Montana Model United Nations 2001
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General Assembly - Plenary


Rights of Refugees

Often times there arises a situation where many individuals are displaced due to civil unrest. It is this bodies responsibility to ensure the rights of these individuals that have no home.


Rwanda, Israel/Palestine, and Yugoslavia are just a few of the recent conflicts that have caused the forced displacement of refugees. It is the responsibility of all in this body to help ensure protection of all rights for all persons. "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere (MLK, Jr.)", and so it is time to take action and solve the dilemma of rights for refugees

History Highlights

December 14, 1950 - Established by the U.N. General assembly and began its work on January 1, the following year. The agency helps the world's uprooted peoples by providing them with basic necessities such as shelter, food, water and medicine in emergencies and seeking long term solutions, including voluntary return to their homes or beginning afresh in new countries. In more than five decades, the agency has helped an estimated 50 million people restart their lives.

Today, a staff of around 5,000 people in more than 120 countries continues to help an estimated 22 million people.


At the start of the year 2001 the number of people of concern to UNHCR was 21.8 million. They included 12 million refugees (55%), 0.9 million asylum seekers (4%), 0.8 million returned refugees (4%), 6 million internally displaced of concern to UNHCR (27%), 0.4 million returned IDPs (2%) and 1.7 million others of concern (8%).

The global refugee population increased by 4% during 2000 to 12 million.

At the end of 2000, Asia hosted the largest refugee population (44.6%), followed by Africa (30%), Europe (19.3%) North America (5.2%), Oceania (0.6%) and Latin America and the Caribbean (0.3%).

When all persons of concern to UNHCR are included, Asia hosted 38.8%, Africa 27.9%, Europe 25.6%, North America 4.8%, Latin America and the Caribbean 2.6%

During 2000 almost 800,000 refugees returned to their home country, 50% less than in 1999 when 1.6 million refugees, including 800,000 Kosovars had repatriated. Almost 100,000 refugees were resettled in 2000 from first asylum countries, including almost 40,000 refugees assisted by UNHCR. This was a 32% agency increase compared to 1999.

Generally, 50% of the population of concern to UNHCR are females. In the category aged 60 and over, the proportion of females is 55%, reflecting their longer life expectancy.

An estimated 45% of the population for which information was available were aged below 18, and 14% below the age of five. Some 10% were aged 60 years and over.

The number of asylum applications submitted in 38, mostly industrialized, countries fell from 657,700 in 1999 to 645,800 in 2000, a 2% decrease. Twelve percent of asylum decisions taken during 2000 resulted in refugee status, while another 9% resulted in a permission to stay on humanitarian grounds.

Compared to the size of the national population, the main refugee hosting countries during 2000 were Armenia, with 80 refugees per 1,000 inhabitants, followed by Guinea (59 per 1,000) Yugoslavia (46 per 1,000) and Congo (43 per 1,000).


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