Donors pledge more than US$450 million towards UNHCR programmes in 2009

News Stories, 10 December 2008

© UNHCR/P.Taggart
UNHCR works to begin the transfer of vulnerable displaced Congolese last month to a camp in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The agency will need funds to continue operations there in 2009.

GENEVA, December 10 (UNHCR) As the number of refugees and displaced people around the world continues to rise, donors have pledged some US$463 million towards UNHCR's 2009 programmes. This amounts to about a quarter of the UN refugee agency's total needs for the year ahead some US$1.86 billion.

This year's pledges, made on Tuesday at UNHCR's annual pledging conference in Geneva, were down 6 percent on the amount raised at last year's conference, when donors pledged some US$492 million towards the 2008 appeal.

"This is an encouraging outcome at a time when donors are faced by the uncertainties provoked by the current economic turbulence," said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. But he called on donor countries to come up with the balance of resources required to meet global needs. He appealed to countries to provide additional contributions early in the New Year to ensure that assistance and protection are not interrupted. "Without additional funds, the outlook for the world's displaced is uncertain", he said.

The High Commissioner paid special tribute to the 10 countries that provide more than 75 percent of UNHCR's total budget, while appealing to others to increase their support. The money is needed to help some 32 million refugees, stateless and internally displaced people around the world.

Several donor representatives at the conference praised reform efforts aimed at making UNHCR more efficient and ensuring that more resources were allocated directly to helping refugees and other persons of concern to the agency.

With almost 97 percent of UNHCR's budget coming from voluntary donations and only 3 percent funded by the regular UN budget, the agency is extremely vulnerable to any reduction in funding by major donors.