75 years of NRC

NRC’s 75-year history captured in new book

2021 marks the 75th anniversary of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). What started as a fundraiser in the aftermath of World War Two is now a major humanitarian aid organisation. A newly published book details the journey.

NRC has been through a challenging and eventful 75-year journey. From Europahjelpen (Aid to Europe) to today’s NRC the organisation has gone from being a fundraising campaign, to a semi-governmental umbrella organisation, to standing on its own two feet. NRC’s formidable growth, especially in the last ten years, is unparalleled in the history of Norwegian humanitarian organisations’ international efforts.

“NRC has grown enormously, but the challenge it was created to address has grown much more,” says Senior Communications Adviser Richard Skretteberg, who together with colleague Eirik Christophersen has authored and edited the book that takes us on a journey through humanitarian developments and political upheavals in the period 1946–2021. The two combined have more than 50 years of experience as NRC staff members and are uniquely placed to put the organisation’s history down in writing.

The history book is available for download here.

Read caption PAKISTAN, 1984: After going without food for five days, newly arrived refugees from Afghanistan receive bread flour in the transit camp Kacha Gari. Johan Sigmunn Hebnes, NRC’s representative in Peshawar, is pictured here with refugee representatives, among others. Photo: Tore J. Brevik/NRC

Read NRC’s timeline

“We are proud of our origins”

NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland has led the editorial board developing the history book, and writes in his foreword together with Board Chair Harald Norvik:

“We are proud of our origins and what our organisation has accomplished over the last three generations. A common thread runs through our 75-year-long history: our aid workers and our supporters have shown the ability and willingness to meet the biggest and worst humanitarian challenges, no matter where and when they arise. This willingness to act has gained us an international reputation and has meant that Norway and many other donor countries – as well as tens of thousands of individuals – have contributed to our massive global effort to assist those affected by war and disaster.”

In 2020, NRC assisted nearly 12 million people through our operations.