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OCTOBER 3, 1990

Check against Delivery

Embargoed before Delivery

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

I am here today to discuss the global refugee situation and

to present the President's proposed refugee admissions levels

for Fiscal Year 1991.

I would like to begin with a brief

discussion of the trends in refugee affairs over the past year. I will then turn to some specific areas of concern, including the U.S. response to Soviet emigration, the

Comprehensive Plan of Action for Indochinese refugees, and the

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The ideal solution for any refugee situation is that the

conditions which caused the refugees to flee be brought to an


The opportunity to reconstruct a life in one's homeland,

with one's own language and culture, is a far more humane

solution than to become an outsider in a foreign land.


enormous changes in world politics since we consulted on

refugee concerns one year ago have had a significant impact on this potential for voluntary repatriation of refugees.

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The warming of relations between the superpowers has meant that many regional conflicts may be on the road to resolution.

The progress in Afghanistan and Cambodia offers the possibility that refugees created by those conflicts may have the opportunity to return in safety and in dignity to their homes

in the not too distant future. Repatriation programs have been planned for each, and have begun to be implemented for the


There have also been major repatriation efforts over the past year in Central America for Salvadorans and Nicaraguans.

By March of this year, more than 11,000 Salvadorans had

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Nicaraguan refugees from both Honduras and Costa Rica as well

as more than 8,000 Nicaraguans previously associated with the

resistance in Honduras have returned home.

While the pace of

the returns is affected by the absorptive capacity of these

countries, we are especially gratified that more than 30,000

Central Americans are now back in their home countries.

And in Africa, some 43,000 Namibians have returned home

after long years in exile to help launch the world's newest

independent state.

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Another major political change since last year has been the

spread of democracy and freedom of expression in Eastern Europe

and the Soviet Union.

While this, too, may lead to large

repatriations, especially to East European nations, the rapid

change in governments has also unleashed long repressed ethnic

tensions in those regions.

The fear of ethnic strife, plus a

legacy of official persecution, particularly in the Soviet

Union, has prompted many Jews, Evangelical Christians, and other religious and ethnic minorities there to seize the

opportunity to emigrate.

This has presented us with some major

challenges in our resettlement program, to which I will refer

in a moment.

For the majority of the world's 15 million refugees,

however, repatriation is not a viable option.

Mr. Chairman,

over the past year you and your colleagues in the Congress have

paid particular attention to the needs of these refugees. Integration and acceptance by the country of asylum is

available only to a limited number of these refugees.


resettlement to a third country is available to even fewer.

Many refugees who will not be resettled or repatriated have

been in asylum for an extended period of time. They need food, water, shelter, the provision of sanitation facilities, and medical care. They also need international organizations to

monitor their protection.

As refugees wait for political and

social conditions to enable them to return home, the

international community must be prepared to provide the

resources necessary to sustain them.

A major thrust of Congressional attention to refugee

affairs worldwide this year has been the dire financial straits

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of the international organizations which assist refugees and

conflict victims.

Severe fiscal crises have resulted from a

rapid growth in the 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

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Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). A consensus has been

reached, however, on the UNHCR 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.

Smaller but serious financial difficulties have threatened

programs of the U.N. Border Relief Operation on the

Thai-Cambodian border (UNBRO) and the U.N. Relief and Works

Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).


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