Dutch lottery funds for projects in Sudan, Bangladesh and Ethiopia
HAARLEM, the Netherlands, February 1 (UNHCR) - Holland's National Postcode Lottery (NPL) has awarded 4.4 million euros to the "Safe in Southern Sudan" project run by UNHCR and three of its partners.
At a ceremony in the Dutch city of Haarlem on Wednesday, the main charity lottery in the Netherlands also donated 1 million euros in unearmarked funds to the UN refugee agency. Nick Van Praag, head of UNHCR's department of external relations, accepted a cheque on behalf of the agency.
The refugee agency and its "Safe in Southern Sudan" partners - Stichting Vluchteling, Cordaid/Mensen in Nood and Freevoice - will use the 4.4 million euros for mine clearance, mine awareness, improving primary health care and water supplies, direct emergency assistance and radio programmes aimed at helping refugees returning to their homes. The 18-month project is due to begin this month.
"This is an enormous boost for all South Sudanese refugees who only want to go home after years of war," said Van Praag. "These refugees are the real winners." UNHCR's share of the money is 1 million euros.
Since the launch of voluntary repatriation to southern Sudan in January 2005, more than 100,000 refugees have returned from neighbouring countries. This includes some 30,000 Sudanese refugees who have returned with UNHCR help.
Another 100,000 are expected to follow this year, but they will likely face many obstacles as they try to rebuild their lives. The "Safe in Southern Sudan" programme aims to improve the environment in which they live and help ensure the sustainable return of the refugees.
The unearmarked funds will be used by UNHCR to help some 30,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar languishing in camps in Bangladesh and to assist around 100,000 refugees in Ethiopia, who come from several countries.
The Dutch lottery organisation has been a major supporter of the work of UNHCR for several years. "The NPL is among the top five private donors who support the work of UNHCR for refugees and internally displaced persons," High Commissioner António Guterres said last year during a visit to NPL's headquarters in Amsterdam. "UNHCR is grateful for your lasting and reliable support," he added.