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© UNHCR/ G. Kotschy

A Repository of the Past

Established in 1996, the global archive of UNHCR includes material from more than half a century of field operations around the world as well as material from Headquarters. It occupies about ten kilometres of shelving space on two basement floors in UNHCR´s main building in Geneva, Switzerland. Electronic archives, comprising some seven million documents, are stored and managed on a handful of dedicated, secure servers.

The archives contain a trove of detail about important historical events, including, for example, records from the 1956 Hungarian uprising, the first major emergency in which the UN refugee agency became operational and where many Hungarian refugees were resettled from Austria to their future home countries. 

In the years to come, the goal is to bring more material back from the field and to expand the preservation of electronic materials in order to make them more accessible to a broad range of users.

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