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UNHCR


21/05/2019

Death threats and disease drive more Venezuelans to flee

UNHCR calls on states to allow refugees and migrants from Venezuela to access safety, as security and humanitarian situation worsens in their country. José and Yurmi hurriedly gathered up their seven-month-old baby, packed some clothes and walked the few kilometres that separate Venezuela from Colombia. José, a doctor who volunteered with local communities near the Venezuelan city of Barquisimeto, had just been warned of a threat to his life. “The person that was paid to kill me was one of my closest patients. He said that he would have accepted the US$790 he was offered to take my life if...
20/05/2019

Syrian runner overcomes obstacles to triumph in Lebanon

As Ibrahim Kweich stands ready at the starting line, mentally preparing himself for the gruelling obstacle course that lies ahead, it is not merely his fiercely competitive spirit driving him to finish Lebanon’s toughest endurance race ahead of the hundreds of other athletes competing. A former national obstacle course racing champion in his native Syria, 24-year-old Ibrahim fled conflict in his hometown of Deir Ez-Zor in 2014, settling as a refugee in Lebanon’s capital Beirut with his wife and young daughter. When he races, he regards each event as an opportunity to showcase his talent and prove that refugees can...
17/05/2019

Registration gives many Rohingya refugees identification for the first time

Nasima Aktar is among hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingya -- many of whom have spent a lifetime without official documentation -- for whom getting an official identity card is a significant step. “We want documents for Rohingyas. This is our document,” says Aktar, who recently received a plastic identity card bearing her basic biodata, photo and country of origin in a registration drive in Bangladesh. There are more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees like Nasima living in crowded settlements in southeast Bangladesh of whom an estimated 741,000 have fled a violent crackdown by the Myanmar military since August 2017. “Having...

11/05/2019

New exhibition in Venice explores the experience of refugees

VENICE, Italy - A new exhibition in Venice aims to put refugees centre stage in a debate over whether art should try to change society. Rothko in Lampedusa showcases work by artists who have achieved international acclaim such as Ai Weiwei and Richard Mosse and those of five emerging artists from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Somalia who are also refugees. More than 100 people packed the opening on Friday of the exhibition that runs in parallel to the Venice Biennale. The theme of the biennale, the world's biggest art festival, is “May You Live in Interesting Times,” which...
10/05/2019

Syrian family embrace their homing instinct

From the rooftop above his family’s flat, a brown-eyed boy looks out across a broken cityscape. In every direction, there is wreckage. Blocks upon blocks of war-torn ruin. But Abdelmalik, 12, doesn’t focus on the destruction. He is gazing higher, towards a flock of nearly 40 pigeons circling overhead. Moments earlier they were here in their loft, before he let them out to stretch their wings. “We’ve kept birds here since I was very young,” he says. “I like to play with them, especially the baby ones.” Abdelmalik and his family are living in Al-Qusour, a section of Homs that...
09/05/2019

Cattle herders face a life in limbo in Côte d'Ivoire

In the heat of the afternoon an old woman leans forward in the darkened room. “People think of me as a foreigner here. It’s not good at all, but what can you do?” Aminata Sidibé calculates her age by the year of her marriage and Côte d’Ivoire’s independence. Both took place in 1960. She thinks she was 15 then, which would make her 74 now. She might be older. She may not know her exact age but she does know that, as she puts it, “I was born here, I was married here, I had my children here, and I...

08/05/2019

UNHCR Ambassador Ben Stiller tells U.S. Congress: Syrian refugees still need support

When renowned actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller left the packed hearing room in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in the United States capital of Washington, D.C., he left no one in doubt about the message he had come to deliver: Syrian refugees still need the world’s help. “When you see the face of it in person and what’s going on there now it’s just very important that we do everything we can to help,” Stiller told lawmakers after delivering a potent opening statement in formal testimony before the influential Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate...
03/05/2019

Syrian software developer starts new life as Canadian skilled worker

Up until a few weeks ago, Mohammed Hakmi was one of the world’s 25 million refugees looking for a solution. Then, the Syrian software developer was given a life-changing opportunity. Bonfire Interactive, a Canadian tech company in Kitchener, Ontario, recently welcomed Mohammed to their team. Mohammed is already using his IT skills to support the company in meeting its growing needs and helping to fill a shortage of tech workers in the region. “We’ve got a great candidate who went through the same process other candidates go through, very high technical ability, good communication skill[s], everything you’d expect,” said Bonfire’s...
03/05/2019

UNHCR chief calls for solidarity with refugees in Ramadan

At the start of the holy month, Filippo Grandi asks us to remember almost 70 million people forcibly uprooted from their homes. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, shared his warmest wishes with all those observing the holy month of Ramadan, which begins in the next few days, urging solidarity with millions of forcibly displaced people worldwide. “In a world where we tragically continue to witness unprecedented human suffering and desperation, with almost 70 million people forcibly uprooted from their homes, patience and mercy, the values of Ramadan, are more vital than ever,” Grandi said in a video...

01/05/2019

Nursing a city back to health in Mali

Jamilla Amadou knew in elementary school that she wanted to be a nurse. “I was ready to struggle to become one. I already saw myself in a white coat,” she says with a smile. Today, this formidable woman at 50 is the head nurse in charge of 40 nurses and nurse interns in Gao’s Centre de Santé de Référence. This is a general hospital serving people in the region of almost 550,000 in northern Mali, many of whom have been displaced by conflict. That, too, was Jamilla’s fate. In 2012, when Gao was overrun by militants, she took her family...
28/04/2019

Rohingya youth spearhead project to foster mental health

Asking for help was once taboo, but young refugee volunteers in Bangladesh are showing their peers how speak up about their worries and sadnesses. COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh – The camps have the size and complexity of a city, a city of refugees. It is a city of 720,000 with problems and challenges peculiar to itself. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi sat watching a circle of 18 children, aged from 12 to 17, as they went through a choreographed structure of question-and-response, interspersed with dancing and exercises. The children are Rohingya refugees, most forced to flee with their families...
26/04/2019

World must not turn away from Rohingya crisis, say UN chiefs

Visiting refugee camps in Bangladesh as monsoon season nears, heads of UN refugee, relief and migration agencies call for sustained support for refugees and host communities. COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh – The world must not turn away. It was both a plea and a warning issued by three senior UN officials visiting the Kutupalong refugee camp today, the largest in the world. The settlement is home to more than 630,000 Rohingya refugees who fled the violence in Myanmar directed against them in 2017. An estimated 190,000 live in settlements in the vicinity, along with 330,000 of the most affected host communities....