Statement by Dr. Auguste R. Lindt, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, before the Pledging Conference for Extra-Budgetary Funds, 20 October 1960
Statements by High Commissioner, 20 October 1960
It is a pleasure to me to address this body once again and to put before you the problems and programmes of my Office.
To put it briefly, the functions of my Office in respect of programmes of international assistance are to promote, within the overall framework of my fundamental duty of international protection, permanent solutions for refugees, based on the free choice of the refugee himself, through the classic means of voluntary repatriation, resettlement to new countries, or integration in countries of present asylum. Within the same framework, my Office extends relief in the case of refugee emergencies, within the limits of funds available or which can be made available. My Office also exercises in such emergency situations, as it does generally in respect of refugee work, a coordinating action between governments and agencies concerned with such problems.
Concerning international assistance programmes for permanent solutions, priority has been given my Office to two programmes: the resettlement of European refugees from the Far East and the clearance of refugee camps in Europe.
The Far Eastern operation will have to continue for some time to come.
On the other hand, I am glad to report that the Camp Clearance Program initiated as early as 1955 within the framework of UNREF and intensified from 1958 onwards, is now nearing its completion. As far as finances go, my Office has now received all, or nearly all, funds required to bring this programme to an end. It is therefore for the first time that I do not need to ask for more funds for camp clearance in Europe.
This has largely been made possible by World Refugee Year. My Executive Committee, on the occasion of World Refugee Year, had fixed a financial target of $12,000,000 for the current 1960 programmes of my Office. This target has not yet been reached completely, but I am confident that toward the end of the year we shall be very close to it.
I should like to seize this opportunity to express my gratitude to Governments, to national World Refugee Year Committees, to non-governmental organizations, and more generally to the people through whose generosity such results could be obtained.
As a result of these increased contributions, my Office has now received sufficient funds to make it possible to attack one of the other outstanding problems of non-settled refugees: the problem of non-settled refugees living outside camps. In addition to those refugees living outside camps who will be helped through programmes under implementation or already planned for, there will still be at the end of 1960 an estimated 65,000 non-settled refugees living outside camps, mainly in Europe, but also in the Middle East and the Far East.
According to the policy defined by the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's programme and endorsed by the General Assembly, it is not the function of my Office to substitute itself for governments of countries of asylum. My Office therefore does not propose to set up a programme of considerable magnitude, bound to last many years, in order to solve each individual case of the 65,000 non-settled refugees outside camps. It is the function of my Office, apart from facilitating voluntary repatriation, to stimulate the natural process of integration of refugees into the economy of the countries where they have been given asylum or where they resettle. Our programme in respect of this group concentrates therefore on handicapped cases.
The current programmes of my Office approved for 1961 will require $ 6 million from international sources, which, as usual, will be matched by supporting contributions from within countries of residence. These programmes are devoted mainly to assistance to handicapped cases among non-settled refugees living outside camps in Europe and in the Middle East, to which I just referred. The programmes include individual legal assistance measures – which are quite distinct and separate from, though complementary to, the overall protection duties of my Office – as well as a provision to continue the Far Eastern operation. I should like to appeal to member states of the United Nations and to member states of specialized agencies to enable my Office to reach this relatively small target of $6 million in the course of 1961.
I referred, Mr. President, to emergency situations. Such an emergency exists in North Africa and my Office started as early as 1957 a relief operation for refugees from Algeria in Tunisia. Following General Assembly resolution 1286 (XII) this relief operation was intensified and extended to refugees from Algeria in Morocco. Since February, 1959, the operation has been conducted as a joint operation with the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, to which I should like to pay again a warm tribute.
There are over 200,000 refugees in Morocco and Tunisia. I am glad to report that, thanks to the efforts of governments, of national World Refugee Year committees, and of non-governmental organizations which have assisted the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, as well as my Office, in the financing of this relief operation, the situation is now under control, though more needs to be done. However, funds are daily required. I presented a few days ago to my Executive Committee in Geneva a budget for 1961 which amounts to nearly $7 million, consisting of $4,100,000 to be received in kind and of a target of more than $2,800,000 to be received in cash. This budget for 1961 is meant to finance the basic relief programme, consisting of food and clothing, as well as for the financing of the supplementary programme, which includes milk stations, health projects and projects in the educational field. This relief programme in North Africa is another important aspect of the work of my Office, for which I hope that governments will pledge their indispensable financial support.
In two resolutions, 1167 (XII), concerning Chinese refugees in Hong Kong and 1388 (XIV), concerning more generally refugees who do not come within the competence of the United Nations, the General Assembly entrusted me with a mission of good offices to facilitate the provision of international assistance. Progress has been made recently in the implementation of both resolutions. Governments and non-governmental organizations have channelled through my Office contributions for these groups of refugees which now total, including pledges and promises, nearly $1 million. I am particularly glad to be able to report this fact to this General Assembly of 99 member nations.
I have had occasion repeatedly to state that the mandate of my Office is a global one. But quite apart from legal considerations, there is a growing awareness among governments and among the public at large that there is much in common to refugee problems throughout the world, whether refugees come legally within the mandate or not.
The geographical spreading of the work of my Office manifests itself not only in the programmes which it carries out or which it helps to finance through extending its good offices. It is also apparent from the increasing number of governments in all the continents which contribute toward the financing of these programmes. In 1960 some 70 governments and among them an encouraging number of new member nations have contributed to my Office, either directly, or within the framework of the Joint Stamp Plan undertaken by my Office and UNRWA.
During World Refugee Year, although increased contributions were made by Governments, the major part of the monies received came from World Refugee Year committees and from other non-governmental sources. The relation of non-governmental funds to governmental contributions has been nearly two to one. This is an exceptional feature which will not repeat itself. My Office will have to rely again – as it had to do in the past – primarily on governmental support.
May I stress in this respect that, whereas my Office practically was able to reach in 1960 a target for its current programmes of $12,000,000, it will require only $6,000,000 for its current programmes in 1961.
Mr. President, I should like, therefore, once again, to launch here an appeal to all governments to support further the programmes of international assistance carried out by my Office. I need not add that my Office continues to remain available to channel contributions for other groups of refugees. In providing funds, Governments will make it possible for my Office to achieve the two aims of its programmes of assistance: to help refugees cease to be refugees and to bring indispensable relief to refugees who find themselves in an emergency situation.
Thank you, Mr. President.