Friday, September 25, 2015

Feel Good Friday - UNHCR - The UN Refugee Agency

These days there is a lot of news of refugees from Syria and other countries trying to make their way towards Europe and meeting with varied amounts of resistance and success. Since it's Feel Good Friday, we're going to take a closer look at the The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more commonly known as UNHCR.

As explained in the "About Us" section of their website, UNHCR "was established December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and coordinate 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 third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people."

While they may be most well known for their emergency preparedness and assistance to people fleeing wars - they have teams of people and stockpiles of food ready to be deployed at a moments notice - this is just one of many services they offer. Others include advocacy on behalf of refugees, providing alternatives to camps and guidance for countries accepting asylum seekers and migrants, and helping refugees with repatriation and resettlement.

Violence and economic hardship are not the only reasons people put their lives at risk to relocate. "In 2013, 22 million people were displaced by disasters brought on by natural hazard events." That's why the UNHCR also focuses on climate change and minimizing the environmental impact of refugee operations.

Being such a well-established organization, their website is full of statistics, resources and videos. They post new videos on their website every few days and most are under 3 minutes long. If you want to see something inspiring, rather than depressing, watch this video of immigrants being welcomed in Austria.

If you want to make a difference, there are various ways you can get involved - donating money, volunteering time or supporting UNHCR online by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter @Refugees.

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