The Comfort of Strangers

The Comfort of Strangers

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The Comfort of Strangers gives detailed information on the background to the Rwandan refugee problem and a vivid portrayal of the effects of the mass exodus of Rwandans into Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Zaire. The global community has, over the past eighty years, put in place an international refugee regime to regularize the status and provide for the control of stateless people ail over the world. Although host communities may initially open their doors to large numbers of people fleeing from their homelands, the long-term impact on the host countries is usually devastating and not often taken into account. This includes environmental dégradation, diminishing food security, dépréciation of the infrastructural base, pressure on the social and health sectors 3nd security risks. These Iead to sympathy fatigue and resentment. This book embodies an in-depth report made for UNCHS (Habitat) on the Rwandan refugee crisis and makes recommendations for its resolution, including compensation for host communites to enable them restore basic infrastructures and increase administrative capacity. Dr. Adisa also calls for a more efficient and humane treatment of the refugees and for their assisted resettlement.


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The Comfort of Strangers

The Impact of Rwandan Refugees in Neighbouring Countries

Jinmi Adisa
  • Publisher : Institut français de recherche en Afrique
  • Year of publication : 1995
  • Published on OpenEdition Books : 9 April 2013
  • Serie : Afriques transnationales
  • Electronic ISBN : 9791092312096

OpenEdition Books

http://books.openedition.org

Electronic reference:

ADISA, Jinmi. The Comfort of Strangers: The Impact of Rwandan Refugees in Neighbouring Countries. New edition [online]. Ibadan: Institut français de recherche en Afrique, 1995 (generated 17 December 2013). Available on the Internet: <http://books.openedition.org/ifra/554>. ISBN: 9791092312096.

Printed version:
  • ISBN : 9789782015419
  • Number of pages : xii-104

© Institut français de recherche en Afrique, 1995

Terms of use:
http://www.openedition.org/6540

The Comfort of Strangers gives detailed information on the background to the Rwandan refugee problem and a vivid portrayal of the effects of the mass exodus of Rwandans into Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Zaire. The global community has, over the past eighty years, put in place an international refugee regime to regularize the status and provide for the control of stateless people ail over the world. Although host communities may initially open their doors to large numbers of people fleeing from their homelands, the long-term impact on the host countries is usually devastating and not often taken into account. This includes environmental dégradation, diminishing food security, dépréciation of the infrastructural base, pressure on the social and health sectors 3nd security risks. These Iead to sympathy fatigue and resentment. This book embodies an in-depth report made for UNCHS (Habitat) on the Rwandan refugee crisis and makes recommendations for its resolution, including compensation for host communites to enable them restore basic infrastructures and increase administrative capacity. Dr. Adisa also calls for a more efficient and humane treatment of the refugees and for their assisted resettlement.

Table of contents
  1. List of acronyms and abbreviations

  2. Acknowledgements

  3. Preface

    Heinz Küll
  4. One

    Introduction: Global Refugee Crises

    1. 1. The Refugee Movements
    2. 2. Background to the Current Situation
    3. 3. The Current Situation
  5. Two

    Antecedents of the 1994 Refugee Movement in Rwanda

    1. 1. Root Causes of Violence
    2. 2. The Pre-colonial Period
    3. 3. Colonial Rule : The politicization of ethnicity
    4. 4. The Post-Colonial Period 1962-1994
  6. Three

    Tanzania: Rendering Difficult Service to the Wakimbizi

    1. 1. Arrival
    2. 2. Reception : Emergency needs and material assistance
    3. 3. Impact on Host Communities
    4. 4. Host State Response : Unwanted guests
    5. 5. Refugee Prospects : Repatriation or local resettlement
  1. Four

    Uganda: When Refuqees Go Home?

    1. 1. Background : The pre-exodus situation
    2. 2. Fortunes of the Rwandan Refugees
    3. 3. The Exodus and Its Impact
  2. Five

    Burundi: Multiple Traumas of an Extreme Sort

    1. 1. Rwandan Refugees in Burundi
    2. 2. Twin Dimensions : Exodus and influx
    3. 3. The Impact on Host Communities
    4. 4. Host State Response : Caging the refugees
    5. 5. Refugee Prospects
  3. Six

    Zaire: A Worse Case Scenario?

