Who The UNHCR Help Around The World

March 14, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established to protect the rights and welfare of refugees. This requires the cooperation of various nations, world leaders and professionals who are willing to help these displaced people by providing food, medical care, and shelter. Aside from refugee assistance, the UNHCR is also tasked with helping other group of people in similar situations. This includes:

Helping on the neonatal ward Asylum-Seekers

An asylum-seeker may claim to be a refugee but that claim has yet to be assessed and corroborated by the asylum system. A national asylum system will decide whether that person who seeks refuge in another country qualifies for international protection or not. Large groups of people who seek asylum due to conflict or persecution are usually given the status of prima facie refugees.


Children displaced due to war, natural disasters or statelessness often become victims of trafficking, abuse, neglect and forced military recruitment. These children may have been separated from families and witnessed violence in their home countries. The UNHCR offers these children protection with the cooperation of UNICEF and non-government organisations.

Internally Displaced People

Internally displaced people (IDP) are people who remain in their home countries and have not crossed borders to safer ground. They are victims of violence, armed conflict, discrimination, and human rights violations in their own country. They live in camps and in UNHCR protected areas within their countries. The three countries with the largest IDP population include Iraq, Colombia and South Sudan.

Elderly People

The elderly are usually the last to flee and when they do cross borders or stay in IDP camps they are usually neglected and suffer from illness, lack of mobility and bad vision. They become socially isolated and are often separated from family, which increases their vulnerability. The UNHCR strives to protect the rights and ensure basic services to the elderly as they try to rebuild their lives as refugees.

People with Disabilities

Refugees and IDPs with disabilities often get left behind and have limited access to what other refugees have. WHO estimates that there are about 2.3 to 3.3 million displaced people with disabilities with a third of them being children. UNHCR strives to protect this group of refugees from neglect and abuse.

Stateless Populations

These groups of people do not belong to a state or nationality due to discrimination against minority groups or from the failure to include certain groups of people as residents in a state that has become independent. Statelessness leave these people without the basic rights that the rest of the people in their country are given.


Out of the millions of people who seek refuge and asylum in other countries, only a small percentage are able to resettle to other countries or be integrated into their host countries. The rest will either be stuck in refugee camps for years or choose to return to their own countries willingly. The UNHCR facilitates repatriation for willing refugees to return to their own countries. Returnees are monitored to ensure that their reintegration into society is feasible and safe.