Donors pledge an initial US$ 500.8 million for UNHCR operations in 2015
Today, government donors promised an initial US$ 500.8 million for the work of the UN refugee agency to help almost 43 million forcibly displaced or stateless people worldwide next year.
Faced with multiple mega emergencies in the middle-east and Africa, UNHCR presented its total financial requirements of US$ 6.23 billion for 2015 at its annual pledging conference, the largest budget ever at the beginning of the year. Last year at a similar meeting, US$ 671.6 million was pledged. While today's pledges are not sufficient to cover all needs, they are important as they give the organization a vital funding indication ahead of the year, allowing it to plan and continue operations without interruption.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres thanked the donors for their strong and steadfast support, but warned that the gap between needs and available humanitarian funding was widening. "More people are fleeing war, violence and persecution than ever before. Emergencies in Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan are turning into protracted displacement situations, bringing the world's humanitarian financing system close to bankruptcy", he said. "We need additional and more predictable ways of funding these emergences".
Guterres also thanked the refugee hosting countries for their ongoing support and acknowledged: "the tremendous pressure that the large presence of refugees has on local resources, public services and facilities. More structural and development support is needed to help communities host refugees fleeing war and violence".
UNHCR only receives a small annual contribution for the United Nations regular budget and its programmes are almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions from government and private donors. Over the last five years, financial requirements have more than doubled, as the numbers of forcibly displaced people continues to increase.
For 2014, the UN refugee agency still requires US$ 6.6 billion to assist millions of refugees, internally displaced and stateless people and to find solutions for them. To date, it has received US$ 3.19 billion, or less than half of what it needs. While this allows the organization to cover the most basic needs such as water, sanitation, health and rudimentary shelter, important long-term activities such as vocational skills training, promoting livelihood activities or secondary education remain often underfunded.
More information on UNHCR's 2015 operations and funding needs and be found in the Global Appeal 2015, Update: www.unhcr.org/ga15/index.xml