    1. 1. Introduction
    2. 2. Arrival and Reception : The volume
    3. 3. The Ravages of Disease
    4. 4. Impact on Host Communities and Host State
    5. 5. Militarization in the Camps
    6. 6. Survival Game : Implications for regional political stability
  4. Seven

    Conclusions and Recommendations

    1. 1. Introduction
    2. 2. Short-Term Requirements
    3. 4. Long-term Considerations
    4. 5. Current Efforts and Possible Remedies
    5. 6. Future Needs
  5. Bibliography

  6. Index

  7. Institut français de recherche en Afrique publications list, Ibadan

List of acronyms and abbreviations

1AICF - Action International contre la Faim / International Action against Hunger

2APROSOMA - Association pour la Promotion des Masses

3ARSOM - Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-mer

4CARE - Cooperative for American Relief Everywhere Inc.

5CARITAS - International Catholic Relief Agency

6CCM - Chama Cha Mapinduzi

7CIREFCA - International Conference on Central American Refugees

8CRS - Catholic Relief Services

9ECOSOC - United Nations Protocol on the Status of Refugees

10FAR - Forces Aimée Rwandaise

11FAZ - Forces Armée Zaïroise

12FRODEBU - Front pour la Démocratie au Burundi

13GTZ - Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit

14ICARA - International Conference on Assistance to Refugees in Africa

15IDP - internally displaced persons

16IFRC/TRC - International Federation of the Red Cross/Tanzania Red Cross

17IISS - International Institute for Strategic Studies

18INERA - The National Institute for Agronomic Studies and Research

19IRO - International Refugee Organisation

20MRNDD - Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Développement

21MSF - Médecins sans Frontières

22MSFB - Médecins sans Frontières Burundi

23NRA - National Resistance Army

24NRM - National Resistance Movement

25OAU - Organisation of African Unity

26OXFAM - Oxford Family Relief

27PRIO - International Peace Research Institute

28QIPS - quick impact projects

29RADER - Rwandan Démocratie Union

30RBA - Regional Bureau for Africa

31RDR - Rally for Return and Democracy in Rwanda

32RPF - Rwanda Patriotic Front

33SCF - Save the Children Fund

34TCRS - Tanzanian Christian Refugee Service

35UNAMIR - United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda

36UNAR - National Rwandan Union

37UNCHS - United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)

38UNDP - United Nations Development Program

39UNGA - United Nations General Assembly

40UNHCR - United Nations High Commission for Refugees

41UNICEF - United Nations International Children’s Education Fund

42UNREO - United Nations Rwanda Emergency Office

43UNRRA - United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency

44UPC - Uganda Peoples Congress

45UPDM - Ugandan Peoples Democratic Movement

46UPRONA - Union pour le Progrès National

47WFP - World Food Programme

Acknowledgements

1This book is based on the experiences of the UN missions to the Great Lakes Region of East and Central Africa in 1995. The impetus for the study began with consultations between Unit I, Technical Cooperation Division (TCD), United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS-Habitat) and the International Scientific Committee of the Urban Management Programme (UMP) / Institut Francais de Recherche en Afrique (IFRA, Ibadan, Nigeria).

2I wish to acknowledge the role of Professor Georges Hérault of IFRA, Ibadan, who was a source of inspiration, and the strong support of Mr. Heinz Kull, Officer-in-Charge, Francophone Africa, Arab States, Europe Unit I, TCD, Habitat, without whom this work could not have been completed. Mr. Kull is a remarkable man. I learnt a lot from his integrity, compassion, understanding and deep sense of humility. I also thank other members of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), particularly those in the UNEP-Habitat Relief to Development Continuum Task Force. Dr. Yinka Adebayo, the Programme Officer, Energy Unit, UNEP, Nairobi, deserves special mention for his. concern and assistance.

