Donor governments pledge $266.9 million towards UNHCR's 2002 budget
GENEVA, Dec. 3, (UNHCR) - The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Monday received $266.9 million in pledges from donor governments after they heard High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers warn that the agency's world-wide programmes risked being overshadowed by the crisis in Afghanistan.
Lubbers said that in the past the agency had experienced declines in funding for its Annual Programme because donors favoured the more high-profile cases. In Afghanistan, for example, the agency will require an additional $90 million from January to June of next year. Donors have already contributed more than $60 million to deal with the Afghan crisis this year.
The total pledged Monday represents 34 percent of next year's $828.6 million annual budget. That figure does not include so-called Supplementary Programmes, which fund emergency situations such as that in Afghanistan.
"I would like to see Supplementary Programmes funded from truly additional funds, over and above what donors had planned to provide UNHCR before the supplementary programme was established," he said. "If this is not the case, our annual programme activities will again need to be curtailed, with negative consequences for refugees and other people of concern."
Monday's pledges were in addition to the $18.2 million in earlier contributions announced by donors for 2002, bringing the total pledged for next year to $285.1 million, or 34 percent of the agency's regular operating budget. This compares with about 25 percent received at last year's conference.
Lubbers told the annual UNHCR Pledging Conference that Africa will continue to demand the greatest share of resources next year. He said the African continent would require $301.8 million out of the agency's currently approved regular budget of $828.6 million.
"Several of the continent's most bitter conflicts are at a crossroads between peace and more war," Lubbers told the conference in Geneva, the first to be held outside New York. "We are ready to help refugees go home when the fragile peace processes open the way. But we must also be prepared for new displacement."
"I am very concerned about the continuation of conflict and political instability, for example in the Great Lakes region," he added.
Including supplementary appropriations, UNHCR's needs for 2002 amount to $938.1 million, with $828.6 million going for the regular budget. Lubbers reminded the delegates that the agency is still $35 million short against expected 2001 budget expenditures of $701.8 million.
"Before we get to 2002, we need to ensure that we finish 2001 with a positive balance," he told the delegates. "There is an urgent need to receive this amount, in addition to the needs of Afghanistan."
The High Commissioner paid tribute to the countries that host refugee populations, including Pakistan and Iran, which together have some four million Afghan refugees in their countries.