United Nations High Commission for Refugees - IDIA
PhilMUN 2010 5 Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Refugee Organization. In December of 1949, the UN established UNRWA under UN General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV), as a UN subsidiary organ. UNRWA’s mandate has been renewed every three years since 1949, and is expected to continue to be renewed pending a just settlement to the refugee problem. 14 UNRWA has been heavily involved in the health sector of refugee camps since its establishment. In schools, UNRWA instated nutritional and hygienic programs, which quickly became integral in every day school routines; these measures included hygiene inspections and serving milk. At the beginning of its establishment, UNRWA stressed that providing healthy environments could support large numbers of displaced bodies. Thus, they sponsored public health campaigns, mass immunizations, supplemental feedings at schools and UNRWA stations. UNRWA administered required childhood vaccines at schools and sprayed camps with DDT to prevent the spread of Malaria. It also used public health marketing tactics such as using colorful posters to remind people to take their children for check ups and supplemental feedings. 15 28 July 1951 - Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was a significant cornerstone in international refugee law. Designed to partly solve the problems of the many refugees that were scattered across Europe due to the Second World War, the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees clearly spelled out who is a refugee and outlines the legal protection and social rights a refugee should receive. As displacement spread around the globe, the scope of the Convention was increased from the 1967 protocol, which removed geographical and time limits. Under the convention, a refugee is defined as the following: A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of 14 “History and Establishment of UNRWA”. UNRWA. http://www.un.org/unrwa/overview/qa.html (Accessed 11/21/2009) 15 Peteet, Julie. Landscape of Hope and Despair: Palestinian Refugee Camps. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2005.
PhilMUN 2010 6 his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it. 16 The Convention requires that refugees should be guaranteed the same rights as other foreign aliens. If states are unwilling or unable to provide the necessary services to refugees, such as the provision of food, shelter, health, and education, international assistance is required. It is important to note that most of the Middle Eastern States that host the majority of Palestinian refugees are not signatories to the 1951 convention; their assistance to refugees is a matter of goodwill and international assistance is provided via the UNHCR. 17 11 December 1948 - UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) Folke Bernadotte, who was a Swedish diplomat, was unanimously chosen to be the United Nations Security Council mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict near the end of the war in 1948. In one of his progress notes, he stressed that innocent people who were uprooted from their homes by the present war have the right to return to their homes. He proposed recommendations to the UN that Palestinian refugees should be allowed to return to their homes in Jewish controlled territory as soon as possible, and that the UN should oversee their resettlement and social rehabilitation. He also proposed that the refugees who chose not to return should be adequately compensated for their property. Soon after, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 194 in which it expressed appreciation of his efforts and reinforced his recommendations. The 15 paragraph document was named “Palestine Progress Report of the United Nations Mediator” and it was a comprehensive effort to deal with the ongoing problems. The resolution established a Conciliation Commission, which assumed the responsibility of acting as mediator and assisting the governments and authorities 16 1951 Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees. UNHCR. http://www.unhcr.org/3b66c2aa10.html (accessed 10/03/2009). 17 “Palestinian Refugee Children: International Protection and Durable Solutions”. Information & Discussion Brief. Issue No. 10. Badil Resource Center. 2007. http://www.badil.org/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=7&category_id=2&v mcchk=1&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=4