UN refugee agency grateful for latest US funding contribution

WASHINGTON, 21 July (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency expressed gratitude on Thursday to the government and people of the United States following the latest release of US funding in support of the agency’s efforts to protect and assist refugees and internally displaced people around the world.

“The latest generous contribution of funds from the United States comes at a critical moment when more people than ever before recorded are fleeing war, conflict and persecution in countries around the world,” said Shelly Pitterman, UNHCR regional representative for the United States and the Caribbean.

“It is another expression of abiding US concern for the welfare of forcibly displaced persons throughout the world and robust US support for the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help those vulnerable people,” Pitterman said.

The latest tranche of funding from the United States totaled more than $577 million dollars of which $122 million was directed to UNHCR’s Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan.

The total US contribution also includes $75.9 million earmarked specifically for UNHCR work responding to the needs of people forcibly displaced in and from Iraq.

Speaking at an international pledging conference for Iraq in Washington on Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry underlined the importance of support for humanitarian and development work in Iraq.

“It’s in our interests to make these urgently required investments because every one of us here knows that what happens in Iraq has an impact on all of our countries,” Kerry said.

The US contribution also include $3 million in additional funds to help UNHCR address the protection needs of refugees from the Northern Triangle countries of Central America.

The latest release of US funding comes one month after the UN refugee agency reported that there were more than 65 million forcibly displaced persons in the world at the end of 2015 – the largest number yet recorded.

The conflict in Syria, now in its sixth year, remains the largest single driver of refugees. But protracted and unchecked violence in Iraq, Afghanistan as well as countries in Africa have also been leading causes of forcing people to flee in large numbers to escape life-threatening violence around the world.