International Refugee Organisation

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The International Refugee Organization (IRO) was founded on April 20, 1946 to deal with the massive refugee problem created by World War II. A Preparatory Commission began operations fourteen months previously. It was a United Nations specialized agency and took over many of the functions of the earlier United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. In 1952, its operations ceased, and it was replaced by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).[1]

The 'Constitution of the International Refugee Organization, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 15, 1946, specified the agency's field of operations. Controversially, this defined "persons of German ethnic origin" who had been expelled, or were to be expelled from their countries of birth into the postwar Germany, as individuals who would "not be the concern of the Organization." This excluded from its purview a group that exceeded in number all the other European displaced persons put together. Also, because of disagreements between the Western allies and the Soviet Union, the IRO only worked in areas controlled by Western armies of occupation.

Twenty-six states became members of the IRO and it formally came into existence in 1948: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Republic of China, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Iceland, Italy, Liberia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela. The U.S. provided about 40% of the IRO's $155 million annual budget. The total contribution by the members for the five years of operation was around $400 million. It had rehabilitated around 10 million people during this time, out of 15 million people who were stranded in Europe. The IRO's first Director General was William Hallam Tuck, succeeded by J. Donald Kingsley on July 31, 1949.[2]


  • The Search by Fred Zinnemann (1948): The IRO helped the producers to make this story about children refugees, in 1945 Germany.


  1. ^ "Many routes of those who made a home Down Under". Russia Beyond The Headline. Retrieved 30 August 2015. 
  2. ^ Holborn, Louise W. 1956. The International Refugee Organization : a specialized agency of the United Nations, its history and work, 1946-1952. London, Oxford University Press.

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