Syrian refugees receive plastic sheets at a distribution center in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp.

Questions about UNHCR

What is UNHCR?

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes by war, persecution and disaster.

UNHCR leads international action for displaced people, and works to ensure everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge, with the option to return home voluntarily or to resettle in another country.

  • In emergencies, UNHCR provides shelter, food, water and medical care
  • In established refugee camps and communities, UNHCR strives to improve refugees' quality of life and future opportunities, providing infrastructure, schools and income generating projects
  • When they are able to return, UNHCR gives refugees assistance with transport, documentation and essential items to make the transition as smooth as possible
  • Once they are home, UNHCR provides ongoing support and education to help refugees rebuild their communities and their livelihoods.

What is Australia for UNHCR?

Australia for UNHCR is the UN Refugee Agency’s national partner in Australia, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to protecting the lives of refugees, and empowering them for a better future. The funds we raise help UNHCR respond to refugee emergencies when they occur, as well as providing displaced communities with ongoing support and protection.

We empower Australians to act in support of UNHCR’s global mission to protect and assist people fleeing from conflict, persecution and disaster. As well as helping people survive the immediate emergency phase of a crisis, we fund health, education, and livelihood projects for long-term refugee situations, enabling people who have been forcibly displaced to live in dignity and build a better future for themselves.

What kinds of humanitarian emergencies does UNHCR respond to?

UNHCR is on the ground, saving lives and protecting people who have been forced to flee conflict, persecution, or other humanitarian emergencies. Emergencies can include war, religious or political persecution, or natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.

Whether people seek safety within their own country or across an international border, we stand ready to help in any crisis.

Which countries host the most refugees?

  1. Turkey (3.6 million)
  2. Iran (3.4 million)
  3. Colombia (2.5 million)
  4. Germany (2.1 million)
  5. Pakistan (1.7 million)

70% of refugees live in countries neighbouring their countries of origin.

Source: Global Trends Report

Where do most refugees come from?

According to the Global Trends Report 2022, 52 per cent of all refugees and other people in need of international protection come from just three countries: Syria (6.5 million), Ukraine (5.7 million) and Afghanistan (5.7 million). 

Source: Global Trends Report

Don't you get lots of money from the UN?

Only 1% of UNHCR's budget comes from the United Nations. Governments and the European Union contribute 87%, other inter-governmental organisations and pooled funding mechanisms contribute 3%, and the remaining 9% is from the private sector – including foundations, corporations and the general public.

How can I obtain more information about Australia for UNHCR?

Australia for UNHCR is committed to being open and transparent about our work and accountable to our stakeholders. You can find a wide range of information on our website relating to our organisation and governance, the activities we support and the work of UNHCR. Australia for UNHCR also produces and publishes an annual report to summarise our key activities and financial statement for each year.

Our Privacy Policy sets out the way we collect, hold, use and disclose your personal information and underpins our commitment to protecting your right to privacy. Our Complaints Policy sets out the process we use to ensure complaints are managed in an open and transparent manner. We will consider any reasonable requests for information.

To submit a query please send a written request to our Donor Care Team:

  • via email on [email protected]; or
  • mail us at Australia for UNHCR Level 8, 120 Sussex Street, Sydney NSW 2000.

Our media team is available to handle any media enquiries, provide briefings on emergencies and disasters, access to spokespeople, photography and footage.

What kinds of humanitarian emergencies does UNHCR respond to?

UNHCR is on the ground, saving lives and protecting people who have been forced to flee conflict, persecution, or other humanitarian emergencies. Emergencies can include war, religious or political persecution, or natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes. Whether people seek safety within their own country or across an international border, we stand ready to help in any crisis.

Donor Enquiries

How is my money used?

At least 75% of all funds raised go directly to the field. We retain 11% for fundraising expenses, and 14% for administration. 

Find out more by reading our annual report.

What happens to my donation when a program is fully funded?

Australia for UNHCR works with UNHCR to raise funds for special programs which are underfunded and require funding to meet basic needs. However, should the funds raised exceed the amount required to meet the immediate and longer term needs of the people in the affected areas, or if there are changes in circumstances beyond Australia for UNHCR's control which limit its ability to utilise all funds in the affected areas, Australia for UNHCR will direct donations to our Emergency Programs to enable us to rapidly address future emergencies as they occur.

I am a donor and have changed my address/contact details, what do I do?

You can change most of your details online by clicking here. To keep your details secure, you'll have to contact our Donor Care team to change your credit card details. Please update your details on or before 30 June to help us ensure that you will receive your annual tax receipts on time.

I only want to receive communications by email. Is this possible?

Yes, please let us know by calling 1300 361 288 or send an email to [email protected]. Should you have any further enquiries don't hesitate to get in contact with us.

Are my donations tax-deductible, and do I get a receipt?

Yes. Australia for UNHCR has tax-deductible Gift Recipient Status and is endorsed by the ATO as an Income Tax Exempt Charity. All donations of $2 and over are tax-deductible.

