UNHCR receives record early donations for 2005 budget
10 December 2004
The UN refugee agency said Friday it had received a total of US$405,406,243 in firm funding pledges for its operations in 2005 - the highest ever amount received in advance of an annual programme, and a 12 percent increase on the previous year.
"I'm greatly encouraged by this show of support," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers shortly after attending his agency's annual pledging conference for donors. "Not only is the total amount committed a record for this first stage of the funding cycle, but the number of states that have already made firm pledges - 48 in all - is also a record. We need to continue to broaden our donor base, but I'm delighted that new States are starting to step forward. So far, we can welcome Croatia, Libya and Romania into the club of donor states for the first time. And Poland, Slovenia and Venezuela are back after a few years absence."
Substantially increased donations were also recorded from Algeria, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Luxembourg, Morocco, Poland and Sweden.
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 at the turn of the century. In 2001, a mere 18 countries pledged US$285 million. By 2003, as states began to respond to UNHCR's constant pleas for earlier and more predictable funding, the amount had risen to US$359 million promised by 34 countries.
Lubbers said he was also pleased that so many of the states who announced pledges had stressed that they would pay their first contributions early in 2005, and that many of them had indicated that part or all of their initial funding commitments would be unearmarked. This allows UNHCR greater operating flexibility and ensures that funds will be available in all parts of the world where it is needed, rather than simply in the operations that feature most prominently in the news.
"This year, thanks to generous donor support and improved financial management, UNHCR has achieved a position of relative financial stability that it has not enjoyed in many years," Lubbers had said earlier in his opening remarks to the assembled donors.
The total US$1.1 billion budget presented in the UNHCR's 2005 Global Appeal includes US$981.6 million for the agency's regular budget 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. The budgetary requirements for Chad/Darfur, Iraq and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be finalized in early 2005.
In all at this point, 42 percent of the total budget is allocated to programmes in Africa. 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.
In addition, a total of around US$112 million has been budgeted for two operational reserves, which enable UNHCR to respond quickly to unforeseen crises.
So far in 2004, UNHCR has received US$933 million out of its current budget of US$1.23 billion.
There are currently 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.