UNHCR: Global humanitarian crises at levels unmatched in recent history

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Antonio Guterres

Over 700,000 refugees have fled from Syria, Sudan, Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo since the start of the year, according to the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR).

The agency says the combination of simultaneous major new conflicts and unresolved old ones had presented an unmatched refugee crisis in its recent history.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres says the organizations capacity to respond was being radically tested.

Speaking at the start of the annual UNHCR Executive Committee meeting in Geneva on Monday, Mr Guterres commended countries that have kept their borders open to people fleeing conflict, but called for increased funding to enable UNHCR fulfill its mandate.

"We are at a moment when the demands on us are rising while the means available to respond have remained at a similar level to last year. Our operations in Africa, in particular, are dramatically underfunded. At this moment, we have no room for any unforeseen needs. No reserve available. In today's unpredictable operating environment, this is a cause for deep concern. At this time of economic crisis, I am aware of the pressures on humanitarian aid budgets. Yet curtailing humanitarian assistance will turn out to be more costly in the long run."

Duration 41"

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