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number of refugees, with a steady but not concomitant increase in international donor contributions. This situation reached a critical point in 1989 and mandated severe cutbacks in the program levels of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees budget for 1990, and we expect that budget to be fully funded. While the ICRC has cut its original program projections by one-third, it maintains a resilient will to respond when needed in a crisis, as demonstrated by the situation in the Persian Gulf.
MORE CAREFUL PLANNING REQUIRED New demands on scarce resources, coupled with budgetary constraints in all donor nations, will continue to require careful planning by both international organizations and donor governments. In fiscal year 1991, the President's budget request includes a greatly needed increase in regional refugee assistance of some $46 million, as well as a $25 million replenishment of the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance fund.
I would like now to turn to four regional situations which are currently receiving priority attention, Soviet refugee admissions being the first of these.
REFUGEES FROM SOVIET UNION For many years, the United States and other nations have advocated greater freedom of emigration for Soviet citizens. We have devoted considerable effort and resources to support the resettlement of persecuted religious and ethnic minorities allowed to leave that country. The 50,800 Soviet refugees we will resettle this year in the United States sets a new record and parallels unmatched levels of Soviet Jewish emigration to Israel.
Last year I described our plans to close the Rome-Vienna pipeline for Soviet refugee applicants and to transfer all processing to Moscow. We discussed then a nascent Washington processing center, and a new system in which most of the paperwork for refugee applications would be handled in this country, with files shuttled back and forth to our Embassy in Moscow. We have now completed these changes, with the result that we can handle the same number of refugees at a substantially lower cost to the migration and refugee assistance budget. This new system has proven so successful that we are considering it as a model for other types of visa processing
Indochinese refugees: I characterized the Vietnamese refugee problem last year as a long-standing and extraordinarily complex one. It is no less so now than then. However, we still believe that the comprehensive plan of action that resulted from the 1989 International Conference on Indochinese Refugees represents the best mechanism for addressing humanely the concerns of all involved nations. Implementation of the CPA is a difficult task, but we have been steadfast in our commitment to the practice of first asylum and our opposition to forced repatriation of the Vietnamese people.
The most serious difficulty we have encountered has been Malaysia's refusal to offer safe landing to Vietnamese boat people. The United States has protested—and continues to protest vigorouslyMalaysia's failure to abide by the CPA.
RESETTLEMENT OF LONG-STAYERS
At the same time, however, there has been progress in several key areas. For example, resettlement of the longstayers has been a success, and we are ahead of the schedule agreed to at the conference. The Orderly Departure Program also has been vastly expanded with good cooperation from Vietnam. Refugee screening programs are under way in each first asylum nation, representing a major new activity on behalf of Indochinese asylum seekers. And voluntary repatriation programs under the CPA have enabled close to 10,000 Lao and Vietnamese to return home.
The major unresolved issue concerns the return of nonrefugees to Vietnam. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Thorvald Stoltenberg, has held extensive negotiations with all concerned governments on this subject and has proposed an expansion of the existing UNHCR voluntary repatriation program to include those "who do not object” to returning home. At the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference in late July, Secretary Baker announced U.S. support for the High Commissioner's efforts and raised U.S. concerns with the foreign ministers of each of the first asylum countries. Moreover, the Secretary stated the willingness of the United States to join in a multilateral pledge to undertake “best efforts” to accomplish the return or resettlement of all Vietnamese asylum seekers by the end of 1992. At the conclusion of the conference, the ASEAN nations confirmed their willingness to continue to support the CPA.
HONG KONG REPATRIATION PROGRAM Recently, on September 22, the British and Vietnamese Governments, along with the UNHCR, announced an agreement on the return to Vietnam of Vietnamese in Hong Kong who have been determined not to be refugees and who do not object to their return. We expect the U.N. High Commissioner to provide the necessary safeguards to ensure that there is no force or coercion employed and that the existing system for UNHCR monitoring in Vietnam is expanded to cover all returnees.
PERSIAN GULF CRISIS Displaced persons in the Persian Gulf: The August 2 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq has generated a tremendous number of displaced persons. Exact figures are difficult to determine. However, at least 900,000 people have been forced to flee Iraq and Kuwait.
Those fleeing are generally not refugees suffering persecution but, rather, third-country nationals employed in Iraq and Kuwait. In most cases, they have escaped with few personal resources and will return home penniless.
Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other countries have undertaken impressive efforts to care for these displaced persons. Although conditions in some of the camps were initially harsh, there have been no deaths due to starvation or epidemic disease. In Jordan, the worst camps have been closed, and the residents have been moved to new camps with adequate sanitation and shelter. In Turkey, the only victims of hunger and disease are newly arrived displaced persons who developed their conditions while still in Iraq.
