Did you know that...
• There are nearly 23 million refugees in the world, which equals the combined populations of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.
• Eighty per cent of refugees are women and children, and hundreds of thousands of them go to sleep hungry every night.
• Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and Rudolf Nureyev were all refugees who, along with many others, later became famous and left their individual mark on history.
It was a nightmare
An anonymous Rwandan woman remembers her ordeal in central Africa.
"How can I ever forget the scene where my husband was massacred right in my presence. It was a nightmare. It was a nightmare. I live through it every day and it is engraved forever in my memory".
My sister disappeared
Amra Radic is a young Bosnian girl who lives in the mountains of Switzerland.
"When I was very young, I lived in a small Bosnian village. Bosnia was beautiful. Better than anywhere else. But the war broke out and I saw many people killed. Houses were set on fire. My father and sister, Elma, went to my grandfather's house but the soldiers came to the village and killed people. My mother tried to reach Elma but there was an explosion at the bridge and my mother couldn't reach her. We eventually came to Switzerland but we don't know where Elma, who is now nine years old, is".
UNHCR assists more than twenty two million people who have fled war or persecution in Africa, Asia and in the heart of Europe where several million people were uprooted in the Balkans in the continent's biggest refugee crisis in 50 years.
One by one, he watched his family disappear
Narin spent years in a refugee camp in Thailand, and now lives in an orphanage in his native Cambodia.
"For most of my life, my home was a big refugee camp in Thailand. Cambodia was a homeland I knew only from stories. My father went to jail, and my mother sold my sister to a couple who had no children so she could pay for our food. My father later went to Cambodia to earn money but he never came back. My mother was so sad that she was always drinking. One day, we had no food at all, so they took my brother and me to an orphanage. Today, we live in Takhmau District outside Phnom Penh. I have a good life, but I always wish to have my sister back".
UNHCR in brief
UNHCR was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1951, principally to help the estimated two million refugees left in Europe in the wake of World War II. Since that early beginning, the refugee problem has become a global crisis. The organization has already helped tens of millions of refugees, earning two Nobel Peace Prizes in the process, but today the problem is larger than ever.
UNHCR'S core mandate is to:
• Provide legal protection for refugees and to seek durable solutions to their problems, either by helping them to return voluntarily to their homes or by settlement in other countries;
• Assist other groups of people, such as those displaced in their own countries, and offer specialized services such as emergency food aid, medical assistance, community services and educational facilities.
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
P.O. Box 2500
CH-1211 Geneva 2
Tel.: (41-22) 739 8111