Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the High Commissioner's Programme (Pledging Conference) | Statement by Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling upon me to address this Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly.
As you indicated, this meeting is to announce pledges to the annual UNHCR programme for 1972, a programme that was approved by my Executive Committee last month. This programme represents the normal work of my Office and is quite distinct from the additional duties that have been entrusted to me by the Secretary-General as the focal point of the UN system for assistance to refugees from East Pakistan in India.
In so far as my annual UNHCR programme is concerned, I am pleased to inform this Committee that there has been good progress in the course of 1971, in obtaining the governmental financial support that is absolutely essential to ensure its effectiveness.
The total of governmental contributions has also continued to show an encouraging increase. As I reported last year at this time, there was an increase of over 15 percent between 1969 and 1970, and this trend continues in 1971 with an increase so far of 12 percent, from $ 4.6 million to $5.2 million. Seventy four governments have thus far announced contributions for 1971 and we hope that the number will reach and even surpass last year's all-time high of 82.
It has also been highly encouraging, during the twenty-second session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner's Programme, which took place very recently in Geneva, that a number of governments indicated their intention to make substantial increases in their annual contributions for 1972.
Increased governmental support has been vital in 1971 - it is expected that this year's programme will be fully financed thanks mainly to substantial increases which have been made by some 30 governments in their annual contributions. In 1972, such increased support will be an even more crucial factor as the target for that year has been established by the Executive Committee, after careful review of all allocations, project-by-project - at $7,968,900, an increase of $916,900 over the level of the 1971 target. I would appeal to governments to cover this amount in its entirety. In the past, my Office has been able to cover the gap between governmental pledges and the needs of the annual UNHCR programme through special fund-raising campaigns, appeals to the public and contributions from non-governmental organizations. However, Mr. Chairman, the extraordinary efforts that have been necessary to assist refugees from East Pakistan in India, for whom my Office has been designated by U Thant as the focal point for assistance through the UN system, have heavily engaged the energy and resources of the general public and I am therefore not at all sure that funds other than governmental will be available to help meet the costs of my annual programme for 1972.
The tragic developments of 1971 have served to illustrate dramatically the potential danger which is latent in all refugee situations. They have also underlined how important it is to solve refugee problems as they arise. This is the essential objective of the UNHCR programme. In a time when governmental support is crucial to the financing of this programme, I should like to appeal for their fullest support. May I therefore express my hope, Mr. Chairman, that the largest number of governments will announce contributions at this time and that, whenever possible, a higher or special contribution will be made.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.