United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was established in 1950 and is mandated by the United Nations to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems.



UNHCR’s 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, and to return home voluntarily. By assisting refugees to return to their own country or to settle permanently in another country, UNHCR also seeks lasting solutions to their plight.


UNHCR’s Executive Committee and the UN General Assembly have authorized involvement with other groups. These include former refugees who have returned to their homeland, internally displaced people and people who are stateless or whose nationality is disputed.


UNHCR also seeks to reduce situations of forced displacement by encouraging States and other institutions to create conditions that are conducive to the protection of human rights and the peaceful resolution of disputes. In all of its activities, UNHCR pays particular attention to the needs of children and seeks to promote the equal rights of women and girls.


UNHCR works in partnership with governments, regional organizations, international and local organizations. UNHCR is committed to the principle of participation, believing that refugees and others who benefit from its activities should be consulted on the decisions that affect their lives.


UNHCR Presence in Sudan

UNHCR has been supporting the Sudanese Government to provide protection and assistance to refugees and asylum-seekers for over 50 years. The County’s Agreement was signed in 1968. In cooperation with the Commissioner for Refugees and other relevant government bodies, UNHCR works to protect and assist refugees and asylum-seekers in Khartoum, Darfur, East Sudan, White Nile State and South and West Kordofan. In particular, UNHCR strives to ensure refugees and asylum-seekers have access to asylum procedures and are provided with documentation. Priorities include life-saving interventions, as well as the promotion of the self-reliance of refugees and host communities.


UNHCR has also been assigned to seek solutions for people without citizenships. In the context of Sudan; this refers to individuals of South Sudanese origin who have been living in Sudan since the secession in 2011.


In 1977, the General Assembly tasked the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) with a central role in the inter-agency coordination of protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs). This reinforced the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s (IASC) designation in 1994 that the ERC can be the “reference point” to support an effective IDP response in the field. In November 2004, the IASC endorsed the “Cluster Approach” through a Guidance Note that validated the leadership of UNHCR in the Protection, Camp Coordination and Emergency Shelter clusters for conflict affected IDPs.


Since December 2013, UNHCR has led the inter-agency response to the influx of South Sudanese refugees in Sudan, in close cooperation with the authorities and other partners. Given the continuous arrival of other refugee populations, particularly in the East, UNHCR has also developed a joint strategy with IOM and other UN partners to assist the government of Sudan to address human trafficking, smuggling of persons and kidnapping. While the Strategy focuses on improving protection of victims of trafficking and responding to their needs, it also emphasizes the importance to seek solutions and provide alternative to onward movements, as many newly arrived refugees aim to continue their journeys onwards to Europe.


Additionally, UNHCR works closely with the Governments of Sudan and Chad on the potential voluntary repatriation of Sudanese and Chadian refugees in Chad and Sudan, respectively.



  • Work to address the needs of about 366,000 refugees and asylum-seekers all over Sudan, including 73,000 urban refugees in Khartoum, in partnership with Commissioner for Refugees (COR);
  • Advocate for access to asylum and consolidate counter-trafficking achievements, notably by implementing targeted interventions for children and giving special attention to people with specific needs such as unaccompanied minors;
  • Provide multi-sectoral assistance to camp-based refugees across the country and targeted support to urban refugees;
  • Develop the self-reliance of refugees and host communities through livelihoods interventions;
  • Support community-based interventions to avoid conflict between returnees and host populations over scarce resources in highly volatile regions; 
  • Work to prevent and reduce statelessness, including by identifying stateless persons as well as those with undetermined nationality and supporting them to obtain identity documentation; 
  • Lead the protection and emergency shelter/non-food items (NFI) sectors and focus on enhancing emergency response to new displacement and addressing acute protection needs in selected IDP camps.