US$550 million promised for forcibly displaced, stateless at UNHCR annual pledging conference

Press Releases, 11 December 2012

GENEVA, December 11 (UNHCR) Faced with expanding humanitarian crises in the Middle East and parts of Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa, government donors today pledged US$550 million towards the work of the UN refugee agency in 2013 in helping millions of forcibly displaced and stateless people worldwide. An additional US$169 million was pledged for 2014 and beyond.

The amount represents a portion only of UNHCR's total budgetary needs for 2013, currently put at US$3.92 billion. However, it provides UNHCR with indicators both of the amount with which it can begin its work in 2013 and of likely overall resources for the coming year. By comparison, at the equivalent pledging session for 2012, donors pledged $482 million.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres thanked donors for their support:

"New humanitarian crises over the past months have created hundreds of thousands more refugees and internally displaced people," Guterres said. "This makes us especially grateful to donors who have come forward today with early pledges for our work in 2013. Given the environment we are all in of global economic worry, this is heartening."

The past 18 months have seen simultaneous major new displacement crises, including in the Syria region, Mali, South Sudan, and in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. At the same time, new demands on UNHCR have arisen such as the need to help returns of displaced people in southern Yemen while protracted displacement situations such as that in Afghanistan and Somalia have not gone away.

For the UN refugee agency, which relies almost entirely on voluntary donations, this has meant repeated upward revisions of budgets for several of its major operations as the numbers of displaced rise. A further additional appeal, for example, for the Syria situation is due in just a matter of days.

UNHCR's annual budget is based on a careful assessment of the needs of people of concern that the agency anticipates being capable of addressing. As in previous years, the organization's global refugee programme remains the largest component of its requirements amounting to US$3.07 billion of the $3.92 billion (or: 78 %) needed with almost half the needs being in Africa.

Of the 42.5 million people who were forcibly displaced as of the end of 2011, 25.9 million were receiving protection and assistance from UNHCR. In addition to these populations are an estimated 12 million people worldwide who are stateless.

Additional Information

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Kuwaiti Funds Provide Vital Medical Aid for Syrians in Lebanon

As the number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon continues to grow, ensuring access to quality health care is becoming an increasing challenge for humanitarian aid groups and the international community. So, Kuwait's unprecedented donation in April of US$110 million for UNHCR's Syria crisis operations this year came at a most opportune time. Slightly more than 40 per cent of the amount has been used to fund programmes in Lebanon, including the provision of vital - and often life-saving - medical care. In the following photo gallery, photographer Shawn Baldwin looks at the essential work being done in just one Kuwaiti-supported clinic in northern Lebanon. The small Al Nahda Primary Health Care Clinic in the town of Beddawi has a staff of seven doctors and one nurse. Between 600 and 700 people seek medical attention there every month and the clinic meets the needs of some of the most vulnerable refugees.

Kuwaiti Funds Provide Vital Medical Aid for Syrians in Lebanon

UNHCR and Partners Tackle Malnutrition in Mauritania Camp

The UN refugee agency has just renewed its appeal for funds to help meet the needs of tens of thousands of Malian refugees and almost 300,000 internally displaced people. The funding UNHCR is seeking is needed, among other things, for the provision of supplementary and therapeutic food and delivery of health care, including for those suffering from malnutrition. This is one of UNHCR's main concerns in the Mbera refugee camp in Mauritania, which hosts more than 70,000 Malians. A survey on nutrition conducted last January in the camp found that more than 13 per cent of refugee children aged under five suffer from acute malnutrition and more than 41 per cent from chronic malnutrition. Several measures have been taken to treat and prevent malnutrition, including distribution of nutritional supplements to babies and infants, organization of awareness sessions for mothers, increased access to health facilities, launch of a measles vaccination campaign and installation of better water and sanitation infrastructure. Additional funding is needed to improve the prevention and response mechanisms. UNHCR appealed last year for US$144 million for its Mali crisis operations in 2013, but has received only 32 per cent to date. The most urgent needs are food, shelter, sanitation, health care and education.

The photographs in this set were taken by Bechir Malum.

UNHCR and Partners Tackle Malnutrition in Mauritania Camp

Food cuts in Chad camps expose refugee women and children to exploitation, abuse

A funding shortfall has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to cut food rations in refugee camps in eastern Chad by up to 60 per cent. As a result, Sudanese refugees in 13 camps in the east now receive about 850 calories per day, down from the minimum ration of 2,100 calories daily they used to get. The refugees are finding it difficult to cope. Clinics in the area report a significant spike in malnutrition cases, with rates as high as 19.5 per cent in Am Nabak camp.

WFP needs to raise US$ 186 million to maintain feeding programmes for refugees in Africa through the end of the year. Additionally, UNHCR is urgently seeking contributions towards the US$ 78 million it has budgeted this year for food security and nutrition programmes serving refugees in Africa.

In the meantime, the refugees experiencing ration cuts have few options. Poor soil quality, dry conditions and little access to water mean they can't plant supplemental crops as refugees in the less arid south of Chad are able to do. To try to cope, many refugee women in eastern Chad are leaving the camps in search of work in surrounding towns. They clean houses, do laundry, fetch water and firewood and work as construction labourers. Even so, they earn very little and often depend on each other for support. In the town of Iriba, for example, some 50 refugee women sleep rough each night under a tree and share their some of their meagre earnings to pay for a daily, communal meal.

They are also subject to exploitation. Sometimes, their temporary employers refuse to pay them at the end of the day. And some women and girls have resorted to prostitution to earn money to feed their families.

Ration cuts can have an impact far beyond health, reverberating through the entire community. It is not uncommon for children to be pulled out of school on market days in order to work. Many refugees use a portion of their food rations to barter for other essentials, or to get cash to pay school fees or buy supplies for their children. Small business owners like butchers, hairdressers and tailors - some of them refugees - also feel the pinch.

WFP supplies food to some 240,500 Sudanese refugees in the camps of eastern Chad. Many have been in exile for years and, because of their limited opportunities for self-sufficiency, remain almost totally dependent on outside help. The ration cuts have made an already difficult situation much worse for refugees who were already struggling.

Food cuts in Chad camps expose refugee women and children to exploitation, abuse

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