What percentage of my donation actually goes to the cause?

At least 75% of all funds raised go directly to the field. We retain 11% for fundraising expenses, and 14% for administration.

Where is my receipt?

If you donated online and haven't received a receipt in your inbox, check your junk or spam folders – it may be sitting there. If not, give our Donor Care team a call and we'll be able to help you.
If you gave a one-off gift over the phone or by mail, you should receive a receipt by mail within a week. If you've signed up as a regular donor, you'll receive a receipt for all of your regular gifts at the end of the financial year. This helps us keep admin costs down.
If you still need help, please contact our Donor Care team and they'll help you.

How can I make changes to my donation?

You can change most of your details online by clicking here. To keep your details secure, you'll have to contact our Donor Care team to change your credit card details.

I have a missed call from you.

If you've recently signed up to become a regular donor, we were calling to say thank you, and welcome to the Emergency Response Team! We may also have called you to update your credit card details. If you've recently received a new card, or have switched accounts, please contact our Donor Care team with your new details so that we can ensure that funds quickly reach those in need.

How do I cancel my donation?

We understand that people have a lot of expenses, and we want to make it as easy as possible for you to support refugees in need. Before you cancel your donation, you may like to:

  • reduce your regular gift amount, or
  • put your donation on hold for a few months until things become easier for you

Please contact our Donor Care team and they'll help you choose the best option.

Can I reduce or increase my donation, or put it on hold?

Yes, you can. Please contact our Donor Care team – they'll be able to help you increase or decrease your donation, or put it on hold for up to three months.

How much notice do I need to give if I want to cancel my donation?

In order to ensure that your donation is cancelled in time, please contact our Donor Care team at least one week before your next donation is due.

Can I make a donation over the phone?

Yes, you can. Please call our Donor Care team on 1300 361 288, and they'll process your donation for you.

How can I organise a fundraising drive?

Have a look at all the fun and easy ways you can raise funds on our fundraising page.

What is your policy on refunds?

Australia for UNHCR will consider refunds on donations on a case-by-case basis and at our sole discretion.

When a request for a refund is received, an assessment of the reason given for the refund request will be undertaken by the Head of Donor Care and IT or their delegate. The following reasons will usually be considered in favour of the donor:

  • An error has been made by Australia for UNHCR. Should an error be made by Australia for UNHCR, its agencies or financial institution(s), full refunds will be made immediately upon notification of the error and all costs will be borne by Australia for UNHCR.
  • A donor's banking details are fraudulently obtained and used;
  • Australia for UNHCR has received a donor's details in error;
  • A donation has been made by a person in vulnerable circumstances;
  • A donor has previously requested that regular debits be cancelled, however the debits have continued. The refund will be to the maximum of the last debit amount unless a donor can provide proof of the original cancellation request;
  • Australia for UNHCR may refund on grounds of financial hardship – however this will be limited to the maximum of the last debit amount.

The following reasons will not usually be grounds for a refund to be given:

  • Change of mind on donation. Once you have donated to Australia for UNHCR we cannot give refunds if you change your mind. For this reason we ask that you make your decision to donate to us carefully.
  • Australia for UNHCR is under no obligation to give a refund for a donation if an error has been made on the donor’s part, but will endeavour to ensure that any genuine errors (such as the amount donated) are rectified.

Australia for UNHCR is a non-profit organisation and reserves the right to deduct any bank or transaction charges for any refund processed onto the donor.

In all instances Australia for UNHCR will not refund past the previous calendar year and/or if the funds have already been remitted overseas, unless there are special circumstances that are agreed with the Head of Donor Care and IT.

Where there are special circumstances and Australia for UNHCR has agreed to refund donations from a prior tax year the donor will be asked to confirm in writing that they have not claimed these donations on their tax returns. Where the requested refund is large enough it is at the discretion of the refund approver, to request that this confirmation be provided via a Statutory Declaration.

If a donor is not satisfied with the outcome of the refund request , the Head of Donor Care and IT will refer the issue to the Chief Operating Officer for a review of the decision. If the issue is still not resolved to the satisfaction of a donor, the Chief Operating Officer will refer the issue to the CEO. Australia for UNHCR may, depending on the nature of the complaint, also utilise other resources, both internal and external, to assist in the resolution of the issue. However in all cases every effort will be undertaken to resolve the issue internally.

If it is agreed that a refund is to be made a donor will be refunded within ten working days of the decision and will be returned to the bank account or credit card originally debited (if the account or credit card is closed, the refund will be by cheque).

Refund Requests

All requests for refunds must be made in writing and forwarded as follows. (This includes direct bank requests):

Email: [email protected]

Mail: Head of Donor Care and IT, Australia for UNHCR, Reply Paid 428, QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING NSW 1229.

