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Donor states pledge $266.9 million for UNHCR 2002 budget

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Donor states pledge $266.9 million for UNHCR 2002 budget

3 December 2001

GENEVA - Donor governments on Monday pledged a total of $266.9 million for UNHCR's worldwide programmes in 2002, a good start toward meeting the refugee agency's currently approved annual budget of $828.6 million for the year.

Monday's pledges were on top of $18.2 million in earlier contributions announced by donors, bringing the total pledged for 2002 to $285.1 million, or 34 percent of the Annual Programme budget. This compares with about 25 percent received at last year's Pledging Conference.

High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers told the first UNHCR Pledging Conference to be held in Geneva - it was previously held in New York - that Africa will continue to account for the greatest share of resources and attention in 2002. This includes $77.9 million for the Great Lakes region, $111.2 million for the East and Horn of Africa, $65.9 million for West and Central Africa, $39.7 million for Southern Africa and $7.1 million for North Africa.

"Several of the continent's most bitter conflicts are at a crossroads between peace and more war," Lubbers told donors at Geneva's Palais des Nations. "We are ready to help refugees go home when the fragile peace processes open the way. But we must also be prepared for new displacement. I am very concerned about the continuation of conflict and political instability, for instance in the Great Lakes region."

Lubbers warned that the enormous needs in Africa and elsewhere in the world covered under UNHCR's annual budget are in danger of being overshadowed by special "supplementary programmes" such as that for the current Afghanistan crisis. Additional needs for the high-profile Afghanistan operation from January to June 2002 total $90 million.

While appealing for support for supplementary programmes, Lubbers cautioned that UNHCR had previously experienced declines in funding for the annual budget because donors favoured the more high-profile crises. This has resulted in overall financial shortfalls for regular annual programmes.

"I would like to see supplementary programmes funded from truly additional funds, over and above what donors had planned to provide to UNHCR before the supplementary programme was established," he said. "If this is not the case, our annual programme activities will again need to be curtailed, with negative consequences for refugees and other people of concern."

If supplementary programmes are included, UNHCR's current financial needs for 2002 total $938.1 million - $109.5 million for supplementary programmes and $828.6 million for annual programmes.

In addition to thanking donor countries for their support, the High Commissioner also paid special tribute to nations that host large refugee populations. He said he hoped adequate ways could be found to reflect their "invaluable non-cash contributions in providing protection and solutions for refugees around the world."

The High Commissioner also reminded donors that UNHCR is still $35 million short against its 2001 expected annual budget expenditures of $701.8 million.

"Before we get to 2002, we need to ensure that we finish 2001 with a positive balance," he said. "There is an urgent need to receive this amount, in addition to the needs of Afghanistan."

Several donors said additional contributions will be announced later.