Contingency plan to counter UNHCR budget cuts

Malindza refugee home

By Khulile Thwala

The Ministry of Home Affairs is working around the clock to ensure the Malindza refugees are not left in the dark following a 52 per cent budget cut by the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR).

The Commissioner of Refugees Zanele Mlambo recently announced that they were currently facing a huge blow as UNHCR has cut their budget by a whopping 52 per cent. Detailing their strategy to counter this, the ministry’s Communications Officer Mlandvo Dlamini said the budget allocated for the Refugees Department in this financial year aimed to cater for the cuts, however, the government could not cover all the costs.

He said they were currently in discussions with several partners who will be assisting technically and financially, the main partner being World Vision.

“World Vision, who is our implementing partner has also been affected by the cuts and is already putting in place a contingency plan to counter them,” said Dlamini.

The budget cuts by UNHCR have been warranted by the situation in Ukraine, with most of the organisation’s budget being redirected to the Ukraine/Russia War refugees situation. Funding shortfalls have forced UNHCR, which is the UN Refugee Agency, to make cuts to its lifesaving aid to refugees and other forcibly displaced people in a number of operations across the world.

Already, many operations have had to scale back essential programmes to cope with tighter funding. In Uganda, which was experiencing an Ebola outbreak, UNHCR was unable to procure enough soap and hygiene kits to help combat the deadly disease. In Chad, the water supply in camps has been cut due to fuel shortages. In Lebanon, 70 000 extremely vulnerable refugee families no longer receive their safety net help from UNHCR.

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In Eswatini, the Malindza Refugee Camp and Centre, which rely mostly on UNHCR funding, have had to rely on donations while the ministry responsible for the centre, the Ministry of Home Affairs, engages stakeholders.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church recently donated bath soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, roll-on, sanitary towels and items of clothing to the centre. 

With this, the Commissioner of Refugees, Mlambo, said no donation was small adding that at this juncture, the department appreciated everything they were given.

She further encouraged religious entities, the business community and the nation at large to assist in taking care of the people they cared for. According to the commissioner everyone should be involved in burden sharing in line with Comprehensive Refugees Response Framework.

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