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Donors commit US$576.5 million to UN refugee agency in 2011, highest amount at a single pledging session

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Donors commit US$576.5 million to UN refugee agency in 2011, highest amount at a single pledging session

7 December 2010

GENEVA, December 7 (UNHCR) - Donor governments today pledged at a conference in Geneva US$576.5 million for the UN refugee agency's work in helping forcibly displaced people worldwide during 2011.

The $576.5 million pledged on Tuesday is the highest amount to have been contributed through a single pledging session, and represents 17.3 percent of UNHCR's $3.32 billion projected requirement for 2011. The amount is $99 million more than was pledged at the equivalent session a year ago.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres thanked donors for their support, noting their generosity at a time of global economic difficulties.

"These pledges give us a clear indication that in 2011 we will be able to maintain, and perhaps even to enhance, the level of our activities," High Commissioner Guterres told donors at the conference. "Taking into account the global economic and financial situation [this] is I believe a very clear demonstration of your support and your commitment."

UNHCR has changed its budgetary approach in recent years. Previously its annual budget basis was derived from anticipated donor support, however in 2009 it moved to an approach aligned to the actual needs of displaced populations under its care.

For 2010, global needs have reached US$3.28 billion. Donors have responded so far this year by providing close to $1.8 billion, the highest amount to have been received in a single year.

Some 72 percent of UNHCR's budget is devoted to the needs of refugees and asylum-seekers, however in recent years the agency has been increasingly involved with assisting internally displaced persons. For 2011 it is also devoting more attention to the reduction and prevention of statelessness, which by some estimates affects as many as 12 million people.

Worldwide, there are 43 million forcibly displaced people, the majority of whom are of concern to UNHCR. This figure includes 15.2 million refugees, 27.1 million internally displaced, and 983,000 asylum seekers.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the largest recipient of UNHCR assistance, accounting for 45 percent of the total needs, followed by 17 percent for the Middle East and North Africa, and 13 percent for Asia.

UNHCR is almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions, mostly from governments. As such it acts as a vital funnel for international funding towards the needs of the world's displaced.

UNHCR was founded in 1950 and marks its 60th anniversary on December 14th, 2010.