‘UNHCR is presently overstretched’

    Trucks bear the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees logo. The U.N. agency is calling for much needed financial support after four simultaneous acute crisis have depleted the agency's financial reserves. Photo by: UNHCR

    U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says responding to “four simultaneous acute crises” has depleted his agency’s financial reserves — and is calling on the international community to provide much needed financial support.

    Guterres made the appeal after a recent Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees executive committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. The high commissioner also noted that continuous efforts are in place to protect 700,000 people who had fled conflict in Syria, Mali, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in September.

    “If you ask me if we have enough money for everything we are supposed to do, the answer is very obvious: We don’t,” Guterres told Devex recently in an exclusive interview.

    Current programs are all funded, but the high commissioner stressed the need for a “refill” in order to address other emergencies.

    “As a matter of fact, UNHCR is presently overstretched,” Guterres said in a press release. “Of course if new things are needed that’s where we are now in great difficulties to respond to and so when a pot is empty the only way to solve the problem is to fill it.”

    Guterres further explained that it is the “dramatic combination” of acute and chronic crises that is straining the agency’s resources. The high commissioner also said cutting back on noncore activities and slowing down some operations such as repatriation of refugees, among others, are being considered as possible contingency measures to free up some funds at the agency.

    Read more development aid news online, and subscribe to The Development Newswire to receive top international development headlines from the world’s leading donors, news sources and opinion leaders — emailed to you FREE every business day.

    About the author

    • Adrienne Valdez

      Adrienne Valdez is a former staff writer for Devex, covering breaking international development news. Before joining Devex, Adrienne worked as a news correspondent for a public-sector modernization publication.