Donors pledge US$550 million for UNHCR's global operations next year

News Stories, 11 December 2012

© UNHCR/B.Sokol
A family of Sudanese refugees at a camp in South Sudan earlier this year. The donor generosity will help people like these in the major displacement crises.

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

The amount represents only a portion 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, last year donors pledged US$482 million for 2012.

The funds will be used to help millions of forcibly displaced and stateless people worldwide. 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 per cent) 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, almost 26 million were receiving protection and assistance from UNHCR. In addition to these populations are an estimated 12 million people worldwide who are stateless.

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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

New refugees from Central African Republic struggle with ration cuts in southern Chad

Since January 2014, a funding shortfall has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to cut food rations by 60 per cent in refugee camps in southern Chad. The reduction comes as thousands of refugees from Central African Republic (CAR) continue to arrive in the south - more than 14,000 of them since the beginning of 2014. Many arrive sick, malnourished and exhausted after walking for months in the bush with little food or water. They join some 90,000 other CAR refugees already in the south - some of them for years.

The earlier refugees have been able to gain some degree of self-reliance through agriculture or employment, thus making up for some of the food cuts. But the new arrivals, fleeing the latest round of violence in their homeland, are facing a much harsher reality. And many of them - particularly children - will struggle to survive because WFP has also been forced cut the supplemental feeding programmes used to treat people trying to recover from malnutrition.

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.

Photojournalist Corentin Fohlen and UNHCR Public Information Officer Céline Schmitt visited CAR refugees in southern Chad to document their plight and how they're trying to cope.

New refugees from Central African Republic struggle with ration cuts in southern Chad

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