U.S. Statement to the Pledging Conference of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

U.S. Statement to the Pledging Conference of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Delivered by Humanitarian Counselor Tressa Finerty
U.S. Mission to the United Nations and Other International Organizations

Geneva, December 5, 2017

Thank you, Chair.

I am pleased to express my government’s support for the 2018-2019 Global Appeal of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and am honored to pledge an initial $125 million towards this appeal.  This matches our initial pledge for 2017.

The United States recognizes the challenges UNHCR faces as record numbers of people are being displaced by conflict and persecution worldwide.  We fully support the need for UNHCR to maintain the centrality of protection.   A critical component of UNHCR’s ability to react to these challenges is the provision of necessary financial resources. We encourage other donors to join us in providing UNHCR with significant and flexible financial support.

We commend and appreciate the significant contributions of the many States hosting refugees while also noting the need for continued commitment and shared responsibility.  While past experience has proven that UNHCR steps up to every challenge, there is always room for improvement, and important steps are being taken in this area.  We applaud current reform efforts, which include:  strategic workforce planning and human resources improvements, a focus on innovation and data, attention to needs-based and gender-specific initiatives, and diversification of its resources and actors involved in a response, together with strengthening accountability procedures and risk mitigation.  We recognize the importance of due diligence, transparency, cost cutting, and accountability to States and beneficiaries; ongoing reform efforts should proceed apace to address these.

The overwhelming majority of refugees and internally displaced persons are living in long-term situations, this highlights the need for increased relief and development coherence, which requires the engagement of development actors in supporting forcibly displaced persons and host communities simultaneously, including through creating opportunities for shared services and self-reliance.  Relief and development coherence  should not be limited to funding discussions; it can also mean leveraging development and financing expertise and relationships – in particular with government line ministries – to inform smarter and more sustainable approaches to assistance and solutions.  The implementation of the comprehensive refugee response framework and lessons learned from these contexts aim to strengthen the international response to large movements of refugees through more effective and efficient responses.

Colleagues,

Over the past few years, UNHCR’s operations and budget have continued to expand significantly – largely due to new or growing crises in places like Burma, South Sudan, Burundi, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen – while solutions to most protracted situations remain elusive.  We must continue to work closely together to help support UNHCR’s response to these rising humanitarian challenges while  advancing shifting approaches to providing protection and assistance globally and ensuring sufficient and effective oversight of our significant financial contributions to this organization.

Finally, importantly I wish to recognize the heroic efforts of UNHCR staff around the world.  It is also important to continue to invest in the well-being of these individuals who work on behalf of refugees and other vulnerable people every single day.  We stand in solidarity and strength of purpose, no matter how difficult the situation.

Thank you.

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