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UN Agency Seeks Over $1 Billion To Assist Refugees

UN agency seeks over $1 billion to assist millions of refugees worldwide

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) - which relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions - today called for nearly $1.1 billion to assist the millions of refugees, as well as displaced and stateless persons, around the world.

Kicking off its annual pledging conference in Geneva, the agency appealed for financial support for its 2008 budget, including its largest operations in Chad, Afghanistan, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis said at a press briefing that "it is vital to get early and prompt funding so we can plan effectively and continue our operations to help those uprooted by conflict and persecution without interruption."

Next month, the agency - which operates in 116 countries - will launch several supplementary appeals for emergency and special programmes, totalling $480 million, bringing UNHCR's total budget for 2008 to $1.57 billion, up from $1.45 billion in 2007.

The supplementary appeals include relief operations in Darfur; repatriation and reintegration of Sudanese and Mauritanian refugees; and the situations in Iraq and Somalia. They will also fund programmes for the internally displaced in Chad, Uganda, the DRC, the Central African Republic (CAR), Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Colombia.

Nearly 40 per cent of UNHCR's budget goes towards its operations in Africa, followed by the Middle East and North Africa with 17.5 per cent, the Asia-Pacific region with 9.9 per cent, Europe with 5.9 per cent and the Americas with 2.8 per cent.

To date, over 90 per cent of the agency's 2007 budged has been funded by donors, with the Untied States, Sweden, the European Commission, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Norway being the largest contributors.

UNHCR has 262 offices worldwide, with over 6,000 staff members - 5,400 of whom work in the field - and works with more than 600 partners to help nearly 33 million refugees, displaced and stateless people.


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