Pledging conference: UNHCR launches US$1.1 billion appeal for 2005
Today, UNHCR is presenting its budget for 2005 - amounting to US$1.1 billion - to donor countries attending a pledging conference here in Geneva. The money is needed to assist approximately 17 million people of concern to UNHCR, a figure that includes 9.7 million refugees, 1 million asylum seekers, over 1 million returnees and 5.3 million others in refugee-like situations including internally displaced people.
The total budget presented in the 2005 Global Appeal includes US$981.6 million for the agency's regular budget compared to US$ 954.8 million in 2004, and a further US$122.5 million for supplementary programmes for the planned return and reintegration of Burundian and Sudanese refugees (to Southern Sudan) during 2005.
Full budgetary requirements for Chad/Darfur, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be finalised in early 2005.
In all, 42 percent of the total budget is allocated to programmes in Africa, including US$59 million for Sudanese refugees in Chad. Other sizeable operations are for the most part linked to repatriation and reintegration - for example in South West Asia, where US$107 million has been budgeted for operations in Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan; and over US$46 million in the Balkans.
Over the past three years, UNHCR has been receiving a greater commitment of funds during the annual pledging conferences, which has helped reduce some of the financial uncertainties that dogged operations in the early months of the annual cycle during the late 1990s. UNHCR received pledges for US$267 million towards its 2002 budget at the annual conference in 2001; the following year, the sum had risen to US$317 and this time last year, governments pledged US$359 million towards the 2004 budget of US$954.9 million.
While it is heartening that governments are geared to commit more at an earlier stage, it should nevertheless be noted that we still have a shortfall of some US$10 million for this year's projected income targets.