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close this bookResettlement of Displaced Population - 1st Edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1995, 60 p.)
close this folderPart 5: Program strategies to aid resettlement & recovery
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentLand based strategies
View the documentAssistance directed to families
View the documentAssistance directed to systems and groups
View the documentCASE STUDY: Options for assistance for Cambodian returnees

CASE STUDY: Options for assistance for Cambodian returnees

Case Study Options for Assistance for Cambodian Returnees

Source: Robinson, Court, "Something Like Home Again", Immigration and Refugee Services of America, 1994.


In October of 1991, four contending factions in Cambodia's 13 year civil war agreed to a peace plan that put the country into UN hands until elections to be held in 1993. During the interim period, 385,045 refugees returned to Cambodia from Thailand, more than 330,000 of them assisted by UNHCR. Although UNHCR initially sought to allocate two hectares of land for each family, it soon became apparent that this quantity of arable and unmined land was not available. In October of 1992, UNHCR offered a choice of the following assistance packages to the returnees:

Option A: Agricultural Land. Included up to 2 hectares, including a housing plot, wood for house frame construction, US $25 to buy thatch and bamboo, a household/agricultural kit (including water buckets, mosquito nets, various handtools, and a blue plastic sheet), and food provided by WFP for 400 days.

Option B: House. Included a plot of land for a house, wood for construction of a house frame, $25 to buy thatch and bamboo, a household/agricultural kit, and food for 400 days. (This was reduced to 200 days in all options if a returnee chose to settle in the Phnom Penh area.)

Option C: Cash. Included reintegration money of $50 per adult and $25 per child under 12, a household/agricultural kit and food for 400 days.

Option D: Income Generating Tools. This option was considered but had to be canceled due to complications, but was to feature non-agricultural employment, and a tool kit (possible options included carpentry or electrician's tools, auto repair kits, bicycle-repair kits and sewing kits).

Option E: Employment. Returnees who were offered jobs with UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) or other organizations in Cambodia would receive reintegration money (as in Option C) and food for 400 days but no household/agricultural kit.

Option F: Family Reunion. This option was intended for families of soldiers or Option E returnees and included money and food as for Option C.

Option G: Spontaneous Returns. Refugees who chose to go back on their own and registered with UN camp officers before their departure would be eligible for 400 days of food in Cambodia.

The most controversial option, Option C: Cash, turned out to be the choice for more than 85% of returnees and allowed them the mobility to find relatives once in Cambodia. About 6.7% choose the Option B: House, 2.8% choose Option A: Land, and small fractions chose Options E and F.

QIPs: An Area Development Program called CARERE combines UN agency funds with government donations to target Cambodian communities for QIPs in 10 different sectors, such as transport, water, health/nutrition, education and crop production. UNHCR had managed $2.2 million in QIPs until July of 1993 when UNDP assumed the lead role in funding and coordination. The budget for QIPs in Cambodia for 1994 was over $12 million and was anticipated to be $25 million in 1995.