters sustainable self-reliance for the most needy among 291,500 refugees, mostly from Viet Nam, who remain below provincial poverty margins. These individuals, numbering more than 80,000, are located in 45 pockets of extreme poverty among the refugee settlements. Assistance emphasizes income-generation and vocational training for refugees and their host communities. UNHCR also promotes refugee law throughout the country by holding consultations and seminars involving governmental bodies and academic institutions, as well as through media and public-awareness initiatives.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines

Through its regional office in Jakarta, UNHCR closely monitors the economic downturn and related political developments in the region and the potential impact they may have on internal and external displacement and reverse migratory flows. The regional office also monitors evolving country-of-origin conditions which might present new opportunities for the resolution of long-standing human rights concerns and offer solutions to refugee situations. In Indonesia, UNHCR supports the implementation of the National Plan of Action on Human Rights and provides assistance to a small number of urban refugees. In Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, UNHCR provides protection and material assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers, offers advice on refugee recognition processes, and promotes the agency's mandate and institutional goals through public awareness, constituency-building, and training initiatives.

Japan and the Republic of Korea

UNHCR's regional presence in Tokyo focuses on protection, public information, and fund-raising in Japan and in the Republic of Korea. The agency's objectives in 1999 include closer collaboration with these Governments, relevant legal and academic institutions and NGOs by providing advisory support and training programmes on refugee law, the development of refugee legislation, and the establishment of effective refugee status determination procedures.

Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam

UNHCR's regional office in Bangkok, Thailand is also responsible for UNHCR's interests and activities in Cambodia and Viet Nam. In Thailand, the Regional Office provides relief assistance, temporary protection, and eventual repatriation support for some 37,500 Cambodian refugees (as of late September 1998) accommodated in three camps in Trat, Surin, and Sisaket Provinces. In Cambodia, UNHCR provides community-based assistance to 8,456 Cambodians who had voluntarily repatriated to peaceful areas since October 1997. The regional office is also engaged in monitoring some 100,000 refugees from Myanmar residing in 13 camps along the Thai/Myanmar border. UNHCR's field-based monitoring presence focuses on admission for temporary asylum, measures to improve camp safety including, where necessary and feasible, the re-location of camps further away from the border, and measures to reinforce the civilian character of the camps.

Budget US$

The budget does not include costs at Headquarters.

CountryGeneral ProgrammesSpecial ProgrammesTotal
Australia And New Zealand965,200965,200
Lao People's Democratic Republic1,108,2911,108,291
Papua New Guinea174,000174,000
The Philippines336,600336,600
Viet Nam595,793595,793
Regional Projects180,400150,000330,400