Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR was established in 1951 and is based in Geneva. The UNHCR is headed by the High Commissioner for Refugees, who directs and oversees the UNHCR’s activities.

The UNHCR is mandated to manage and coordinate international action to protect refugees and seek solutions to the world’s refugee problems.

The UNHCR’s main goal is to safeguard the rights and welfare of refugees. The organisation strives to ensure respect for the right to seek asylum and to find refuge in another country. Ultimately, the solutions that it advocates are a return to the country of origin, integration in the host country or resettlement in a third country. In many countries, the organisation runs humanitarian aid programmes for refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees.

Switzerland plays a very active role in the UNHCR and is a major financial contributor to the organisation. On 7 June 2019, the Federal Council decided to grant the UNHCR a contribution of CHF 125 million for the period 2019-2022. The aim is to give the UNHCR greater flexibility in the management of its operations.

The UNHCR is an indispensable intermediary for all matters relevant to refugee protection and is one of the most important international organisations for SEM in Switzerland and in the countries of origin and transit of migrants and asylum seekers. SEM works with the UNHCR in various fields, including asylum procedure, resettlement, return, integration and statelessness. SEM also finances several projects that the UNHCR is conducting in countries of origin and transit.

Last modification 23.04.2021

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