World Refugee Day 2003: Switzerland

World Refugee Day, 20 June 2003

© © UNHCR/S.Hopper
The classical music concert at UNHCR's headquarters raised 200,000 Swiss francs for refugee youth in Africa. © UNHCR/S.Hopper

UNHCR opened the doors to its headquarters in Geneva for a classical music concert that raised 200,000 Swiss francs for educational projects in Sierra Leone's Largo camp and Tanzania's Kasulu camp.

More than 500 people were treated to performances by two philharmonic orchestras and renowned Swiss mezzo-soprano Brigitte Balleys, as well as a live webcam/Internet link with Swiss aid workers in Largo camp.

© UNHCR/S.Hopper
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Adel Imam (with interpreter) at the UNHCR concert.

The event was graced by UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Adel Imam, and unfolded against the backdrop of an art exhibition by Cambodian artist Kosal. A painting by Kosal was chosen as the frontispiece for publicity materials for this year's World Refugee Day.

Other celebrations included a June 18 Concert for Peace and Reconciliation, featuring refugee bands from Burundi, Rwanda and Congo Brazzaville, held during a day of special events celebrating Geneva's new Stade de la Praille.

Across Switzerland and Liechtenstein, more than 50 public buildings as well as Geneva's celebrated fountain, the Jet d'Eau, were lit up in UN blue.

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Adel Imam

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Nansen Refugee Award Presentation Ceremony

More than 400 people attended the annual presentation in Geneva in October 1, 2012 of UNHCR's Nansen Refugee Award. This year's inspirational winner from Somalia, Hawa Aden Mohamed, was unable to attend for health reasons, but she sent a video message. In the former refugee's absence, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres presented the award and Nansen medal to her sister, Shukri Aden Mohamed.

The 63-year-old humanitarian, educator and women's rights advocate, widely known as "Mama" Hawa, was honoured for her extraordinary service - under extremely difficult conditions - on behalf of refugees and the internally displaced, mainly women and girls but also including boys.

Above all she has been recognized for her work - as founder and director of the Galkayo Education Centre for Peace and Development in Somalia's Puntland region - in helping to empower thousands of displaced Somali women and girls, many of whom are victims of rape. The centre provides secondary education as well as life skills training.

The packed event also included an address by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, co-winner of last year's Nobel Peace Prize, and a video tribute to Mama Hawa as well as performances from UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador and classical singer, Barbara Hendricks, and up and coming Swiss musician Bastian Baker.

Nansen Refugee Award Presentation Ceremony

Angelina Jolie revisits Myanmar refugees on World Refugee Day

UNHCR's Special Envoy Angelina Jolie spent this year's World Refugee Day with Karenni refugees from Myanmar. Some have been in exile in Thailand for 30 years, making this one of the longest-running refugee situations in the world.

On her fourth visit to the refugee camps in Thailand, Jolie met Baw Meh's family, three generations of refugees who have lived in Ban Mai Nai Soi camp since 1996.

The family told Jolie they fled Myanmar's Kayah state thinking they would return home shortly. Eighteen years later, they are still here. Baw Meh, 75, lost her husband last year. He died before he could fulfill his dream of returning home. Some of their family members have been resettled to third countries. Others have chosen to stay. Baw Meh has refused to go, preferring to stay close to her village.

Like many refugees along the border, her family is watching the reform process in Myanmar closely and mulling the prospect of eventual return. "After 30 years in exile, the best solution we can give these refugees is the right and power to choose their own way forward," said Jolie. "This is our chance to get it right, to break the vicious cycle of conflict and displacement once and for all."

Angelina Jolie revisits Myanmar refugees on World Refugee Day

Switzerland: Kuwait Donates US$ 100 Million to the Syria CrisisPlay video

Switzerland: Kuwait Donates US$ 100 Million to the Syria Crisis

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees welcomes the State of Kuwait's contribution of US$ 100 million to support UNHCR operations aiding Syrians.
UNHCR Geneva: Executive Committee 2012Play video

UNHCR Geneva: Executive Committee 2012

Refugee agency chief António Guterres opens annual ExCom meeting with warning that UNHCR being stretched by multiplication of new refugee crises.
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Egyptian actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Adel Imam recently visited Iraqi refugees in Syria. Imam praised the Syrian government for its hospitality and for opening its schools to Iraqi students.