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UN refugee agency receives record pledge levels

UN refugee agency receives record pledge levels

Funds in 2003 will go to help Afghan returnees
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has received an unprecedented $317 million in pledges for 2003, nearly one-third of its projected needs for next year.

The pledges, made in response to the 2003 Global Appeal for the agency’s overall projected requirements of around $1 billion, are seen as a “good early sign” of donor support. The bulk of the newly promised funds will go to Africa and Afghanistan.

“The initial pledges are higher than ever and they are generally more flexible,” said UNHCR’s Director of Communications, Anne Willem Bijleveld. “We are particularly pleased to see a widening of our traditional donor base, with contributions announced for the first time by some Central European Countries.”

UNHCR’s 2003 funding appeal includes the agency’s $836.3 million annual budget, as well as a number of supplementary programmes covering a variety of humanitarian needs. Africa is slated to receive the largest portion of next year’s budget – $325 million, with $112.8 million going to the eastern part of the continent and the Horn of Africa, $84.8 million for West Africa, $82.5 million for the Great Lakes region and $38 million for southern Africa.

Despite the increased pledge level for 2003, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers added that the agency still faced a shortfall of about $25 million for this year. “There is an urgent need to receive this amount,” he said.