Unearmarked support from Norway and Sweden helps UNHCR address crises that may be out of the spotlight but very much in need of support.
When funding is limited, unearmarked contributions can be lifesaving for the more than 100 million people around the world, who have been forced to flee conflict, persecution or human rights violations. With new waves of displacement follow increasing needs. This is when unearmarked funding makes a difference, especially for the people who are caught in lengthy or forgotten crises.
As long-standing top donors of unearmarked funding to UNHCR, Sweden and Norway’s contributions make an important difference in times like these, when resources are scarce and the needs have never been higher.
The operations receiving most unearmarked funding in 2022 are Ethiopia, Lebanon, and Sudan. These are countries dealing with protracted displacement crises as well as socioeconomic downturns, climate change, or conflict. The support from Norway and Sweden therefore comes at a critical time.
Scroll to read more about how unearmarked funding makes a difference in 12 of UNHCR’s most underfunded operations. All countries host large numbers of forcibly displaced persons and face great challenges.
Bangladesh – Bangladesh hosts over 900,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, most of them living in the world’s largest refugee settlement in the Cox’s Bazar district. The area is overcrowded and at risk of flooding during Monsoon season. Unearmarked funding has helped UNHCR provide shelter as well as water and sanitation facilities. UNHCR and local volunteers also work to make the area more resilient towards extreme weather such as monsoons and cyclones.
Chad – Sadia settled in Milé refugee camp, Chad, with her 2-year-old son after fleeing violence in Darfur, Sudan. Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world and hosts nearly 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons, while also facing its own challenges with security and climate change. Unearmarked funding helped UNHCR expand Milé camp to provide a home for refugees like Sadia, fleeing the new waves of violence in Sudan.
Colombia – Annie and her daughter are among the more than 2.4 million displaced Venezuelans who have sought refuge in Colombia. At UNHCR’s Integrated Assistance Center in Maicao they receive short term shelter, food, health services, legal orientation, counselling, and assistance in family reunification. The center is also open to displaced Colombians returning to the country and displaced persons from the indigenous Wayuú population.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo – DR Congo is one of the most complex humanitarian crises in the world, hosting 520,000 refugees and asylum-seekers as well as 5.6 million internally displaced persons. Despite the needs, the operation is severely underfunded. Unearmarked contributions therefore make a critical difference, enabling UNHCR to provide shelter, blankets, soap and jerry cans to displaced persons like Biiri, who fled her home in the North Kivu province and previously slept outside a hangar.
Ethiopia – Ethiopia is a long-standing host country for approximately 900,00 refugees and is now also challenged by internal conflict and consequences of climate change. More than 5 million people across the country have either lost their homes, livestock, and farmland because of droughts or conflict. Unearmarked funding helps UNHCR provide the displaced families with blankets, sleeping mats, solar lanterns and jerrycans. UNHCR also supplies refugees and host communities with infrastructure for access to water, which also contributes to peaceful coexistence between the groups.
Iraq – Iraq hosts 300,000 refugees and asylum-seekers while more than 1 million Iraqis remain internally displaced. At the same time, it is one of UNHCR’s least funded operations. With winter coming up, many displaced persons living in camps have nothing but thin walls or plastic sheets to protect them from the cold. Unearmarked funding has been critical in securing sustainable housing and distributing cash assistance to help the most vulnerable families purchase winter clothing and fuel for heating.
Jordan – For almost 12 years, Jordan has been a refuge for Syrians fleeing the war in their home country. Today, Jordan hosts more than 700,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, among others the residents of Azraq refugee camp. Although most refugees have some income, more and more are falling below the poverty line because of the economic crisis and rising price levels. With unearmarked contributions UNHCR is able to offer cash assistance. This is especially important during winter as it helps vulnerable families afford food, medicine and fuel.
Lebanon – Manal and her children are among the more than 1.5 million refugees who have sought safety in Lebanon, the country hosting the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. The socioeconomic crisis has hit both refugees and the host community hard, leading to food insecurity, evictions, and lack of access to education and health services. Unearmarked funding enables UNHCR to support the most vulnerable refugees in covering their basic needs and accessing education, healthcare and shelter.
South Sudan – With more than 2.3 million South Sudanese refugees in neighboring countries, South Sudan’s refugee crisis remains the largest in Africa. Moreover, about 2.2 million South Sudanese are internally displaced because of conflict and the consequences of climate change. Unearmarked funding has helped UNHCR support refugees and internally displaced persons, as well as South Sudanese refugees returning home, with housing, access to documents, education and livelihood support, enabling them to generate an income.
Sudan – Sudan hosts approximately 1 million refugees, one of the largest refugee populations in Africa, and also counts more than 3 million internally displaced persons due to many years of conflict. Inflation and climate change make life even more difficult, not only for the forcibly displaced people but also their host communities. Unearmarked funding plays a vital role in enabling UNHCR to provide materials that secure the tents against strong winds. UNHCR also works with initiatives to support peaceful coexistence among communities.
Uganda – Uganda is the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa with more than 1.5 million refugees, mainly from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite the scope of the refugee situation, UNHCR’s operation in Uganda struggles with underfunding. Unearmarked support therefore makes an important difference, allowing UNHCR to distribute blankets, sleeping mats, soap and sanitary pads to refugees arriving at temporary transit centers. UNHCR also maintains water and sanitation systems and works to address diseases and gender-based violence.
Yemen – After losing her husband to conflict, Fatima and her 12 children settled in a camp for internally displaced persons in Sana’a. The family is amongst the more than 4 million internally displaced persons in Yemen, which remains one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. Around 73 per cent of the total population depend on humanitarian assistance to survive. But UNHCR’s operation in Yemen is also severely underfunded, and unearmarked support makes an important difference for UNHCR’s ability to provide cash assistance, shelter, cooking utensils, and soap to displaced people like Fatima.
Norway as a donor
Norway is a long-standing partner of UNHCR and a top donor of unearmarked funding, allowing the agency to respond to and prepare for emergencies as well as provide support and protection in protracted crises. Thus far in 2022, Norway has contributed over USD 109 million to UNHCR, of which approximately USD 72.5 million was unearmarked. In 2021, 74 per cent of the contributions was unearmarked, making Norway the biggest government donor of unearmarked funding last year.
Sweden as a donor
Sweden is a long-standing partner of UNHCR and a top donor of unearmarked funding, allowing the agency to respond to and prepare for emergencies as well as provide support and protection in protracted crises. Thus far in 2022, Sweden has contributed over USD 143.6 million to UNHCR, of which USD 99.2 million was unearmarked. Sweden is the biggest multi-year donor of unearmarked funding to UNHCR, and in 2021 75.4 % of Sweden’s donations were unearmarked.
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