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UNHCR donates USD 60,000 to Chinese earthquake relief

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UNHCR donates USD 60,000 to Chinese earthquake relief

16 May 2008 Also available in:

BEIJING – In response to the disastrous 12 May earthquake in Sichuan and neighbouring provinces in China, the UN refugee agency today donated USD 60,000 for relief work through the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. UNHCR gave USD 50,000 and its Staff Council donated USD 10,000.

Experienced in emergency response, UNHCR also told the Chinese authorities that it is ready to provide support if required.

Official reports yesterday said the death toll from the 7.9 magnitude earthquake could reach more than 50,000. Some 20,000 people are already confirmed dead and tens of thousands remain buried in rubble in areas of the worst-hit province of Sichuan.

In a letter to the President of the People’s Republic China Mr. Hu Jingtao, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Mr. António Guterres expressed his profound shock and sadness over the devastating earthquake. He also said he appreciated the quick response of the Chinese government’s rescue effort to save lives.

“Although responding to natural disasters is generally beyond the scope of UNHCR’s mandate, my Office stands ready to provide support as part of the overall United Nations’ response,” he said. “UNHCR staff worldwide stand in solidarity with the people of China during this most distressful period.”

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanked the High Commissioner and all UNHCR staff for the donation. It said it appreciated further external assistance and support for material assistance such as tents and medical equipment.

China is a signatory to both the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. It’s also a member of the Executive Committee of UNHCR. UNHCR’s main role in China today is to support the development of national refugee legislation, and to provide protection and assistance to refugees in urban settings.

END

About UNHCR:

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on 14 December 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee issues. It strives to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, with the option to voluntarily return home when conditions are conducive for return, integrate locally or resettle to a third country. UNHCR has twice won the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1954 for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe, and in 1981 for its worldwide assistance to refugees.