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FILE: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, delivers a speech in an interview in Nairobi, Kenya, on June 20, 2023. /CFP

Funding shortfalls heighten risks for refugees globally: UNHCR

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Funding shortfalls have increased risks for refugees globally, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi

In his opening statement to the Executive Committee in Geneva on Monday, Grandi said there is still a shortfall of 650 million U.S. dollars that must be filled before the end of this year.

He noted that more than 110 million people around the world have been forced from their homes by conflict, violence, and persecution.

“The global situation is indeed dire, and it is getting worse,” said Grandi.

The High Commissioner for Refugees noted that the agency responded to 44 new emergencies in 31 countries over the past year, capping off an awful record of number of crises in a single year.

He lamented that despite the efforts in response to the growing number of displaced people, conflict continues in parts of the world, forcing even more people out of their homes.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 1.5 million people have been newly displaced this year alone, 78,000 of whom fled within the country in just one day last week.

In Central Sahel, amidst growing political instability, violence perpetrated by armed groups is forcing more people to flee, including to coastal states.

Somalia too has had its share of troubles, as a climate emergency coupled with conflict has forced nearly 900,000 from their homes.

The UNHCR and other UN agencies have already been forced to size down on some responses in various situations due to funding shortfalls.

Grandi said the need for funding is very urgent, otherwise his agency will be forced to cut expenditure in vital areas, including emergency responses.

“The consequences of financial shortfalls are stark, affecting refugees and displaced people and putting pressure on host countries (which remain the largest donors to refugees). We have already seen worrying cuts to food assistance in Bangladesh and Jordan, and several African countries, resulting in increased onward movement for some and negative coping mechanisms for others, with funding shortfalls leading, for example, also to reduced protection services — like in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the places where these protection services are most dramatically needed,” said Grandi.

The Global Refugee Forum 2023 is scheduled to take place between December 13 – 15 in Geneva.

According to the UNHCR, the Forum will provide an opportunity to build on the progress made by governments and other stakeholders towards the implementation of pledges and initiatives announced since 2019.

During the event, participants are expected announce new pledges, share good practices and take stock of the challenges and opportunities.

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