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Appeal for refugee funds elicits promising response from donors

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Appeal for refugee funds elicits promising response from donors

10 December 2008 Also available in:

10 December 2008

Meeting of global needs remains a challenge

Geneva - As the number of refugees and displaced people around the world continues to rise, donors pledged some US$463 million towards UNHCR's 2009 programmes. This amounts to about a quarter of the UN Refugee Agency's total needs for the year ahead amounting to some US$1.86 billion. This year's pledges, made in Geneva at UNHCR's annual pledging conference, were down 6% on the amount raised at last year's conference when donors pledged some US$492 million towards the 2008 Appeal.

"This is an encouraging outcome at a time when donors are faced by the uncertainties provoked by the current economic turbulence," said António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. But he called on donor countries to come up with the balance of resources required to meet global needs. He appealed to countries to provide additional contributions early in the New Year to ensure that assistance and protection are not interrupted. "Without additional funds, the outlook for the world's displaced is uncertain", he said.

The High Commissioner paid special tribute to the 10 countries that provide more than 75% of UNHCR's total budget while appealing to others to increase their support. The money is needed to help some 31.7 million refugees, stateless and internally displaced people around the world.

Several donor representatives at the conference praised reform efforts by the High Commissioner aimed at making UNHCR more efficient and ensuring that more resources were allocated directly to helping refugees and other persons of concern to the agency.

With almost 97 percent of UNHCR's budget coming from voluntary donations and only 3 percent funded by the regular UN budget, the agency is extremely vulnerable to any reduction in funding by major donors.