Ambassador Andrew Bremberg Remarks at the UNHCR Pledging Conference
December 2, 2020
Chairperson and High Commissioner,
Thank you for bringing us together virtually to better understand the anticipated needs of UNHCR’s persons of concern in the coming year. For 70 years, UNHCR has assisted millions of asylum seekers, refugees, internally displaced and stateless persons all around the world. In 2020, the value of this work has been even more apparent with the added complexity of responding during the global COVID-19 pandemic. We witnessed UNHCR’s quick action, alongside partners, to prevent and address the spread of this deadly virus in communities hosting refugees and forcibly displaced persons, while also working to uphold protection and begin to mitigate the secondary impacts on livelihoods and protection.
On behalf of the United States, I would first like to recognize the resilience of the people we are here to help protect and assist, who in the face of persecution and war, continue to persevere and hope for a better future. We also thank UNHCR staff working in some of the most difficult environments, often at great personal sacrifice, to ensure protection is available, basic rights are upheld, and humanitarian needs are met.
The United States remains steadfast in our commitment to protecting and assisting the world’s most vulnerable; in coordination with other states, UNHCR and other UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, development actors, the private sector, and affected people themselves. In fiscal year 2020, we again reached a record high in U.S. giving to UNHCR with nearly $2 billion contributed. As humanitarian needs have grown, so has U.S. funding. In the last four years alone, our annual support to UNHCR has increased by nearly $506 million. However, globally, giving has not kept pace with needs, and funding gaps continue to negatively impact people’s lives. We recognize UNHCR’s resource mobilization and fundraising efforts in recent years, and commend them, but we draw attention to the fact that UNHCR remains dependent on a small number of donors. While we recognize that some states have given more, as outlined in High Commissioner Grandi’s opening remarks, we are concerned that the U.S. portion of UNHCR’s total funding continues to increase. We call again on states to increase their support – for existing donors to give even more generously, and for new donors to step forward and join us. In addition, we need to recognize as member states collectively that this way of addressing humanitarian needs is not sustainable. Member states must act together to end the political crises that lie at the root of the record-breaking levels of displacement that we see across the world today.
Simultaneously, as donors take on greater responsibility, and even as we bring peacebuilding efforts to bear on the humanitarian crises we face, UNHCR must continue its efforts to ensure that every dollar it receives has the greatest impact possible, meeting basic needs with efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency. UNHCR’s ongoing reforms are promising, and we look forward to seeing their quantifiable impact. We appreciate UNHCR’s efforts to strengthen integrity measures, work with other actors on the nexus of humanitarian and development action, increase joint needs assessments, and reduce management costs. We value our partnership with UNHCR and will continue to support your efforts with robust financial support.
Ultimately, we must identify and achieve durable solutions to forced displacement. Our primary aim remains to enable people forced from their homes to voluntarily and sustainably return home, in safety and with dignity. In order to achieve this, appropriate conditions, including peace and stability, must be established. In the meantime, the U.S. will continue to support life-saving protection and assistance, including through UNHCR.
In response to UNHCR’s 2021 Global Appeal, the U.S. pledges an initial $125 million. This initial pledge is a symbol of our commitment to UNHCR’s persons of concern, which also in very real terms enables UNHCR to continue its lifesaving work on January 1. As in previous years, UNHCR can expect our ongoing support and additional contributions throughout 2021.
With this pledge, we acknowledge the immense humanitarian needs around the world, commend others who have also increased their contributions over the last year, and recognize states who continue to host large numbers of refugees. We urge all to maintain their commitment to refugee protection and robust support to UNHCR.
While we confront historic levels of forced displacement, complicated by a global pandemic and increasing poverty, we remain motivated and clear-sighted in addressing the root causes of forced displacement and achieving solutions. We are encouraged by the stories of refugees, IDPs, and stateless persons who, despite all odds, persevere for a better tomorrow for themselves and their children. The United States will continue to do our part to achieve that aim.
Thank you very much.