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4/11/96: WEB-PICKINGS: Views from o

Subject: 4/11/96: WEB-PICKINGS: Views from our neighbours at the U.N.

Following Press Release can be found at the U.N. Home Page on -
Regards, U Ne Oo.
<title>[04 Nov 1996] GA/SHC/3375 : THIRD COMMITTEE CONCLUDES DEBATE ON REFUGEE ISSUES          </title>
<div align=right>4 November 1996</div>
 The refugee crisis in the Great Lakes region of Africa illustrated the  
many difficult dilemmas confronting the United Nations High Commissioner for 
Refugees (UNHCR) in the middle of highly charged political situations, the     
Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) was told this afternoon,   
as it concluded its debate on refugee issues and humanitarian questions.   <P> 

A representative of UNHCR, Soren Jensen Petersen, said the crisis also         
showed that without political will, humanitarian action could complicate or    
prolong conflicts.  The UNHCR must continue to build links to political and    
developmental institutions and processes.  Otherwise, lasting solutions to the 
complex crises of displacement could not be achieved.   <P>              

The UNHCR was encouraged by the example of Mexico and Guatemala, as they       
solved the problem of the remaining Guatemalan refugees through voluntary  
repatriation and local integration, he continued.  Domestic laws that formed 
the basis of international protection were needed.  Lithuania's national
refugee legislation was encouraging, he added.   <P>              

The representative of Lithuania outlined his country's new legislation 
on refugees and asylum seekers.  The law established conditions and procedures
for granting refugee status to asylum seekers and also provided legal and
social guarantees for the protection of refugees.   <P>              

A number of speakers stressed the importance of sharing the burden of
refugees to alleviate the negative ecological and economic impact of refugee
influxes in developing countries.  The UNHCR must focus attention on the
plight of the women and children who comprised the majority of the world's
refugee population, they said.  <P>              

Other statements were made by Eritrea, Kenya, Liberia, Kazakstan, Iran,
Nepal, Indonesia, Algeria, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Bhutan, Morocco, Cote
D'Ivoire, Yemen, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Jordan, India, Cyprus and Tanzania. <P>
Sudan, Nepal and Bhutan spoke in exercise of the right of reply. <P>
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 5 November, to begin
joint consideration of the elimination of racism and racial discrimination and
the right of peoples to self-determination. 
Committee Work Programme <P> 
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this           
afternoon to conclude its discussions on the report of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), questions relating to refugees, returnees 
and displaced persons and humanitarian questions.  (For background, see Press 
Release GA/SHC/3371, of 31 October.) <P>              

Statements <P>              

GHIRMAI GHEBREMARIAM (Eritrea) said the 
PADAM NARAYAN CHOUDHARY (Nepal) said his Government was pleased that           
UNHCR was giving particular attention to priority areas, such as the needs of
women and children, as well as to environmental issues resulting from the
presence of large numbers of refugees in countries of asylum.  The global
memorandum of understanding between UNHCR and the United Nations Children's 
Fund (UNICEF) was a significant move in the area of inter-agency coordination.
His country was faced with the burden of 200,000 refugees who were           
living in camps in eastern Nepal, he continued.  His Government was grateful 
to UNHCR for its continued assistance and it upheld the right of every refugee
to return to his or her homeland safely and with dignity.  Nepal would also 
make every effort to solve the problem of Bhutanese refugees through mutual
discussion and understanding.  The presence of a large number of refugees in
countries of asylum, particularly least-developed ones like his own, led to 
further degradation of the environment and social conditions.  In such 
conditions, the need to resolve refugee problems wherever they existed was
urgent.  <P>              

WIWIEK SETYOWATI (Indonesia) said her Government was concerned by the 
real, potential and perceived burden of protecting refugees, resulting in the
denial of asylum and, at times, the forcible return of refugees to countries
of origin.  Such developments presented UNHCR with serious difficulties and 
must be resolved.  Therefore, she welcomed the recognition of the need for
international solidarity and burden-sharing with countries of asylum, which
were often developing countries with limited resources. <P>
The Government was also encouraged that UNHCR was taking the initiative 
to bridge the gap between the inter-agency and inter-governmental processes, 
she said.  Only through a genuine partnership with the intergovernmental 
process could Member States begin to mitigate the consequences of refugee 
situations and move towards lasting solutions and prevention.  Such           
cooperation would facilitate the necessary level of support and a convergence
of views that would enable a coherent strategy.  That procedure should be
followed in all activities undertaken by the United Nations system, consistent
with the international cooperation envisaged in the United Nations Charter.
She welcomed the general direction being taken by UNHCR in responding to its
current multitude of challenges.  <P>              

ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), said the ...

