//The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees



Dr Peter Ventevogel
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly. The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate 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 a third country. It also has a mandate to help stateless people.

Since 1950, the agency has helped tens of millions of people restart their lives. Today, a staff of more than 9,300 people in 123 countries continues to help and protect millions of refugees, returnees, internally displaced and stateless people.

Mental health and psychosocial support receives increasing attention and in 2013 UNHCR launched its Operational Guidance of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Programming in Refugee Operations. Mental health and Psychosocial support does not constitute a separate sector or subsector, but is functionally integrated in programmes for public health, community based protection, child protection and SGBV prevention and response. Since 2015, UNHCR has a Senior Mental Health Officer in the Public Health Section in the headoffice. Relevant publications of UNHCR include ‘Culture, Context and the Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing of Syrians’.