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U.S. Statement to the Pledging Conference of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
December 9, 2008


Statement Delivered by
Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor
Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations and Other International Organizations

Madame Chairperson,

I am pleased to be here today to express my government’s support for the 2009 Global Appeal of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. On behalf of the United States Government, I am honored to pledge an initial $125 million to UNHCR’s Annual and Supplementary programs for 2009, which matches our initial pledge for 2008. Additional contributions will follow, and we will again strive to provide our fair share of UNHCR’s Annual Budget in 2009. The United States recognizes the vital importance of providing UNHCR with early and robust contributions to ensure that the protection and assistance of its beneficiary populations are not interrupted. We encourage other donors to join us in providing UNHCR with early and flexible financial support, in keeping with the good principles of Good Humanitarian Donorship. In addition, it is important to acknowledge the contribution of the many refugee hosting States who have provided protection and assistance to refugees around the world, especially those States who have supported opportunities for self-reliance.

UNHCR is undergoing major institutional reform that will make the organization more flexible, effective, and responsive to the needs of its beneficiary populations. As these efforts continue to roll out, UNHCR must be able to clearly show ways in which these reforms have made a lasting and positive impact at the field level, and we are confident that you can and will do so.

The United States continues to encourage UNHCR to present a needs-based budget and we commend the organization’s efforts to begin this process through the Global Needs Assessment. The next big challenge is for UNHCR to come up with a coherent global approach and common criteria for the GNA prior to its rollout worldwide for 2010. Prioritization of needs will be a difficult task, given that country context and the needs of beneficiary populations can vary a great deal. Input from implementing partners, host governments, and donors will be key for continued buy-in to the process. We stand ready to lend our support.

The United States strongly supports a multilateral commitment to the protection and care of refugees and others of concern to UNHCR. International coherence on policies, strategies, and approaches – particularly in the humanitarian assistance context – are key.

While we have seen trends toward peace and stability (and subsequent refugee returns) occurring in places like Afghanistan, Burundi, the DRC, Liberia and southern Sudan, there has also been an increase in the complexity, number and severity of international and localized conflicts worldwide, at times in the very places where refugees are returning. UNHCR continues to be a key partner in many of these situations. Moreover, the operations where UNHCR staff find themselves working in are more complex and increasingly insecure. We want to solute and commend the staff of UNHCR for their tireless dedication and hard work which is often carried out in very difficult situations.

Madame Chairperson, UNHCR’s unique, but critical mandate and expertise in meeting refugee and IDP protection and assistance needs, pursuing durable solutions on their behalf, and preventing and reducing statelessness make the donor community’s support for UNHCR imperative for effective multilateral humanitarian response. We commend High Commissioner Guterres and UNHCR staff for their commitment to our common cause of seeking durable solutions for refugees around the world.

Thank you.