3Similar thanks go to the members of the International Scientific Committee of UMP/ IFRA for their moral support. In particular, I am grateful to Mr. Alioune Badiane, the Regional Coordinator, UMP, Accra ; Professor Akin Mabogunje, the Chairman of the International Scientific Committee ; Françoise Ngendahayo of UNCHS, Nairobi ; and Mr. Franz Vanderschuren of UMP, Nairobi. The work has also benefited immensely from the contributions of participants at the first Regional Bureau of Africa (RBA) / UNCHS-Habitat Consultation for UNDP Resident Representatives for African Countries in Crisis, which considered my mid-term report. I am indebted to Dr. Wally N’Dow, Assistant Secretary-General, UNCHS-Habitat ; Mr. Sukehiro Hasegawa, UNDP Resident Representative in Kigali ; Ambassador Khan, Special Representative of UN Secretary-General to Rwanda ; Mr. Victor Angelo, UNDP Resident Representative, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania ; Mr. Andres Cavalho, UNDP Resident Representative, a.i. Bujumbura, Burundi ; Ms. Tamba Mary Baldeh, Deputy UNDP Resident Representative, Kampala, Uganda ; Mr. Austin C. Amalu, Assistant Resident Representative, UNDP Kinshasa, Zaire ; Mr. Franklin Cardy, Deputy Assistant Executive Director, Environmental Management Division, UNEP ; members of the HABITAT Working Group on Rwanda : Mr. Alphonse Gombe and Mr. Kibe Muigai ; His Excellency, Mr. J. Bihozagara, the Minister of Rehabilitation and Social Integration (MINIREISO), Kigali, Rwanda ; Ms. Louise Mujijima ; Mr. E. Nsanzumuganwa, Director, Ministry for Rehabilitation and Social Integration, Rwanda ; Mr. Cyprien Gatorano, Director, Ministry of Public Works, Energy and Environment, Rwanda ; Doudou M’Bye, Chief Technical Adviser, RWA/94/010 ; Mrs. Sylvie Lacroux, Shelter and Community Services Section, Habitat ; Mrs. Axumite Gebre-Egziabher, Human Settlements Adviser, Unit II (TCD), Habitat, Mr. Anthony Edwards, Senior Advisor, UNEP, Mr. Daniel Biau, Senior Coordinator, TCD, Habitat and Ms. Sylvia Schollbrock, Programme Management Officer, TCD.

4I also wish to extend my appreciation to individuals and officials who were of help in the various working stations. In Tanzania, the list includes Mr. Swai and Mr. Chikira of the Prime Minister’s Office ; Mr. Doherty, UNHCR Representative, in Tanzania ; Mr. Lloyd Dakin, UNHCR Deputy Representative, Mr. J. Franquin, Acting Head, UNHCR sub-offlce, Ngara ; Mr. G. Garras, Protection Offïcer, UNHCR, Ngara ; Mr. J. Mutash, District Security Offïcer, Ngara ; Brigadier Sylvester Hemedi, Ngara District Commissioner, Major D.S. Kants, Assistant Commissioner, Ngara ; Mr. D. Mwaisella, Refugee Offïcer, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) ; Mr. U.E. Mwangu, MHA Representative, Benaco ; Mr. K.I. Kaganda, MHA Representative, Lukole ; Mr. A.A. Shaio, SSP, Old Ngara ; Major L.E. Naikara, Civil Defence Advisor, The Military Commander, Ngara District ; Custom Officials, Offïcer Commanding Rusumo Bridge Police Border, Ngara citizens and market vendors, the refugees in Benaco, Lumashi, Mushushura and Lukole camps ; Mr. Arelano of the World Food Programme ; Nurse Saliath, Charlene and other field officers of the International Committee of the Red Cross ; ICRC, CARE and CONCERN officiais ; Mr McGerman, UNHCR Environmental Coordinator ; Dr Thane-toe, UNHCR Senior Health Coordinator ; Ms. Zahra Mirghani, UNHCR Nutrional Coordinator ; Ms. Flora Ndolele, UNHCR administrative staff ; and my national consultant, Mr F.P. Madembwe of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dar-es-Salaam.

5Of note also are UNHCR field assistants, especially my good friends, Samuel Nziko Elisha, Msifuna Nganga, Fidelis Makonda, Daniella Ruta, Namdimbi Adweta and Christopher Namphesia. Officials of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) who assisted me with my enquiries include Ms. Eva Rudasingwa, secretariat staff, UNDP ; Mr. Rugabamo, UNDP Humanitarian Offïcer ; Mr. Stephen Ogundipe, UNVR Programme Offïcer ; Mr. Slyvester Sisila and Magnus Montelius Sibelius, environmental programme officers.

