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UN Refugee Agency Receives $1 Million from Jolie-Pitt Foundation for Displaced Families in Pakistan

Press Releases, 17 June 2009

The following press release was issued by UNHCR Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC June 17 (UNHCR) UNHCR on Wednesday received a $ 1 million donation from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation for its operations to assist millions of people displaced by conflict.

The head of the refugee agency, António Guterres, who is in Washington to meet US officials and to mark World Refugee Day, expressed his gratitude to the foundation for its assistance to what he described as "the most challenging humanitarian crisis of the past decade."

More than 2 million people have been uprooted in Pakistan this year as a result of the conflict in the north-west of the country. Most of those forced from home are not living in camps and are taking shelter in government buildings and with host families. Another 260,000 people are staying in more than 20 organized camps supported by UNHCR.

"The Pakistani people have shown incredible generosity to millions of Afghan refugees over the past three decades and are now themselves in great need," said Guterres. "At the moment, even the most basic needs are not being met," he said.

Since fleeing her home, Rahat and her four children have been living in a school building with other displaced families. "We have no money to buy food so we must rely on the local people for donations." she said. "Six families are living in a room, about 50 persons. We sleep on the floor, on mattresses people have brought us. My husband went missing during the bombing."

UNHCR fears that the longer the displacement continues, the greater the likelihood that the resources of the tens of thousands of host families who have taken in displaced people will be depleted. The agency and its partners are rushing to provide more assistance to those host families

In addition to the current displacement emergency, Pakistan continues to host nearly 2 million Afghan refugees, many of whom have been in the country for decades.

Angelina Jolie has visited UNHCR operations in Pakistan three times since becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for the agency in 2001.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees provides protection and assistance to the world's refugees, asylum seekers, refugees returning home, stateless people and a growing number of the millions of people displaced within their own countries. The agency is almost entirely dependent upon voluntary contributions.

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