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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. 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
activities. 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 fund, which will help all of these refugee organizations.
In short, the refugee world is an extremely dynamic one, with a continuous series of new challenges. We cannot always
from the total amount of funds we provide annually, but as well from the numbers of refugees we resettle. We demonstrate 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.
II. Regional Developments
A. 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 resounding success. 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 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 now considering it as a model for other types of visa processing.
B. Indochinese Refugees
characterized the Vietnamese refugee problem last year as long-standing and extraordinarily complex. It is no less so now than then. However, we still believe that the Comprehensive 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 our opposition to forced repatriation of Vietnamese.
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
Malaysia's failure to abide by the CPA's
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 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.
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