The United Nations Refugee Agency
The United Nations Refugee Agency is more commonly known by the acronym UNHCR. It was officially set up in 1950, but prior to this, its predecessor within the wider umbrella of the United Nations worked to deal with the huge number of refugees who were still trying to find a place to call home following the end of World War II.
The UNHCR was nominated for, and won, the Nobel Peace Prize for all it had done in the aftermath of WWII. In 1956, it had one of its biggest tests to date when almost a quarter of a million Hungarian people crossed the border into Austria to escape the clutches of the Soviet Union and the puppet Hungarian government that was slaughtering its own people during the Hungarian Revolution.
The 1960s saw the pullout of Africa by the colonial powers, mainly Belgium, the United Kingdom and France. Millions of people were displaced as warlords began to seize power in the vacuum that was left behind when the pullout took place.
There were also instances where farms were taken off white Africans to be given black people who had no prior experience. The result was widespread famine. Another major undertaking by the UNHCR was helping the people of Ethiopia in the famine of the 1980s which killed hundreds of thousands of people and livestock.
The UNHCR works in 130 countries around the world where it provides material support and guidance to the relevant national departments which deal with refugees, including the running of camps as well as the distribution of food and medicine. It has nearly 11,000 full time employees and has a budget of $6.5 million per year.
Most of the UNHCR’s work involves helping to smoothly run refugee camps and to resettle people who qualify for specific UN programmes.