UN chief to lobby Congress Tuesday against UN financing cuts

Claudine Rigal
Juin 24, 2017

In attendance is the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, regional leaders, UN relief agencies among others. About 500 delegates attended, including heads of state and government, members of the diplomatic corps, United Nations agencies, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations.

In line with World Refugee Day, marked annually on 20 June, Guterres, who was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for a decade prior, announced that he would be leaving later on Tuesday for Uganda, which this week hosts a UN-backed summit to support the more than 1.3 million refugees within its borders for the next four years.

But Grandi, the refugee chief, said that "regrettably, the hospitality of host countries is not adequately matched by financial contributions" from the worldwide community.

"International solidarity is not just a matter of solidarity". Uganda has been praised for its generous policy toward refugees, including the allocation of plots of land for growing food.

Seventeen-year-old Somali refugee Hindiyo Abdulkadir fled to Uganda 10 years ago.

"We are talking about two different situations: refugees crossing borders, fleeing conflict or prosecution, [and] economic migrants who aspire legitimately to have a better life and move from one country to another, aiming at a better future for them and their children", the Secretary-General said. "Because I am educated, I do not define myself by the trauma, hardship and suffering that comes with being a refugee", she added. Grandi said the funding was mainly needed in critical areas such as education, shelter, education and food, with malnutrition rates among refugees alarming.

"Regrettably, the hospitality of host countries is not adequately matched by financial contributions", said Grandi, citing the fact that the current humanitarian appeal for South Sudanese refugees is funded at only 16 per cent.

Uganda needs some $2 billion for its surging refugee population.

On Thursday, Guterres visited refugee camps in northern Uganda, close to the South Sudan border, which have popped up over the past year, quickly becoming the largest in the world. One of them, Bidi Bidi is among the world's largest refugee settlements, hosting about 270,000 people.

In contrast, the United Nations chief had sharp words for developed countries not doing enough to provide support for refugees or take them in despite heart breaking pleas for food, water and other basics. He said the world should not take Uganda's generosity for granted "but instead, reinforce and nurture it, so that it may continue to flourish".

An global refugee summit opened in Uganda on Friday with the aim of raising 8 billion USA dollars to cater for refugees in the east African country over the next four years.

But the High Commissioner, the Secretary-General and all speakers emphasized that what refugees need most is peace.

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