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Refugees are people fleeing conflict or persecution. They are defined and protected in international law, and must not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom are at risk.

At UNHCR, we have been assisting them for over half a century.

Imagine being forced to flee your country in order to escape to safety. If you were lucky you had time to pack a bag. If not, you simply dropped everything and ran.

Life as a refugee can be difficult to imagine. But, for millions of people around the world, it is a terrifying reality.

In 2021, the number of refugees under UNHCR's mandate rose to million. A further million registered refugees are cared for in some 60 camps across the Middle East by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was set up in 1949 to care for displaced Palestinians.

The protection of refugees has many aspects. These include safety from being returned to danger, access to fair and efficient asylum procedures, and measures to ensure that their basic human rights are respected while they secure a longer-term solution. UNHCR works around the clock to accomplish all of this, but we can’t do it alone.

Mexico. Central American Refugees Jose Ismael and Leonel Antonio Diaz sell flowers in the streets of Tapachula, Mexico.

More than half the refugees UNHCR serves now live in urban areas