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United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Agenda: The Refugee Problem in Poland-Hungary

UNHCR was created in 1950 to address the refugee crisis that resulted from World War II. The 1951 Refugee Convention established the scope and legal framework of the agency's work, which initially focused on Europeans uprooted by the war. Beginning in the late 1950s, displacement caused by other conflicts, from the Hungarian Uprising to the decolonization of Africa and Asia, broadened the scope of UNHCR's operations. Commensurate with the 1967 Protocol to the Refugee Convention, which expanded the geographic and temporal scope of refugee assistance, UNHCR operated across the world, with the bulk of its activities in developing countries. By its 65th anniversary in 2015, the agency had assisted more 50 million refugees worldwide.


As of June 2020, UNHCR has over 20 million refugees under its mandate. Consequently, its annual budget has grown from US$300,000 in 1951 to US$8.6 billion in 2019, making it one of the largest UN agencies by expenditure. The vast majority of UNCHR's budget comes from voluntary contributions, mostly from member states; the largest donors are the United States, the European Union, and Germany. The agency's work includes providing protection, shelter, healthcare and emergency relief, assisting in resettlement and repatriation, and advocating for national and multilateral policies on behalf of refugees