[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index ][Thread Index ]


/* posted Mon 22 Jan 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx in 
maykha-l/igc:reg.burma */
/* ---------------------" Exploring the Links "------------------------ */
Part 2 of 2.
University of Sydney * 18 February 1994.
Convened by the Australian Council of churches Refugee and Migrant Services
Solutions and development
23.With regard to solutions,  UNHCR  has  taken  the  point  of  view  that
   prevention is a form of solution. While this does not seem to make sense
   logically,  it  does  make sense in terms of the generally accepted idea
   that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of  cure.  The  development
   issue  in  terms  of the protection of refugees has to be thought of not
   only at the time of return to the country of origin, where  we  need  to
   take  measures  to  ensure  that  development  activities  take place to
   promote the reintegration of the  returnees  into  their  societies:  it
   should be faced up-front, including in terms of prevention.

24.Development  should be on the agenda during the emergency situation, not
   only because of the potential impact of the presence of refugees on  the
   environment  and  the territory of the developing country of asylum, but
   also in terms of promoting the development of the country of origin, not
   only to facilitate the return and reintegration  of  the  refugees,  but
   also  to reduce the likelihood that they will be compelled to flee their
   country again later. Although people who are fleeing because of economic
   problems are not refugees, the political, ethnic,  religious  and  other
   causes  of  refugee  flows  tend to be exacerbated by economic problems.
   Therefore if there is an effort to help solve economic problems, it will
   help as well tl lessen the likelihood of people fleeing their country of

25.All three standard durable solutions  -  voluntary  repatriation,  local
   settlement and resettlement - have varying impacts on the development of
   countries  of  asylum  and countries of origin. Development has a direct
   relationship to voluntary repatriation: if the problem  of  displacement
   is  not  to  be shifted simply from one side of the border to the other,
   the reintegration of returning refugees must be given due  attention.  A
   comprehensive  program  of political, social and economic reconstruction
   is essential to sustain the fragile process of  national  reconciliation
   and  democracy  in  these countries, and to ensure a lasting solution to
   the   problem   of   uprootedness.   UNHCR's   short-term   relief   and
   rehabilitation  must  be  completed and merged into national development
   efforts for the entire population, including the  returnees,  the  local
   population and the internally displaced.

26.A  concerted,  far-reaching  approach  was  adopted by the International
   Conference on Central American Refugees,  CIREFCA.  It  grew  out  of  a
   political  commitment  to improve regional stability. UNHCR's short-term
   assistance  to  provide  solutions  for  refugees  and  the   internally
   displaced  was  therefore  incorporated into the more durable process of
   peace and development in the region and thee longer-term  assistance  by
   agencies like UNDP.

27.For  this  purpose  UNHCR  developed an approach to returnee assistance,
   known as the Quick Impact Project (QIP) initiative, which is now  widely
   used as a model for reintegration programmes in countries of origin that
   have  been  devastated  by years or armed conflict and economic decline.
   QIPs are simple, small-scale projects which attempt to address specific,
   often  urgent,  requirements  affecting  entire  communities.  The   QIP
   assistance  is  not  for  returnees  alone,  but  is  provided  to needy
   families, individuals or communities where returnees have  settled.  The
   aim  is to help the entire community in a way that returnees can fit in,
   and thereby to ensure that the voluntary repatriation  can  be  a  truly
   durable solution.

28.There is no such thing as typical QIP. They have been used for a variety
   of purposes such as construction and repair of infrastructure, provision
   of  livestock  and  machinery,  establishment  of cooperatives and small
   businesses. They can be implemented rapidly and  at  lost  cost,  making
   maximum use of local resources.

29.QIPs  were  first  used  in  the  Nicaraguan repatriation in the CIREFCA
   context  and  were  later  also  implemented  in  Cambodia.  The   joint
   endeavours have significantly contributed to facilitationg the dignified
   reintegration  of  returnees and internally displaced persons within the
   receiving communities. QIPs have helped expand production in rural areas
   as well as in the  urban  environment,  thereby  making  it  easier  for
   returnees  to  make  a living in their home village rather than drifting
   into the towns in search of work. At the same time QIPs have  encouraged
   returnees,  displaced  people and the local population to work together,
   promoting reconciliation in divided communities.

30.QIPs are however indisputably limited in finance and time, and cannot by
   themselves  rebuild  countries  and  economies seriously damaged by long
   periods of armed  conflict.  They  can,  however,  become  an  important
   component  of a broader rehabilitation strategy. UNHCR would like to see
   QIPs considered as a component  of  all  repatriation  operations.  When
   properly  planned  and  implemented,  they  constitute  a  vital linkage
   between repatriation/reintegration assistance and long-term  development
   efforts.  Some  governments  have complained, however, about the size of
   some QIPs (too large?) and consequently questioned their sustainability,
   the alleged lack of community involvement and commitment, and  the  need
   for  development agencies to assume a large responsibility even as UNHCR
   takes the lead, in initial reintegration assistance. The  latter  is  of
   course an inter-institutional issue of great complexity and sensitivity,
   as it involves questions of differential mandates, objectives, models of
   operation,   relations  with  governments,  with  NGOs  and  with  local
   communities, and funding structures.

