Yearbook of the United Nations, 2009. Part 3, Economic and social questions. Chapter 12, Refugees and displaced persons
In 2009, the number of people of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) increased to 36.5 million (from 34.4 million in 2008), including 10.4 million refugees, 5.5 million of whom were living in a protracted situation. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a result of conflict reached an estimated 27.1 million, with an unprecedented 15.6 million of them receiving UNHCR protection and assistance. The latter figure constituted an increase of more than 1.2 million compared to the 2008 total of 14.4 million. The number of stateless persons identified by UNHCR remained at 6.6 million, although the actual number was estimated to be closer to 12 million. Humanitarian crises and political tensions not only uprooted millions, but also prevented the return of refugees and IDPs. Consequently, the number of returned refugees (251,000) in 2009 was the lowest in two decades. In contrast, the number of returned IDPs (2.2 million) was the highest in more than a decade. There were more than 922,000 claims for asylum or refugee status submitted to Governments or UNHCR offices in 159 countries or territories, representing a 5 per cent increase over the previous year (875,300). UNHCR exercised its protection mandate effectively in some regions, but it was hampered by constraints in others. Strife in the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and the Sudan caused massive internal displacement and drove hundreds of thousands of refugees into neighbouring States. The crisis in Somalia alone produced 1.5 million IDPs and caused 560,000 persons to seek refuge in other countries. In response to those and other emergencies in Africa, UNHCR was present in 33 countries. On a positive note, UNHCR began reviewing the situation of refugees from Angola, Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda with a view to closing those chapters of displacement. The General Assembly took action on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa through resolution 64/129, adopted in December. In response to the high rate of displacement in Colombia, UNHCR supported the Government in narrowing protection gaps, focusing on local-level implementation of policies supporting the rights of IDPs. Following the movement of some 3 million people in Pakistan during the year, UNHCR mounted an emergency response focusing on the establishment of camps, registration, the distribution of non-food items and protection monitoring. UNHCR confronted the humanitarian situation faced by persons of concern in Iraq by expanding its field presence and accessing most areas through national staff. In Yemen, where conflict led to the displacement of 250,000 people, UNHCR responded by setting up an emergency coordination system. In Europe, where nearly 80 per cent of asylum applications in the industrialized world were received, UNHCR worked in 48 countries and territories. In its pursuit of durable solutions in all regions, UNHCR supported initiatives for resettlement and voluntary repatriation. The Office also facilitated local integration by implementing shelter, livelihoods, income-generation and community development programmes to benefit former refugees. In response to shrinking humanitarian space, increased pressure on asylum space in more prosperous States, a surge of refoulement and a spate of involuntary returns, UNHCR worked to narrow the gap between law and practice in the area of refugee protection. To ensure that refugees and asylum-seekers received documentation in a timely manner, the Office worked with Governments on strengthening refugee status determination procedures. UNHCR, as well as the Assembly through resolution 64/127, also encouraged States to work with the United Nations in identifying stateless populations on their territories and review their legislation with a view to eliminating gaps that could cause or perpetuate statelessness. With regard to structural and management change, UNHCR reform focused on regionalization and decentralization, human resources and organizational development. Five key initiatives were implemented in the area of results-based management: the results framework; the results-based management systems tool, Focus; the global needs assessment; the revised budget structure; and the global management accountability framework. UNHCR also undertook initiatives aimed at enhancing staff safety and security, including establishing a high-level Security Steering Committee under the chairmanship of the High Commissioner to conduct regular reviews of high-risk operations in critical locations. International financial support for UNHCR's activities in 2009 was unprecedented, with income exceeding $1.7 billion including, for the first time, more than $50 million from the private sector. In September, UNHCR issued a new urban refugee policy, and, in that context, the third High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges (Geneva, 8–10 December) focused on “Challenges for Persons of Concern in Urban Settings”. In December, the Executive Committee adopted a conclusion on protracted refugee situations and a decision endorsing revised Financial Rules for Voluntary Funds Administered by the High Commissioner for Refugees.
Yearbook of the United Nations, 2009. v. 63; Vol. 63
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