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.
- Tala Budziszewski, UNHCR officer at the Ukraine-Slovakia border
When Ukrainian sisters Antonina and Natasha arrived at the Slovak border, they had no plan. UNHCR provided information on applying for temporary protection, which gave the sisters access to accommodation options and other assistance.
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.”
After a long legal battle, Valentin is about to gain citizenship in North Macedonia.
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.