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A moment of transition UNHCR's Global report 2018

In the course of 2018, conflict, persecution and civil strife continued to uproot millions of people, in harrowing circumstances.

By the end of 2018, the number of people of concern to UNHCR around the world—asylum-seekers, refugees, returnees, the internally displaced and stateless—had reached 74.8 million people, the highest figure ever.

Over the year, with the support of host countries, committed donors, and other partners, UNHCR worked to provide lifesaving support, safeguard fundamental rights and build better futures for millions of refugees, returnees, internally displaced people and stateless persons.

Lifesaving support

Responding to emergencies

Over the course of 2018, UNHCR and its partners responded to the needs of millions of displaced people affected by multiple and simultaneous emergencies worldwide.

Meeting basic needs

Over $34 million-worth of core relief items were dispatched from global stockpiles to 39 countries in 2018 reaching 5.2 million people.

Expanding cash-based interventions

UNHCR delivered $568 million in cash assistance to some of the most vulnerable people of concern, providing them with more choice in how to meet needs and prioritize expenditures, such as clothes, hygiene, communications, transport and school supplies.

Shelter and settlement assistance

UNHCR provided shelter to more than 3.4 million refugees in planned settlements.

Water sanitation and hygiene

In 2018, UNHCR supported 8.7 million people across 59 countries to access safe water and sanitation services.

Safeguarding rights

Identity management, registration and profiling

Biometric records for 2.4 million people of concern were captured, raising the total number of individuals with biometric records in BIMS and IrisGuard (the iris scanning equipment used across operations in the Syria situation) to 7.2 million across 60 operations.

Preventing and ending statelessness

A reported 56,400 people who were formerly stateless or of undetermined nationality acquired nationality or had their nationality confirmed in 2018.

Building better futures

Access to quality education

With the combined efforts of governments, UNHCR and partners succeeded in enrolling over 500,000 children in school in 2018, allowing refugees like Rihanna Siraj, a young refugee student who lives in Kakuma Refugee Camp, a chance to pursue her dreams of one day becoming a doctor.

Livelihoods and economic inclusion

UNHCR focused on ensuring the sustainability and efficacy of its economic inclusion and livelihoods initiatives across 75 countries, which benefited some 1.8 million people of concern and host community members.

Resettlement and humanitarian admissions

In 2018, 1.2 million refugees were in need of resettlement; more than 81,337 resettlement submissions were made to 29 resettlement States; but only 55,680 refugees were actually resettled to 27 countries—a 14% decrease compared to equivalent 2017 figures.

Emergency Transit Mechanism

UNHCR successfully evacuated over 2,200 vulnerable refugees and asylum-seekers out of Libya to the Emergency Transit Mechanism in Niger for individual processing for resettlement; from there, some 1,000 people were resettled to third countries.

Comprehensive solutions

UNHCR facilitated voluntary repatriation—the preferred solution of many refugees—to countries including Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan. However, the number of returnees decreased from 667,400 in 2017 to 593,814 in 2018 – a 11% decrease compared with 2017.

Local integration

To support countries in providing options for local integration, UNHCR and partners contributed with financial and technical support to ensure that integration programming took into account the needs of both refugees and host communities.

This was also a year of transformation.

2018 came to a close with the historic affirmation by the United Nations General Assembly of the Global Compact on Refugees, presenting a new set of opportunities to translate the principle of responsibility-sharing into concrete action.

The Global Compact's four key objectives are to:

(1) ease pressure on the host countries involved;

(2) enhance refugee self-reliance;

(3) expand access to third-country solutions; and

(4) support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.

Despite the many challenges, long-standing host countries stood firm in their commitment to protection principles and humanitarian values. UNHCR is equally grateful for the generous and unyielding support of our donors. Without your trust, the urgent needs of the most vulnerable people of concern would remain unmet.

By the end of 2018, UNHCR’s final budget reached $8.220 billion. All told, UNHCR received $4.184 billion in contributions, including $422.7 million from the private sector. When added to carryover and other amounts, UNHCR had funds available to it of $4.710 billion but In the face of growing needs, UNHCR was nevertheless left with a funding gap of 43%. Expenditure reached $4.226 billion with an implementation rate (expenditure over total funds available) of 90%.

To maintain an effective response to refugee situations around the world, increasing the percentage of unearmarked funds is more vital than ever before.

With the affirmation of the Global Compact on Refugees, we now have a framework to transform our response to major refugee situations around the world, including by broadening the base of support beyond traditional host, donor, and resettlement countries.

The first Global Refugee Forum, to take place in December 2019, will offer an unprecedented opportunity to showcase, and further galvanize, innovative and tangible ways of applying the principles of solidarity and equitable burden- and responsibility-sharing in practice.

"At this moment when division and intolerance have gained ground in many parts of the world, it is critical that we are able to demonstrate, in practical, meaningful ways, that international cooperation and multilateralism still work. By giving substance to the Compact, and working together to translate its promise into action, we can do just that—and help strengthen cohesion and build opportunities for millions of uprooted people and hosting communities worldwide."

- Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees

Learn more about how UNHCR's work in 2018 impacted the lives of millions asylum-seekers, refugees, returnees, internally displaced and stateless persons by reading UNHCR's Global Report 2018 or visiting the Global Focus website.

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