What exactly is the UNHCR?

In the last few months Europe has been hit by a huge refugee crisis. In this context you often hear the name UNHCR. Who are they? What do they do? What does UNHCR stand for? In this entry I will answer these UNHCR freequestions.
Have I heard of the UNHCR before?
During the last few months, news has been full of pictures of refugee camps and people wandering about Europe. Unfortunately the helpers and volunteers behind the cameras are often forgotten. One of those aid groups is the UNHCR. You can easily recognize the UNHCR-workers by their iconic shining light-blue jackets, with the organization logo printed on the back. However, the organization spends very little money on publicity.
Who are they?
The UNHCR is a subsidiary of the United Nations, founded after WW2, in the 1950s. Their main intention is to protect and guard refugees on their exhausting way to a better life, but also to provide them with information once they reach their final destination. Roughly 9000 people work for the UNHCR. The headquarters are based in Geneva, Switzerland but most of the employees are spread all around the world.
What do they do?
As mentioned before, the organization was established to take care of refugees, stateless people and other minority groups all over the world. Therefore, UNHCR employees have to coordinate refugee camps and try to cooperate with other NGOs in order to reach their goals. Their aim is to enable asylum-seekers to live a better life and to put an end to statelessness. Unfortunately, it is still a long way to go, but they do their best.
Where do they get their money from?
Although the UNHCR is a daughter organization, only little money comes from the United Nations itself. Therefore, the UNHCR mainly depends on donations. Big parts of their 7 billion dollar budget come from individual states. The rest is donated by private persons/inventors.
I hope you now know more about this organization and its important job. For my part, I think it is great that people, no matter where they come from, join to help those who need it.

3 thoughts on “What exactly is the UNHCR?”

  1. I think it’s great that finally somebody is talking about the UNHCR. The refugee “crisis” is one of the greatest tasks to be mastered by our generation, yet hardly anybody I talk to has heard of the UNHCR! I think this is due to the fact that they, as you said, spend only little money on publicity. Which is good, in a way, as you can be sure that your donations are used for more important things. And I think refugees arriving on Lesbos or other places don’t really care who they are helped by as long as somebody helps. Furthermore, the UNHCR is also active in Austria – they have just critizised the planned change in the Austrian refugee law put forward by the government. In my opinion, there should be more independent organisations like this one!

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your blog! I like that you chose a topic which is very important nowadays and it`s necessary that people know about it. You explained everything very well and I look forward to reading more blogs from you!

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