The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the United Nations agency mandated to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people, and assist in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. UNHCR was created on 14 December 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of refugees who had fled or lost their homes. It had three years to complete its work and then disband. On 28 July of the following year, the convention relating to the status of refugees, also known as the ‘1951 Refugee Convention’ was approved at a special United Nations conference. The Convention defines who a refugee is, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. Today, nearly 70 years later, UNHCR is still hard at work, protecting and assisting refugees around the world. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and UNHCR has representative offices in more than 130 countries all over the world. UNHCR has won two Nobel Peace Prizes, once in 1954 and again in 1981.
We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 70.8 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.9 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. In a world where nearly 1 person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution, our work at UNHCR is more important than ever before.
In April 2019, UNHCR launched its Refugee Zakat Fund, a trusted, compliant, and effective distributor harnessing the power of Zakat to transform the lives of the most vulnerable refugee and displaced families, including in hard-to-reach areas.