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History of UNHCR

About UNHCR

History of UNHCR

Established in the aftermath of the Second World War, UNHCR has been there protecting people forced to flee conflict and persecution for over 70 years.
Black and white photo of three women and a child arriving at a refugee camp in Austria.

In this section:

There for people forced to flee for over 70 years 

Initially, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1950 in the aftermath of the Second World War to help the millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes. We were given three years to complete this work, and then disband. 

As new refugee crises unfolded across the globe, our mandate was extended multiple times throughout the 20th century until a General Assembly resolution in 2003 made the agency permanent.

Today, we are a global organization dedicated to protecting people forced to flee. We lead international action to protect refugees, deliver life-saving assistance, help safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future.

Over the years, our scope has widened to also include supporting refugees returning home, people forcibly displaced within their own country, and those denied a nationality and left stateless.

UNHCR now has 20,739 personnel working in 135 countries. We have helped more than 50 million refugees to successfully restart their lives, and continue to protect and provide support for the 117.3 million people currently displaced.

Please consider donating today

With your support, we can continue to be there for people in need. Will you help protect people forced to flee?