States pledge US$701 million to UNHCR for 2017 operations
GENEVA – In the biggest show of support ever, donor governments today pledged an initial $701 million for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, to help nearly 69 million displaced or stateless people in its operations worldwide in 2017.
The pledges made at the donor meeting in Geneva will help UNHCR provide support to people fleeing major conflicts – including in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and the Lake Chad region – as well operations in more than 100 countries around the world. UNHCR’s budget for all operations for 2017 stands at US$7.3 billion.
Today’s pledges do not cover all needs, but they provide an important signal to the organization of the anticipated funding for next year, allowing it to plan and continue operations without interruption. It represents a large increase over the US$687 million pledged a year ago, which was then a record.
“We are calling on our government donors to work with us to make sure that all displaced people can access protection and build a secure future,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
“Our top priority is saving lives and protecting the rights and dignity of refugees, people displaced within their own countries, and stateless people. That means offering practical support over the longer term – including to the countries and communities that host them.”
What is new in UNHCR’s approach this year, Grandi added, is an increased emphasis on working with development agencies.
“We are placing an ever greater emphasis on working in partnership,” he said. “That calls for partnership with development actors like the World Bank, the International Labour Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, partnership with the private sector and – obviously – partnership with displaced people themselves.”
“Refugees’ needs have never been greater,” Grandi added, “but the countries of the world have also shown their commitment to work together to find lasting solutions.”
UNHCR’s budget is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from governments and, increasingly, from individuals, corporations and foundations. For 2016, UNHCR expects to receive the highest proportion ever of what it asked for – 54 percent, or some US$4 billion out of the US$7.51 billion currently budgeted.