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U.S. Statement to the Pledging Conference of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
December 5, 2019

Statement As Delivered by Ambassador Andrew Bremberg

Thank you, Chair.

For nearly 70 years, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has saved lives and helped millions of people forcibly displaced from their homes build better futures. The United States is proud to support this work and we are committed to maintaining this deep partnership, which has existed since UNHCR’s beginning.

As I begin my tenure in Geneva, it is my honor to represent the United States and confirm that we remain committed to addressing the plight of those affected by persecution around the world. One important mechanism for doing so is through our support to UNHCR. This commitment is demonstrated by another year of historically high financial support from the American people. In fiscal year 2019 alone, the U.S. government’s contribution to UNHCR reached its highest level ever at nearly $1.7 billion. This was part of nearly $9.3 billion that the United States provided for humanitarian crisis response globally.

Looking forward, I am pleased to express my government’s support for the 2020 Global Appeal of UNHCR, which spans humanitarian needs across the globe. The U.S. government pledges an initial $125 million towards this 2020 appeal. At the same time, we extend our gratitude to States who continue to host large numbers of refugees while noting the need for continued commitment to refugee protection. We stand with you.

The United States will continue to lead the world in humanitarian assistance. We support displaced people as close to their homes as possible to help meet their needs until they can safely and voluntarily return. At the same time, we need others to increase their support in the face of immense unmet humanitarian needs. Join us to ensure the responsibility is more equitably shared.

As we enter another year of unprecedented numbers of forced displacement and people of concern to UNHCR, we must not forget the faces and stories of the individuals that make up these numbers, refugees who fled across international borders with few possessions to find safety from persecution; internally displaced persons suddenly forced from their homes into a state of limbo; families separated; children and youth forced to reshape their futures; and stateless people whose lack of nationality impedes them from accessing the most basic of services.

While we continue to face a growingly complex humanitarian landscape with new crises in addition to decades-old conflicts, we must first and foremost work toward peace and stability. And until this is achieved, we must ensure our humanitarian responses are conducted with maximum effectiveness and efficiency and carried out with transparency and due diligence.

This is necessary both for the sake of accountability to affected populations and donors and to ensure funding truly goes to where and what is needed most. We see UNHCR’s reform efforts over the last several years taking these principles into account by strengthening oversight, working more closely with a range of development actors to strengthen relief and development coherence, and looking for better ways to do business while reducing management costs. This work is not over yet, and it is imperative that we see the quantifiable impact of these changes over the coming year and years. We look forward to continuing to work alongside you on these efforts and as part of broader UN reform.

In closing, I must recognize the historic efforts of UNHCR staff, who work on behalf of refugees and others every single day, often in dangerous places and under incredibly challenging circumstances all around the world. I appreciate all that you do.

Thank you very much.