More than $2.2 billion promised for global refugee crisis at UN forum

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By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) -Countries and businesses at a major U.N. forum pledged more than $2.2 billion towards a global displacement crisis and promised jobs for tens of thousands of refugees in an outcome the United Nations chief said would help "stem the tide of misery".

Thousands of people from aid agencies, businesses and civil society as well as refugees joined the Geneva event as the number of displaced people globally surpasses a record 114 million amid conflict, poverty and climate change.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi said he was pleased and proud of the outcome that comes as the U.N. agency faces severe funding shortfalls and tries to counter a burgeoning Western narrative that casts refugees as a threat.

"This work is so necessary for the world as you know continues to confront deeply troubling times," he told the forum in closing remarks. "The state of the world requires a reboot of humanity and energy to meet the challenges before us, including that of forced displacement."

However, in a sign of the challenges UNHCR faces, Grandi criticised those trying "to block multilateral humanitarian action for political reasons," an apparent riposte to Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto who advocated stronger border curbs for migrants at the forum.

UNHCR hosts the Global Refugee Forum every four years under a framework to share responsibilities for refugees fairly.

During the three-day event, the seven millionth person was displaced by Sudan's raging conflict, Grandi said, and he called for steps to avoid a Gaza refugee crisis.

As well as financial promises, countries also pledged to take in 1 million refugees from third countries by 2030. Companies, including IKEA store owner Ingka Group, said they would help 100,000 refugees find jobs.

"This forum is helping to stem the tide of misery," said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in closing remarks, after citing humanitarian crises in Myanmar, Yemen, Somalia and Gaza.

"(The pledges) give me hope that we can forge global consensus to address once and for all the great challenges of our time that are fuelling the refugee crisis," he added.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Rosalba O'Brien)