The request should include the donor’s full name as it appears in our records, Donor ID (if known), full mailing address and phone number, the details of the initial and subsequent donations including the date/s, amount/s, the receipt number/s and the reasons and circumstances supporting the refund request

Should the refund be approved, any original receipt(s) issued immediately becomes void and invalid and cannot be used to obtain a tax refund with the Australian Taxation Office. A new receipt will be issued where applicable.

It is the donor’s responsibility to submit only correct receipts to the Australian Tax Office.

Annual Tax Receipts Enquiries

It’s past 30 June and I haven’t got my annual tax receipt. What should I do?

You can email or call our Donor Care Team and request a receipt number and total amount given in the financial year.

Can I get my annual tax receipt early?

Yes you can Contact Us and we can supply a summary of regular donations to date. However, please note it may not be complete as any remaining donations for the financial year may not have been processed. Your final annual tax receipt should be your formal record.

Why haven’t you sent me receipts during the year?

For scheduled recurring donations we send an annual tax receipt in order to reduce administrative costs and increase processing efficiencies.

I have made a donation to you this year, but it’s not on the annual tax receipt you have sent me. Why not?

Annual tax receipts only include scheduled recurring donations. One off donations are receipted as we receive your donations. If you believe your annual tax receipt does not contain all of your scheduled recurring donations please Contact Us.

I gave through a workplace giving program and I have not received an annual tax receipt. Why not?

For all workplace giving, the employer is responsible for providing confirmation of your contributions for the financial year and you should use that confirmation when completing your tax return.

Can I get my annual tax receipt emailed to me?

Your annual tax receipt will be emailed to you if we have a valid email address on record. If we do not have a valid email address, your tax receipt will be mailed to you. In the case of you not receiving your tax receipt, we can provide a replacement copy either by email or mail. Please ensure that your contact details are up to date.

Refugee and Asylum Enquiries

I am seeking refugee protection in Australia. Can you help me with legal protection matters?

Australia for UNHCR exists purely as a fundraising office. We do not have the expertise or facilities to provide legal advice.

Please visit UNHCR’s Help website for more information about claiming asylum in Australia.

Empowering Gifts Shop

What are Empowering Gifts?

Empowering Gifts are a collection of gifts you can buy to send life-saving supplies to people who have been forced to flee their homes. You can buy these gifts in the name of your family or friends.

When you buy a gift, you help ensure that refugees have access to vital resources including shelter, medical care, education, nutrition and clean water. The value of your item will be directed where it can immediately help to save or rebuild a life.

When you buy a gift, you can choose a card to send to your loved one. This can be a printable PDF card or a personalised e-card. A description of each life-saving gift is included with every card. 

How does an Empowering Gift work?

When you buy an Empowering Gift for your family or friends, the value of your item will be directed where it can immediately help to save or rebuild a life. All gifts purchased through the shop are symbolic in nature.

When will my card be delivered?

If you choose to print your PDF card, it will be delivered to the email you enter at checkout. Alternatively, if you wish to send an e-card it will be sent straight to the recipient on the date you selected.

If you have any questions about the delivery of your gifts or cards please call 1300 361 288 between the hours of 9am-5pm Mon-Fri or email [email protected]

Are Empowering Gifts real?

Australia for UNHCR’s Empowering Gifts change the lives of refugees around the world.

To ensure that our resources reach the people who need them most, all gifts purchased through the shop are symbolic in nature. The value of your item will be directed where it can immediately help to save or rebuild a life.

Will I get two cards if I buy two of the same Empowering Gifts?

Yes. You can personalise each as you wish, and you are able to nominate a different delivery address for each card.

Can I buy multiple Empowering Gifts for one person and combine them in one card?

Yes. You can also send an email card or a printable PDF card to a loved one who is overseas. Your email cards can be sent to any email address in the world, and PDF cards can be sent to your own email address, meaning you can print it and mail it to them or forward it by email to your loved one.

Where will my gift be sent?

The destination of your gift is determined by the immediate needs of refugees worldwide and which items are most needed. UNHCR works in 137 countries and territories, and employs approximately 19,000 staff to help refugee and displaced people. Here are some of the key emergencies that UNHCR is responding to at present →

What does the cost of a gift pay for?

The cost of your gift includes the costs of providing the item to refugees who need it and processing your order.

Do Empowering Gifts qualify as tax-deductible donations?

Yes. Empowering Gifts are treated as donations and as such their cost is tax-deductible. You will receive a receipt immediately after completing the transaction.

Is shopping on the Empowering Gifts website secure?

Yes. If you purchase a gift from our Empowering Gifts collection via our website, we process your credit/debit card details securely using an accredited internet payment security system and take all reasonable measures to ensure that your credit/debit card and personal information are protected.

We are also able to take orders via phone if you would prefer. You can reach us on 1300 361 288 from 9am-5pm Mon-Fri or email [email protected]

To find out more about how Australia for UNHCR protects your personal information both online and offline, please click here to view our privacy policy.