UNHCR to seek pledges of $1.09 billion for 2008 budget
GENEVA, December 5 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency will next week ask donor countries to pledge US$1.096 billion for its operations in 2008 to help millions of refugees and displaced and stateless people around the world. This compares to US$1.06 billion sought at last year's Pledging Conference.
In addition to its regular budget, UNHCR will also use next Tuesday's meeting in Geneva to launch a number of supplementary appeals for emergency and special programmes for an estimated total of US$480 million, bringing the agency's total expected budget next year to more than US$1.57 billion, compared to US$1.45 billion in 2007.
In January, UNHCR expects to launch supplementary appeals for programmes such as the Iraq humanitarian crisis; relief operations in Sudan's Darfur region; the Somali situation; repatriation and reintegration of Sudanese and Mauritanian refugees; programmes for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Chad, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Colombia.
A UNHCR spokesperson said: "We hope the response by donors will be generous and swift to enable a smooth continuation during the coming year of our operations to assist and protect people uprooted by conflict and persecution."
The UN refugee agency relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions with only a very small proportion of its budget coming from the UN Regular Budget. "So, it's important for us to have early, flexible and predictable funding so we can help the 32.9 million people of concern to us. UNHCR looks to the Pledging Conference to provide a strong funding start for the coming year, ensuring a timely launch of new activities and avoiding interruptions in current activities," the spokesperson said.
UNHCR's operations in Africa lead the needs with 37.5 percent of the total budget, followed by the Middle East and North Africa 17.5 percent, Asia/Pacific 9.9 percent, Europe 5.9 percent and the Americas 2.8 percent. The remaining percentage is made up of funds required for global programmes, headquarters and reserves.
The largest operations in the 2008 annual budget are: Chad (US$73.6 million), Afghanistan (US$49.87 million), Kenya (US$41.48 million) and the DRC (US$40.92 million).
The budget for next year has risen by US$53 million - or five percent - from 2007, mainly due to the mainstreaming into the annual budget of the supplementary programme for the repatriation and reintegration of Congolese refugees in the DRC.
The 2008 Global Appeal reflects UNHCR's shift towards a two-year programme and budget cycle (US$1.096 billion for 2008 and US$1.108 billion for 2009), which will allow a more medium-term approach to planning and implementation.
So far, some 93 percent of last year's UNHCR budget has been funded by donors. Top donors in 2007 have been Denmark, the European Commission, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Geneva-based UNHCR is present in 116 countries, where it has a total of 262 offices with 6,260 staff members - 5,400 of whom are in the field. The agency works with 624 partners to provide help and assistance to 32.9 million refugees, displaced and stateless people.