The UNHCR states that 80 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced from their homes – roughly as many as the entire population of Germany. More than half of these people (just under 46 million) are internally displaced within their country of origin. The majority of refugees worldwide live in developing countries, and are particularly vulnerable to violence, disease or exploitation. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated their situation. For example, 70 countries have restricted access to their national asylum systems as part of their measures to curb the pandemic. Meanwhile, as refugees are often employed in the informal sector, many have now lost their ability to earn an income.
Securing protection and care of refugees worldwide
UNHCR’s annual pledging conference was held online on 2 December. The aim of the conference was to obtain initial financial commitments to enable the agency to plan for the year ahead. UNHCR estimates that it will require funding of 8.6 billion US dollars in 2021. The donor countries have initially pledged a total of 932 million dollars. This includes 119 million euro pledged today by Germany. The final amount of funding made available for 2021 will, as in previous years, be many times this sum. This means that Germany looks set to be UNHCR’s second-largest donor in 2021 – as in the previous years.
By way of comparison, UNHCR required funding of around 9.1 billion US dollars for 2020. It was able to obtain around 5 billion dollars, which it said left it in a relatively comfortable financial position for the year. As the second-largest bilateral donor, Germany contributed the significant sum of over 440 million euro, including 55 million from the supplementary budget for UNHCR’s COVID-19 aid programme. UNHCR announced in November 2020 that it will need 8.6 billion US dollars for the coming year.
Psychological support for victims of sexual violence in the Kasai Region
The UNHCR runs projects in crisis regions worldwide to help displaced persons rebuild a normal life. Many of these people have suffered particularly acutely and need support which is tailored to their needs.
Among the internally displaced population in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, there are many victims of sexual violence. A reintegration course with UNHCR teaches them how to make soap so that they can start to rebuild their lives. The money they earn allows them to provide for themselves and their dependents.
Since early 2020, the UNHCR has been supporting women and girls in the region of Kasai who have suffered sexual violence while fleeing. It provides psychologists and social workers to help women cope with their trauma and ensure that they have access to healthcare and training opportunities. “In a region where traditional custom stigmatises rape and sexual assault, most survivors are ostracised and pushed to the margins of society with no means of support,” explains Ali Mahamat, the Head of UNHCR’s sub-office covering the Kasai region. The training is accompanied by literacy courses, while UNHCR also provides cash assistance to help the women cover their most pressing needs themselves.
Scholarships for refugees
The Federal Foreign Office has been supporting the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative of the UNHCR since 1992. The initiative awards scholarships to young refugees. These scholarships enable the recipients to gain a university degree, which gives them prospects for the future and a chance of becoming economically independent. There are also additional support programmes aimed specifically at disadvantaged women. Refugees who win funding from the initiative can study in their new country, which will have fewer costs to bear thanks to the scholarship. Over 18,000 scholarships have been awarded to date (as of May 2020) in over 50 countries. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has shown the importance of higher education for refugees, especially in medicine and other health professions.
Find out more: https://www.unhcr.org