UNHCR marks its 60th anniversary


The UN refugee agency marks its 60th Anniversary with the opening of the ‘Under One Sun’ festival at the Hanumandhoka Durbar Square, Kathmandu highlighting the organisation’s work in the past six decades in helping the world’s uprooted people.

The festival, which will be open to all from Tuesday, 14 December through Friday, 17 December, features 12 photo exhibits on UNHCR’s role and work in Nepal and worldwide, art installations by 13 Nepali artists, and performances and street dramas by refugees and local artists.

These images, art installations and performances provide a comprehensive portrait of the lives of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and the stateless in all corners of the globe, as well as the work of the thousands of UN staff who have helped them.

Musical performances by Kutumba, Albatross and Shree Tara will be the centerpiece of the opening ceremony.

The event is being organized by UNHCR and curated and managed by photo.circle. The media partner for this event is Kantipur Publications.

UNHCR was created on 14 December 1950 by the UN General Assembly. Its original purpose was to address the post-World War II refugee situation in Europe, but its work quickly expanded. By 1956 it was facing its first major international emergency with the outpouring of refugees when Soviet forces crushed the Hungarian Revolution.

In the 1960s, the decolonization of Africa produced the first of that continent’s numerous refugee crises needing UNHCR intervention. Over the following two decades, UNHCR had to help with displacement crises in Asia and Latin America. Today, it provides protection and assistance in major displacement situations around the world. The global population of refugees, internally displaced people, and asylum seekers stands at 43 million people – most of them under UNHCR’s care.

In Nepal, UNHCR first opened its office in the early 1960s and carried out its operations until 1973. At the request of the Government of Nepal, UNHCR later returned in 1989. In early 1992, UNHCR launched a major emergency assistance programme for the refugees from Bhutan together with the World Food Program (WFP) and various non-governmental partners.

Since late 2007 to present, UNHCR has helped more than 40,000 refugees from Bhutan to start new lives in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. Some 72,500 refugees remain in seven camps in eastern Nepal.

UNHCR’s work in Nepal also includes providing protection and assistance to around 300 individuals from some 10 countries who have sought asylum in Nepal, preventing statelessness, and facilitating the safe transit of Tibetan new arrivals to a third country.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on 14 December 1950. It became operational on 1 January 1951.

UNHCR provides protection to refugees and other displaced people, on a non-political and humanitarian basis, and seeks permanent solutions for them.

Globally there are 43 million forcibly displaced people (15.2 million refugees, 27.1 million internally displaced, 983,000 asylum seekers) the majority under UNHCR’s care.

UNHCR’s contributions to world peace were recognized with Nobel Peace prizes in 1954 and 1981.