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OCTOBER 3, 1990

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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 current situations in the Persian Gulf and Liberia.

Finally, I

will summarize the proposed admissions levels for refugees for the coming fiscal year.

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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 end. 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. The 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 returned home from Honduras. And we are in the midst of the repatriation of thousands of Nicaraguans to their home country following the democratic election in February and the establishment of the Chamorro government. Approximately 12,500 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 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 Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International 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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