World Refugee Year


Netherlands New Guinea - stamp World Refugee Year 1960World Refugee Year was officially launched on 28 June 1959. The idea was initiated by the United Kingdom and approved by the General Assembly in a resolution adopted on 5 December 1958. The basic idea of World Refugee Year was that a special purely humanitarian effort should be made to bring refugee problems nearer to a solution. The idea of the Year was both functional and elastic. Because the UN High Commissioner's Office itself was tied by very clear legal criteria, a very large number of refugee groups did not come within its mandate. The World Refugee Year conception, on the other hand, got away from the legal criteria, allowing each country which participated in the Year to help whatever group of refugees it desired, whether or not they came within the mandate of the High Commissioner.


The WRY Secretariat was led by Claude de Kémoularia, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.


At the start of the Year already fifty-four countries, representing all continents, and one non-self-governing territory, officially announced their participation in World Refugee Year. The initiative to participate was taken in some states by the government itself, in others by voluntary agencies, and in one case by an individual. In many countries, national WRY committees were formed, most of them under the patronage of the head of state or of the prime minister. In Geneva an international committee for World Refugee Year was formed from seventy voluntary agencies, until that date the greatest number ever to combine in one single cause.


Emblem for World Refugee Year by Olav Mathiesen, DenmarkIn an address to the ECOSOC on 20 July 1959, UNHCR Dr. Auguste R. Lindt announced that UNRWA and the UNHCR Office had combined to propagate a plan according to which special stamps would be issued on the occasion of World Refugee Year: "Certain governments have already promised to participate in this plan, the success of which may not only have a definite moral value, but it might also bring in additional financial resources to refugee problems".


The emblem of the WRY was an uprooted oak tree. It depicted the refugees being uprooted from their own home. For the official United Nations stamps Olav Mathiesen from Denmark designed a special emblem that became the official UNHCR logo.





Letter by president Eisenhower concerning the US participation in the World Refugee Year.

All the International Years proclaimed by the General Assembly.



Stamp catalogue


Austria                                         7 April 1960

Belgium                                       7 April 1960

Federation of Malaya                     7 April 1960

Liechtenstein                               7 April 1960

Netherlands                                  7 April 1960

Netherlands New Guinea               7 April 1960

Surinam                                       7 April 1960

Tunisia                                         7 April 1960









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last revised: 5 July 2009