UNHCR's donors announce contributions of almost US$500 million for 2008
GENEVA, December 11 (UNHCR) - The UN refugee agency on Tuesday sought US$1.096 billion from donor countries to fund its extensive operations in 2008 to help millions of refugees, displaced civilians and stateless persons around the world.
UNHCR later announced intended contributions made at the annual Pledging Conference in Geneva of $492.2 million, up about 25 percent on last year's pledges of US$393.8 million. The balance is expected over next year.
Donor nations clearly heeded High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres's call for early and generous donations. "This response is tremendous," said Guterres.
"We are grateful for this vote of confidence, which will help us deal with the growing challenge of forced displacement around the world," he noted, while adding: "Our programme this year received strong support and we trust donors will respond equally generously in 2008."
As UNHCR relies almost entirely on voluntary funding, it is vital to get early and generous pledges so that it can plan effectively and continue operations to help those uprooted by conflict and persecution without interruption. So far, 93 percent of that 2007 budget has been funded by donors.
In addition to its regular budget, UNHCR has appealed for some US$480 million for emergency and special programmes in places such as Iraq, Darfur and Somalia. This will bring the agency's total expected budget in 2008 to more than US$1.57 billion, compared to US$1.45 billion in 2007.
The largest operations in the 2008 combined annual budget are Iraq, Chad and Sudan, Afghanistan, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The leading donors to UNHCR this year were, in order: the United States, Sweden, the European Commission, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway, Canada, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Italy, Australia and Finland.
UNHCR is present in 116 countries, has 262 offices worldwide with 6,260 staff members - 5,400 of whom are in the field. The agency works with 624 partners to provide help and assistance to 32.9 million refugees, displaced and stateless people.