Amidst expanding humanitarian crises in the Middle East and parts of Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa, government donors today pledged $550 million towards the work of the UN refugee agency next year.
“New humanitarian crises over the past months have created hundreds of thousands more refugees and internally displaced people,” the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said in a news release on the pledges.
“This makes us especially grateful to donors who have come forward today with early pledges for our work in 2013,” he added. “Given the environment we are all in of global economic worry, this is heartening.”
In addition to the funds pledged for 2013, an additional $169 million was pledged for 2014 and beyond.
According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the agency’s annual budget is based on a careful assessment of the needs of people of concern that the agency anticipates being capable of addressing. UNHCR relies almost entirely on voluntary donations.
Of the 42.5 million people who were forcibly displaced as of the end of 2011, 25.9 million were receiving protection and assistance from UNHCR. In addition to these populations are an estimated 12 million people worldwide who are stateless.
As in previous years, the agency’s global refugee programme remains the largest component of its requirements – amounting to $3.07 billion, or 78 per cent, of the $3.92 billion sought for the agency’s total budgetary needs for 2013.
While the $550 million for 2013 represents a portion of the $3.92 billion the agency seeks for next year, it provides UNHCR with indicators both of the amount with which it can begin its work in 2013 and of likely overall resources for the coming year. By comparison, UNHCR noted, at the equivalent pledging session for 2012, donors pledged $482 million.
The past 18 months have seen simultaneous major new displacement crises, including in the Syria region, Mali, South Sudan, and in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the same time, new demands on UNHCR have arisen – such as the need to help returns of displaced people in southern Yemen – while protracted displacement situations such as that in Afghanistan and Somalia have not gone away.
For the UN refugee agency, this has meant repeated upward revisions of budgets for several of its major operations as the numbers of displaced rise. A further additional appeal, for example, for the crisis in Syria is due in just a matter of days.