UNHCR

Afro-Ecuadorians and Afro-Colombian refugees use traditional arrullo rhythms and song to open a conversation about gender-based violence.

father and son stand in their damaged home

The end of the fighting in Afghanistan this summer meant this family could return to their house in Marja – a war-ravaged farming town in southern Helmand Province – after six years of moving between temporary dwellings. But the sight that greeted them on their return a few weeks ago was one of devastation. The entire back section of the house, located near a now-abandoned military base, had been reduced to a rubble-filled husk. There is hardly a building in the town that does not bear the scars of the conflict.

Eritrean refugees wait to receive humanitarian aid at Mai Aini refugee camp in Ethiopia’s Tigray region

Eritrean refugees wait to receive humanitarian aid at Mai Aini refugee camp in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. Conflicts, old and new, along with the increasingly disastrous impacts of climate change, drove a devastating rise in the number of forcibly displaced people this year. From Afghanistan to Ethiopia, people were uprooted by violence, persecution and human rights violations. Many of them faced additional hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather, and increasingly restrictive asylum laws and border policies. UNHCR staff and partners were on the frontlines of new emergencies and ongoing crises in 135 countries around the world this year, but there were a number of situations that stood out due to their scale and complexity, as well as some memorable moments that showcased the talents and resilience of people forced to flee. 

A group of refugee women living in Morocco take a break during their ascent of Mount Toubkal.

An all-female group, including 13 refugees from six countries, set out to climb Mount Toubkal – Morocco’s highest peak – to highlight the struggle to end violence against women.

Emtithal (Emi) Mahmoud, world champion poet and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, shooting her poem Di Baladna.

Emtithal (Emi) Mahmoud, world champion poet and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador calls for urgent global action in new poem highlighting impact of climate change on humankind.

camp for displaced persons near Kabul

In Kabul, nearly 50,000 Afghans displaced from other parts of the country by recent fighting are desperate to receive aid before winter sets in. With winter fast approaching, temperatures in the capital are already reaching close to 0°C at night and may dip to as low as –25°C in mid-winter, putting those sleeping outside at risk of hypothermia. Afghanistan is facing a worsening humanitarian emergency with the economy near collapse and about half the population now reliant on aid. There are more than 3.5 million people displaced by conflict inside the country.

Five footballs with designs

UNHCR announces the winners of the second annual Youth with Refugees Art Contest – the online sale of footballs featuring the designs will raise funds for sport programmes for refugees.

Refugee Para athletes relish the chance to compete at global level! Six refugee athletes lead the parade at the Tokyo Paralympics Opening Ceremony, sending a powerful message to the 12 million forcibly displaced people living with disabilities. The UN refugee agency, works to protect and assist those fleeing war and persecution. Since 1950, we have helped tens of millions of people find safety and rebuild their lives.

woman in rice field

A group of refugee women are growing rice on a large scale, becoming the largest rice producers in Angola’s Lunda Norte province. Antoinette, also known as ‘Mama Antho,’ runs an agricultural association with some 30 refugee women who work on farms in and outside the settlement. Many of them have brought their agricultural expertise to a region that is not known for farming. The women produce between 500 to 600 kilograms of rice per harvest, making them the largest rice producers in the province.

Children in an IDP camp

The UN Refugee Agency released a non-return advisory for Afghanistan, calling for a bar on forced returns of Afghan nationals, including asylum seekers who have had their claims rejected. In the wake of the rapid deterioration in the security and human rights situation in large parts of the country and the humanitarian emergency, UNHCR calls on States to halt forcible returns of Afghan nationals who have previously been determined not to need international protection. UNHCR remains concerned about the risk of human rights violations against civilians in this evolving context.

Cyrille in a nurse uniform with a big smile.

From battling depression and homelessness to helping carry the Olympic flag into the Tokyo stadium for the Opening Ceremony, UNHCR presents weightlifter and refugee athlete Cyrille Tchatchet.

A woman in cycling gear with her bike smiles at the camera.

UNHCR celebrates the 29 refugee athletes heading to Tokyo. They will compete in 12 Olympic sports, bringing further awareness to the plight of over 80 million displaced people worldwide.

A woman measures the circumference of a girl’s arm

Close to 2 million people are estimated to have been internally displaced by the conflict in Tigray, now in its eighth month. Some are staying within communities, others are sheltering in overcrowded public sites like schools. Brukti and 15 other trained nurses volunteer at the small makeshift health centre at one of these sites. About 20 to 30 patients come to the health centre every day. Resources are scarce across the board and the displaced rely heavily on help from the local community. The UN Refugee Agency, and partners support the camp coordination and management.

A girl kicking and football.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, and UNHCR teamed up to recognise six European national football associations for using the game’s unifying power to help refugees rebuild their lives. Each successful association - Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland, Northern Ireland, and Wales - will receive €50,000 to support social responsibility projects that are helping refugees reintegrate into society. Since its launch in 2017, the UEFA’s Football and Refugees Grant Scheme encourages national associations to support the inclusion and integration of refugees through football.

A woman in football uniform poses with a football.

With disposable cameras, participants capture the unfiltered realities of their football lives and communities, as UNHCR’s Goal Click Refugees campaign reveals the power of sport.