The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is the UN Agency mandated to ensure respect for the rights of people fleeing war and persecution and to find lasting solutions to their plight. UNHCR also assist former refugees who have returned to their homeland; internally displaced people; and people who are stateless or whose nationality is disputed. The Office works in partnership with governments, regional organizations, international and nongovernmental organizations. It is committed to the principle of participation, believing that refugees and others who benefit from the Organization’s activities should be consulted over decisions which affect their lives. UNHCR has been twice awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: in 1954 and 1981. The first one was won for the aid provided to refugees in Europe, while 27 years later for the Agency’s commitment to refugees worldwide, especially in view of dangers and challenges that imply the realities of war-torn countries or countries struck by other sort of conflicts. UNHCR was founded after World War II with the task of providing aid to displaced Europeans. The Office was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1950, initially for three years. Subsequently, the Office’s mandate was renewed for five year periods but in 2003, the General Assembly of the United Nations lifted the requirement of renewing the UNHCR mandate. In 1956, the UNHCR responded to the inflow of refugees after the suppression of the uprising in Hungary. In 1960s, UNHCR intervened in the post-decolonisation Africa. During the next decade, UNHCR provided aid to the wave of refugees after the establishment of independent Bangladesh, and to people fleeing from the war-torn Vietnam. In the late 1990s, Europe faced new waves of refugees as the consequence of the Balkan Wars. In the first decade of the 21st century, refugee crises requiring UNHCR interventions emerged in such countries as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia in Africa. Today, conflicts in countries like Ukraine, South Sudan, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Iraq and Syria has led to the highest number of forcibly displaced people in UNHCR’s history.The Office’s staff of about 7 750 people provides aid to almost 60 million people in 127countries. UNHCR’s headquarters is in Geneva. Antonio Guterres, a Portuguese politician and the country’s former Prime Minister, currently serves as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Representing UNHCR Conferences at the 15th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is Melissa Fleming who leads UNHCR communications efforts around the globe. Operating in 127 countries, UNHCR, twice winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, provides shelter and help for almost 60 million people who have fled wars and persecution. She joined UNHCR from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where she served for eight years as Spokesperson and Head of Public Information during the period the organisation made headlines for its inspection work in Iraq, Iran and North Korea and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Prior to IAEA, she headed the Press and Information team at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and as a Public Affairs Specialist at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.