Nicaraguan Resistance

Programs for Repatriation and Resettlement Gao ID: NSIAD-91-234 July 25, 1991

Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed whether the U.S.-funded United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Organization of American States (OAS) programs provided former resistance combatants and dependents in Honduras and Nicaragua with adequate food, medical care, and repatriation assistance to help them achieve self-sufficiency.

GAO found that: (1) although the UNHCR repatriation program began later and proceeded more slowly than expected, the program successfully repatriated all the demobilized combatants and dependents from Honduras who chose to be repatriated; (2) although some reports indicated that UNHCR beneficiaries were malnourished, independent experts concluded that their condition was similar to that of the general populations of Honduras and Nicaragua; (3) UNHCR provided adequate health care services to about 2,500 former combatants and dependents living in former military camps, including a large number of children, pregnant women, and war wounded, and improved pre-existing sanitation problems that contributed to high death rates among infants and children; (4) the United States approved an OAS resettlement program extension through July 31, 1991 and increased funding to $38.79 million because most former combatants did not achieve self-sufficiency within the original time frame; (5) to ensure that U.S. objectives are achieved, the United States established an interagency steering committee to fund, coordinate, and oversee UNHCR and OAS program activities; (6) due to delays in combatant demobilizations and the Nicaraguan government's inability to expeditiously provide promised land, many resistance members did not achieve self-sufficiency; and (7) OAS estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 former combatants and their families would still need assistance after the extension ends.

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