Draft OIC Statement on the Issue of Muslim Refugees and Displaced Persons at the 53rd Session of the ExCom of the UNHCR :

OIC Statement on the Issue of Muslim Refugees and Displaced Persons at the 53rd Session of the Executive Committee of the UNHCR

Geneva, 30 September – 4 October 2002

There are more than 7 million refugees in the world who are either Muslims or being sheltered by the Islamic countries. Large number of refugees are currently being looked after by Iran, Jordan, Pakistan, Uganda, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Indonesia, Sudan, Albania, Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Kazakhstan, Togo, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad, Cameroon, Brundi, Benin, Algeria.

The flow of resources towards the politically important countries where the donors have strong political or strategic interests is a matter of concern for OIC. We need to evolve and follow an objective criteria for sustained allocation of funds to the refugee situations in various parts of the world. The High Commissioner for Refugees should ensure equitable distribution of funds. UNHCR should elaborate and implement, in cooperation with the international community strategies for durable solutions aimed at improving living conditions of refugees and IDPs.

The protection and assistance to refugees are international responsibilities. An equity among nations is pivotal in managing this responsibility in unity. The specific targeting of Islamic countries for this purpose would be discriminating considering the fact that the developed countries contributions are not commensurate with their economic strength and capability as well.

The Islamic countries have made significant financial contribution towards number of refugee situations in the world through bilateral channels which is often ignored. Some Islamic countries by hosting large refugee populations are already making an important contribution to protection of refugees which should be properly assessed/quantified and be equated with the contributions of the cash donors. The developed countries are requested to extend generous financial support in the spirit of international responsibility and burden-sharing. The donors should also consider extending larger unearmarked contribution for UNHCR Programme and Budget.

Even though the UNHCR is not mandated to look after the Palestine refugees it is pertinent to refer to the extreme difficulties and plight of the Palestinian refugees. The Israeli occupation and the brutal attacks on Palestinian refugee camps in the recent past warrant international attention and generous humanitarian assistance. The issue of their return to their homeland is not only a pivotal importance in peace in the Middle East but is also one of the oldest and serious humanitarian issue of the last 50 years.

The voluntary repatriation of Afghan refugees has taken place at an unexpected pace. However, it has also raised difficulties for the UNHCR, Afghanistan and the refugees themselves. Inadequate financial support for the refugees has forced the UNHCR to cut off serveral articles from the refugees return kit. The World Food Programme has to cut its return ration for the refugees by 50%. Given the scale of devastation in Afghanistan as a result of 23 years of war and drought any reduction in the humanitarian assistance can be a source of great difficulties for these hopeless people. It is equally important to ensure that the pledges and commitments of financial support for the reconstruction of Afghanistan are fully and urgently realized. The Government in Afghanistan is faced with an enormous challenge to integrate millions of returnees. These people need accommodation, social services, water and some means of earning their livelihood. The results of the monumental international effort to eradicate terrorism and bringing peace in Afghanistan can be jeopardized as a result of international community’s failure to fulfil its pledges and financial commitments for the reconstruction and economic rehabilitation of Afghanistan.