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Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the High Commissioner's Programme (Pledging Conference), Geneva | Talking Points for Mr. Ruud Lubbers, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Speeches and statements

Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the High Commissioner's Programme (Pledging Conference), Geneva | Talking Points for Mr. Ruud Lubbers, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

3 December 2002

It is a pleasure to be here with you today. This pledging conference is an important occasion in UNHCR's annual life cycle.

I am grateful for the support that governments, including cash donors, have provided to my Office over the last year. However, as you know, we have once again faced serious funding shortfalls, despite all our efforts to make the budgetary process more transparent and to improve our system of resource management.

Funding shortfalls have had a negative impact on refugees and others of concern. Today, there is still funding gap of some US$ 25 million to meet our fourth quarter obligation level. There is an urgent need to receive this amount.

Every year, it is vital that we have funds at our disposal on 1 January, to be able to continue all our operations uninterrupted. Today's pledging conference offers an important opportunity to reach this goal.

Since the adoption by UNHCR's Executive Committee of the 2003 Annual Budget, which amounts to US$ 836.3 million, I have approved a number a Supplementary Programmes for next year. Three of these, for Angola, Sri Lanka and Zambia, were approved in time to be included in the 2003 Global Appeal. These add up to a total of US$ 39.5 million. This means that the total amount included in the 2003 Global Appeal is US$ 875.8 million.

Not included in the 2003 Global Appeal are the Supplementary Programmes for Emergency Assistance to Liberian Refugees, the Côte d'Ivoire crisis and the Afghan operation. The cost of the Liberian programme is US$ 4.5 million and US$ 3.7 for the Côte d'Ivoire crisis. These will be part of an Addendum to the Global Appeal.

Detailed planning for 2003 activities under the umbrella of UNHCR's Supplementary Programme for Afghans is still being finalised in consultation with the Islamic Transitional Authority of Afghanistan and other UN agencies. Financial requirements for this programme are to be published in an inter-agency appeal and a full breakdown of activities will be launched at the Afghanistan Support Group meeting in Oslo on 17-18 December.

This brings the grand total for 2003, as it stands now, to US$ 884 million, of which US$ 47.7 million is for Supplementary Programmes. However, together with the Supplementary Programme for the Afghanistan operation, our Supplementary Programmes in 2003 are likely to add up to at least US$ 200 million. This means that UNHCR's total requirements for 2003 will be around US$ 1 billion.

I hope that these important Supplementary Programmes will receive the same generous funding as did our Supplementary Programmes in 2002, and that these funds will indeed be "additional". However, based on the experience of the last few years, it is clear that we have to be prepared for a situation where the Annual Budget is not fully funded. I have to be realistic, and based on the projections currently available, there will be a shortfall of some US$ 100 million against the ExCom approved Annual Budget of US$ 836.3 million.

Last year since we received some US$ 100 million less than we needed under the ExCom approved budget. I have therefore asked my colleagues to take a critical look at all country programmes and general costs, and to apply the parameters of Action 1 more rigorously. In particular, we will reassess our involvement in those programmes for IDPs, which are not well funded, and we shall have to identify reductions in administrative and support costs including at Headquarters.

I hope that by the end of today we will be able to revise our projections for 2003 upwards. But even if this happens, we will still have to take a number of measures to broaden our donor base and in this regard, I would welcome pledges from new donors. I am hopeful that we shall continue to identify complementary sources of funding. I am also confident that our efforts in private sector and corporate fund raising will continue to produce results, however modest these may be in comparison with our overall budget. At the same time, I am keenly aware that there is still room for UNHCR to improve its performance. To this end, we have now published for the first time, UNHCR's global objectives and indicators of progress in the opening chapter of the 2003 Global Appeal. We also need to ensure that we have strong and effective partnerships with our sister UN agencies as well as NGOs.

To enhance our effectiveness in achieving durable solutions, and taking into consideration the funding aspects, I have taken the initiative of launching an integrated approach in the form of "4Rs" programmes (Repatriation, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction) in post-conflict situations. In partnership with the World Bank, UNDP, and through country teams and UN agencies, as well as bilateral partners, we have begun implementing pilot 4Rs programmes in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sierra Leone, and Sri Lanka. We may be initiating similar programmes in Angola. Likewise, in countries hosting large refugee populations, I have advocated a new approach, called "Development through Local Integration" (DLI). The Zambia Initiative is a model for this approach and I hope that more countries will follow.

Next year, Africa will continue to demand the greatest share of UNHCR's resources and attention. Large numbers of displaced persons have returned to their homes in Eritrea and Sierra Leone over the last year, and in Angola there are hopeful signs that many more will soon be able to return. However, ensuring their effective reintegration and helping them to rebuild their lives will not be an easy task.

Elsewhere in Asia, there are also new prospects for durable solutions. Most of the refugees who fled from East Timor have now returned, and in Sri Lanka there is cause for optimism that a long and bitter conflict may finally be ending, paving the way for large-scale returns.

In South-Eastern Europe, my Office is continuing to consolidate its activities. This will help free up scarce resources for use elsewhere in the world - particularly Africa.

Afghanistan will continue to remain a challenge. More than two million people have gone home since the UNHCR-assisted repatriation operation began in March 2002 - including some 1.7 million refugees - and an estimated 1.2 million more refugees are expected to return in 2003. The process of transition from reintegration to rehabilitation and reconstruction must be accelerated now if those who have gone home are to stay, and others are to follow.

In spite of the positive progress that has been made in finding lasting solutions for some groups, we nevertheless face many ongoing challenges for others. The turmoil in Liberia has resulted in new refugee flows, and recent events in Côte d'Ivoire have also reminded us of the fragile situation in West Africa. Other areas that will continue to require our attention in 2003 include the increasingly worrying situation in Colombia and in the Northern Caucasus.

I hope that this Global Appeal will not only put our work in perspective, but also motivate you to fully fund the approved budgets for all our programmes.

As we head into 2003, we are challenged not only to find the resources to meet our Annual Budget of US$ 836.3, but also to find the resources for our Supplementary Programmes. In responding to these challenges, we will draw in an integrated way on both our human and financial resources. I hope our staff can rely on your continuing support.

I ask you once again to provide my office with the resources we need to find solutions for the refugees who desperately need our help. I very much hope that this Global Appeal for 2003 will rally support from our friends and a renewed commitment to protecting refugees, meeting their vital needs and finding solutions for them.

I thank you in advance for your generosity.