United States donates $27 million to UNHCR for Afghanistan, Iraq
GENEVA, Feb 6 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency today received $27 million in donations from the United States government for UNHCR operations in Afghanistan and contingency plans in Iraq, a move that both parties hope will encourage more donors to come forward.
Meeting at the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva on Thursday, High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers and the head of the US Permanent Mission, Ambassador Kevin Moley, signed agreements to finalise the contribution of $15 million for Afghanistan and $12.1 million for Iraq. In all, the United States government has donated a total of $15 million to UNHCR's preparations for a possible humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
"This money is directly focused on humanitarian needs for which we'll have to be prepared in Iraq," said Ambassador Moley. "Now that we've already put money on the table for humanitarian efforts in Iraq, we hope to use this to prompt others to come forward as well. The coordinating efforts need to be funded."
In addition to the American donation, UNHCR has also received nearly $900,000 for the Iraq contingency effort, as well as signals of possible further contributions.
The UN refugee agency has already spent $19 million, borrowed from emergency reserve funds, on the most basic contingency measures.
The recent donations are a welcome boost for the cash-strapped UNHCR, which is juggling several existing humanitarian operations in Côte d'Ivoire, Afghanistan and Angola, while also trying to prepare for a possible Iraq crisis.
In Afghanistan alone, UNHCR needs more than $156.9 million in supplementary funds to begin the procurement of materials to help rehabilitate 60,000 homes and to buy the necessary relief items for up to 1.5 million returnees this year. With the American contribution, the agency has so far received $16 million out of this amount.
At Thursday's meeting with US Ambassador Moley, High Commissioner Lubbers also signed the 2003 Framework for Cooperation between UNHCR and the United States, which includes funding issues. It is anticipated that this year, the US will fund between 22 percent and 25 percent of the refugee agency's annual budget of more than $836 million.