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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Palestinian Refugees get disproportionate funding

Israel Zwick points out this comparison between UNHCR, the agency that deals with all refugees EXCEPT Palestinian refugees, and UNRWA, which deals ONLY with Palestinian refugees, and apparently is asking for half the budget of UNHCR, which deals with all other refugees.

Comparison of UNHCR With UNRWA

Editor's Note: The following comparisons of UNRWA and UNHCR were taken from their own official websites, and The data are self-explanatory. This was compiled by Israel Zwick, Editor, CN Publications.

UNHCR set to ask donors for over one billion dollars for 2008 budget

UNHCR is present in 116 countries, has 262 offices worldwide with 6,260 staff members – 5,400 of whom are in the field. We work with 624 partners to provide help and assistance to 32.9 million refugees, displaced and stateless people.

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 4 December 2007, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

In Geneva next Tuesday (11 December), at its annual Pledging Conference, UNHCR will present to donor countries its 2008 annual budget of US$1.096 billion, up from $1.06 billion in 2007, to help millions of refugees, displaced and stateless persons around the world.

In addition to its regular budget, UNHCR will also launch a number of supplementary appeals for emergency and special programmes for an estimated total of US $480 million bringing UNHCR's total expected budget in 2008 to over US$ 1.57 billion, compared to US$ 1.45 billion in 2007.

In January 2008, UNHCR expects to launch supplementary appeals for programmes including the Iraq situation; relief operations in Darfur; the Somali situation; repatriation and reintegration of Sudanese and Mauritanian refugees; IDP programmes in Chad, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Colombia.

We hope the response by donors will be generous and swift to enable a smooth continuation during the coming year of our operations to assist and protect people uprooted by conflict and persecution.

The UN refugee agency relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions with only a very small proportion of its budget coming from the UN Regular Budget. So, it's important for us to have early, flexible and predictable funding so we can help the 32.9 million people of concern to us. UNHCR looks to the Pledging Conference to provide a strong funding start for the coming year, ensuring a timely launch of new activities and avoiding interruptions in current activities.

UNHCR's operations in Africa lead the needs with 37.5 percent of the total budget, followed by the Middle East and North Africa 17.5 percent, Asia/Pacific 9.9 percent, Europe 5.9 percent and the Americas 2.8 percent. The remaining percentage is made up of funds required for global programmes, headquarters and reserves.

The largest operations in the 2008 annual budget are: Chad (US$ 73.6 million), Afghanistan (US$ 49.87 million), Kenya (US$ 41.48 million) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (40.92 million).

The 2008 budget has risen by US$53 million – or five percent – from 2007, mainly due to the mainstreaming into the annual budget of the supplementary programme for the repatriation and reintegration of Congolese refugees in the DRC.

The 2008 Global Appeal reflects UNHCR's shift towards a two-year programme and budget cycle (for 2008 – $1.096 billion, and $1.108 billion for 2009) which will allow a more medium term approach to planning and implementation.

Pledges for both years would be appreciated, but we understand that donors frequently have their own restrictions which may only allow them to pledge for 2008.

So far, some 93 percent of last year's UNHCR budget has been funded by donors. Top donors in 2007 have been the USA, Sweden, the European Commission, Japan, the Netherlands, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Norway.

UNHCR is present in 116 countries, has 262 offices worldwide with 6,260 staff members – 5,400 of whom are in the field. We work with 624 partners to provide help and assistance to 32.9 million refugees, displaced and stateless people.

Link: UNHCR Global Appeal 2008-2009

UNRWA Commissioner-General's Presentation to the Advisory Committee on Administrative & Budgetary Questions (ACABQ)

To meet the Agency's goals, the recurrent activities of UNRWA over the 2008 – 2009 biennium have been budgeted at $1.09 billion. Subject to member states' approval, the Agency has budgeted for an additional 20 international posts in this period. I will elaborate on this last point later in my presentation.

UNRWA's vital humanitarian and human development activities depend on the work of some 28,000 locally-recruited staff, many of whom have spent decades in the service of their fellow Palestinian refugees.

New York, 24 October 2007

Distinguished Chair and Members of the Committee:

Allow me to begin by expressing UNRWA's appreciation for this opportunity to present our programme budget requirements for the biennium 2008 - 2009.

Over the past 59 years, the population of registered refugees in UNRWA's five fields of operation, Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, has grown to some 4.5 million, more than five times the number in 1948. The Palestine refugee issue is the most intractable the world has known, and given its intimate link with the geo-politics of the Middle East, is an issue with implications for global peace and security. Many of the refugees have become largely self-sufficient, but the majority continues to depend on UNRWA for essential education, health and relief services. My agency is also active in the construction and maintenance of infrastructure in 58 refugee camps and provides microfinance services to small businesses.

The scale of the task entrusted to us has grown dramatically over the past six decades, and with it, the nature of the challenge of achieving our mission. As the region has developed, refugee needs have inevitably grown more complex and sophisticated, compelling the agency to become more dynamic and more responsive to the demand for programmes of enhanced quality. These changing needs and plans for higher standards of service delivery are reflected in our biennial budgets and our Organizational Development Plan, which covers the three years to the end of 2009.

Amidst changing circumstances and growing needs, UNRWA's humanitarian and human development vision, however, remains constant. It is for every refugee to be able to enjoy the best possible standards of human development consistent with international and regional standards, in consonance with those fundamental rights enshrined in the UN Charter and its Conventions, and in line with the Millennium Development Goals. Irrespective of the waxing and waning of prospects for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which must include a just and durable solution to the refugee question, it is our obligation as a UN agency charged with upholding the wellbeing of the refugees to aim at achieving these standards for our beneficiaries.

UNRWA's strategic objectives for the coming biennium are thus to support the educational, health, social and economic development of the refugees and to provide targeted relief for the most vulnerable among them, particularly women, children and the disabled. Meeting these objectives requires an increased financial commitment on the part of the international community to improving the well-being of the refugees.

Allow me to outline briefly the main features of the 2008-9 budget.

Features of the 2008 – 2009 biennium budget

To meet the Agency's goals, the recurrent activities of UNRWA over the 2008 – 2009 biennium have been budgeted at $1.09 billion. Subject to member states' approval, the Agency has budgeted for an additional 20 international posts in this period. I will elaborate on this last point later in my presentation.

More at Comparison of UNHCR With UNRWA

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