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UNHCR has a mandate from the UN General Assembly to lead and coordinate the international response to the assistance and protection needs of refugees. The agency’s approach has since broadened from its original mandate, and it also works to protect and assist internally displaced and stateless persons.

The UN refugee agency is governed by the UN General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The UNHCR Executive Committee (UNHCR ExCom) approves the agency's biennial programmes and the corresponding budget. These are presented by the High Commissioner, who is appointed by the UN General Assembly. Ireland is a member of the UNHCR ExCom.

In 2014, Ireland provided more than €6 million to UNHCR in core funding, and a further €1 million to assist with the refugee crisis resulting from the conflict in Syria.


OCHA is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort.

OCHA's mission is to:

  • Mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies;
  • Advocate for the rights of people in need;
  • Promote preparedness and prevention; and
  • Facilitate sustainable solutions.

Ireland is a member of the OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG), a group of 27 donors each providing at least €0.5m in annual funding to OCHA. The ODSG acts as a ‘sounding board’ and a source of advice on policy, management, budgetary and financial questions. Its goal is to support OCHA in fulfilling its mandate. ODSG members commit to provide political, financial and technical support towards fulfilling OCHA’s mandated coordination activities.

In 2014, Ireland provided €2 million to OCHA in core funding, and a further €300,000 to support OCHA operations in Palestine. Ireland also contributed €11.5 million to the Common Humanitarian Fund, which is managed in the field by OCHA, to coordinate the humanitarian response to emergencies in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.