UNHCR’s Representative in Romania, Batyr Sapbyiev, assists a refugee at the Palanca border crossing in Moldova.
© UNHCR/Mihai von Eremia


Safeguarding the human rights of people seeking safety

Based on the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, UNHCR’s core mandate is to ensure the international protection of uprooted people worldwide.

UNHCR seeks to uphold the basic human rights of displaced or stateless people – ensuring they’re not returned involuntarily to countries where they could face persecution.

In times of crisis, UNHCR protection officers work on key borders to help register and assist refugees. 

UNHCR provides specialist protection for especially vulnerable refugees, including women, children, elderly people and people with disabilities. UNHCR also informs displaced people of their rights, including their rights relating to asylum.

In the longer term, UNHCR helps refugees access legal solutions to their situations – whether that’s returning voluntarily to their homelands when safe to do so, integrating in their countries of asylum or resettling in other places altogether.

UNHCR also promotes international refugee agreements, helps states establish asylum structures and acts as an international watchdog over asylum issues.

Valentin's Story

His whole life, Valentin Rakip has felt like a foreigner in his own country. Until recently, the 20-year-old from Skopje, North Macedonia, was one of millions of stateless people around the world. 

With no legal identity, he was never able to do things most of us take for granted, such as enrolling in high school, having a medical or dental check-up, securing employment legally or travelling outside his country. 

Valentin was born in North Macedonia but fell into this limbo because his Serbian mother did not register his birth, and his father, a Macedonian citizen, did not acknowledge paternity. 

UNHCR and its partner supported Valentin in his long legal fight to gain citizenship. 

Valentin plans to enrol in high school, secure paid work at the burger restaurant where he has been interning, and pursue culinary training. He also plans to get a passport and travel outside the country for the first time in his life.

He hopes many others will benefit from gaining a legal identity. 

“It’s not only me out there,” said Valentin. “There are many people in the country who do not have documents. I would like to send an appeal to everyone to resolve not only my case, but to also resolve the cases of everybody else in my situation.”

“I would like to send an appeal to everyone to resolve not only my case, but to also resolve the cases of everybody else in my situation.”

After a long legal battle, Valentin is about to gain citizenship in North Macedonia.

Valentin Rakip, 20, stands outside his home in North Macedonia.
© UNHCR/Robert Atanasovski

Our fundraising impact

The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.

Humanitarian programs