United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees


Topic Summary

In recent years, the world has seen a spike in severe refugee crises perpetuated by non-state actors. Non-state actors can be organizations ranging from NGO’s and corporations to armed bodies, and criminal organizations. According to the UNHCR, “From 2011 to 2016, the number of people from the Northern Triangle who have sought refuge in surrounding countries has increased by 2,249 percent”. The outflow of refugees has not stopped as gangs, known as maras, continue to contribute to some of the highest global homicide rates, as well as sexual violence and extortion. 

When refugees arrive in other countries, they are harassed and met with even more violence like the cruelty Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Rohingya refugees in India experienced. Many of the countries that accept the most refugees due to proximity do not have enough resources for the sheer demand produced by gang violence in the Northern Triangle in Central America and terrorism in Syria, while the countries with the most available resources have been historically strict with their borders. 

The task this committee faces is to develop achievable plans to alleviate the burdens of refugees on their life-threatening journeys to safety and of the countries that choose to accept them. 


Director’s Letter

Dear Delegates, 

Welcome to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees! My name is Kiara Gomez, and I am so excited to be serving as your director for HMUN 2020. 

I am a sophomore at Harvard College planning to study Government and/or Social Anthropology with a citation in Spanish. I grew up in Fullerton, CA thinking anything below 65 degrees was cold. In high school, I participated in Mock Trial where I learned how to be confident in my speaking abilities and realized that I wanted to go into politics. I also absolutely loved playing the marimba in my school’s band and winter drumline. This past year, I assistant directed for the Special, Political, and Decolonization Committee at HMUN and for Administration at HNMUN. This upcoming year I will be directing for Administration at HNMUN again and for HMUN China and HNMUN Latin America. I also help a Harvard staff member prepare for the citizenship test through the Citizenship Tutoring program and am in the Community Action Committee at the Institute of Politics. Model United Nations has quickly become my favorite thing I do at Harvard, and I am so happy that I get to help all of you see how much fun it can be! 

I hope that in addition to furthering your public speaking skills and diplomacy the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees helps you better understand the various refugee crises in the world and how to respond to the role of non-state actors in perpetuating them. While I know that committee sessions can be overwhelming, I hope that you all enjoy the thrill of reaching your policy goals through negotiation and keep an open-mind as you debate the different ways in which help should be given to refugees with your fellow delegates. 

I look forward to creating a dynamic and exciting conference experience for you all and cannot wait to meet everyone. If you have any questions or concerns beforehand, please do not hesitate to reach out to me!


Kiara Gomez

Director, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Harvard Model United Nations 2020