Thu 28/03/2024 - 17:18

There are more and more conflicts in the world and unfortunately, this also means more and more refugees. However, the resources to help them are not increasing at the same pace. This leads to major problems; UNHCR cannot provide the millions of refugees around the world with all the help they need. A critical development, wrote Kelly T. Clements, Deputy High Commissioner for UNHCR, in a recent article for Many lives are in danger - and there is a lack of hope.

The world is distracted or is lacking trust
Since the armed conflict erupted in Sudan last year, over 8.2 million people have been forced to flee their homes, seeking safety inside or outside the country. Around half a million of them arrived in neighboring Chad, for example, a country which she recently visited, as Kelly T. Clements explains in her article from March 27. Most of these refugees would no longer be alive today without the support of the United Nations, its donors and partners.

But the financial support for the UN humanitarian agencies such as UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is dwindling. The people are focused on other preoccupations. Some don’t want to spend their money outside of their neighborhood, Kelly T. Clements further states. Others are just not trusting anymore: “It is argued the UN should be scrapped, that it makes no difference; is broken, bureaucratic and corrupt.”

UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements visited refugees from Sudan in Chad.
UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements visited refugees from Sudan in Chad.

“What we do in Chad, matters everywhere else”
Yet UNHCR carries out lifesaving humanitarian work all around the globe. It provides life-sustaining aid to tens of millions of the most vulnerable people and therefore much needed hope. Within days of the Sudan conflict starting, for example, UNHCR and partners were deploying to the borders. Kelly T. Clements emphasizes, that UN logistics have been built over time and currently outstrip the abilities of the private sector and state agencies to reach those in need. But that is expensive, as remote areas are sometimes only reachable by air.

And it’s not only about first aid: UNHCR supports the forcibly displaced in building a new life and diminish the burden of their host communities. Refugees don’t want to be dependant forever, they want to live in dignity, earn their own money, be able to support their own families. “What we do in Chad does matter to those in Chicago, Copenhagen or Canberra, even if it’s far”, says the Deputy High Commissioner.

Sustaining such a massive global response requires highly specialised, skilled and brave staff. And yes, significant funding. 

A shift takes time, but refugees can’t wait
Last year, UNHCR was only able to raise half of what it needed for basic planned programs. Regarding the increasing number of forcibly displaced people around the globe – currently 114 million – Kelly T. Clements and her teams “face impossible decisions to meet the greatest demands we’ve ever seen.”

This year’s outlook is even bleaker, with costs rising everywhere. So, UNHCR has been cutting – their own staff, cash for Syrian refugees in Jordan, female hygiene kits in Uganda, protection monitors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and more. And while most of UNHCR’s funds currently come from the U.S., the European Union and a handful of others, the agency is trying to diversify to the private sector and other parts of the world. But this shift takes time, Kelly T. Clements makes clear.

Time that a lot of refugees don’t have.

A mother from Darfur, Sudan, attends a pre-registration centre for newly arrived refugees in Adre, Chad.
A mother from Darfur, Sudan, attends a pre-registration centre for newly arrived refugees in Adre, Chad.

Starving the funds means starving the hopes
In her article, Kelly T. Clements, UNHCR’s Deputy High Commissioner, tells the story of 27 year-old Mohammed, who she met in Chad. The young man is a refugee from Sudan, married with two children. He told her he planned to make the dangerous crossing to Europa, because “What is there for me here?”.

She didn’t have an answer, Kelly T. Clement claims, she wasn’t able to give the young refugee hope. In order to allow individuals to rebuild when they’re uprooted, suitable conditions are needed. “And for that all to happen, the UN needs support. Starve us of funds, these structures will disappear.”

You can read the full article on here.

And you can give refugees worldwide much needed hope and support by donating.

Thank you very much!