Sweden’s early unearmarked funding allows UNHCR to help refugees from the Central African Republic who are hosted in Cameroon – one of the agency’s chronically underfunded programs.
© UNHCR/Xavier Bourgois
In January 2021, Sweden provided UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, USD 66.9 million in unearmarked funding. This type of funding allows UNHCR to quickly respond to new emergencies and allows the agency to fulfil its protection mandate, even in forgotten and protracted situations. The importance of this funding is shown clearly in Cameroon, as post-election violence in the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR) triggered further refugee flows and increased needs.
“The protection needs of refugees and internally displaced people are enormous and urgent. UNHCR is committed to upholding its protection mandate, but funding shortages pose a significant challenge. Early unearmarked funding from countries like Sweden enables us to overcome these difficulties, and continue meeting the needs of refugees and host communities, even in rapidly changing situations, as seen in Cameroon,” says the Representative of UNHCR in Sweden, Henrik M. Nordentoft.
UNHCR in Cameroon relies heavily on unearmarked funding, as earmarked contributions cannot cover all the needs. The African country hosts almost two million refugees and internally displaced people. Of this, 316,000 refugees were from the Central African Republic, making it the largest host country for CAR refugees. Since the December 2020 election violence and human rights violations, over 6,000 more Central Africans were forced to flee to Cameroon. Sweden’s contribution allowed UNHCR to respond rapidly to the influx: to register refugees, ensure access to territory, install tents, emergency shelters, latrines, and distribute kits containing blankets, cooking utensils and more. In order to reinforce efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Lolo settlement also had a new piping installed, giving access to clean water.
Many newly arrived refugees had suffered brutal violence. Unearmarked funding allowed UNHCR to provide the survivors of gender-based violence, most of whom are women and girls, with psychosocial support, medical care, and dignity kits containing sanitary and hygiene items.
In addition, UNHCR has been able to trace the families of Central African children separated on their arduous and dangerous journey to seek refuge. They are provided with essential medical assistance and psychosocial support after witnessing trauma, physical harm, and loss, both at home, and on their journey.
Swedish unearmarked funding has proven itself essential to UNHCR’s response in Cameroon. The agency can continue meeting the lifesaving needs of refugees and keep protecting refugees due to this predictable and early contribution.
Sweden is one of UNHCR’s top donors, and the biggest multi-year donor of unearmarked funding. Thus far in 2021, Sweden has provided UNHCR with USD 104.9 million, of which 64% is unearmarked.