The international response to this emergency has grown rapidly and is now effectively meeting the challenge.
AID TO DISPLACED PERSONS
Perhaps the most critical element in this emergency is the effort to transport the displaced persons back to their home countries. Saudi Arabia and the Economic Community have assured steady movement of Egyptians through Jordan and back home. India is stepping up repatriation of its citizens. The International Organization for Migration is coordinating transportation arrangements for the other displaced persons, mostly those from South Asia. As a result of these efforts, the number of persons in Jordan has dropped to below 50,000.
The international donor community has committed over $200 million to this relief effort, including cash, aircraft, food, and other supplies. The United States has committed up to $28 million-$10 million for transportation and up to $18 million for food and other aid. The situation is stable for now. However, over 2 million foreign nationals remain in Kuwait and Iraq. If and when they make it across the borders, most will require the same short-term care and transportation assistance as those who fled before them.
Finally, I would like to mention briefly the Liberian refugee crisis which has not received adequate attention of donor nations, although it now involves more than 500,000 Liberians, over onefifth of the country's population. Since January, the United States has committed over $500 million in cash and nearly all the food that has been made available for Liberian refugees. We continue to urge other donor nations not to ignore their responsibility toward these refugees.
Mr. Chairman, I have touched on some of the more visible programs that the United States funds, but there are still millions of victims of persecution and war whose circumstances I have not had time to describe. Let me assure you that the United States remains committed to protecting and promoting their well-being no matter how long their exile. My hope is that next year we will be able to report to you a decrease in the number of refugees worldwide, as many of those now in asylum are repatriated safely to their home countries.
REFUGEE ADMISSIONS FOR 1991 Now let me turn, sir, to the President's proposal for refugee admissions in fiscal year 1991.
Historically, part of the American response to refugee situations worldwide has been to offer resettlement opportunities to a sizable number of refugees. Those who have been resettled in this country have a long tradition of bringing special talents to the American melting pot. This tradition is at the core of today's hearing on the President's proposed refugee admissions level for fiscal year 1991. The President's proposal for 131,000 worldwide refugee admissions in fiscal year 1991 includes the following regional levels: Africa, 4,900; Near East/South Asia, 6,000; East Asia, 52,000; Eastern Europe, 5,000; Soviet Union, 50,000; Latin America and the Caribbean, 3,100, for a total of 121,000.
PRIVATE SECTOR INITIATIVE In addition to the total funded admissions level of 121,000, we propose to continue the successful Private Sector Initiative Program with an authorized ceiling of 10,000, available for refugees from any region of the world. Thus, the worldwide total of the President's proposal is 131,000 persons.
Mr. Chairman, a detailed justification of each of the admissions levels has been provided in the document entitled “Proposed Admissions for Fiscal Year 1991," as submitted for the record. Ambassador Lafontant-Mankarious has included in her prepared statement, which she is not here to give, a regional description of the admissions programs we envision. I would like to review for you how we intend to fund these admissions levels.
As I have noted, the President's proposal for a worldwide admissions level of 131,000 refugees includes 10,000 admissions from any region of the world to be sponsored privately under the ongoing Private Sector Initiative Program. The Private Sector Initiative Program refugees require no Federal funding and are only admitted if the requisite private sector funding is provided. The question, therefore, with the budget process not quite completed, is how we will fund all the numbers of the remaining 121,000 ceiling.
The President's proposal for 121,000 funded refugee admissions reflects the fine tuning of the refugee admissions program that the consultations process provides; each of the regional admissions totals has been revised since earlier estimates were included in our fiscal year 1991 budget presentation. As a result of this process, the total of 121,000 funded admissions represents a net increase of 11,000 above the budget request level most of which falls within the ceiling for the Soviet Union. In fiscal year 1990, up to 8,000 Soviet refugees are being resettled through private funding by the Jewish community. We fully appreciate the magnitude of that effort and recognize that it cannot be easily be repeated in fiscal year 1991. We have, therefore, raised the funded level of Soviet refugees in fiscal year 1991 to 50,000.
The 121,000 figure is, of course, a ceiling not a quota. Nevertheless, we believe that through cost-saving measures and new approaches to financing transportation costs, funding appropriated at the President's original budget request level can finance the projected 121,000 admissions. Let me be clear, our ability to make use of these additional numbers will be dependent on: First, the appropriation of funds at the President's requested level for fiscal year 1991; second, successful participation of refugees and their sponsors in financing a portion of transportation to the United States; and, third, our ability to implement other cost-saving measures. Subject to these constraints, we are fully committed to covering the full 121,000 admissions within the authorized ceiling.