The United Agency Refugee Agency has been created after the second world war to assist and facilitate the repatriation of millions of European citizens displaced as a consequence of the conflict. In December 1950 an Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees was established by the United Nations General Assembly with a three years mandate. In July 1951 the Convention that recognized to refugees their right to protection and that defined their international legal status was adopted. Since displacements have become an enduring phenomenon at global level, in 2003 the General Assembly has extended indefinitely the UNHCR mandate. Also the category of beneficiaries has been progressively enlarged through the General Assembly resolutions including stateless persons in 1994 and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 2006.
Currently more than 40 million of people, considering refugees, IDPs and stateless persons, benefit from the UNHCR assistance. During armed conflicts, revolutions or natural disasters, the population not only run the risk of losing the protection from their own government, but often it is becoming victim of the same government that was supposed to provide protection. UNHCR engages in protecting refugees rights in their destination country in order not to oblige them to return to their origin country, where they could become victims of persecution.
The majority of UNHCR staff is deployed in Africa and Asia, the continents that host and that are the origin of the majority of refugees and IDPs. Among the UNHCR initiatives, particular relevance should be given the one concerning Afghan refugees in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. A significant number of refugees also comes from Myanmar, reaching nearly 500.000 in the region. Another situation particularly sensitive regards the exodus of Syrians, who found hospitality in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt. In the region it is possible to count 5.3 million of Syrian refugees, other than 6.5 million of IDPs. As for the African continent, a significant number of refugees is located in Sudan, Kenya, Ethiopia, and DRC. In the American continent the most delicate situation has been registered in Venezuela and on the central american route. In Europe, the five countries receiving the highest number of asylum requests are Germany, France, Sweden, Italy and United Kingdom. The number of applications has significantly increased during the last years, as a consequence of the wars in Syria and Iraq and because of the unstable contexts characterizing Afghanistan, Eritrea and many other countries. Following the conflict in Ukraine, 750.00 IDPs have been registered.
The High Commissioner for Refugees since January 1st 2016 is the Italian Filippo Grandi. His mandate is expiring in December 2025.