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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), New York | Statement of Mrs. Sadako Ogata, 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), New York | Statement of Mrs. Sadako Ogata, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

17 November 1995

Mr. Vice President, distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is again a pleasure to address this ad hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the announcement of voluntary contributions to the 1996 programmes of my Office. I do appreciate, Mr. Vice President, your presence here with us this morning.

Persecution, war and displacement and their tragic consequences continue in almost all continents of the world. My Office is now trying to provide protection and assistance to 27 million people. UNHCR, in 1996, will enter its fifth consecutive year with a proposed budget that is well over 1 billion US dollars. My Office, as is well known, depends almost entirely on voluntary contributions from donors. Donors, both large and small, have stood by UNHCR over the past five years. I am most grateful for their support, and urge them to continue.

Mr. Vice President,

As I reported to you last year, UNHCR has undergone exceptional growth since 1991. I believe that this expansion has now stabilized and it is incumbent on me to consolidate this growth. I am the first to recognize the pressure that UNHCR and its partners are placing on the humanitarian budgets of our major donors. Circumstances beyond our control dictate this situation. On my part, however, I will ensure that UNHCR is an effective and efficient organization. This is why the task of consolidating UNHCR's recent expansion is so important. I am now launching a number of important management initiatives, and it is my objective in 1996 to further improve the cost-effectiveness of my Office. In doing so, I hope to build on the already high level of donor confidence that UNHCR enjoys today.

For 1995, we are again facing requirements of just under 1.3 billion US dollars. Approximately one third of this amount is for General Programmes, while the balance, two thirds, is destined for Special Programmes, major repatriations and emergencies.

As of this moment, my Office has so far received just over 800 million dollars in new contributions this year, a level roughly comparable to November 1993 and 1994. None the less, I request a last effort from donors over the next six weeks in order to close important funding gaps in my Office's General Programmes, the emergency operation for Rwanda and Burundi and repatriations within the Horn of Africa and to Mozambique.

Mr. Vice President,

The Annex to the invitation to this Committee Meeting shows our initial projections for 1996 at some 770 million dollars. This amount, which was an initial budget figure, consists of 445 million dollars for General Programmes and 325 million dollars for Special Programmes. I must draw your attention to the fact that this target was drawn-up in early 1995 and is unlikely to represent our actual needs for next year. When one considers our operations in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, former Yugoslavia and other programmes, our Special Programme needs will certainly double. At this stage, I estimate that our total 1996 requirements will exceed 1.1 billion dollars.

For 1996, my priority is the funding of long-term solutions for refugees and displaced persons. These are found in the 1996 General Programmes, particularly in the components of protection, local settlement and voluntary repatriation. Solutions are also very much present in next year's Special Programmes, particularly repatriation, and I include in this category return operations to Rwanda, Angola, the Horn of Africa, Liberia, Afghanistan and Myanmar. It is indeed my hope that in the new year, peace initiatives in former Yugoslavia will allow the present humanitarian action by my Office to turn from survival assistance to longer-term solutions. The voluntary and safe return and reintegration of both refugees and internally displaced in former Yugoslavia will be vital in ensuring durable peace and stability in that region. I call on the donor community to help us with this major challenge.

Mr. Vice President,

I must stress the voluntary nature of the financing of UNHCR. In times of budgets exceeding 1.1 billion dollars, I must underline the difficulties posed by the unpredictability of raising sufficient funds for our protection and assistance activities. You can imagine the problems faced by our field managers who operate with no certainty of resources. With so much at stake, I urge all Governments to assure my Office's funding needs in 1996 and work together with us to improve the predictability of our funding.

In concluding, I appeal for generous financial support to promote long-term solutions, on the one hand, and respond to the inevitable emergencies, on the other. On my part I promise prudent use of the resources put at our disposal. On your part, I count on your support. Twenty-seven million persons depend on it.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.