UNHCR

child washing its hands

As the pandemic surges, data visualization shows how displaced people have to contend with extreme overcrowding and limited access to basics such as soap and water.

An older woman holds the hand of a girl wearing a hijab while walking on the seashore.

Ties that Bind: Community Sponsorship in the UK

The portrait of a man smiling.

“Give us a space at the table and we’ll change the world,” said Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, an activist from Chad who advocates for environmental justice and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Established in 2007, the High Commissioner’s Dialogue facilitates an exchange of views between refugees, governments, civil society, the private sector, academics and international organizations on emerging challenges in humanitarian protection. This year, UN Refugee’s focus is on how the COVID-19 pandemic affects displaced and stateless people.

Baaba Maal

Senegalese musician, singer and UNHCR supporter calls for action to end world’s fastest growing displacement crisis: "My homeland – the Sahel – is on its knees, brought low by conflict, hunger and disease. I am called the ‘Voice of the Sahel’. For years, it has fed my poetry and music. Now I raise that voice to call on the world to stop the misery and suffering ripping this hard, but beautiful land apart." UNHCR says that across the region, over 2.7 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Shelter, water, sanitation, health, and other basic assistance needs are now immense.

screens of some of the singers

Mentored by Grammy winner Ricky Kej, 24 refugee musicians in India came together in a song of hope and kindness.

Close-up of a man.

There is only one word to describe Mohtas Anwar Modier’s current mood – overjoyed. The 28-year-old Sudanese refugee arrived in Italy to advance his education. In June, he learned he received a scholarship to study at the prestigious Luiss University in Rome. The initiative, with support from UNHCR and partners, offers refugee students the opportunity to pursue their academic goals. For refugees like Mohtas, graduating from university is a triumph over the odds and an inspiration to others.

A group of people linger by a hut.

Eighteen people died and others wounded in an overnight attack in Cameroon close to the Nigerian border, where thousands of internally displaced people have sought safety. Insecurity in the Far North region continues. 2,000 residents have adjusted their routines in fear of attack, making their lives even harder. UNHCR provides protection and assistance with water, food, shelter and other items to more than 400,000 refugees in Cameroon, mainly from Nigeria and the Central African Republic.

Boris Cheshirkov carrying a refugee child on a stretcher with the help of another person.

As we mark five years after Europe’s refugee crisis, we revisit Awake at Night's episode with Boris Cheshirkov, who worked for UNHCR as a spokesperson in his native Bulgaria when thousands of refugees were arriving at the border. 

Afghan family in Iran

She was 11 before she saw the inside of a classroom, so Parisa was not about to stop learning even under lockdown. “My sister and I followed our lessons on the television, but we had to borrow my older sister’s smartphone to do our exams,” she said. A decade ago, her family fled Afghanistan after the Taliban terrorized their neighbourhood in Herat. The extremists also threatened to kidnap any girls who dared to go to school. In Iran, where her family fled to, Parisa and her six siblings found safety, but during her first years in exile she couldn’t go to school. Based on UNHCR data, the Malala Fund has estimated that as a result of the coronavirus half of all refugee girls in secondary school will not return when classrooms reopen this month.

A boy looks over the shoulder of another boy to look at his mobile phone screen.

UNHCR assists in relocating many vulnerable refugee children to Luxembourg and Germany from insecure reception centres. The move came at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A baby rests his/her head on a woman’s shoulder.

Turkmenistan now champions universal birth registration

Salome Ayukuru

UNHCR’s Salome Ayukuru, widely known as ‘Mama’, has been helping vulnerable refugees to rebuild their shattered lives for nearly two decades.

indigenous Warao family from Venezuela

Brazil has become the second worst affected country in the world, with nearly 83,000 confirmed deaths and a continuing increase in confirmed cases. Considered an epicenter of the pandemic in Latin America, the situation is taking its toll on the most vulnerable – including the poorest, indigenous populations and other native communities, as well as refugees. All have been disproportionately impacted. Brazil is host to more than 345,000 refugees and asylum seekers, for whom the consequences of the pandemic are especially harsh. As socio-economic conditions worsen among refugee and asylum seeker communities, UNHCR has been disbursing cash assistance to those most vulnerable.

A woman sits outside a house at a social distance from a man sitting beneath the doorway.

While the situation is worrying, so far the number of identified COVID-19 cases amongst the Rohingya refugee population is relatively low at just 62 cases as of July. The community health volunteers’ role has become even more important since humanitarian workers have scaled back their work in the camps to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. WHO has worked with UNHCR to train the volunteers on how to identify symptoms and make referrals for testing. But they must contend with the fear and rumours that have discouraged many people from approaching health facilities.

young woman in front of wall with barbed wire and grafitti

Despite having cancer, Olena Miryasheva was denied access to health care: she could not be registered at the outpatient clinic, could not obtain a prescription, and could not even undergo a medical examination which would have been free for a Ukrainian citizen. A new statelessness determination procedure in Ukraine gives people without identity documents the right to work, study and access health care.