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UNHCR Archive Gallery Algeria 1954 to 1962

Archives, 12 June 2009

© UNHCR/1965
Fleeing the turmoil of the Algerian war for independence, nearly 200,000 refugees had crossed in Tunisia and Morocco by 1960, three-quarters of whom were women, children and the elderly.

Beginning in 1954, conflict in Algeria displaced large numbers of people. After Tunisia and Morocco each gained independence in March 1956, Algerians in the border areas crossed into Tunisia and Morocco. This refugee group, consisting primarily of women, children, and the elderly, lived in poor conditions, and the relatively new governments of Tunisia and Morocco were unable to provide adequate assistance. In May 1957, Tunisia appealed to the UNHCR for assistance. Working with the League of Red Cross Societies, UNHCR began to provide food, clothing, and medical assistance to over 200,000 refugees. On 5 December 1958, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution requesting the High Commissioner "to continue his action on behalf of the refugees in Tunisia on a substantial scale and to undertake similar action in Morocco." Regular relief operations, with the League acting as the formal operational partner, began in February 1959.

In September 1959, UNHCR appointed Special Representatives in Tunis and Rabat to serve as liaison with the respective governments and to coordinate the international efforts to bring aid to the refugees. When peace was established between France and Algeria, the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 1672 (XVI) on 18 December 1961 requesting the High Commissioner to "use the means at his disposal to assist in the orderly return of Algerian refugees in Morocco and Tunisia to their homes and [to] consider the possibility, when necessary, of facilitating their resettlement in their home land." On 18 March 1962, the Evian Agreements established tripartite commissions to organize the repatriation of the Algerian refugees. By July 1962, the majority of the refugees had been repatriated. At that point, the League took over, spearheading an international relief programme in the Algerian border areas to facilitate resettlement. UNHCR provided moral and policy support, and appealed for contributions.




Teaching About Refugees, History

History includes refugees

Throughout history, political turmoil has victimized many civilian families, forcing them to flee their homes. Refugee outflows and other massive displacements of people are a key aspect of many international crises. For children, in particular, looking at world events from the point of view of a refugee family can give new meaning and a sense of reality to events that may otherwise seem abstract and far away. The theme can be introduced in:

Medieval/early modern history: The religious wars.

Contemporary history: World War I, the Russian Revolution, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Second World War and Nazism, colonization and decolonization in Africa, Soviet influence in Central and Eastern Europe, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Vietnam War, the dictatorships in Latin-America - all these events and many more have victimized millions of people and forced them to flee their homes, families and communities.

9-11 year olds Refugees in History
12-14 year olds The Rwandan Crisis 1994
15-18 year olds Population Displacement in the Commonwealth of Independent States


Studying history can provide an opportunity to examine refugee outflows and displacement.

The State of the World's Refugees

These six editions of UNHCR's The State of the World's Refugees provide detailed, in-depth analysis of the plight of the world's millions of displaced people. The authors examine the major crises and challenges faced by UNHCR for over fifty years.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Nansen Biography

Fridtjof Nansen was a scientist, polar explorer, diplomat, statesman and humanist, with a deep compassion for his fellow human beings. In 1921 Nansen was appointed the League of Nations' first High Commissioner for Refugees and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year in recognition of his work for refugees. UNHCR established the Nansen Refugee Award in his honour in 1954.

Nansen Biography

Hungarian Crisis - 50th Anniversary

The spontaneous Hungarian uprising began on 23 October 1956. Two weeks later, the revolution was crushed by a Soviet military intervention, and by early 1957, 200,000 people had fled as refugees - 180,000 to Austria and 20,000 to Yugoslavia.

Hundreds of volunteers worked alongside international and local aid organizations to provide shelter and food, as the Austrians and the international community provided the refugees with an unprecedented level of support.

UNHCR was made 'Lead Agency' and, along with the Red Cross and ICEM, helped coordinate protection, assistance and a quite extraordinary resettlement programme.

Within two years, more than 180,000 Hungarians were resettled to 37 countries spanning five continents. The US, Canada, the UK, West Germany, Australia, Switzerland, France, Sweden and Belgium each accepted more than 5,000 refugees. Italy, the Netherlands, Israel, Brazil, Norway, Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina all took over 1,000. The rest were spread around a further 19 countries ranging from the Dominican Republic to Turkey. Some Hungarians were integrated in Austria (8,000) and Yugoslavia (700), while 11,000 returned home voluntarily.

More in Refugees Magazine Issue N° 144: Where Are They Now? The Hungarian Refugees, 50 Years On (published October 2006) here

Hungarian Crisis - 50th Anniversary

A Place to Call Home(Part 2): 1996 - 2003

This gallery highlights the history of UNHCR's efforts to help some of the world's most disenfranchised people to find a place called home, whether through repatriation, resettlement or local integration.

After decades of hospitality after World War II, as the global political climate changed and the number of people cared for by UNHCR swelled from around one million in 1951, to more than 27 million people in the mid-1990s, the welcome mat for refugees was largely withdrawn.

Voluntary repatriation has become both the preferred and only practical solution for today's refugees. In fact, the great majority of them choose to return to their former homes, though for those who cannot do so for various reasons, resettlement in countries like the United States and Australia, and local integration within regions where they first sought asylum, remain important options.

This gallery sees Rwandans returning home after the 1994 genocide; returnees to Kosovo receiving reintegration assistance; Guatemalans obtaining land titles in Mexico; and Afghans flocking home in 2003 after decades in exile.

A Place to Call Home(Part 2): 1996 - 2003

Pakistan:  One Year after the FloodsPlay video

Pakistan: One Year after the Floods

A year after the most devastating floods in Pakistan's history, life is still not back to normal for some people in the picturesque Swat Valley.