Established in 1951 in the aftermath of the Second World War, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (HCR) is a United Nations body whose mission is to protect, help and find solutions for refugees, internally displaced people and stateless persons. The HCR has more than 10,700 employees spread across 128 countries.
Since its creation, the HCR has helped more than 50 million refugees to begin a new life.
Conflicts and persecution have led to a sharp increase in forced displacements throughout the world, and in 2015 they reached the highest level ever recorded. 65.3 million people had been uprooted at the end of 2015, compared with 38 million ten years earlier.
In addition to its humanitarian aid programmes, the HCR advocates and works to facilitate the integration of those people seeking international protection into the countries taking them in. Language teaching and ensuring their qualifications and diplomas are recognised, together with other forms of support, help them to integrate into the economic, social and cultural life of the host country. Studies published by the OECD arnd the IMF on this subject show very clearly that refugees do contribute to the economy of a country provided they are given the opportunity to work and to become integrated.
In France, the authorities have given the HCR arole in the asylum process, both as an adviser to the French authorities and with the right to scrutinise the asylum policies that areput in place. The HCR also promotes the reception and integration of refugees into French society in partnership with a variety of organisations and associations. The HCR thus encourages any initiatives developed by citizens to support refugees, and the Refugee Food Festival emerged as part of this spirit of solidarity. Created as part of World Refugees Day in 2016, it helps to encourage the integration of refugees by celebrating their talents and through the resulting encounters and sharing of cultures.
Since then, the Refugee Food Festival concept has developed, festivals have been held in several French and European towns and cities, and the initiative will be featured in the restaurants of Bayeux. As journalists are associated with the HCR on a day-to-day basis, the organisation has decided to join the Bayeux-Calvados Award for War Correspondents as a partner for the 2017 edition. Its participation will include visits to several schools in order to explain its mission and to organise discussions with school students.