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UNITED
NATIONS

Distr.
GENERAL
A/AC.96/SR.561
30 October 2002

ENGLISH
Original: FRENCH

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE PROGRAMME OF THE

UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES

Fifty-third session

SUMMARY RECORD OF THE 561st MEETING

Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,

on Monday, 30 September 2002, at 10 a.m.

Temporary Chairman: Mr. MOLANDER (Sweden)

Chairman : Mr. YIMER (Ethiopia)

CONTENTS


OPENING OF THE SESSION

STATEMENT BY THE OUTGOING CHAIRMAN

ELECTION OF OFFICERS

STATEMENT BY THE CHAIRMAN

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS

PRESENTATION BY THE HIGH COMMISSIONER

GUEST SPEAKERS

GENERAL DEBATE



The meeting was called to order at 10.20 a.m.

/...

GUEST SPEAKERS (agenda item 5)

34. Mr. MOUSSA (Secretary-General of the League of Arab States) said that the League of Arab States maintained close links with UNHCR and that the Arab world was very concerned by the situation of refugees, particularly Palestinian refugees. Some Arab countries were magnets or countries of asylum for refugees, and that placed a heavy economic, social and financial burden on them, particularly if they were developing countries. UNHCR played an essential role in protecting refugees and striving to alleviate their suffering, especially in the current international climate characterized by instability and insecurity. It was to be observed that policies of reprisal were being adopted as a backdrop to the theory of the clash of civilizations, and that people had been incited to hate Muslims, thereby exacerbating migratory flows and the suffering of refugees and asylum-seekers, some of whom had been humiliated after being likened to terrorists.

35. UNHCR’s responsibilities were now heavier than ever, whereas 50 years previously the international community had considered the Office as something of a makeshift arrangement. UNHCR had to work in increasingly difficult conditions with inadequate resources. Refugee problems were essentially rooted in a lack of hope in the future. That was especially true in the Middle East and Africa, where the situation would not improve until economic and social problems had been resolved in a just and equitable manner and appropriate political solutions had been found.

36. In Palestine, the murder of Palestinian refugees was a humanitarian and a political issue. It was important to resolve the problem of the Palestinian refugees to guarantee peace and stability not only in the Middle East, but throughout the world. The most recent Arab Summit held in Beirut in March 2002 had demanded that a just solution should be found in conformity with General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948. Since 1987, the Executive Committee had adopted recommendations in support of the rights of Palestinians and refugees. And the Security Council had dealt quite recently with the question of the regular attacks on Palestinian refugee camps. UNHCR had a role to play in ensuring the security of all refugees. The option envisaged by the international community, namely, the creation of a Palestinian state, should make it possible to give Palestinians the protection and the framework they needed to exercise their rights under various international instruments, for example the right to live in peace and without foreign o ccupation, the right of return and the right to compensation in accordance with the resolutions of international bodies. Financial support should continue to be made available to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Consultations should be held with that body to ensure the protection of the Palestinian refugees. The League of Arab States also urged UNHCR to pursue its efforts to adopt its 1982 recommendation on the protection of refugee camps.

37. The League of Arab States hoped that UNHCR would take advantage of its contacts with bodies established under appropriate human rights instruments in order to address the situation of Palestinian refugees and their sufferings and to ask for the necessary protection in accordance with international principles. It also hoped the UNHCR would make full use of its experience to enable Palestinian refugees to exercise their right of return as soon as a durable solution had been found.

/...


The meeting rose at 1.10 p.m.

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