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Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The UN Refugee Agency, or United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is responsible for providing aid and protection to refugees, displaced communities, and stateless individuals. Its primary objectives include facilitating voluntary repatriat
Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Leadership team

Filippo Grandi (High Commissioner for Refugees)

Headquarters
Geneva, Switzerland
Year stablished
1950
Address
Case Postale 2500. CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Social Media
Summary

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a United Nations agency that is mandated to aid and protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people, as well as to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration, or resettlement to a third country. The agency is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and has a staff of over 17,300 working in 135 countries around the world. Its primary goal is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees and ensure that they have access to basic necessities such as shelter, food, and medical care. The UNHCR works closely with governments, NGOs, and other UN agencies to provide protection and assistance to refugees, advocate for their rights, and find long-term solutions to displacement.


History

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on December 14, 1950, by the United Nations General Assembly. It was initially created as a temporary organization to help European refugees who were displaced during World War II. The UNHCR's mandate was later extended to cover refugees around the world.

The agency was formed in response to the enormous refugee crisis created by World War II. Millions of people were displaced or left homeless, and the international community recognized the need for a coordinated response. The UNHCR was created to provide humanitarian assistance, protection, and durable solutions to refugees and other displaced persons.

In its early years, the UNHCR focused primarily on helping European refugees, but its mandate was soon expanded to include refugees from other parts of the world. In the 1960s and 1970s, the agency helped refugees in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In the 1980s and 1990s, the UNHCR responded to crises in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central America.

One of the most significant contributions of the UNHCR was its involvement in the drafting of the 1951 Refugee Convention. This international agreement established the legal definition of a refugee and outlined the rights of refugees and the obligations of states towards them. The UNHCR continues to play a vital role in promoting the rights of refugees and advocating for their protection under international law.

The UNHCR has also been involved in a number of high-profile operations, including the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s and the evacuation of Kurds from northern Iraq in the early 1990s. In recent years, the agency has been at the forefront of responding to the Syrian refugee crisis, one of the largest refugee crises in history.


Goals and Purpose

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has several goals and objectives aimed at protecting and supporting refugees, stateless persons, and forcibly displaced communities worldwide. These include:

Protection: The UNHCR aims to ensure the protection of refugees, stateless persons, and other forcibly displaced communities. This includes providing legal and physical protection, ensuring access to basic human rights such as education and healthcare, and preventing and responding to gender-based violence.

Assistance: The UNHCR provides assistance to refugees and other displaced communities by providing shelter, food, water, and healthcare. It also works to ensure that refugees have access to education, job training, and other services that can help them rebuild their lives.

Solutions: The UNHCR works to find long-term solutions for refugees, including voluntary repatriation, resettlement, and local integration. It also works to prevent and resolve conflicts that lead to displacement, and to address the root causes of forced displacement.

Advocacy: The UNHCR advocates for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced communities, working to raise awareness of their needs and to promote policies that protect their rights.

To achieve these goals, the UNHCR collaborates with governments, NGOs, and other organizations to provide humanitarian assistance, promote peaceful solutions to conflict, and protect the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced communities. It also works to ensure that the international community upholds its obligations under international refugee law and human rights law.

Proposals to strengthen the UNHCR's work include increasing funding to support its operations, improving coordination with other humanitarian organizations, and addressing the root causes of forced displacement, such as poverty, conflict, and persecution. Additionally, efforts to improve access to education, healthcare, and other essential services for refugees and other displaced communities can help to build their resilience and promote their self-reliance. Finally, the UNHCR could work to promote greater public awareness of the needs and rights of refugees, which can help to build support for policies and programs that protect them.


Impact

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has had a significant impact on the lives of millions of refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), stateless persons, and other forcibly displaced individuals worldwide. The agency has been instrumental in providing life-saving assistance, protection, and durable solutions to those who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution, and other forms of violence.

Since its establishment in 1950, UNHCR has been tasked with providing protection and assistance to refugees, as well as facilitating durable solutions such as voluntary repatriation, local integration, and resettlement. The agency works in close collaboration with governments, international organizations, civil society, and other stakeholders to ensure that the rights and needs of refugees and other forcibly displaced individuals are respected and addressed.

One of the most significant impacts of UNHCR has been its role in responding to major refugee crises and emergencies around the world. The agency has provided critical assistance to refugees in many conflicts and crises, including the Syrian refugee crisis, the Rohingya refugee crisis, and the ongoing displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo, among many others.

In addition to providing emergency assistance, UNHCR has played a key role in promoting the rights and well-being of refugees and other forcibly displaced individuals. The agency works to ensure that refugees have access to education, healthcare, and other basic services, as well as supporting their economic and social integration in host communities.

UNHCR has also been instrumental in advocating for the rights of refugees and other forcibly displaced individuals on the global stage. The agency works to promote the adoption and implementation of policies and laws that protect the rights of refugees, and has been a key player in shaping international refugee law and policy.


References
Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Leadership team

Filippo Grandi (High Commissioner for Refugees)

Headquarters
Geneva, Switzerland
Year stablished
1950
Address
Case Postale 2500. CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt
Social Media