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Chasing Refugee Crises, Then Forgetting


There’s a matter-of-factness about it all: “We’re doing our best with what we have.” Extreme emergencies appear, so we must keep people alive. The humanitarian community does heroic work in often impossible situations. The numbers are massive and mind-numbing: Syria alone has given the world 3.5 million displaced people; Central African Republic, 1 million; South Sudan, 2 million; and there are millions more from other conflicts. Over 50 million people around the globe have been forced to flee their home.

More numbers: the budget for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for 2015 is over $6 billion (UNHCR Identifying Needs and Funding Requirements); the World Food Programme’s (WFP) budget is close to $10 billion (Contributions to WFP 2015). The principal source of funding for UNHCR and WFP is overwhelmingly governments, and it’s on a volunteer basis. The U.S. government is the largest single source of funding for both.