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RMS-PAPER: EXPLORING LINKS (2/2)
/* posted Mon 22 Jan 6:00am 1995 by DRUNOO@xxxxxxxxxxxx in
/* ---------------------" Exploring the Links "------------------------ */
Part 2 of 2.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE CONFERENCE ON REFUGEE PROTECTION
"OLD PROBLEMS, NEW DIRECTIONS"
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
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,
* 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 */