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REFUGEE ADMISSIONS FOR FISCAL YEAR 1991
THE HONORABLE LAWRENCE S. EAGLEBURGER
DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
UNITED STATES SENATE
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
of the international organizations which assist refugees and
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
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).