31.In situations where local integration is sought in developing  countries
   it  often  needs  to  be  coupled with assistance from the international
   community, in order to  alleviate  the  pressure  the  refugees  put  on
   already  scarce  resources and to ensure that the influx does not have a
   detrimental effect on the development of the country of asylum.  Special
   attention  needs  to  be  given  to  this  matter also from a protection
   perspective, as problems of  discrimination  and  physical  assaults  on
   refugees  are more likely to occur in a situation where the refugees are
   perceived as a threat to the local citizens' living standard. If, on the
   other hand,  local settlement is  coupled  with  development  assistance
   which  benefits  also  the  local  population,  refugee  protection  and
   assistance will  be  in  a  stronger  position,  as  refugee  programmes
   contribute  to  the  economy,  instead  of  burdening it. This important
   factor in successful local integration.

32.For this reason UNHCR sometimes retains residual  responsibilities  also
   after  refugees  have  been  admitted for local settlement. For example,
   UNHCR is involved in agricultural, infrastructure and  income-generating
   projects  for  Indochinese  refugees  in  te People's Republic of China.
   Notwithstanding its overpopulation and scarcity of  arable  land,  China
   received  from  1978  to 1979 more than 250,000 Indochinese refugees for
   local settlement. UNHCR is involved in areas where these  refugees  have
   settled.   The   projects   financed  by  UNHCR  generally  benefit  the
   neighbouring local population as well as the refugees.

33.A matter of concern for countries of origin is the "brain  drain"  which
   is  the  effect of refugee resettlement. Many third world countries have
   lost  some  of  their  best-educated  people  to  the  developed  world.
   Intellectuals  are  often  the  first to be targeted for persecution, as
   they are perceived as a threat to an authoritarian government. When they
   are resettlen in industralised countries their knowledge  cannot  always
   be  fully  utilised  in  their  new  country,  due to language problems,
   different education  systems  and  educational  standards.  Often  these
   talents,  so  badly  needed  for  the  development of their countries of
   origin, are thereby lost. This of course strengthens the vicious  circle
   whereby  under-development  leads  to  persecution, persecution leads to
   brain-drain  and  brain-drain  reinforces  further  impoverishment   and

34.The  basic  theme  of  UNHCR's work in refugee emergencies is to provide
   international protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees and  at
   the  same time encourage greater development assistance with support for
   democratisation and respect for human rights in refugee-producing areas,
   and in receiving countries as well.

35.This is obviously the ideal solution, but it is also a long-term one and
   requires strong commitment and, equally important,  adequate  resources.
   Some  activities  fall  squarelly within the competence of UNHCR. Others
   require mobilisation of, and cooperation with, other UN agencies,  NGOs,
   the  International  Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), intergovernmental
   agencies such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and
   regional  organisations.  UNHCR  cannot  and  should  not   assume   the
   responsibility  of  running development programs in refugee producing or
   receiving countries but it must play a  catalytic  role  in  encouraging
   others to join hands for that purpose.

36.The  High  Commissioner  herself  has  often talked about the need for a
   comprehensive  approach  to  the  refugee  problem,  an  approach  which
   includes  all  parties,  takes  into account the totality of the refugee
   problem from its rot causes to its solution,  and  which  addresses  the
   continuum    of   refugee  flows  from  exodus  and  relief  to  return,
   reintegration and development.

37.The UNHCR Executive Committee (EXCOM) has shown its support of the  High
   Commissioner's  preventive  efforts  including  development, and efforts
   towards reintegration of refugees in the countries of origin.

38.The refugee aid and development approach has been pursued by UNHCR since
   the late 1970s. In the 1990s UNHCR began to  link  aid  and  development
   more  closely  in the context of assisted repatriation programmes. UNHCR
   was concerned about the gap between aid to returnees and development and
   the negative consequences that this  failure  could  have  for  returnee
   reintegration,  the likelihood of future displacements and the viability
   of the communities concerned. A study of  refugee  aid  and  development
   prepared  for  UNHCR's  Central  Evaluation Section noted the following,
   inter alia:

   *   There is a number of obstacles to the success of this approach, most
   notably the absence of peace  and  the  level  of  destruction  in  many
   returnee situations, as well as the reluctance of both country of origin
   and  donor  governments  to  give  priority  to  the areas concerned for
   reconstruction and development activities.

   *   UNHCR's contribution to this  process  is  necessarily  limited  and
   short term, in as much as UNHCR is not a development agency.

   *   The returnee and aid development approach should give more attention
   to  the  role  of indigenous structures and organisations, as well as to
   the returnees own agendas and plans for their return.

   *   To that effect, rather than seeking  to  hand  over  programmes  and
   projects  to  other  international  agencies,  UNHCR's  aim should be to
   assist in the development of local capacities and competence.

   *   Therefore, repatriation planning should focus less on the  logistics
   of  return  and  much  more  on  conditions,  needs and resources in the
   country of origin.

39.One area which epitomises the link between protection (at least physical
   protection), human rights and development is that of land  mines.  There
   are  countless  millions  of  these  land  mines  scattered  through the
   territories of  many  war-ravaged  countries,  in  particular  Cambodia,
   Afghanistan,  Angola  and Mozambique. It is increasingly recognised that
   these mines represent a flagrant violation of human rights. They kill or
   maim mostly civilians. they continue to do so long after the fighting is
   actually over, creating nations of amputees where they have been spread.
   Thus, they also constitute an obstacle to the development of  the  areas
   concerned,  in  as  much  as  such  areas  are not fit for habitation or
   agricultural development. Therefore, it has been necessary in  voluntary
   repatriation operations to former zones of conflict to provide resources
   and facilities for mine clearance and mine awareness training as well as
   the  treatment and rehabilitation of victims of land mines. Furthermore,
   pressure is growing for the banning of the production, sale, export  and
   use  of  these  weapons of terror. No effort symbolises more starkly the
   linkage between refugee protection, emergency relief and development.

/* Endreport */