If budget shortfall persists, UN refugee agency set to lay off staff, cut programmes
"If donors cannot provide funding for a budget that 57 governments approve in advance each year in our annual Executive Committee meeting, then UNHCR is left with no choice but to make reductions using a system of clearly established priorities," Ron Redmond told the press. "Like anyone, UNHCR has to set a realistic budget and live within its means."
The organization is facing a gap between its approved budget of $954.7 million and its projected income of around $810 million, a disparity which UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers says "cannot continue."
Since early February, UNHCR has been trying to set priorities by defining its core activities, applying that definition to its operations to identify possible cost savings, and taking a longer-term look at fundraising to ensure adequate support through a broader, more stable funding base.
According to Mr. Redmond, staff cuts will be among the measures taken. "No matter how necessary and urgent, this is an extremely painful thing to do," he said. "It will affect refugees and it will cause anguish for dedicated staff members who are already making enormous sacrifices."
UNHCR's Human Resources Service is developing an approach that will allow staff reductions to be implemented "with as little hardship as possible," the spokesman said.