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The global refugee situation remains very serious despite several important successes in recent years. In fact, in some respects, the world refugee situation has worsened.
last decade, the refugee population has doubled from approximately 7 million to an estimated 15 million. Today, conflicts in West Africa and on the Horn of Africa, sporadic fighting in Afghanistan, and the continuing plight of the Cambodians, compel the United States to maintain its leadership role in protecting and assisting the world's refugees.
Today's hearing is a culmination of an ongoing, year-long process involving Members of Congress, representatives of state and local governments and voluntary agencies. It is also an excellent opportunity for the Administration to provide the Congress with an overview of U.S. refugee policy and programs, as well as the President's refugee admissions proposal for fiscal year 1991.
In preparation for these hearings, I, along with other officials of the Administration, have had periodic discussions with Members and staff of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees as well as other interested Congressional committees. In addition, I chair a weekly meeting with
representatives from the Departments of State, Justice and
Health and Human Services, the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Council. When appropriate, a Policy Coordinating Committee on refugees meets to ensure that policy and program issues requiring interagency attention, including those that concern refugee admissions, receive prompt and systematic consideration.
As U.S. Coordinator for Refugee Affairs, I am fully aware of the importance of cooperation and communication between the Departments of State and Health and Human Services on refugee admissions planning and on budgets. The Coordinator's office, the Department of State's Bureau for Refugee Programs, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS all closely monitor domestic resettlement programs. Consultations are also held
with representatives of state and local governments, public interest groups, private voluntary organizations and other organizations concerned with refugees.
The Administration is committed to strengthening and implementing an effective U.S. refugee admissions and assistance policy consistent with domestic and international concerns within a humanitarian framework. As I'm sure the Committee is aware, the enormous task of balancing these concerns has become increasingly difficult in recent years because of the growing number of refugees and constrained budgets.
Nevertheless, the United States continues to admit generous numbers of refugees to our country. At the same time,
the U.S. contributes to life-saving assistance programs which impact on millions of the world's refugees who are not candidates for resettlement but instead are hopeful of being able to resettle in place or return to their home countries.
Before providing an overview of some of the major refugee situations and the correlation between these concerns and our admissions policy, I would like first to review the three main pillars of U.S. refugee policy of which I am especially proud, as they are the manifestation of our nation's traditional humanitarian concern and assistance.
Ensuring that first asylum, protection and relief assistance are provided to the world's 15 million refugees, wherever they may be, is one of the most important facets of U.S. refugee policy. As the world's leading contributor to international refugee assistance programs, the United States has helped establish and consistently supports the international network of organizations that assist and care for refugees around the world. Working with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA), the U.N. Border Relief Operation (UNBRO), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and other organizations, the United States makes every effort to ensure that the needs of the world's refugees and displaced persons are provided for.
In this regard, the U.S. response to the needs of refugees in Jordan and Turkey has been swift and substantial.
working closely with other governments, the United Nations and international humanitarian agencies to coordinate humanitarian assistance efforts as effectively and quickly as possible.
Another important aspect of U.S. refugee policy is resettlement. Although the United States supports voluntary repatriation when conditions permit, we also assist in facilitating local resettlement in countries of asylum. When neither of these solutions is available and resettlement in the United States is the only viable alternative, we admit refugees who are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. Offering U.S. resettlement to those who have no other options also strengthens our ability to obtain commitments from other countries to provide first asylum this is especially true in Southeast Asia.
The third pillar of U.S. refugee policy concerns the need to tackle the root causes of refugee flows. We have actively sought to strengthen international law and human rights against the expulsion or mistreatment of a country's own citizens. United States has consistently stressed the responsibility and obligations of the countries of origin to avert new flows of refugees by adhering to the fundamental principles of human rights.
Ten years ago, the Refugee Act of 1980 was enacted to establish a more uniform and equitable basis for refugee admissions to the United States. The Act set forth the procedure for formal Congressional consultations and specified the type of information annually required by Congress. This information has been prepared for you in our Report to the Congress on Proposed Refugee Admissions for Fiscal Year 1991.
FY 1991 Admissions Proposals
For the worldwide admissions ceiling for FY91, President Bush is proposing a level of 131,000 refugees, within which 121,000 are allocated under regional ceilings and are eligible for assistance from federally-funded programs. In addition, an unallocated reserve of 10,000 is proposed for additional refugee admissions needs contingent upon the availability of private sector funding. The regional allocations for the 121,000 funded admissions are as follows: 4,900 for Africa; 52,000 for East Asia including Amerasian immigrants; 50,000 for the Soviet Union; 5,000 for Eastern Europe; 6,000 for the Near East and South Asia; and 3,100 for Latin America and the
FY 1991 Admissions Program Funding
The recommended level of admissions is higher than the 110,000 admissions assumed in the Departments of State and Health and