By Haruna Gimba
Governments around the world pledged $1.13 billion on Tuesday to provide a lifeline to people displaced by war, violence and human rights violations, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Tuesday.
Coupled with a $400 million commitment from UNHCR’s private sector partners – – a group of independent NGOs known as the National Partners – in Argentina, Australia, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, 2023 total pledges equal $1.53 billion.
This allows the UN agency to start the new year, confident that it can cover 15 per cent of anticipated needs, said the agency in a press release.
“As a result of conflict, the climate emergency, and other crises, a record number of displaced people around the world face unprecedented needs,” said the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.
“Fortunately, UNHCR’s generous donors continue to support them during these dire days, creating hope for a brighter future.”
UNHCR has asked donors for $10.211 billion in 2023 – the first time the agency has asked for more than $10 billion to start the year.
The US provided UNHCR with a record $ 2.1 billion this year, and led the 2023 pledges with a $200 million commitment, followed by Germany and Japan.
In response to UNHCR’s appeal for more flexible funding that enables agility in an emergency and allows the UN agency to address underfunded situations, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands have each stepped up.
As new conflicts arise and others go unresolved, there are now more than 100 million forcibly displaced, the highest number ever recorded.
By promoting their empowerment and inclusion, helping to resolve their situations, and making them less dependent on humanitarian aid, UNHCR programmes support the displaced as well as national programmes and communities that host them.
“I was distressed by the cuts we were forced to make this year to lifesaving programmes as funding fell short of needs”, Mr Grandi said.
“We are living in turbulent times. Unresolved conflicts, rising prices, and more damaging climate events are piling pressure onto the most vulnerable. The funding announced today will help alleviate some of the hardship, but much more is needed throughout the year.”
Governments attending the conference also pledged $721 million for 2024 and beyond – a crucial contribution to the planning and stability of UNHCR’s longer-term support programmes.
The High Commissioner highlighted that he was “heartened by the outpouring of support from the public in so many countries for UNHCR’s work in Ukraine and beyond”
UNHCR’s Global Appeal 2023 sets out the challenges that the agency foresees in 2023 and its plans to tackle them.
It includes chapters on funding, and UNHCR’s work in different regions, covering16 major thematic areas. There are also illuminating interviews with UNHCR staff covering internal displacement, Statelessness, climate action and its development work.
The response to the situations in Ukraine and Afghanistan and many other evolving and protracted crises, means that UNHCR’s 2023 budget is 13.5 per cent higher than the original budget set this year, of $8.994 billion.
Throughout this year, UNHCR had to issue supplementary appeals, notably to meet the rising needs in Ukraine.
Although donors have repeatedly raised their contribution levels, global needs have risen faster.
Its final budgetary ask for 2022, amounting to $10.714 billion, was only 52 per cent funded.