14 June 2018

Australia for UNHCR has today published its 2017 Annual Report, revealing that the organisation raised a record $38.7 million from the Australian private sector in 2017, representing 14 per cent growth on 2016. Australian individuals, communities and corporates rallied in record numbers during the year to stand with refugees and support the global humanitarian relief work of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, which is the lead global agency for the protection of people fleeing conflict and persecution.

This response makes Australia for UNHCR a top ten non-government donor to UNHCR. UNHCR relies on voluntary contributions to fund 99% of its global humanitarian relief work, largely from governments, individual citizens and private sector partners.

When violence in Myanmar displaced an estimated 671,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, Australia for UNHCR mobilised a nationwide emergency appeal, working in partnership with the Australian Government, fellow Australian NGOs and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). This regional Asian crisis escalated into the world’s fastest growing refugee emergency and Australia for UNHCR became one of the largest private sector donors to UNHCR’s relief operations in Bangladesh by raising $7.4m.

Overall Australia for UNHCR helped assist people in 53 different countries during 2017, providing emergency humanitarian relief, such as shelter, child protection, clean water, food and medicine, as well as support for long-term livelihoods programs.

Other examples of Australian donations at work in 2017 included:

  • Emergency nutrition for almost 30,000 malnourished South Sudanese children during acute food shortages.
  • A family tracing program in Ethiopia that reunited lost relatives with 3,144 refugee children who had been separated from their parents while fleeing conflict.
  • Construction of a vocational training centre for young people in Uganda’s Kyaka II refugee settlement, to create opportunities for them to learn skills and set up small businesses in areas such as electronics, carpentry, mechanics and hairdressing.
  • Cash assistance for Syrian refugee families trapped in poverty, helping mothers cover basics costs such as rent, food or school materials for their children.

Quote from National Director, Australia for UNHCR, Naomi Steer:

“These record numbers demonstrate loud and clear that Australians stand with refugees and care deeply about delivering humanitarian relief to the men, women and children fleeing conflict and persecution.

“Less than one per cent of refugees are ever formally resettled in third countries like Australia – the vast majority are hosted in developing countries. Public support is urgently needed to support UNHCR’s emergency humanitarian interventions and longer-term solutions, such as healthcare, education and livelihoods,” she added.

Australian support was received from across all states and territories, representing a broad section of the community. Reflecting its strong support from teachers and schools, Australia for UNHCR launched ‘Lunch Money for Refugees’, a fundraising initiative that encourages school students to bring a packed lunch and donate their lunch money.

Donations are crucial to the work of UNHCR, which is responding to an unprecedented number of forcibly displaced people worldwide. More than 65.6 million people are currently displaced and in need of assistance.

The conflict in Syria, now in its eighth year, has displaced more than 12 million people – 5.6 million have fled the country, and a further 6.6 million are displaced within Syria. In neighbouring Iraq, fighting in Mosul displaced more than 820,000 people; by the end of 2017, three million Iraqis remained displaced.

South Sudan was Africa’s largest and fastest growing refugee crisis in 2017. By the end of the year 2.5 million people had fled civil war and food insecurity – 63 per cent of them children. As well as this, two million people were displaced inside South Sudan.

Australians can support UNHCR’s humanitarian work by donating at www.unrefugees.org.au or by calling 1300 361 288.


Key facts for Australia for UNHCR in 2017
• 94,996 people donated to Australia for UNHCR, raising a record $38.7 million
• 82c in every dollar raised was spent directly on the ground in humanitarian operations
• The Rohingya Emergency Appeal raised more than $7.4 million, including $4.9m in public donations and a $2.5m grant from the Australian Government
• Australia for UNHCR social media following grew 37% to reach 315,243
• Prominent Australians who support as Special Representatives include Marta Dusseldorp, Carina Hoang, Ian Chappell, Aminata Conteh-Biger, Jane Turner and Yarrie Bangura.

Key facts on global refugee crisis **
• There are currently more than 65.6 million people forcibly displaced globally
• There are also 10 million stateless people who have no nationality
• One in 113 people worldwide is displaced.
• UNHCR works in 130 countries
• In 2017, UNHCR shipped emergency item including 3.4 million sleeping mats, 3 million blankets, 812,000 solar lanterns, 600,000 mosquito nets, and 1.6 million plastic sheets.
• There are 10,966 UNHCR staff, 87 per cent of whom are based in the field

About Australia for UNHCR
Australia for UNHCR is the National Partner of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Australia for UNHCR is an Australian charity, which fundraises to provide life-changing humanitarian support to refugees and other displaced and stateless people supported by UNHCR.

** (Source: UNHCR Global Trends Report 2016, please note 2017 figures will be published on 19 June 2018)

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