The following will help you to make an informed decision.
- What is UNHCR?
- Who is a refugee?
- How many people does UNHCR care for?
- What is the breakdown of UNHCR’s budget?
- While governments, corporate and foundations can usually give more, why do you want to spend money to raise fund from individual donors?
- How much is spent on refugee programmes versus overhead?
- How is this money used to help refugees?
- Is my donation tax-deductable?
- Why don’t you use volunteers to do fundraising and related administration in order to save more for helping refugees?
- Does UNHCR work with partners?
- How can I learn more?
1. What is UNHCR?
The UN refugee agency is formally known as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Established in 1951, we are responsible for helping refugees in 135 countries. UNHCR has a specific mandate to protect and assist refugees worldwide. We also help stateless people and millions of people displaced within their countries.
When people are forced to flee their homes because of war or persecution, they turn to UNHCR for assistance. We offer them food, shelter, water, medical attention, sanitation and security, while working to find lasting solutions to their plight. When possible, we help refugees and other displaced people return home voluntarily and safely. If necessary, we help them settle in another country where they can start a new life.
2. Who is a refugee?
The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as “a person who, owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
3. How many people does UNHCR care for?
At the end of 2019, the number of people of concern to UNHCR stood at 79.5 million. These included 26 million refugees, 4,570 million internally displaced people and 420 million asylum seekers. Over half of these are women and children.
UNHCR operates in 135 countries. We are active in nearly all refugee situations and crises worldwide. From Colombia to Kenya and from Iraq to Afghanistan, UNHCR is there to help uprooted people. We provide basic services, offer legal protection, and work to develop lasting solutions for refugees and other displaced people.
4. What is the breakdown of UNHCR’s budget?
UNHCR’s annual budget is revised every year. Voluntary contributions from governments, foundations, corporations and generous people like you accounted for about 99 percent of our total budget. Some 1 percent comes from the UN regular budget, which is spent entirely on administration costs – meaning more of YOUR money goes to where it is needed most. As needs continue to grow, UNHCR is seeking greater support from individual donors, corporations and foundations.
5. While governments, corporate and foundations can usually give more, why do you want to spend money to raise fund from individual donors?
We welcome all donations, but financial gifts from individual donors give particular satisfaction because of their very personal nature. If you, as a private citizen, donate money towards the operations we run worldwide, it means that you are reaching out to another individual in desperate need of help.
A government can give money on behalf of its people, or a company on behalf of its staff, but it is something special when ordinary citizens dig into their pockets or purses to contribute to UNHCR.
6. How much is spent on refugee programmes versus overhead?
UNHCR’s administrative costs account for approximately 10 percent of the total budget. Nearly 90 percent of all funds are spent on services directly helping refugees. Around 87 percent of our staff work in the field. Fund-raising, public awareness and advocacy costs represent only 4 percent of UNHCR’s total budget.
7. How is this money used to help refugees?
All of our programmes are designed to help find lasting solutions to refugees’ problems, whether it’s helping them return home or settle in other countries. The agency’s work around the world falls under these main sectors: shelter, health care and nutrition, income generation, water and sanitation, education, legal assistance and protection.
All programmes and sectoral projects are intended to mitigate the harsh circumstances in which refugees find themselves and to create opportunities to re-establish their lives. Special focus is given to the most vulnerable, especially women, children, older people and those living with disabilities.
8. Is my donation tax-deductable?
9. Why don’t you use volunteers to do fundraising and related administration in order to save more for helping refugees?
UNHCR is almost entirely funded by direct, voluntary contributions – the bulk of it from donor nations. We get important contributions from non-governmental organizations (NGO) and the private sector, including corporations, trusts, foundations and individual citizens.
This means that UNHCR must compete with other humanitarian agencies, including UN sister organizations, for a limited amount of humanitarian funding. The situation has become tougher with the onset of the global economic crisis, with prices rising and both government and corporate donors tightly controlling limited aid budgets.
That’s why it is important to have highly professional, knowledgeable and dedicated fund-raising teams, who have helped UNHCR meet targets in the more competitive environment of recent years. These committed staff members also produce detailed reports to ensure a high standard of transparency and accountability.
10. Does UNHCR work with partners?
Yes, the work we do would be impossible without extensive cooperation with our partners in the field. UNHCR works with different non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and with many other intergovernmental and UN agencies to deliver services directly to refugees. We also work closely with governments to support safe and respectful asylum policies, to negotiate refugee camp locations and security, and to guarantee safety for refugees upon their return home.
11. How can I learn more?
We would be pleased to provide you with additional information or answer any questions you may have. Please contact us by email [email protected] or telephone (+852) 2388 3278.