Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to UNHCR

Briefing Notes, 1 December 2006

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 1 December 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR has received a $10 million emergency relief grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a variety of health, education, water and sanitation projects aimed at supporting the return and reintegration of hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people to devastated Southern Sudan.

The grant funds will cover immediate needs over a 28-month period in three main sectors basic health care, education, and water and sanitation in Western, Central and Eastern Equatoria states as well as the Upper Nile. A series of community-based reintegration projects focusing on each sector will benefit 210,000 Sudanese refugees coming home from neighbouring countries, as well as some 200,000 internally displaced people going back to their home villages. UNHCR will work with its UN and NGO partners as well as local communities in implementing the projects.

In a press release just issued this morning, High Commissioner António Guterres notes that these projects will help returnees and communities in South Sudan bridge the difficult gap between repatriation, reconstruction and long-term development. Equipping communities early on with basic essentials such as clean water and sanitation, schools and health care helps ensure that those who are going home can stay home.