UN refugee agency seeks over $1 billion to aid 21 million people in 2007
The United Nations refugee agency today sought $1.06 billion, a slight decrease over this year’s initial global appeal, to assist some 21 million people around the world in 2007, but it expects to issue a number of supplementary appeals during the year, including for Iraq and south Sudan.
“A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money but it is equivalent to just a dollar a week for each of the 21 million people we help,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) António Guterres said in remarks prepared for the agency’s annual pledging conference in Geneva.
“When you consider the huge needs of those fleeing the horrors of Darfur, Iraq and Somalia and those in protracted refugee situations like Thailand and Pakistan, it is really not a large sum of money,” he added.
UNHCR’s Global Appeal for 2006 was $1.15 billion, but with supplementary appeals the year’s budget reached $1.47 billion.
The 21 million people of concern to UNHCR include 8.6 million refugees, 6.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), 1.6 million returnees, 770,000 asylum seekers and 2.3 million stateless people.
The largest programmes for 2007 are Chad ($69 million), Afghanistan ($52 million), Liberia ($32 million), Kenya ($32 million) and Tanzania ($24.3 million).
“Currently, a small group of countries shoulder most of the financial burden for our work around the world,” Mr. Guterres said. “We are extremely grateful for that valuable support and it’s crucial it continues. But, what we need is for more donors to dig deeper into their pockets.”
He noted that the agency was lowering costs and directing more resources to beneficiaries on the ground. “But, as the number of people under our mandate grows and we do our job better, we also need the serious financial backing of a wider number of governments,” he said.
With almost 97 per cent of UNHCR’s budget coming from voluntary donations and only 3 per cent funded by the regular UN budget, the agency is extremely vulnerable to any reduction in funding by major donors.
The Global Appeal provides information to donors, as well as to other interested parties, on UNHCR's activities worldwide. It outlines funding requirements and gives an overview of objectives, strategies and priorities for UNHCR programmes in the coming year.