U.S. Statement to the Pledging Conference of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Statement Delivered by Adam Smith, Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Mission of the United States of America to the Office of the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva
Geneva, December 7, 2021
Thank you, Chair.
I am pleased to express the United States’ support for the 2022 Global Appeal of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and am honored to announce our initial pledge of $200 million dollars towards this appeal. My government is proud that this pledge is an increase of 60 percent from last year’s initial pledge, demonstrating our commitment to providing robust support to UNHCR.
In the face of record numbers of people displaced by conflict and persecution worldwide, the United States makes clear our commitment to support UNHCR’s efforts to address forced displacement and statelessness and calls upon all member states to step up their efforts to do the same. The past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrate all too clearly that many of the biggest crises we face respect no borders and must be met with collective action. UNHCR’s ability to respond quickly at the start of the pandemic to deliver protection and assistance amid COVID-19 was thanks to sufficient, flexible donor support.
As we continue to respond to the virus and manage related restrictions, other drivers of displacement, including conflict and climate-related displacement, have not waned. UNHCR responds to multiple complex emergencies each year, and critical to UNHCR’s ability to react to these challenges is the assurance provided by donors that we will step up and do our part to ensure it has the resources it needs to respond. We encourage donors to join us in increasing their commitments to UNHCR with significant and flexible financial support.
The overwhelming majority of forcibly displaced persons are living in protracted situations where coherence between relief and development should not be a political debate but a practical reality. Development and humanitarian actors must cooperate to do more to support forcibly displaced persons and host communities simultaneously, including through creating opportunities for the provision and improvement of shared services and self-reliance. We look forward to the upcoming High-Level Officials Meeting as a chance to assess progress on advancing the principles and objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees and to ensure we are meeting our commitment as donors and host countries to provide effective support for refugees and host communities.
As UNHCR is called upon to respond to crises that stem from the impacts of climate change, we see clearly the need for adequate and flexible funding from member states. We face a unique challenge in the climate emergency, and we recognize that climate change has disproportionate impacts on marginalized communities, and frequently compounds situations of vulnerability and increases risks of displacement. We commend the work UNHCR has undertaken to develop its strategic framework for climate action and our contribution today reflects the urgent need to invest in responses to displacement that- take account of the climate emergency.
The United States will continue to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, and with this pledge will strengthen our engagement in the international humanitarian response for refugees and other persons of concern, including particularly vulnerable groups such as LGBTQI individuals. In addition, our commitment to reasserting American leadership to resettle refugees has never been stronger with the aim of resettling up to 125,000 refugees in 2022. We will be looking to UNHCR and other governments to partner with us to ensure this durable solution is available to more refugees. The United States also continues to work to end the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate equitable access to and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. We will continue to invest in and expand our efforts to strengthen health systems that deliver vaccines as the world’s largest donor of both safe and effective vaccines and funding to the COVAX facility. We also will continue to prioritize increased support for the hidden pandemic – victims of gender-based violence and mental health, challenges that have intensified during the pandemic. We urge others to increase their support to UNHCR in the face of immense unmet humanitarian needs and with a view toward more equitable responsibility-sharing by the international community.
In closing, I want to note that the United States is grateful for the tireless efforts of UNHCR staff, who work on behalf of refugees and others every single day, often in dangerous places and under incredibly challenging circumstances. We appreciate all that you do.