Yearbook of the United Nations, 2008. Part 3, Economic and social questions. Chapter 12, Refugees and displaced persons
In 2008, there were 34.4 million people of concern to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), including 10.5 million refugees. The number of identified stateless persons stood at 6.6 million and the number of stateless persons worldwide was estimated at 12 million. The number of people displaced remained high, at an estimated 26 million, with 14.4 million benefiting from UNHCR protection assistance. The latter figure constituted an increase of more than 600,000 compared to the previous year. More than 1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) were able to go back to their places of origin, and more than 600,000 refugees were able to return to their homes. During the year, UNHCR exercised its protection mandate more effectively in relation to statelessness, and progress was made in that area, with encouraging developments taking place in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates. UNHCR helped more than 150,000 refugees in Central Africa and the Great Lake region find a durable solution through voluntary repatriation and reintegration in their home countries, including 40,000 refugees who repatriated to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), 95,000 to Burundi and some 8,600 to Rwanda. UNHCR provided international protection and material assistance to some 676,000 refugees, of whom 68,300 were Congolese in camps in Burundi, Rwanda and the United Republic of Tanzania. The Office also protected and assisted 2,700 Burundians in Rwanda, 112,000 Angolans in the DRC, more than 8,500 refugees from Chad, the Sudan and the DRC in the Central African Republic (CAR) and some 81,000 refugees in Cameroon, of whom almost 63,000 were from the car. UNHCR led the efforts of the protection cluster to improve the safety and security of IDPs in the car and the DRC. The volatile situations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, ongoing conflicts in the Darfur region of the Sudan and Colombia, and violence in Georgia, the DRC and Somalia continued to generate forced movements within and across borders. The continued conflict in Somalia caused massive displacement of populations, and the IDP population rose from 450,000 to approximately 1.1 million people. Clashes in Ethiopia's Ogaden region triggered the internal displacement of thousands of Ethiopians; there were some 200,000 conflict-induced IDPs, living mainly in Somali, Oromiya, Gambella and Tigray regional states. In Kenya, post-election violence that erupted in late 2007 led to the displacement of between 350,000 and 500,000 people to camps and host communities, especially in the Rift Valley. Fighting between Government forces and irregular armed groups severely affected civilians in the north of the car, and the number of IDPs rose to 197,000. The total number of Central African refugees stood at 104,000. The situation in eastern Chad worsened markedly along the volatile border with Darfur. Cross-border movements of armed groups, militia clashes, acts of banditry and general impunity affected the safety and security of 250,000 refugees from Darfur, 186,000 Chadian IDPs and the host communities. South Africa was hit by a wave of unprecedented xenophobic violence targeting Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals, which displaced up to 100,000 people. Despite States' obligations to extend cooperation under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees [YUN 1951, p. 520], the Office was often denied access to detention centres to determine international protection needs. UNHCR also continued to face challenges in all aspects of beneficiary and staff safety. In October, the Executive Committee adopted general conclusions on international protection, which called upon States to scrupulously respect the principle of non-refoulement. It also called on States to take steps to prevent acts of violence against refugees and other persons of concern. In January, the African Union (au) Executive Council adopted two decisions on the situation of refugees, returnees and IDPs in Africa. The Council called upon the international community to redouble its assistance to victims of forced displacement in Africa. In December, the General Assembly adopted resolution 63/149 on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa. The Assembly emphasized that States had the primary responsibility for the protection of, and assistance to, refugees on their territory. The Assembly also emphasized the need to redouble efforts to develop and implement comprehensive durable solution strategies, in cooperation with the international community.
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2008. v. 62; Vol. 62
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