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UNHCR -- United Nations (U.N.) High Commissioner for Refugees

The UNHCR was created in 1950 by the UN General Assembly, and began its work by 1951. The organization was created as an attempt to provide refugees with protection and assistance.

Mission Statement:

...to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems. UNHCR's primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. UNHCR strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state, and to return home voluntarily.

By assisting refugees to return to their own country or to settle in another country, UNHCR also seeks lasting solutions to their plight.

...UNHCR seeks to reduce situations of forced displacement by encouraging states and other institutions to create conditions which are conducive to the protection of human rights and the peaceful resolution of disputes. In pursuit of the same objective, UNHCR actively seeks to consolidate the reintegration of returning refugees in their country of origin, thereby averting the recurrence of refugee-producing situations.

UNHCR offers protection and assistance to refugees and others in an impartial manner, on the basis of their need and irrespective of their race, religion, political opinion or gender. In all of its activities, UNHCR pays particular attention to the needs of children and seeks to promote the equal rights of women and girls.

In its efforts to protect refugees and to promote solutions to their problems, UNHCR works in partnership with governments, regional organizations, international and non-governmental organizations. UNHCR is committed to the principle of participation by consulting refugees on decisions that affect their lives.

By virtue of its activities on behalf of refugees and displaced people, UNHCR also promotes the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter: maintaining international peace and security; developing friendly relations among nations; and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The UNHCR works with the following organizations in order to reach it's goals:

UN Organizations
  • WFP - World Food Program, to supply food and basic commodities to refugees
  • UNICEF - UN Children's Fund
  • WHO - World Health Organization
  • UNDP - UN Development Program
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
  • UN Commission for Human Rights

Other Organizations:
  • ICRC - International Committee of the Red Cross
  • IFRC - International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
  • IOM - International Organization for Migration
  • Over 500 other non-governmental organizations


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© December, 2000 -- Rebecca Dudczak (http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~rjdudcza)