Which Countries Donate The Most To The UN Refugee Agency?

The flag of the UN Refugee Agency. Photo credit: Juriaan Wossink / Shutterstock.com.
The flag of the UN Refugee Agency. Photo credit: Juriaan Wossink / Shutterstock.com.

The United Nations Refugee Agency is the agency of the United Nations tasked with looking into the needs of refugees all over the world. Like most agencies of the UN, the UN Refugee Agency relies on donors to meets its financial obligations. Most of the contributions to the UNHCR are from governmental donors around the world and private contributors making up the remainder. The United States has been the largest contributor to the UN Refugee Agency, with the European Union coming at second place.

North America

The United States is North America’s largest donor to the UN Refugee Agency. The United States has contributed more than $1.443 billion to the UNHCR between January 1st and October 7th, 2017, the largest of any country in the world. In 2016, the United States released about $122 million towards the UNHCR’s Syria Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan. However, based on contribution per capita, the United States is ranked as the sixth largest contributor, with the country’s contribution per capita being $4. Private contributions from the United States to the UNHCR were an estimated $23.181 million in 2017, the largest of all private contributors. Canada is North America’s second largest donor to the UNHCR with the country’s contribution between January 1st and October 7th, 2017 being more than $79.63 million, a decrease from the total $116.25 million contributed by Canada in 2016. Based on contribution per capita, Canada is ranked as the 13th largest contributor to the UNHCR in the world.


The European Union is the second largest contributor the UN Refugee Agency, with the bloc contributing more than $427.37 million in the first nine months of 2017. Germany has the largest contribution to the UNHCR of any European country. Records from the UNHCR show that Germany contributed totaling $305 million between January 1st and October 7th, 2017. Norway and Luxembourg have a contribution per capita of $16 to the UNHCR, the largest of any country in the world.

Financial Constraints Of The UNHCR

Recent events around the world have caused global refugee numbers to reach unprecedented levels. In 2015, the UNHCR reported that more than 65 million people around the world were forcibly displaced from their countries, the highest figure in the agency’s history. The ongoing Syrian War has forced millions of Syrians to flee to neighboring countries, hundreds of thousands of them seeking refuge in Europe where they have caused a refugee crisis. Rohingya Muslim refugees have created a humanitarian crisis throughout Southeast Asia, as they flee from the persecution and killings propagated by Myanmar authorities. Kenya has also recorded a great increase in refugee numbers who seek refuge in the East African country from the ongoing conflicts in neighboring South Sudan and Somalia. As the main global organization tasked with protecting and providing basic amenities to refugees, the UNHCR has been experiencing financial constraints to cater for the needs of the ballooning refugee numbers around the world. International donors are required to meet an annual financial target of $19.52 billion, but the international donors have only managed to raise about less than half of the target ($7.15 billion). The financial deficit has significantly hindered the UNHCR from discharging its duties. In Syria, the agency was only able to fund 35% of the $1.3 billion required to cater for the refugees.

Which Countries Donate The Most To The UN Refugee Agency?

2European Union427,293,272
9United Kingdom54,281,766

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