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Funding: UNHCR broke - again

Briefing notes

Funding: UNHCR broke - again

1 December 2000

Unable to pay its bills till the end of the year, UNHCR has resorted to borrowing US$40 million from its working capital - the organisation's $50 million guarantee fund. The drastic move was taken after it became clear that UNHCR would otherwise be unable to finance its programmes until the end of December, despite various prioritisation exercises and deep cuts in many operations. UNHCR hopes to replenish the funds taken from the working capital with possible late contributions from donors which may still come in before the end of the year.

UNHCR has borrowed from the working capital before, especially at the very end of the year. However it is the first time ever that such a large amount of money was borrowed as early as November.

The current situation stems from UNHCR's general under-funding but it also derives from the fact that some donors announce their final contributions very late in the year, making it very difficult for the organisation to plan ahead. UNHCR has repeatedly urged its donor community to make early pledges in order to avoid similar last minute crises. UNHCR is funded almost exclusively by voluntary contributions of states.