Millions of displaced people and their host communities are suffering due to the massive underfunding amid the coronavirus pandemic, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday.
“The agency has so far received just 49% ($4.5 billion) of the $9.1 billion required for its global operations this year,” the UNHCR said.
“The consequences of this funding gap are particularly devastating in low- and middle-income countries, which currently host more than 85% of the world’s refugees,” it said.
The pandemic has destabilized economies, exacerbated internal displacement and reduced access to asylum in many countries.
According to the report, Afghanistan has only been funded 41% and there is a $161.5 million funding shortfall.
The low funding levels have forced UNHCR’s operations in Afghanistan and its neighbouring countries, to cut or reduce programmes across a range of sectors, including protection monitoring, health services, school construction and vocational skills training, with further reductions expected in the second half of 2020 should more funding not be received.
“As violence, persecution and civil strife continue to uproot millions, the coronavirus pandemic is destabilizing entire sectors of the economy, with millions depending on fragile incomes that are now at risk,” said the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Kelly T. Clements.
“In these unprecedented times, the world needs to broaden its focus making sure displaced populations and their generous but under-resourced hosts are not forgotten. The time to step up support is now,” he said.