News Stories, 9 October 2008
GENEVA, October 9 (UNHCR) – UNHCR's deputy chief told key donors on Thursday that a comprehensive assessment of the needs of refugees and other people cared for by the refugee agency in eight pilot countries has revealed some substantial and disturbing gaps that must be addressed.
Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees L. Craig Johnstone was launching "Refugee Realities" at the annual meeting of UNHCR's governing Executive Committee. The UNHCR report, based on the pilot Global Needs Assessment, presents a sobering picture of gaps in several areas, including shelter, health, education, food security, sanitation and the prevention of sexual violence. Nearly a third of those unmet needs were basic and essential services.
"Anyone who visits a refugee camp or sees the needs of refugees and asylum seekers living in urban areas can be in no doubt that more needs to be done," said Johnstone, who is leading the effort to mainstream Global Needs Assessment into UNHCR's overall budgeting process. "Obviously, meeting the needs of our beneficiaries and ensuring their basic rights will require more resources."
The pilot assessment, set to be rolled out worldwide in UNHCR operations for the 2010-2011 planning cycle, was carried out in Cameroon, Ecuador, Georgia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Thailand, Yemen and Zambia earlier this year.
Ecuador Vice Foreign Minister José Valencia attended the launch and made a presentation on how it had been conducted in his country. "We cannot have double standards that require fair treatment for our fellow citizens and forget the refugees of other nations," he said, citing Ecuador's President Rafael Correa.
"The Global Needs Assessment is a clear mapping of the real state of the world's refugees and others of concern – their total needs and, very importantly, the consequences of not meeting these needs," Johnstone said. "It is a blueprint for action and allows donors to have a very accurate picture of what's needed and what the impact of their backing will be."
He said there was a lot of support for the initiative. "It's simply trying to do what is necessary for our beneficiaries," Johnstone noted.
UNHCR regularly carries out assessments, but the Global Needs Assessment used a more rigorous methodology drawn from the agency's Strengthening Protection Capacity Project, which focuses on the unmet needs of refugees, internally displaced people, returnees, asylum seekers and stateless people.
A key element of the pilot assessment was that all parties with responsibilities towards refugees and others of concern, including refugees themselves, worked with UNHCR to come up with a concrete plan of action to address the identified gaps.
The assessment results identified areas for improvement including, access to asylum systems, registration, documentation, border monitoring, training and technical support to governments. Child protection programmes and prevention and response measures for sexual abuse and violence were also highlighted for attention.
To address its responsibilities towards meeting the unmet needs identified in the eight pilot countries, UNHCR has included an additional US$63.5 million in its 2009 budget, which is being presented to the annual meeting of UNHCR's governing Executive Committee in Geneva this week.