6In Uganda, particular mention must be made of Ms. Sarah Norton-Staal, UNHCR Programme Offïcer (Rwandan refugees), Kampala ; Mr. Patrick Kwame, UNHCR Programme Assistant ; Mr. Edward Bullera, Senior Assistant Secretary Refugees, Ministry of Local Government ; Ms. Mutinta Adeline Munyati, UNDP Programme Offïcer ; Margaret Birunke, Mr. E.K. Bahikayo, Camp Commandant and Camp Managers in Oruchinga and Nakivale ; Dr. Razaq Olopoenia, Department of Economies, Makerere University, Kampala ; New Vision correspondents, Hum refugees in Oruchinga, public officials in Mbarara, Ngoma and other areas and officials of the Rwanda Emergency Welfare Foundation.

7Similar thanks go to Mr. Agbenonci, Assistant Resident Representative (programmes) UNDP Bujumbura ; in Burundi : Ms. Genevieve, Head, secretariat staff UNDP, Bujumbura ; Mr. Darius Quenum, PNUD / Continuum, Social Health Worker, Burundi ; Mr. Gemmo Lodesani, Country Director, Programme. Alimentaire Mondial (WFP), Burundi ; Ms. Deborah McWhinney, Programme Coordinator, CARE, Burundi ; William Comlan, Initiative Humanitaire Africaine (IHA), Burundi ; Mr. Paul Stromberg, Public Information Unit, UNHCR, Burundi ; Ms. Salome Some, Chargé des Services Sociaux, UNHCR, Burundi ; Mr Daniel Kigali, Aménagement de Centres Urbaines, Bujumbura ; Mr. Jean Rukankama, Directeur du Cabinet, Ministère de la Réinsertion, Réinstallation des Déplaces et Rapatriés, Burundi ; Hum refugees in various camps, Edmund Munyuwisi, Conseiller au Ministère de la Réinsertion, Réinstallation des Déplaces et Rapatriés du Government du Burundi ; Marie Gabriella de Vita, Coordinateur de Programme, Fonds des Nations Unies pour l’Enfance (UNICEF) and my devoted national consultant, Charles Muvira.

8In Zaire, the list includes Chris Mbum, Esq., International Human Rights Law Group, Coordinator, Zaire Project, Avenue des Acacias Goma, Masumbuko wa Mushawa ; UNICEF Representative, Goma ; Christian Paluku, CONCERN, Goma ; CARE and MSF officials ; Administrative Director, North Kivu Province ; UNHCR officials, especially Roland Bardin and Peter Buchanan of the Logistics Section, Goma ; Godefroid, MOVCON, Goma and refugees in camps, most of whom requested that their names should not be mentioned.

9In Rwanda, I am particularly grateful for the assistance of Mr. Randolph Kent, Coordinator, Department of Humanitarian Affairs, Kigali ; Mr. Urasa, Country Representative UNHCR ; Mr. Khassime Diagne, Executive Assistant to the Country Representative ; officials of the High Commission for Human Rights, Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and the UN Emergency Relief Association. UNDP staff who were of assistance include : Mr. Cisse, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Kigali ; Mr. Patrick Lemieux, UNDP, Kigali ; Ms. Zidi Veronique and Mr. John Cleland, Security Officer, UNDP, Kigali.

10I also wish to express my gratitude to the administrative staff and my colleagues at IFRA and the University of Ibadan ; including Ms. Wunmi Segun and Mrs. De Campos of IFRA, Drs Eghosa Osaghae, Olawale Albert, Gbenga Sunmola as well as Tunde Owoola, Bola Adejugbe, Greg Dibosa, Deacon Ojuade, Reverend Alade and Mr. Gbolagade. Special thanks are due to my assistant, Wuyi Omitoogun, for his support and encouragement. I would also like to thank the translators, Pius Adesanmi, Bolima Nelson and the staff at the Alliance Francaise, Ibadan. Also, the staff of Unit I, TCD, Habitat, must be commended for their moral support, especially Mr. Kull’s secretary, Ms. Anastasia Mbova, Ms. Vesna Dzuverovic and officiais in the Administrative Section including Ms. C. Denoo, Mr. Z. Hague, Mr. Omer, OIC, Division of Administration and others.

