Donors pledge $857mn for UNHCR in 2018

Geneva, Dec 7 (IANS/AKI) Donor governments have pledged an initial $857 million to the UN refugee agency UNHCR to help some 67 million displaced or stateless people worldwide next year, UNHCR said.

“A year of no peace and much war is about to end,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Tuesday. “Refugee crises grow. Refugee needs grow as well.”

The pledges, made at an annual meeting in Geneva, amount to around 11 per cent of UNHCR’s total 2018 funding needs of over $7.5 billion, the agency said.

The funds committed this year are considerably higher than the $701 million pledged at the end of 2016, the agency said, noting a widening gap between the cash it has received and the needs of refugees amid new crises that have seen record numbers of displaced people.

This “means that UNHCR has to prioritize, sometimes mercilessly,” Grandi said. “Some (refugees) will be left to fend for themselves during the harsh winter months and others won’t get the assistance they need to reintegrate upon return,” he underlined.

UNHCR said it relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions from governments, intergovernmental organisations and, increasingly, from individuals, corporations and foundations to keep up its life-saving work in some of the biggest emergencies around the world.

Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are crisis zones where UNHCR is continuing to give vital assistance, the agency said.

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