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What we do

A UNHCR staff member directs a group of refugees from Iraq and Syria toward a bus.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency

What we do

UNHCR protects people forced to flee their homes as well as stateless persons.

We deliver life-saving assistance in emergencies, safeguard fundamental human rights, and help find long-term solutions so they can find a safe place to call home.

Protecting people forced to flee

Every year, millions of people are forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution and cannot return without risking their lives, safety or freedom. 

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is there for them at every stage of the refugee and displacement journey, from the beginning of a crisis, through the months and often years that they are displaced from their homes. 

We deliver life-saving aid and protection in emergencies, advocate for improved asylum laws and systems so displaced people can access their rights, and help find long-term solutions so they can return home once safe to do so or build a future in a new country.

We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality so they can access basic rights, such as education and health care.

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Respond to emergencies

Within 72 hours, UNHCR can mobilize supplies for 1 million people and deploy expert staff to protect people forced to flee.

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Protect human rights

UNHCR has worked with more than 100 countries to interpret and apply legal standards to ensure refugees can exercise their rights. 

Build better futures  

Over the last decade, UNHCR has helped almost one million refugees rebuild their lives in new countries, as part of our work to find long-term solutions. 

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Respond to emergencies

When people are forced to flee, speed is critical. Refugees often arrive across a border traumatized, hungry and exhausted, with little more than the clothes on their backs.

UNHCR works to ensure they can reach safety and are not returned to situations where their lives or freedom would be in danger. This is the core principle of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which forms the legal basis of our work. 

We help people displaced from their homes settle in a safe place, far from conflict or those trying to harm them, rapidly deliver life-saving supplies and mobilize expert staff to protect them. We ensure they have shelter, food, water, access to medical care and help to find missing family members.

Learn more about Responding to emergencies


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Protect human rights

Governments normally guarantee the basic human rights and security of their citizens, but when people are forced to flee and become refugees they can no longer rely on this safety net.

UNHCR works to protect refugees, displaced and stateless people by advocating for their rights. We work with governments and partners to advise on and strengthen laws and national systems and help provide services. 

Through this we help ensure displaced people can access documentation, education, work and health care. We also work to ensure stateless people achieve their right to a nationality. 

Bringing about positive changes on national, regional and global levels can take years, but we accomplish it with the help of lawyers, judges, civil society organizations, politicians and students.

Learn more about Protecting human rights



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Build better futures

Employment, education and a safe place to call home mean refugees can begin to rebuild their lives.

UNHCR helps refugees find employment so they can support themselves and their families with dignity and contribute their skills to host communities. We also help children and young people access education, giving them a sense of normalcy and safeguarding their future. Through this, we try to ensure the talents and potential of displaced people do not go to waste. 

Seeking long-term solutions for refugees is central to our mandate. Once it is safe to do so, we help families and individuals return to their homeland. For those who cannot return because of continued conflict, war or persecution, UNHCR helps them to settle and make a positive contribution in a third country or integrate into a host country.

Learn more about Building better futures


Please consider donating today

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