UN refugee agency raises nearly $400 million in pledges towards $1.06 billion for 2007

UN refugee agency raises nearly $400 million in pledges towards $1.06 billion for 2007

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The United Nations refugee agency raised nearly $400 million at a pledging conference yesterday towards the $1.06 billion it is seeking in its initial global appeal for 2007 to assist some 21 million people around the world.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) received $365.6 million in firm pledges at the gathering in Geneva, while a further $28.2 million was pledged in writing before the meeting began, allowing agency operations to continue uninterrupted into 2007.

Beyond the initial $1.06 billion goal, UNHCR expects to issue a number of supplementary appeals during the year, including for Iraq and south Sudan. Its global appeal for 2006 was $1.15 billion, but with supplementary appeals the year’s budget reached $1.47 billion.

“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,” High Commissioner António Guterres told the donors. “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.”

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).