ASDA JAYANAMA (Thailand) said the best solution to the refugee problem
was the prevention of the causes that forced people to flee.  He supported the
United Nations attempt to further develop the system of early warning, 
monitoring and reporting in combatting the refugee problem and urged all 
parties concerned at all levels, including non-governmental organizations, to 
work in tandem.  However, UNHCR must not be left to shoulder its burden alone,
for the refugee problem was the responsibility of the entire international
community.  The international community should remain involved in the issue
and provide UNHCR with all the resources required to overcome the daunting 
problem of refugees and displaced persons worldwide. <P>              

A durable solution to the refugee problem must be comprehensive and           
based on the spirit of international burden-sharing, without undue burden
being placed on any party in particular, he said.  Such a solution must 
reflect the political will and the interest of all parties concerned.
Further, it must link the immediate objective of relief to the long-term  
strategy of rehabilitation and development.  Finally, it must involve all key
actors, including countries of origin, and address the root causes of the
refugee problem.    <P>

ZAMIRA ESHMAMBETOVA (Kyrgystan) said her Government was....

UGYEN TSHERING (Bhutan) said his Government 

RENUKA CHOWDHURY (India) said the most urgent tasks facing the           
international community when addressing the refugee problem were reaffirming, 
strengthening and extending the international protection regime and looking  
for realistic, feasible and durable solutions, while bearing in mind the 
specific restraints faced by developing asylum countries.  The international
community must show a clear commitment to facilitate the creation of           
conditions in countries of origin that could permit refugees to return in  
safety and dignity, anchor them securely in their communities and discourage
further outflows.  The UNHCR's community-based assistance programmes with 
particular emphasis on women, its promotion of quick-impact projects, and its 
efforts at advance planning and coordination with other international agencies
were salutary initiatives. <P>              

The line between political refugee and economic migrant was becoming           
increasingly blurred, she said.  Contemporary refugee movements were taking 
place against a backdrop of larger and more complex migratory flows.  The 
instances of economic migrants fleeing poverty and starvation brought into 
focus the need for long-term sustainable development in the countries of 
origin.  Emergency relief deservedly evoked donor response, but if it occurred
at the cost of long-term developmental assistance, a vicious cycle was    
perpetuated.  Humanitarian action should support long-term development, if 
durable solutions were going to be found.  In that context, it was distressing
to note that appeals to address the huge environmental and other damage in 
eastern Zaire and in parts of Tanzania, such as those by the United Nations 
Development Programme (UNDP) and UNHCR, had gone largely unheeded. 

KORNELIOS S. KORNELIOU (Cyprus), aligned 

SOREN JENSEN PETERSEN, a representative of UNHCR, said the crisis in the 
Great Lakes region of Africa illustrated the many difficult dilemmas the 
Agency confronted in providing humanitarian protection and assistance and 
seeking solutions in the middle of highly charged political situations.  It
also illustrated the fundamental need for political will to solve bitter 
conflicts that were the immediate cause of many refugee problems.  Without
political will, humanitarian action could become hostage to conflict or, 
worse, could complicate or prolong it.  While peace in the Great Lakes region
could not be imposed from the outside, it must be vigorously supported by the
international community.  Without politicizing humanitarian action, UNHCR must
continue to build links to political and developmental institutions and
processes at the international and regional levels.  Otherwise, lasting 
solutions to the complex crises of displacement could not be achieved.   <P>
Although voluntary repatriation was the preferred solution to refugee 
problems, combining repatriation with local integration and resettlement could
help the international community move forward faster, he continued.  The UNHCR
was encouraged by Mexico and Guatemala's example in providing solutions to 
remaining Guatemalan refugees through voluntary repatriation and local 
integration.  The UNHCR was trying to increase the limited number of           
interested countries to enhance and diversify opportunities for such           
solutions.  The scope and duration of UNHCR humanitarian rehabilitation and 
returnee efforts must dovetail with development planning.  More attention must
be paid to burden-sharing to reduce the negative ecological and economic 
impact of refugee influxes in the developing world.  Protection problems arose
when burden-sharing failed.  Building the capacity of local institutions, 
including non-governmental organizations, could help prevent refugee 
situations. <P>              

He said protection standards must guide work with refugees, from the           
moment they fled until they returned home or settled elsewhere.   Continuous 
efforts were needed to develop the legal framework that provided the basis for
international protection.  Lithuania's national refugee legislation was
encouraging in that respect.  He said the agency was enhancing its cooperation
with UNICEF within the framework of their recently concluded memorandum of
understanding.  It was also revising and enhancing its agreements with other
United Nations agencies. <P>              

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