Donors pledge US$ 354 million for UNHCR programmes in 2006
At UNHCR's annual pledging conference yesterday in Geneva, we received firm funding pledges of US$354.3 million from donors for our operations in 2006 - a decrease of about 12 per cent compared to $405.40 million pledged the previous year.
UNHCR has a $US 1.22 billion dollar budget for 2006, to assist some 19.1 million people of concern to the refugee agency around the world.
The decrease in contributions pledged in advance this year is mainly due to exchange rate fluctuations, particularly the strengthening of the US dollar. But the unprecedented number of major natural disasters in 2005 may also have put a strain on donors' humanitarian budgets. In addition, some donors explained they were unable to pledge at this stage as their budgets for next year have yet to be finalised.
A total of 42 states - including some new ones and others returning after a short absence - pledged US$ 354.3 million, around 30 per cent of UNHCR's total 2006 budget. States that announced their contributions for the first time or after a brief absence included Chile, France, Greece, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Oman, the Russian Federation and Singapore.
Over the past few years, UNHCR has been calling for firm commitments of funds to be made at the annual pledging conferences, in order to help reduce financial uncertainty and allow for more predictable funding. We are pleased that a number of states heeded our calls to diversify our funding base.
UNHCR's financial requirements, including the regular budget and a supplementary budget, rose this year to $1.22 billion from US$1.1 billion in 2005. The money is needed to assist 19.1 million people of concern to UNHCR around the world including some 9.2 million refugees, 5.4 million internally displaced persons, some 1.5 million returnees, 840,000 asylum seekers and 1.5 million stateless people.
UNHCR is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, with the UN regular budget covering only 2.9 per cent of needs. Generally, by year-end UNHCR has at least 80 per cent of its budget funded.