11Above all, I thank the Almighty God for His faithfulness.

12Finally, it should be noted that any errors or shortcomings in this work are mine and I assume full responsibility for the ultimate product.

Preface

Heinz Küll

1When the "winds of change" blew over the continent of Africa at the end of the Second World War bringing with them the hope of independence, Africans became conscious of the negative legacy of the colonial era and the artificial boundaries drawn at the turn of the century, which divided Africa into arbitrary political units. The old ruling elite, often pawns of the colonial regimes, were rendered obsolete as former colonies became democratic, independent nations. This crisis in leadership has intensified in the aftermath of the Cold War, as the young polities of Africa have been shattered by the weight of communal, ethnic or religious violence. Internal conflicts instigated a pattern of civil strife and social disorder, in which civilians were often used as weapons or targets, causing large-scale displacement, domestic instability, intra-state tension and international concern.

2Nowhere in Africa is the sheer magnitude of this political strife and the resulting refugee problem more acute than in the Great Lakes Region of East and Central Africa. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have fled across the borders of Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Zaire. The largest shifts in population have been from Rwanda, where genocide has taken place on a large scale. These refugees arrive as destitute communities in host countries, which are already belaboured by developmental needs.

3The United Nations and other agencies reacted quickly to contain this situation and prevent extreme human suffering. Maintenance in enclosed camps became the norm, as the host communities eventually became hostile to the prolonged stay of the refugees. The United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), as part of their mandate, are concerned with overcoming this crisis. Our Great Lakes Project is positive evidence of the strength of this commitment. The Comfort of Strangers is a vivid portrayal of why this commitment is necessary and why Habitat cannot relent in its efforts. I recommend this book to everyone interested in the pursuit of peace and social justice in Rwanda as well as the stability of the Great Lakes Region.

Image img01.jpg

Figure 1. Map of the Great Lakes Region of East and Central Africa

One

Introduction: Global Refugee Crises

1. The Refugee Movements

1Within the last eight decades, the global community has put in place an international refugee regime1 that regularizes the status and provides for the control of stateless people ail over the world. The process has been gradual and incremental. Various conventions and treaties have been signed defining the status of refugees as a peculiar category of victims of violation of human rights with special protection, benefits and privileges.2 The United Nations Geneva Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol together define refugees as persons forced out of their country of nationality on account of a well founded fear of persecution on the basis of race, nationality, religion and membership of a particular social group or political opinion. In practice, the definition has often been expanded to include people uprooted but unable or unwilling to leave their own country, generally referred to as internally displaced people3. A significant degree of inter-governmental collaboration has been achieved on this issue ; in part, because it serves the selfish interests of various governments. The governments share a common concern that refugee flows generate domestic instability, intra-state tensions and international insecurity. They are anxious, therefore, to take advantage of the support offered by international cooperation especially as it facilitates coordination of policies and burden sharing. Yet, certain reservations continue to dictate ambivalence in the attitudes of states to refugees. The Great Powers want to limit their financial obligations, particularly for large resettlement schemes, while lesser states are wary of yielding authority to international refugee agencies or institutions that could impinge on their sovereignty.

2In spite of this, considerable progress has transpired at both the global and regional level. For example, at a summit meeting of 10 September 1969, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) adopted a convention4 urging generosity by member states toward asylum seekers. This instrument came into force five years later on June 20, now commemorated as Africa Refugee Day. After this, in May 1979, a Pan-African Conference on the Situation of Refugees was held, which was followed by two International Conferences on Assistance to Refugees in Africa (ICARA) in 1981 and 1984 respectively. Similarly, the first International Conference on Central American Refugees (CIREFCA) which met in Guatemala City in May 1989 adopted a five-year (1989-94) Concerted Plan of Action to find solutions to the problems of uprooted people in the strife-torn region.5 These various efforts consummated a historical process that had been initiated much earlier. Indeed, the responsibilities of the international refugee regime have steadily increased since the First World War, as it has been confronted with different challenges and has had to adapt to specific needs.

