Norwegian Refugee Council - History


-From 1980, Pakistan: with the American IRC (International Rescue Committee), NRC helps Afghan refugees who ran away from their country invaded by the Soviet Army in 1979.
-1982, Norway: while the government sets up a social service to take care of refugees in Norway, NRC refocuses all its activities to the international level and abandons its semi-official status to become an NGO whose number of employees triple during the decade. The organisation starts to work a lot with the UNHCR (High Commission for Refugees). It signs an agreement with it in 1982 and contributes money until 1990. In Norway, NRC is still very close to the authorities, i.e. the Foreign Office instead of the Ministry of Social Affairs. It is part of the official Norwegian delegation to the UNHCR’s executive committee. And it relies more and more on the grants that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started to give to NRC on a yearly basis in 1970. The proportion of internal funding in the organisation’s budget falls from one third in 1985 to less than 10% in 1995. Meanwhile, the money collected from private resources remained the same and the operating revenue of NRC increased fivefold, from 50 to 270 millions of Norwegian Crowns.
-1984, Kenya: NRC opens a regional office in Nairobi to follow through the projects it finances. The organisation becomes really operational this very year, when it creates (with Pål Jelmert in Oslo) an executive post to run programmes in the Third-World.
-1986, Costa Rica: NRC opens a regional office as 31% of the projects it finances are in Latin America in 1989, as against 5% in 1982.
-1987, Norway: NRC introduces a rule that forbids an NGO representative to chair the organisation’s board. As a matter of fact, some conflicts of interests developed when Arne Bonde became the chairman of NRC in 1982, after Erling Steen (1953-1958), Sigurd Halvorsen (1958-1977) and Henrik Hauge (1977-1982). To keep its position with NRC, Arne Bonde had to resign from its NGO, Save the Children, because the two were competing to get television fund-raising. In general, operational NGOs would like to restrict NRC to financing, counselling and following through projects. Thus in 1989, a plan of action limits NRC’s interventions as to be relayed by other organisations in the field. Yet the rule that forbids an NGO representative to chair NRC is not followed. After Tore Nyseter in 1986, Rudolf Andresen in 1987, Kjell Holler in 1990 and Gerhard Heiberg, the new chairman of NRC in June 2002, Jan Erichsen, is also NCA’s general-secretary.