WASHINGTON – The United States is donating $415 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,Secretary of State John Kerry announced Thursday.
The donation brings the U.S. contribution to $890 million for 2013.
“I’m proud to say to you that that makes the United States of America the largest single contributor in the world,” Kerry said. “We provide more aid to the UNHCR than any other country and more than the next six countries combined.”
This funding will help provide clean water,shelter,medicine and other needs to refugees worldwide.
The contribution comes at a time that the United Nations reports the highest number of refugees in 18 years. At the end of 2012,more than 45.2 million people were reported to be in situations of displacement,up from 42.5 million in 2011.
“Working to resolve this issue is critical to our future,and I think it’s vital to our nation’s particular interest,” Kerry said.
The announcement was made at a celebration of World Refugee Day,an occasion established by the U.N. to honor people who are forced to flee their homes due to war,persecution or other personal conflicts.
Anne C. Richard,assistant secretary of state for population,refugees and migration,hosted the event.
“Rescuing and aiding refugees is an international challenge and responsibility,and the United States has a great tradition of helping those fleeing violence and persecution,” Richard said.
Wilmot Collins,a resettled refugee from Liberia,shared his story at the event. Collins left Liberia in the early 1990s,and became a U.S. citizen in 2002. He left due to a bloody civil war,but he and his family have found peace and success in the U.S.
“Please leave the doors open. There are refugees that still need your assistance. We are so thankful for what you have done and what you are doing,” Collins said.
Collins lives in Helena,Mont.,where he works for the Department of Veterans Affairs and is an adjunct professor at the University of Montana-Helena.
The event closed with a song,“Peace,” dedicated to refugees around the world and aimed at raising awareness for this humanitarian crisis. It was written by John Legend and Toby Gad,and performed by “X Factor” finalist Diamond White.
A spokesman from the Department of State said White was asked to perform because of her affiliation with the UNHCR and advocacy on behalf of refugees.
Reach Reporter Jacqueline DelPilar at [email protected] or 202-326-9861. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.