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UN refugee agency receives record pledges for 2016

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Geneva: The UN refugee agency said it has received pledges of over USD 687 million for 2016, the highest amount ever, amid ongoing “mega emergencies” in Syria, South Sudan and elsewhere.

The pledges would go toward helping almost 60 million forcibly displaced or stateless people worldwide, UNHCR said in a statement yesterday.

The promises, made in a donor meeting in Geneva, “come at a time of ongoing mega emergencies such as Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, and new crises, Burundi and Yemen, as well as the refugee crisis in Europe,” it said.

“Never before have we seen so many people fleeing war and violence turning to the international community for help,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres was quoted as saying in the statement.

He thanked the donor countries, but said “the gap between what is needed and the resources available keeps growing, and we often struggle to provide even the minimum of core protection and assistance to all those who need it.”

The UNHCR said the USD 687.2 million (nearly 630 million euros) pledged for 2016 is “the highest amount ever” and significantly more than the USD 500.8 million promised last year.

The agency is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from governments and by private donors.

During the last five years requests for funds have almost doubled as the numbers of forcibly displaced people continues to grow, it said.