Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and it is a member of the United Nations Development Group. The UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, once in 1954 and again in 1981, following the demise of the League of Nations and the formation of the United Nations the international community was acutely aware of the refugee crisis following the end of World War II. In 1947, the International Refugee Organization was founded by the United Nations, the IRO was the first international agency to deal comprehensively with all aspects of refugees lives. Preceding this was the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, which was established in 1944 to address the millions of people displaced across Europe as a result of World War II. In the late 1940s, the IRO fell out of favor, however, the organization was only intended to operate for 3 years, from January 1951, due to the disagreement of many UN member states over the implications of a permanent body. UNHCRs mandate was set out in its statute, annexed to resolution 428 of the United Nations General Assembly of 1950. This mandate has been broadened by numerous resolutions of the General Assembly and its Economic. According to UNHCR, mandate is to provide, on a non-political and humanitarian basis, international protection to refugees, soon after the signing of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, it became clear that refugees were not solely restricted to Europe. In 1956, UNHCR was involved in coordinating the response to the uprising in Hungary, the responses marked the beginning of a wider, global mandate in refugee protection and humanitarian assistance. By the end of the decade, two-thirds of UNHCRs budget was focused on operations in Africa and in just one decade, the organizations focus had shifted from an almost exclusive focus on Europe. In 1967, the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees was ratified to remove the geographical and temporal restrictions of UNHCR under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. In the 1970s, UNHCR refugee operations continued to spread around the globe, adding to the woes in Asia was the Vietnam war, with millions fleeing the war-torn country. The 1980s saw new challenges for UNHCR, with member states unwilling to resettle refugees due to the sharp rise in refugee numbers over the 1970s. Often, these refugees were not fleeing wars between states, but inter-ethnic conflict in newly independent states, the targeting of civilians as military strategy added to the displacement in many nations, so even minor conflicts could result in a large number of displaced persons. As a result, the UNHCR became more involved with assistance programs within refugee camps. The end of the Cold War marked continued inter-ethnic conflict and contributed heavily to refugee flight, UNHCR was established on 14 December 1950 and succeeded the earlier United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. UNHCR maintains a database of information, ProGres, which was created during the Kosovo War in the 1990s
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
UNHCR packages containing tents, tarps, and mosquito netting sit in a field in Dadaab, Kenya, on 11 December 2006, following disastrous flooding
UNHCR 50th anniversary. Stamp of Tajikistan, 2001.