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Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the High Commissioner's Programme (Pledging Conference) | Statement by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Speeches and statements

Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the High Commissioner's Programme (Pledging Conference) | Statement by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

6 December 1967

I would like first of all, Mr. Chairman, to say how grateful I am for this opportunity to address once again this Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly. The question with which this meeting is concerned - the financing of the UNHCR Programme for 1968 - is of vital importance for my Office.

In 1967, UNHCR is faced wit a gap of $1.8 million (at 30 November 1967) between the total of governmental contributions and the target of $4,826,930 approved by governments members of my Executive Committee. In other words, in 1967, governments provided only 62 per cent of the funds needed to carry out a programme approved by the governments themselves. The remaining 38 per cent, a substantial amount, some $1.3 million, has been financed by private committees, mainly in Europe, which participated in a highly successful fund-raising campaign on behalf of refugees which was launched in October 1966.

I am, on the one hand, deeply grateful to the national committees for financing UNHCR projects to such an extent. On the other hand, I am very concerned that such a large portion of the financial requirements for the UNHCR Programme has been left uncovered by governments. A further cause for concern, and I feel it is my duty, Mr. Chairman, to share this apprehension with the Assembly, is the fact that the private campaign to which I have just referred was an exceptional initiative and understandably cannot be repeated every year. With the impact of this Campaign coming to an end this year, the need for increased governmental support is acute. This is why, I have, during the course of the year, appealed to a wide number of governments for substantially increased contributions in 1968. There is indeed ample scope for increased governmental support, not only in relation to the amounts contributed, but also with respect to the number of governments which can and should contribute to the financing of the UNHCR Programme. My Office has, as you know, received unanimous support in the General Assembly from the 122 governments member of the United Nations. This continued support of governments Members of the United Nations and of its specialized agencies should mean that the widest possible number of countries contribute annually to the programmes of my Office. However in 1967 only 50 governments have, in fact, so contributed.

The financial target of the UNHCR Programme for 1968, as approved by the Executive Committee, is $4,631,600 approximately the same amount as for last year's programme. I would like to emphasize that the allocations for 1968 have been carefully reviewed by the Executive Committee, which concluded that the 196 target was the minimum amount required to meet the basic needs of refugees today.

The citing of cold figure to encourage increased support from governments should not make us forget that we are concerned with the financing of a humanitarian programme which affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees Nor should we forget that striking results have always been achieved. On the continent of Africa, where my Office has had to deal with 800,000 refugees, a great many - 500,000 - are already well under way to being settled at local subsistence level. These and other tangible results in Asia, Europe and Latin America, on which I was able to report in more detail to the Third Committee - these results speak for themselves, and fully justify the full support of governments. I also believe, Mr. Chairman, and I have had occasion to stress this in the past, that this humanitarian programme makes a great contribution - many times out of proportion to its financial size - to political peace and social stability in areas where refugees have granted asylum by removing and eliminating causes of tension and unrest.

May I therefore conclude, Mr. Chairman, by urging that governments contribution to a maximum extent to the financing of the UNHCR programme for 1968. Wherever possible, I urge governments to increase the level of their contributions for 1968 above that of previous years. In cases where it is not possible to immediate increase the annual contribution, I would ask governments to do so when establishing the level for the 1969 contribution. Where it is possible to make only a token contribution, I urge that such a token contribution be made. If certain contributions can only be made in local currency, countries should not hesitate to make donations on that basis. The essential thing is that the great number of countries, to the maximum extent possible in each case, demonstrate the solidarity on behalf of the humanitarian cause of refugees.