Donor governments on Tuesday pledged an initial $857 million to fund the United Nations refugee agency’s work to help some 67 million displaced or stateless people worldwide in 2018.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that while the pledges made at an annual meeting in Geneva represent only 11 per cent of its total 2018 funding needs of over $7.5 billion, they indicate the anticipated funding levels next year.
However, the gap between the funds received and the needs of refugees and other displaced people will likely continue growing, with new crises and worsening displacement running at record levels.
“Refugee crises grow. Refugee needs grow as well,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
This means that UNHCR has to prioritize, sometimes mercilessly, he explained.
“This can mean some (refugees) will be left to fend for themselves during the harsh winter months and others won’t get the assistance they need to reintegrate upon return,” he warned.
UNHCR’s work globally is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from governments, intergovernmental institutions and, increasingly, from individuals, corporations and foundations.
The agency’s work includes operations in some of the biggest emergencies around the world such as those in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Mr. Grandi thanked the countries and communities hosting refugees because they are some of the largest donors in terms of space, resources, and the socio-economic and political cost of hosting refugees.
For 2018, UNHCR appeals to donors to sustain and increase support, through flexible and early contributions, to avoid uncertainty and enable it to channel funds where the needs are greatest without interruption.