© UNHCR - E.Hockstein
Somali refugees wait to get water in Hagadera camp. Long lines and difficulty getting ample water is a growing problem due to the high numbers of Somalis fleeing to Kenya.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. You may also know us less formally as the UN refugee agency or by our initials, UNHCR.
UNHCR is charged with leading and coordinating the international effort to protect refugees and stateless people to find durable solutions for refugee problems worldwide. Our primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of these refugees. Over the past six decades we have provided assistance to more than 50 million people, proving time and time again that our work is vital to the protection of the most vulnerable.
We were on the ground to help with the exodus of refugees when Soviet forces crushed the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, when thousands of Africans were made homeless during the decolonization of Africa in the 1960s and to help tackle the displacement crises in Asia and Latin America throughout the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1954, UNHCR won the Nobel Peace Prize for its ground-breaking work in helping the refugees of Europe. Its mandate had just been extended until the end of the decade. More than a quarter century later, UNHCR received the 1981 award for what had become worldwide assistance to refugees.
Today, UNHCR is dealing with major refugee crises in Africa, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia, and in Asia, especially the 30-year-old Afghan refugee problem and the recent displacement crisis in Pakistan.
To learn more about our story and our work, click on the links on the left.