An Average American Woman

Thoughts on Life

The Global Refugee Crisis

Richard Kaplan

Richard Kaplan

United Nations Global Affairs & International Legal Advisor

As Winter rapidly approaches, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some statistics with you on the current worldwide refugee crisis, and how it is being addressed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. 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. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.

In more than six decades, the agency has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. Today, a staff of some 8,600 people in more than 125 countries continues to help some 33.9 million persons.

UNHCR’s primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. To this end, they strive to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another country, and to return home voluntarily. By helping refugees go back home or to settle in another country, UNHCR also seeks lasting solutions to their plight. UNHCR also has a mandate to prevent and reduce statelessness and protect stateless persons. In support of its core activities on behalf of refugees, UNHCR’s Executive Committee and the UN General Assembly have authorized involvement with other groups. These include former refugees who have returned home and internally displaced people.

UNHCR seeks to reduce situations of forced displacement by encouraging states and other institutions to create conditions which are conducive to the protection of human rights and the peaceful resolution of disputes. In all of its activities, the refugee agency pays particular attention to the needs of children and seeks to promote the equal rights of women and girls.

Today, the UNHCR is conducting massive humanitarian operations in the following countries:

While each UNHCR operation is critical, the refugee situation in Syria and the surrounding countries has become an unmanageable”Humanitarian Crisis.” As of 18 October 2014, there are 3,201,785 Syrian refugees of immediate concern to the UNHCR. Of this number, there are approximately 3,018,614 registered refugees, with another 183,171 awaiting registration.

If you would like to assist the UNHCR in their efforts in support of refugees, please visit the UNHCR Internet Site:

Depending on which country you are accessing the site from, you will be redirected to your national UNHCR Office from which you can make a donation to support UNHCR activities at a level of your choice. In the United States, the UNHCR is a registered charity. As such, any contribution that you make is tax deductable.

When you visit the UNHCR Site, I feel confident that you will be as impressed as I was with the massive scope of their responsibilities, and the importance of trying to assist people that have lost everything as a result of conflict, climate change, and other catastrophic events.

(Photo By: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees)


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