The Unsung Heroes of the UN

The UNHCR is the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Bet you didn’t know that, did you?! They are, largely, the unsung heroes of the UN, taking a back seat  to the other, better known charitable arms such as UNICEF (kids) and the UNHRC (human rights), as well as the high profile humanitarian relief offered by the World Food Programme.

However, their low public profile belies the amazing work that they do the world over. They work in 120 countries, supporting 34 million refugees. That’s a vast figure – to put it into context, it’s the combined populations of Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and New Zealand.

As with all charities, they rely on public funds to keep their work going – they receive very little state funding at all, so it’s the contributions of those who care enough to give that keep them going.

2 million of the 34 million refugees they care for are in Somalia alone. If you wanted to fill Wembley Stadium 22 times over, that’s how many people you’d need. Just like the crowd at Wembley – those 2 million people are all individuals who have stories to tell, families and friends. They just need a little help to deal with the worst the world can throw at them. And the UNHCR is there to do it.

Their work is hard, but unquestionably necessary.

If the populations of Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Norway and New Zealand were forced to flee their homes, the UNHCR would be there to care for them.

The figures are huge because the problem is huge. However small amounts can make a big difference:

A generous $200 buys a tent to shelter 5 refugees.

A valuable $100 buys a survival kit for a refugee family, including a camping stove and blankets.

And just $20 buys 5 much needed blankets, to protect refugees from the bitter cold many of them face.

So – you – YES! YOU! – can do the right thing, right now, and make a huge difference to an organisation supporting people who literally have nothing.

Click this link, and give $10 using UNHCR’s trusted provider, Causes:

Once you have done it, tell your friends and bully, cajole, guilt and blackmail them into giving $10 too. Simples 😉

(You can find out more about the Gimme Shelter campaign here – – where you can also read the stories of some of the refugees supported by the UNHCR.)


© UNHCR/ A. Webster


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