Belarus . Facts

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950. The UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees — the legal foundation of helping refugees — and UNHCR Statute, guiding further organization’s work, were adopted in 1951.

UNHCR is governed by the Executive Committee, composed of 79 members, elected by UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). António Guterres became the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in June 2005. The Organization is headquartered in Geneva.

UNHCR coordinates international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide regardless of their race, religion, political views and sex.

UNHCR’s primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. UNHCR 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. UNHCR strives to find a sustainable solution to the problem of refugees.

The Agency is staffed with over 6800 people in more than 110 countries, provides legal assistance to millions of refugees, returnees, internally displaced and stateless people.

UNHCR total budget 2010 exceeds $3 bln.

Belarus has been cooperating with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 1994.

UNHCR office was established in Belarus in 1995. The Office in Belarus is a part of the Regional Office (Kyiv) for Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova.

UNHCR in Belarus focuses on assisting public administration bodies in improving migration and refugee legislation, encouraging HR development, providing refugees with legal and social protection. UNHCR contributes to cooperation between the government and NGOs in refugee status issues.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees implements projects amounting to $1 mln in Belarus annually. These projects are aimed at strengthening national asylum system and local integration capacity.

UNHCR is implementing 2 projects of international technical assistance in Belarus in 2009-2011, including “Strengthening the Protection Capacity in the Republic of Belarus” project and “Local refugee integration in Belarus” project.

UNHCR assisted in drafting the law of the Republic of Belarus “On the granting of refugee status, subsidiary and temporary protection to foreign citizens and stateless persons within the Republic of Belarus” enacted in 2009.

A Memorandum of Understanding on monitoring the border of Belarus and access to asylum procedures in the territory of the Republic of Belarus was adopted on May 7, 2008. The State Border Committee of Belarus, UNHCR, IOM, the NGO “Belarusian Red Cross” and the NGO “Belarusian movement of Medical Workers” were the signatories.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees visited our country in July 2010 to discuss cooperation issues for the first time in the history of Belarus and UNHCR relations. The High Commissioner met with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko.

The Agreement between Belarus and the UNHCR on cooperation and the legal status of the UNHCR Office and its personnel in this country was ratified during the visit. The agreement provided for the continued cooperation between the UNHCR and Belarus.