Refugees Benefit from Home Office Funding

Integration and resettlement projects led by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were given a boost today with a grant of £1m in funding by the Home Office.

The funding announcement coincides with a meeting of the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, with Home Secretary Charles Clarke at the Home Office today.

The funding will assist the UNHCR in providing repatriation support to individuals returning home after fleeing from Iraq and Afghanistan and builds on the £3m of funding provided by the UK Government to the UNHCR since 2002.

Immigration Minister Tony McNulty said:

“The Government supports the valuable work of the UNHCR in providing support and expertise to individuals returning to their homelands, as well as the help it provides those unable to return home to resettle in other countries around the world.

“The funding provided by the Home Office is a clear indication of this Government’s support for repatriation and resettlement schemes, whichever is most appropriate for the individual, and which is highlighted by the support we provide to refugees here in the UK through the Gateway Protection Programme and to returning individuals voluntarily through the Voluntary Assisted Return and Reintegration Programme (VARRP).”

Further work undertaken by UNHCR, which will benefit from the Home Office grant includes identifying the needs of particularly vulnerable returnees and providing advice on health, nutrition, shelter and job opportunities on their return home. Since December 2001 the UNHCR has helped more than 3.5 million Afghans return to their home country.

It will also help fund UNHCR’s resettlement work placing individuals fleeing persecution in Africa and Asia, in third countries. The UNHCR’s London office provides a vital liaison role between the UK Government and field offices in the countries from which it resettles and will also benefit from this funding.

The Quality Initiative, started in late 2003 to secure improvements to the quality of initial asylum decisions taken by the Home Office, will also benefit from today’s funding.

Bemma Donkoh, UNHCR’s Representative to the UK said:

“The UN refugee agency welcomes this contribution from the Home Office. This will help support UNHCR’s work on a number of initiatives with the UK we see as models for states seeking to improve the quality of their asylum systems and provide durable solutions for refugees in both countries of asylum and in countries of origin.

“UNHCR’s Quality Initiative (QI) project, which is working to raise the standard of first instance decision-making, benefits from some of this funding, and is an example of the kinds of groundbreaking programmes underway in the UK. Other vital programmes funded though this grant include UNHCR’s activities under the HO’s Gateway Protection Programme, under which refugees facing protection problems despite having initially sought refuge elsewhere may be resettled to the UK. We hope more communities will come forward to participate in this life-saving and rewarding refugee protection scheme.”