Donors pledge initial US$477.5 million to UNHCR's 2010 funding appeal
GENEVA, December 8 (UNHCR) - Donor nations on Tuesday committed an initial US$477.5 million towards the UN refugee agency's US$3 billion funding appeal for 2010, its largest ever such request and aimed at meeting the basic needs of a growing number of people under its care.
The commitments came during UNHCR's annual pledging conference in Geneva, where High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres asked donors to fund a US$3.007 billion requirement.
The 2010 funding appeal is based on the most comprehensive assessment to date of the needs of people under UNHCR's care. The budget is to help more than 34 million refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless and internally displaced people in 118 countries. Donors commended UNHCR on this new approach.
"In the present circumstances and taking into account the extremely complex financial environment that we have around the world, I think we need to feel very happy with the level of support that these pledges have shown, and I would like to express my very, very strong appreciation for that," Guterres told delegates at the conference.
These early pledges are particularly critical for current operations in Afghanistan, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
Of the requested US$3billion, US$2.1 billion will be devoted to refugee programmes, with the aim of providing protection and for activities including adequate housing, ensuring sufficient clean water, proper sanitation facilities, as well as to upgrade and widen access to health and education services. The rest of the 2010 budget will be to meet the needs of a growing number of internally displaced and stateless people as well as for reintegration projects.
While acknowledging the initial contributions, Guterres added: "We will be counting a lot on your generosity during the year to be able to come as close as possible to the global needs assessment indications that we had". He also welcomed progress made this year in increasing donations from the private sector, as well as from states in the Persian Gulf whose financial support was essential to funding many operations this year.
By Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba in Geneva