Putting Our Work into Focus
A picture tells a thousand words - and UNHCR has more than 250,000 of them dating back decades. The agency's photo library in Geneva is guardian of the world's largest collection of refugee-related photos covering nearly all of the major displacements of the last 60 years. These images provide a comprehensive portrait of the lives of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and the stateless in all corners of the globe, as well as the work of the thousands of UN staff who have helped them. Many of our best photos are showcased on this website and on the social networking site, Flickr. We offer the use of our photos free to the media.
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
Lebanese Returnees Receive Aid
UNHCR started distributing emergency relief aid in devastated southern Lebanese villages in the second half of August. Items such as tents, plastic sheeting and blankets are being distributed to the most vulnerable. UNHCR supplies are being taken from stockpiles in Beirut, Sidon and Tyre and continue to arrive in Lebanon by air, sea and road.
Although 90 percent of the displaced returned within days of the August 14 ceasefire, many Lebanese have been unable to move back into their homes and have been staying with family or in shelters, while a few thousand have remained in Syria.
Since the crisis began in mid-July, UNHCR has moved 1,553 tons of supplies into Syria and Lebanon for the victims of the fighting. That has included nearly 15,000 tents, 154,510 blankets, 53,633 mattresses and 13,474 kitchen sets. The refugee agency has imported five trucks and 15 more are en route.
Posted on 29 August 2006
Lebanese Stream Home After Ceasefire
Tens of thousands of displaced Lebanese have been streaming back to their homes from locations inside Lebanon and Syria since a ceasefire started on Monday. UNHCR teams monitoring the roads leading to the worst affected areas of Lebanon expect the huge numbers of returnees to continue in the coming days.
UNHCR teams have been monitoring the borders around the clock at the four border points from Syria and assisting returnees. They are distributing return packs of water, high-energy biscuits, wet towels and rehydration salts. They are also identifying vulnerable cases who require additional help. Convoys for refugees who are without transportation or who cannot afford transport home are being organized by the refugee agency.
Inside Lebanon, UNHCR teams have set up distribution points alongside roads to distribute assistance such as plastic sheeting, mattresses, water and other supplies to returnees. The full extent of the aid that will be needed will not be clear until a thorough assessment is carried out in the worst-affected areas.
Posted on 16 August 2006
Displaced Lebanese in Syria: Emergency Relief Supplies Arrive
A humanitarian convoy, loaded with emergency relief supplies from UNHCR's regional stockpile in Amman, Jordan, arrived in Damascus this week. Part of the shipment of mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, soap and cooking stoves will be distributed to Lebanese refugees and asylum seekers in Syria while the rest will be trucked to Lebanon to help some 100,000 internally displaced living in community shelters and with host families.
In Syria this week, UNHCR distributed 6,544 mattresses, with the bulk going to Homs in the north, where we estimate 20,000 Lebanese are sheltering. UNHCR Syria has started distributing locally procured relief items including 3,300 pillows, bed linen, some 67,000 pieces of underwear and 6,400 diapers to host families and Lebanese in need.
Since the conflict began a month ago, some 160,000 Lebanese have fled across the border into Syria, with 1,500 now arriving daily. Most Lebanese are staying with Syrian host families or in schools, summer camps, community centres, mosques and hotels. While local generosity has been overwhelming, it is in danger of being overstretched.
Posted on 14 August 2006
Lebanon Crisis: UNHCR Gears Up
The UN refugee agency is gearing up for a multi-million-dollar operation in the Middle East aimed at assisting tens of thousands of people displaced by the current crisis in Lebanon.
Conditions for fleeing Lebanese seeking refuge in the mountain areas north of Beirut are precarious, with relief supplies needed urgently to cope with the growing number of displaced. More than 80,0000 people have fled to the Aley valley north of Beirut. Some 38,000 of them are living in schools.
In close collaboration with local authorities, UNHCR teams have been working in the mountain regions since early last week, assessing the situation and buying supplies, particularly mattresses, to help ease the strain on those living in public buildings.