Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (established December 14, 1950) protects and supports refugees at the request of a government or the United Nations and assists in their return or resettlement. UNHCR was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954 and 1981. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.
As of 2004, the agency has helped an estimated 50 million people restart their lives according to their website. A staff of around 5,000 people in more than 120 countries continues to help some 20 million persons.
The post of High Commissioner has been held by:
Ruud Lubbers, January 1, 2001 - Feb 2005
Sadako Ogata, 1990 - 2000
Thorvald Stoltenberg, Jan-Nov 1990
- Jean-Pierre Hocké , 1986 - 1989
Poul Hartling, 1978 - 1985
Sadruddin Aga Khan, 1965 - 1977
- Félix Schnyder , 1960 - 1965
- Auguste R. Lindt , 1956-1960
- Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart , 1951 - 1956
Last updated: 05-18-2005 14:35:36