United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

UNHCR

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is a UN agency mandated to aid and protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people, and to assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. It is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, with over 17,300 staff working in 135 countries.


UNHCR was created in 1950 to address the refugee crisis that resulted from World War II. The 1951 Refugee Convention established the scope and legal framework of the agency's work, which initially focused on Europeans uprooted by the war. Beginning the late 1950s, displacement caused by other conflicts, from the Hungarian Uprising to the decolonization of Africa and Asia, broadened the scope of UNHCR's operations. Commensurate with the 1967 Protocol to the Refugee Convention, which expanded the geographic and temporal scope of refugee assistance, UNHCR operated across the world, with the bulk of its activities in developing countries. By its 65th anniversary in 2015, the agency had assisted more 50 million refugees worldwide. As of June 2020, UNHCR has over 20 million refugees under its mandate.