17 October 2014
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: OHCHR is stretched to its limit due to huge funding gap
Combating the ‘twin plagues’ of Ebola and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), while addressing the largest number of forcibly displaced people since World War II amid budget cuts is like ‘being asked to use a boat and bucket to cope with a flood’, the UN’ new human rights chief said.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said he was ‘shocked’ that just six weeks into his job, he already had to look at making cuts and ‘battle’ to find resources. ‘Our operations are stretched to breaking point in a world that seems to be lurching from crisis to ever more dangerous crisis’, he said, warning that when the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) ‘cannot afford to put people on the ground – to monitor, to report, to train, to advocate – the cost may be high’.
‘The twin plagues of Ebola and ISIL both fomented quietly, neglected by a world that knew they existed but misread their terrible potential’, Mr. Zeid said.
As ISIL and Ebola gain ground, it is ‘deplorable’ that the UN office responsible for human rights cannot fulfil the dozens of pending requests for human rights advisors and only receives around 3 per cent of the UN regular budget. The OHCHR is at least USD 25 million short of its needs this year, Mr. Zeid said. He added that ‘services are starting to suffer. States come to us asking for technical assistance programs, but is becoming increasingly likely that we will turn them down’.