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responses to these latter two organizations from both the regular Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA) appropriation
and the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) fund
have been instrumental in ameliorating their fiscal crises.
In each of these cases, the United States has vigorously pressed other donors to carry their share of these needs. New
demands on scarce resources, coupled with budgetary constraints
in all donor nations, will continue to require careful planning and the setting of priorities by both international
organizations and the governments which support their
We shall continue to build on the close working
relationships we have established with other donors and each of
the international organizations that work with refugees and conflict victims. 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 ERMA Eund, which will help all of these
In short, the refugee world
an extremely dynamic one,
with a continuous series of new challenges. We cannot always anticipate needs or predict how particular programs will develop. But the United States can and does provide
strong and constructive leadership.
Leadership comes not only
from the total amount of funds we provide annually, but as well
from the numbers of refugees we resettle.
leadership in the policy and program proposals we make to the refugee community, to refugee-hosting governments, and to other donor and resettlement nations. No other nation monitors world situations with the expertise and steadfastness that we bring
to refugee and conflict victim issues.
I would like now to turn to four regional situations which
are currently receiving priority attention.
Soviet Refugee Admissions
Mr. Chairman, rarely does the State Department have an
opportunity to announce a plan of action to resolve a major
problem and return only twelve months later able to report a
I am proud to say that this is the case
with regard to Soviet refugees.
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
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 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
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
This new system has proven so successful
that we are now considering it as a model for other types of
Plan of Action (CPA) 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
provision that all arriving Vietnamese boat people are to be
offered first asylum. Other items of concern with regard to
the CPA include:
conditions in camps in Hong Kong, the
relatively slow pace of screening; and the need for the quick and effective operation of committees in each first asylum
country to provide special attention to unaccompanied minors.
At the same time, however, there has been progress in
several key areas of the CPA.
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, in
particular in the implementation of last summer's agreement for
the resettlement of former reeducation center detainees.
Refugee screening programs are underway in each first asylum
nation, too, representing a major new activity on behalf of
Indochinese asylum seekers.
And, voluntary repatriation
programs under the CPA have enabled over 4,000 Vietnamese and
nearly 2,000 Lao to return to their homes.
The major unresolved issue concerns the return of
non-refugees 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
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.
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
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