• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

UNHCR Archive Gallery Eligibility

Archives, 12 June 2009

Under international agreements (such as the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees) or national legislation, certain categories of refugees are entitled to a specific legal status. In order to determine whether a person is entitled to that status, it must first be determined whether he/she is a refugee in the meaning of the instrument concerned (i.e., whether he/she fulfils the conditions set out in the definition of a "refugee" in that instrument). For this, the term "eligibility" is used.

Eligibility determination is a legal process which takes place in two stages: (1) the ascertaining of the relevant facts of the individual case, and (2) the application of the relevant definition to the facts ascertained, which may entail interpretation of the definitions.

The determination of eligibility for the purposes of the Statute of the Office of the High Commissioner in order to determine whether a person or group of persons qualifies for a specific service by the High Commissioner (be it international protection or material assistance) is the prerogative of the High Commissioner, subject to directives of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

Teaching About Refugees, History

History includes refugees

Throughout history, political turmoil has victimized many civilian families, forcing them to flee their homes. Refugee outflows and other massive displacements of people are a key aspect of many international crises. For children, in particular, looking at world events from the point of view of a refugee family can give new meaning and a sense of reality to events that may otherwise seem abstract and far away. The theme can be introduced in:

Medieval/early modern history: The religious wars.

Contemporary history: World War I, the Russian Revolution, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Second World War and Nazism, colonization and decolonization in Africa, Soviet influence in Central and Eastern Europe, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Vietnam War, the dictatorships in Latin-America - all these events and many more have victimized millions of people and forced them to flee their homes, families and communities.


9-11 year olds Refugees in History
12-14 year olds The Rwandan Crisis 1994
15-18 year olds Population Displacement in the Commonwealth of Independent States

History

Studying history can provide an opportunity to examine refugee outflows and displacement.

The State of the World's Refugees

These six editions of UNHCR's The State of the World's Refugees provide detailed, in-depth analysis of the plight of the world's millions of displaced people. The authors examine the major crises and challenges faced by UNHCR for over fifty years.

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Hungarian Crisis - 50th Anniversary

The spontaneous Hungarian uprising began on 23 October 1956. Two weeks later, the revolution was crushed by a Soviet military intervention, and by early 1957, 200,000 people had fled as refugees - 180,000 to Austria and 20,000 to Yugoslavia.

Hundreds of volunteers worked alongside international and local aid organizations to provide shelter and food, as the Austrians and the international community provided the refugees with an unprecedented level of support.

UNHCR was made 'Lead Agency' and, along with the Red Cross and ICEM, helped coordinate protection, assistance and a quite extraordinary resettlement programme.

Within two years, more than 180,000 Hungarians were resettled to 37 countries spanning five continents. The US, Canada, the UK, West Germany, Australia, Switzerland, France, Sweden and Belgium each accepted more than 5,000 refugees. Italy, the Netherlands, Israel, Brazil, Norway, Denmark, South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina all took over 1,000. The rest were spread around a further 19 countries ranging from the Dominican Republic to Turkey. Some Hungarians were integrated in Austria (8,000) and Yugoslavia (700), while 11,000 returned home voluntarily.

More in Refugees Magazine Issue N° 144: Where Are They Now? The Hungarian Refugees, 50 Years On (published October 2006) here

Hungarian Crisis - 50th Anniversary

A Place to Call Home(Part 2): 1996 - 2003

This gallery highlights the history of UNHCR's efforts to help some of the world's most disenfranchised people to find a place called home, whether through repatriation, resettlement or local integration.

After decades of hospitality after World War II, as the global political climate changed and the number of people cared for by UNHCR swelled from around one million in 1951, to more than 27 million people in the mid-1990s, the welcome mat for refugees was largely withdrawn.

Voluntary repatriation has become both the preferred and only practical solution for today's refugees. In fact, the great majority of them choose to return to their former homes, though for those who cannot do so for various reasons, resettlement in countries like the United States and Australia, and local integration within regions where they first sought asylum, remain important options.

This gallery sees Rwandans returning home after the 1994 genocide; returnees to Kosovo receiving reintegration assistance; Guatemalans obtaining land titles in Mexico; and Afghans flocking home in 2003 after decades in exile.

A Place to Call Home(Part 2): 1996 - 2003

Looking Back: When Hungary's Borders with Austria Opened for East Germans

It's not often that a single sentence can send a photographer rushing into action, but Hungarian photographer Barnabas Szabo did not have to hear more than that of then-Hungarian Foreign Minister Guyla Horn's televised announcement 25 years ago - September 10, 1989 - that at midnight Hungary would open its border with Austria and let East German refugees leave the country. "After the very first sentence I jumped up, took my camera, ran to my old Trabant and set off for the border," he recalled. The effect of Hungary's momentous decision was freedom for tens of thousands of East Germans who had been streaming into Hungary since May. At first they found refuge in the West German embassy, but as numbers grew, refugee camps were set up in Budapest and on the shores of Lake Balaton. The collapse of the Berlin Wall followed less than two months later. Communism was swept from Eastern Europe by the end of 1989. Another Hungarian photographer, Tamas Szigeti, who visited the abandoned refugee camp at Csilleberc the following day, recorded the haste in which people departed, leaving clothes, toys and even half-cooked dinners. No matter how uncertain the new life beckoning to them, the East Germans were clearly ready to leave fear and the Communist dictatorship behind forever.

Looking Back: When Hungary's Borders with Austria Opened for East Germans

Pakistan:  One Year after the FloodsPlay video

Pakistan: One Year after the Floods

A year after the most devastating floods in Pakistan's history, life is still not back to normal for some people in the picturesque Swat Valley.