Question of Palestine home
1 January 2000
Supplement No. 12 (A/55/12)
REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS HIGH
COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES, 1999
F. Regional developments in Central Asia, South-West Asia, North Africa and the Middle East
101. UNHCR protected and assisted some 132,000 refugees in the Middle East in 1999. For the most part, the refugees in the region live in urban settings, although there are also camp based refugee populations in Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic and Saudi Arabia. During 1999, UNHCR made a major effort to strengthen its refugee status determination and resettlement processing capacities in the region. This resulted in enhanced protection, more opportunities for durable solutions for eligible refugees and reduced the frequency of irregular movements of asylum-seekers in the region. As a result, in 1999 nearly 5,500 refugees were resettled in third countries from the Middle East and some 17,000 refugees returned home. In addition, UNHCR continued to develop and broaden its relationship with Governments, universities, foundations, national NGOs and other institutions, with a view to promoting refugee law, supporting accession to the 1951 Convention and strengthening national institutions to more effectively manage the protection and assistance of asylum-seekers and refugees in the region.
Programme themes and priorities
A. Refugee women
103. In the various regions, four Senior Regional Advisors for Refugee Women were put in place to coordinate the implementation of region specific strategies to promote gender equality and the advancement of refugee women. In Africa these activities included a project to prevent and respond to sexual and gender based violence targeting five sub-Saharan countries, reproductive rights awareness training campaigns to eliminate harmful traditional practices and gender sensitive mine awareness training. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, strategic frameworks for gender mainstreaming and gender sensitive performance indicators were developed. In addition, income-generation for urban refugee women took place and rights awareness seminars on issues such as domestic violence and human rights were held. In Mexico, migratory documents were provided to both women and men refugees and legislative reforms relating land ownership by women refugees was adopted. In the Middle East, health programmes for women, education for girls, rights awareness training and microcredit schemes for women remained priorities.