The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol are the key legal documents that form the basis of UNHCR work. With 149 State parties to either or both, they define the term ‘refugee’ and outlines the rights of refugees, as well as the legal obligations of States to protect them.
The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. This is now considered a rule of customary international law.
UNHCR serves as the ‘guardian’ of the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol. According to the legislation, States are expected to cooperate with them in ensuring that the rights of refugees are respected and protected.
The last dates of UNHCR (18.06.2020) show us that there are 79.5 million forcibly discplaced people worldwide as result of persecition, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order.
More than two thirds of all refugees under UNHCR’s mandate and Venezuelans displaced abroad come from just five countries – Syrian Arab Republic (6.6 million), Venezuela (3.7 million), Afghanistan (2.7 million), South Sudan (2.2 million), Myanmar (1.1 million).
Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees, with 3.6 million people. Colombia is second with 1.8 million, including Venezuelans displaced abroad. In total, 39% of the refugees are hosted in the top-5 countries, Turkey, Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda and Germany.
Can you imagine that 30-34 million of these 79.5 million forcibly discplaced person are childrens below 18 years of age?
However, some 317,200 refugees returned to their countries of origin in 2019 while 107,800 were resettled (with or without UNHCR’s assistance).