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A UNHCR staff member helps refugees board a ferry that will take them home to Côte d'Ivoire.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency

About us

UNHCR leads international action to protect people forced to flee conflict and persecution and those denied a nationality.

Safeguarding the rights and well-being of people forced to flee for over 70 years

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. 

We lead international action to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. 

Our vision is a world where every person forced to flee can build a better future.

Formally known as the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1950 in the aftermath of the Second World War to help the millions of people who had lost their homes.

Today, UNHCR works in 135 countries. We provide life-saving assistance, including shelter, food, water and medical care for people forced to flee conflict and persecution, many of whom have nobody left to turn to. We defend their right to reach safety and help them find a place to call home so they can rebuild their lives. Long term, we work with countries to improve and monitor refugee and asylum laws and policies, ensuring human rights are upheld.

In everything we do UNHCR considers refugees and those forced to flee as partners, putting those most affected at the centre of planning and decision-making.

73 years

For 73 years UNHCR has been safeguarding the rights of refugees.

135 countries

We are the world’s leading organization protecting those forced to flee, present in 135 countries.

117.3 million

At the end of 2021, at least 117.3 million people around the world had been forced to flee their homes.

UNHCR mandate and governing charters

UNHCR is mandated by the United Nations to protect and safeguard the rights of refugees. We also support former refugees who have returned to their home country, people displaced within their own country, and people who are stateless or whose nationality is disputed.

We are guided by and act as the guardian of the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

Please consider donating today

Your gift can help protect someone forced to flee their home due to conflict or persecution.