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Frequently asked questions

It is said that the High Commissioner receives a very decent salary

The High Commissioner is a United Nations staff member at the level of Under-Secretary-General and s/he reports annually to the General Assembly. The salaries of all UN professional staff, including Under-Secretaries-General, are a matter of public record and an explanation of how salaries are determined and a link to the latest salary levels for all Professional, Director, Assistant Secretary-General and Under-Secretary-General staff members can be found at this link.


Our Audit Process

We absolutely understand that donors require verification that their funds are spent appropriately, but we are unable to facilitate any individual audit processes on behalf of individual donors, due to our ‘Single Audit Principle’ which we must adhere to as an agency of the United Nations. The United Nations Board of Auditors (the ‘Board’) was established in 1946 by the General Assembly which annually appoints three members, each of whom is the Auditor General (or most senior auditor) of a Member State (and thus independent of the UN). For more than 65 years this ‘single audit principle’ has been applied and a board of 3 serving supreme auditors selected each year has led a team providing independent external audit services to the General Assembly. They oversee the external audit of the accounts of ALL United Nations organizations and their funds and programmes; reporting findings and recommendations to the General Assembly. These three members of the Board have joint responsibility for the external audit of the United Nations and its funds and programmes – UNHCR included.

The overarching goal of the Board is to use the unique perspective of public external audit to both help the General Assembly to hold UN entities to account for the use of public resources, and add value by identifying ways to improve the delivery of international public services, enhance financial management and value for money.

What is UN’s management and Governance over UNHCR?

The UN refugee agency was first established to help displaced people in Europe by the World War II. Optimistically, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly with a three-year mandate to complete its work and then disband. The following year, on July 28, the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees - the legal foundation of helping refugees and the basic statute guiding UNHCR's work - was adopted. The UN refugee agency is governed by the UN General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The UN refugee agency's mandate is defined by the 1950 UNHCR Statute. In 2003, the General Assembly extended the organization's mandate "until the refugee problem is solved." The High Commissioner reports annually to ECOSOC and the General Assembly on the work of UNHCR.

How can my small amount of money help when you have billions?

A little money goes a long way when it comes to helping the people who have been forced to run for their lives. Just a small amount can provide vital and even life-saving assistance, or help prepare a young person for a brighter future.

What your money can buy:

For HK$750, you can provide 5 families with warm blankets

For HK$1,100, you can provide home starter kits to 2 families

For HK$4,100, you can give a family of refugees the temporary refuge of a home in a family tent

Why should I support refugees?

The refugee cause is a unique one. Families who have experienced the extreme trauma of leaving home following persecution and conflict are in need of special attention and support.

It is UNHCR’s mandate to protect them, wherever they flee to. We work on the ground in more than 135 countries and territories to help ensure that when people have to run for their lives the world responds to help them, protect them and - when it is all over - find them a safe home again. We have 65 years of experience of doing this, and our support for refugees has twice won us the Nobel Peace Prize.

Our remit is vast but with our size comes an enormous opportunity for economies of scale and we are well practised at making resources go further to reach even more refugees. We create safe havens for refugees who fled conflicts and turmoil of wars and for many decades the primary purpose has been to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees and asylum seekers.

When there is a war or conflict which puts people’s lives in danger they have to run for safety and that’s when they turn to UNHCR for help, for safe shelter, for food, water and medical assistance. We work with our partners to help them feel safe and secure again, provide their basic and special needs, and to provide special assistance to the most vulnerable people - children, women and the elderly.

Why we are special…

Our agency is the only global organization that offers this all-round direct support to refugees and displaced people. We are ready to cater for the needs of at least 750,000 displaced people within 72 hours, and remain with them for as long as they need our protection and support. UNHCR is therefore the first to arrive and always the last to leave. As a UN agency, we are able to negotiate directly with governments throughout the world to ensure refugees’ safety and their future return, their local integration or resettlement. UNHCR depends almost entirely on voluntary contributions, raised on an annual basis from government, corporate, foundations and individual donors. Without your vital support, we would not be able to meet the needs of the millions of people we care for.

Our unique features include:

We’re global: We are on the ground in 135 countries across the world, working in partnership with Governments, NGOs, community groups, host communities and refugees.

We are far-reaching: We are protecting and supporting some 79.5 million people, many in the very worst circumstances across the world

We act fast: When an emergency strikes, we can mobilise enough supplies and lifesaving support for 750,000 people in 72 hours.

We are solution-driven: We’re not just there when people are forced to run for their lives, we’re there to help them find home again – whether it be back where they started or in a new place. In the last 15 years, we have helped over 10 million people find home again.

We’re a great investment: We have 65 years experience of knowing what works in some of the most difficult environments on earth. We know how to make your investment work efficiently and effectively, ensuring that it does the very most possible for people who have lost everything.

We can make your money go a long way: While we care for millions of people, our support is provided one refugee at a time.

We’ve got the world on side: More than 140 countries are party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, promising to provide land for safe havens when we ask for it and safe passage for those who need urgent help.