2. Background to the Current Situation

3Gil Loescher has identified five major periods in which the international refugee regime faced critical problems and responded to specific needs, namely : (a) the interwar period ; (b) the immediate post Second World War era ; (c) the period of expansion into the Third World during the late 1950s through to most of the 1970s ; (d) the 1980s when the regime faced long-standing refugee problems resulting from superpower involvement in regional conflicts ; and finally, (e) the current post-Cold War era, during which displacements and repatriations in situations of civil conflict have come to assume primary importance for international organizations and for governments.6

4The international refugee regime was born in the aftermath of the First World War when the dissolution of multi-ethnic empires uprooted millions of people and rendered many of them homeless.7 The bulk of displaced people were without necessary papers, national passports, identification papers or other protection and they wandered homelessly across Europe searching for refuge. The instinctive reaction of European governments was to close borders, erect protective barriers and expel them from their countries. Such reactions created large pools of refugees that compromised regional security and overwhelmed the capacity of national public, private and government agencies. The tension generated by this problem inspired Western governments in 1921 to establish the first multilateral co-ordinating mechanism, the High Commission for Refugees under Fridtjof Nansen. The High Commission was given specific responsibility for Russian and later, Greek, Turkish, Bulgarian and Armenian refugees. The mandate was extended in the 1930s by European governments to cover refugees fleeing from the disintegrating Russian and Ottoman Empires, and subsequently refugees from Germany and Austria as the Nazis took over these countries. This refugee regime operated under the aegis of the League of Nations and was carefully' circumscribed in terms of its authority and responsibility. Its mandate was deliberately narrow, as governments designated specific national groups as refugees and afforded them very limited protection. As the reputation and credibility of the League of Nations declined following the withdrawal of Japan, Germany and Italy and its failure to resolve the Ethiopian and Manchurian crises, the organization's effectiveness in coping with refugees was severely undermined. As a result, the interwar refugee regime proved unable to cope with the demands created by the Holocaust and other refugee crises of the period.

5The Second World War created another major refugee crisis affecting millions of people in Eastern and Central Europe. In response, the Four Great Powers (US, Britain, France and Russia) set up the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (UNRRA) in 1943 to promote and oversee the repatriation of displaced people under allied control.8 This was a temporary measure to resolve a complex emergency. The UNRRA was not a refugee organization per se. Indeed, following the Yalta Agreement of 1945 and Soviet pressure, the UNRRA played an active role in the forcible repatriation of large numbers of people who had legitimate grounds to fear repatriation. It was only after UNRRA was abolished in 1945, that the contemporary refugee regime began to take shape. In a bid to find concrete ways of resettling Eastern European refugees, the Western powers, in the face of Soviet opposition, set up the International Refugee Organisation (IRO) to focus on resettling the remaining refugees and those displaced by the war.9 The idea was to avert potential destabilization posed by the refugee problem and to internationalize the refugee effort by distributing costs and displaced people among the different states of Western Europe, North and South America, Australasia and certain parts of Africa. The architect of this post-war refugee regime was the United States, which underwrote two-thirds of the cost and exercised exclusive control over the leadership. The IRO was an expensive operation ; in addition, political crises in the aftermath of the war in India, Korea, China, Palestine and around the perimeters of the Iron Curtain soon created new refugees by the million. Government officials in the United States and Western countries began to perceive the refugee issue as an unending problem which should only attract limited financial commitments. There was, therefore, strong opposition to any open-ended commitment of the UN in this regard.

6The establishment of the office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1950 was influenced by this consideration and the United States and her Western Allies placed severe limitations on the scope and authority of the organization.10 The United States created two new US-led organizations : the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the US Escapee Program, both of which handled refugee problems but were outside the control of the UN. Moreover, specially created UN agencies such as the United Nations Works and Relief Agencies for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and the United Nations Korean Reconstruction Agency were created to handle refugee populations in conflict areas of strategic interest to the US. The United States gave generous financial support to these organizations which provided an excuse for not giving support to the UNHCR programme. Part of the problem was that the United States, the only nation capable of providing the political and financial resources required to enable the international refugee regime to function effectively, viewed the refugee crisis from the perspective of the Cold War. The same applied to its Western Allies. Aristide Zolberg observed :

We welcomed these people because they were victims of communism. But the fact that we welcomed them, the fact that they wanted to get out was constant evidence that communism was undesirable and that our way of life was desirable. Germany received Germans from any communist country. Obviously, it was a constant demonstration that...