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Donors Pledge 30% Of 2006 UN Refuge Budget

Donors Pledge 30 Per Cent Of UN Refuge Agency’s Budget For 2006

With a $1.22 billion dollar budget for 2006 to assist some 19.1 million people worldwide, the United Nations refugee agency received firm funding pledges of $354.3 million from donors at its annual pledging conference in Geneva yesterday, a decrease of about 12 per cent from last year's pledges of $405.4 million.

The decrease in advance pledges this year is mainly due to exchange rate fluctuations, particularly the strengthening of the United States dollar, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva today.

“But the unprecedented number of major natural disasters in 2005 may also have put a strain on donors’ humanitarian budgets,” she said. “In addition, some donors explained they were unable to pledge at this stage as their budgets for next year have yet to be finalized.”

UNHCR is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, with the UN regular budget covering only 2.9 per cent of needs. Generally, by year-end UNHCR has at least 80 per cent of its budget funded.

Among the 42 States pledging about 30 per cent of the total budget yesterday were some who announced contributions for the first time or after a brief absence, including Chile, France, Greece, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Oman, Russia and Singapore.

Over the past few years, UNHCR has been calling for firm commitments to be made at the annual pledging conferences, in order to help reduce financial uncertainty and allow for more predictable funding.

UNHCR’s financial requirements, including the regular budget and a supplementary budget, were $1.1 billion in 2005.

The money is needed to assist 19.1 million people of concern to UNHCR around the world including some 9.2 million refugees, 5.4 million internally displaced persons, some 1.5 million returnees, 840,000 asylum seekers and 1.5 million stateless people.

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