Putting Our Work into Focus
A picture tells a thousand words - and UNHCR has more than 250,000 of them dating back decades. The agency's photo library in Geneva is guardian of the world's largest collection of refugee-related photos covering nearly all of the major displacements of the last 60 years. These images provide a comprehensive portrait of the lives of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people and the stateless in all corners of the globe, as well as the work of the thousands of UN staff who have helped them. Many of our best photos are showcased on this website and on the social networking site, Flickr. We offer the use of our photos free to the media.
Kigeme: A home carved from the hills for Congolese refugees
The Kigeme refugee camp in Rwanda's Southern province was reopened in June 2012 after thousands of Congolese civilians started fleeing across the border when fighting erupted in late April between Democratic Republic of the Congo government forces and fighters of the rebel M23 movement. Built on terraced hills, it currently houses more than 14,000 refugees but was not significantly affected by the latest fighting in eastern Congo, which saw the M23 capture the North Kivu provincial capital, Goma, before withdrawing. While many of the adults long for lasting peace in their home region, the younger refugees are determined to resume their education. Hundreds enrolled in special classes to help them prepare for the Rwandan curriculum in local primary and secondary schools, including learning different languages. In a camp where more than 60 per cent of the population are aged under 18 years, the catch-up classes help traumatized children to move forward, learn and make friends.
Uncertain future for displaced family in eastern Congo camp
Barely six months after heavy fighting erupted in late April in eastern Congo's North Kivu province, the rebel M23 movement of army defectors captured the provincial capital of Goma from government forces. The rebel advance caused tens of thousands to flee their homes, adding to the more than 220,000 civilians displaced in the province during the earlier waves of violence and lawlessness since April. Ten-year-old Sukuru and his family were in Mugunga III camp for the internally displaced when Goma fell on November 20, having fled their home in North Kivu's Masisi territory months before.
They have suffered multiple displacement in the past, but are currently relatively safe in Mugunga III though in need of aid. Their ordeal of flight is similar to that suffered by many others, though in the haste to flee their village earlier this year, Sukuru became separated from his parents for a few days. UNHCR followed their lives in Mugunga III. Despite the latest setbacks, Sukuru remains hopeful about the future.
Barbara Hendricks marks 25 years with UNHCR
Acclaimed soprano Barbara Hendricks has spent a quarter-of-a-century helping UNHCR to spread awareness about refugees and lobbying on their behalf with politicians and governments. She was named a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador in 1987 and, in 2002, was appointed Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador in recognition of her long service for the refugee agency.
In 2012, UNHCR celebrates this landmark 25th anniversary with a ceremony in the Geneva headquarters of the refugee agency. In her years with UNHCR, Hendricks has performed fund-raising concerts, met policymakers and government leaders in Europe, Asia and Africa and been on more than a dozen visits to the field, meeting the forcibly displaced around the world. UNHCR salutes its longest serving Goodwill Ambassador.
Malian refugees in Niger struggle to rebuild their lives
Some 60,000 Malian civilians have found refuge in Niger this year, fleeing fighting in northern Mali as well as political instability in the whole country. Most are hosted in three official camps - Tabareybarey, Mangaize and Abala. A significant number are living in spontaneous settlements. All are located in harsh arid countryside where life is tough despite the assistance provided by UNHCR and other aid agencies.
Children are the most vulnerable group, with some suffering from acute malnutrition. Older children are looking forward to resuming their education in a foreign land. Meanwhile, some 6,000 refugees are living in the Niger capital, Niamey, where many of them look for work so that they can send money back to relatives still in Mali.
Meanwhile, the future remains uncertain. Many people fear that continuing fighting inside Mali could lead to an accelerated exodus of refugees from Mali into neighbouring countries, including Niger.
The following photographs by UNHCR photographer Hélène Caux depict life for the refugees in Tabareybarey and Mangaize camps as well as in Niamey.
Widow Oumi starts a new life in South Sudan camp
Oumi arrived in Yusuf Batil refugee camp, in South Sudan, after three months on the run. Along the way she gave birth to a son, lost her husband to illness and guided her four children safely across the border from Sudan. The family reared goats, sheep and cattle in their home in Sudan's Blue Nile state before the war came to their village. With her children sick and hungry, Oumi finally found shelter in Yusuf Batil, where she is receiving assistance from UNHCR and its partners.
The widow, who does not know her age, says her life is now in the camp where she cooks for the children and hopes they can all soon start to help her. She says she worries about the future but dreams of being given a plot of land where she can grow sorghum, maize and okra to sell and make enough money to buy some goats. The following pictures depict Oumi and her children in their new home.