P.K.BALACHANDRAN | 12 OCTOBER, 2018
Funds for Rehabilitation Dwindle as Refugee Numbers Surge: UNHCR
COLOMBO: Funding for the world’s forcibly displaced and stateless people is becoming increasingly small, with barely more than half the need being met, and worsening the hardship faced by the refugees and their host societies, says Babar Baloch spokesman of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Releasing a new report of the Donor Relations and Resource Mobilization Service of UNHCR in Geneva on Tuesday, Baloch said that 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide at the start of this year. But funding by governments for refugee and other displacement situations has come down.
“Based on contributions to date we expect funding for 2018 to meet just 55 per cent of the US$ 8.2 billion that is needed. This contrasts with 56.6 per cent in 2017 and 58 per cent in 2016. In short, donor funding is falling increasingly behind as the number of forcibly displaced worldwide has grown,” Baloch said.
“And the consequences for refugees and internally displaced people in particular are becoming all too grave. In situation after situation we are seeing increases in malnutrition, health facilities getting overcrowded, housing and shelters becoming increasingly dilapidated, and children are either in overcrowded classrooms or doing without school altogether. There is a shortage of personnel to deal with unaccompanied children or victims or sexual violence,” Baloch added.
Globally, six refugee and displacement situations are particularly badly hit. These include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria and Somalia.
The Burundian refugee situation is at present the lowest funded. At present just 28 per cent of the US$ 206 million needed has been received.
Food ration cuts have left refugees with insufficient food. Shelters are in a bad condition in places, health centers are struggling to cope with the growing number of patients, classrooms are overcrowded, and the capacity to help unaccompanied children and survivors of sexual violence is very limited.
In Tanzania, some 52 per cent of the 232,716 Burundian refugees there are still living in emergency shelters designed for short term use – even years after their arrival.
In the absence of school buildings, almost 18,000 refugee children are making do with classes beneath trees.
In Uganda’s Nakivale settlement, thousands of refugee families are using overcrowded communal latrines, with risk of disease outbreaks, little privacy, and exposure of women and children in particular to protection risks.
Education is very basic, with insufficient learning materials and overcrowded classrooms.
The lack of funding has stopped UNHCR’s cash-based assistance program in Rwanda’s Mahama camp for 19,500 families, severely affecting refugees’ ability to meet their own basic needs.
Democratic Republic of Congo
In the conflict-affected Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as well as countries hosting Congolese refugees, of the total US$ 369 million needed for its program and those of its partners, UNHCR has so far received just 31 per cent.
Limited funding is affecting the ability of humanitarians to provide livelihood activities, especially to young people, and access to education and health.
Countries which are hosting nearly 800,000 refugees, settlements and camps are full to capacity. But still they need to accommodate new arrivals.
Minimum standards in food distributions, nutrition, health and other basic needs are often hard to meet.
Inside DRC, funding is urgently needed to decongest camps for the displaced and sites to stem the spread of communicable diseases.
As the conflict nears its fourth decade, some 2.4 million Afghans live in neighboring Pakistan and Iran as refugees and some 1.9 million people are displaced inside Afghanistan.
The requirement for these three UNHCR operations for 2018 is US$ 304 million but only 32% of it has been received.
Inside Afghanistan, the lack of funding is affecting UNHCR projects in 60 locations. These projects include assisting some 132,700 Afghan families with rehabilitation and construction cash-for-work, provision of solar panel home lightening systems, support to micro-business or provision of youth and women friendly spaces.
In Pakistan, which is hosting some 1.4 million Afghan refugees, the lack of funding is affecting free primary education for 57,000 refugee children as well as basic health services across 54 refugee villages.
In Iran, the shortage of funding means fewer vulnerable refugees are benefitting from a subsidized premium for the national health insurance scheme. The most vulnerable refugees would not be able to afford enrolment. Lower support for the primary health care system reduces the availability of services in remote locations.
Less investment in the education system limits the number of Afghan children going to schools.
The ongoing conflict in the world’s youngest nation has created 2.4 million refugees across borders. An additional two million are displaced inside the country. The need is for US$ 783 million but only 33% is available.
Without enough funds the food pipeline for refugees is being frequently interrupted.
High rates of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rates are reported in asylum (host) countries.
Full rations have been available only in Kenya and Uganda and to three-quarters of refugees in the Central African Republic. Only some 7 per cent of South Sudanese refugees live in semi-permanent shelters.
In Sudan, about 80,000 refugees are still without access to latrines across all 10 camps. In some cases over 70 people have to use a single communal latrine. Some 57,000 refugees living in informal settlements in Khartoum are going without any assistance.
In Uganda, limited resources means not having enough staff to ensure quality of child protection services and adequate follow up on children in care arrangements.
There is one caseworker for every 150 children, and children make up some 63 per cent of the refugee population. Water for for refugees also remains below what is required.
Some 5.6 million Syrian refugees in the region and another 6.2 million displaced inside the country are directly affected by the funding shortfall.
UNHCR’s requirement of US$1.968 billion for Syria situation is met up to 35% only.
UNHCR is working with partners to provide winter protection and help for 1.3 million Syrian refugees in the region, and 1.35 million internally displaced people and returnees inside Syria.
Winter cash assistance is particularly important in Lebanon and Jordan, and is an efficient and critical means of support to refugees during the cold weather.
Without more funding, cash assistance will stop in November. This could have a devastating impact on refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon, where the majority live below the poverty line.
Funding is badly needed for around half a million refugees to pay rent, meet daily needs and maintain access to essential services.
Rising health care costs are increasing the risk of refugee families not getting even the basic medical services they need, such as child immunization.
Resources are needed to provide health care support for some 35,000 vulnerable Syrian refugees in the region, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon.
Over a million Somali refugees are hosted in six countries with another two million displaced inside the country. UNHCR requirements of US$ 522 million for Somalia situation is met up to 37% only.
After decades of conflict, the Somalis have made some progress, but the situation remains fragile and needs continued support.