Donors pledge a record US$576.5 million to UNHCR for next year

News Stories, 7 December 2010

© UNHCR/F.Noy
A refugee helps put up a UNHCR tent in the Cameroon. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the largest recipient of UNHCR assistance.

GENEVA, December 7 (UNHCR) Donor governments today pledged almost US$600 million for the UN refugee agency's operations next year in helping forcibly displaced and stateless people worldwide.

The US$576.5 million pledged at a special conference in Geneva is the highest amount to have been contributed through a single pledging session and represents 17.3 per cent of UNHCR's US$3.32 billion projected requirement for 2011.

The amount, which was pledged a week before UNHCR celebrates its 60th birthday, is US$99 million more than was committed at the equivalent session a year ago.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres thanked donors for their support, noting their generosity at a time of global economic difficulties. "These pledges give us a clear indication that in 2011 we will be able to maintain, and perhaps even to enhance, the level of our activities," Guterres told donors. "Taking into account the global economic and financial situation [this] is I believe a very clear demonstration of your support and your commitment."

UNHCR has changed its budgetary approach in recent years. Previously its annual budget basis was derived from anticipated donor support, however in 2009 it moved to an approach aligned to the actual needs of displaced populations under its care. For 2010, global needs have reached US$3.28 billion. Donors have responded so far this year by providing close to US$1.8 billion, the highest amount to have been received in a single year.

Some 72 per cent of UNHCR's budget is devoted to the needs of refugees and asylum-seekers, however in recent years the agency has been increasingly involved with assisting internally displaced people. For 2011 it is also devoting more attention to the reduction and prevention of statelessness, which by some estimates affects as many as 12 million people.

Worldwide, there are 43 million forcibly displaced people, the majority of whom are of concern to UNHCR. This figure includes 15.2 million refugees, 27.1 million internally displaced and 983,000 asylum seekers.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the largest recipient of UNHCR assistance, accounting for 45 per cent of the total needs, followed by 17 per cent for the Middle East and North Africa and 13 per cent for Asia.

UNHCR is almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions, mostly from governments. As such, it acts as a vital funnel for international funding towards the needs of the world's displaced.