You can give a refugee family shelter

Ensuring refugees have a roof over their heads is a fundamental part of UNHCR's work. The simplest shelter can be lifesaving for families escaping from conflict, protecting them from the elements, providing privacy, allowing them to receive assistance and to maintain their dignity and daily rituals in the midst of chaos.

UNHCR provides shelter for people at every stage of their displacement – in camps and long-term settlements, in urban settings and as they return home to rebuild their lives.

Your donations in action

UNHCR shelter expert Tom Corcoran helps a refugee construct a temporary home in Tanzania.

Hind and her five-year-old daughter in their new refugee housing in Al Jamea’a camp, Baghdad

Nyakong and her daughter outside the hut they built in an Ethiopian camp

Reema with her children in their apartment in Ramtha, Jordan

Get the facts about our impact

A young woman enters her shelter in Uganda
Shelter Shelter Shelter
Protection Protection Protection
Registration Registration Registration
Cash Assistance Cash Assistance Cash Assistance
Supplies Supplies Supplies

Providing Shelter

UNHCR provides refugees with emergency shelter — tents, tarpaulins and demountable housing — in the immediate aftermath of displacement. More broadly, we are responsible for site planning and camp management to ensure refugee settlements are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. For those living outside camps, UNHCR funds the rehabilitation of communal shelters, the construction of new homes and rental assistance for those in urban situations. UNHCR also provides materials that displaced people need to build a home themselves under self-help schemes.

Providing Protection

Children and families fleeing violence, war, disaster or persecution can be very vulnerable. UNHCR supplies displaced people with essential items, food and shelter to protect them from having to make dangerous decisions to survive. On a larger scale, UNHCR negotiates safe passage, asylum spaces and humanitarian access, upholding the rights of refugees and minimising the threat of violence, including sexual assault.


Registration is central to UNHCR’s work. The number of people requiring protection and assistance determines the quantities of food, water and other material assistance needed, as well as the extent of shelter, health and sanitation facilities. Registration is important for identifying individuals who are at risk or have special needs, allowing them to access to vital services.

Providing Cash Assistance

Most refugees live in places where they have access to markets and services in the same way that local communities do. Providing refugees with cash, by way of a secure biometric system, enables them to make decisions about their personal needs. This also helps prevent refugees being forced into desperate measures such as undertaking dangerous journeys, taking children out of school or survival sex. Cash assistance also helps refugees to support the local economy, aiding social integration.

Providing Supplies

UNHCR distributes life-sustaining items such as mattresses, blankets, kitchen sets, jerry cans, stoves and fuel, soap and other sanitary items to refugees under its care. These supplies are tailored to the specific needs of the refugee population: for example, winterisation kits are distributed in camps and communities where sub-zero temperatures occur. UNHCR maintains global stockpiles of core relief items for immediate delivery in emergency situations.

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You can help

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