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.
World Refugee Day 2009 event with UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie
To mark the launch of activities in the United States for World Refugee Day, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie appeared alongside UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres at an event at the National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C. on 18 June 2009. The event, which was hosted by UNHCR and moderated by NBC television anchor Ann Curry, included a live feed from the Djabal refugee camp in eastern Chad, where a UNHCR staff member on the ground spoke to the assembled audience.
Each year UNHCR sponsors a World Refugee Day poster contest under the patronage of Angelina Jolie for school children in the US. The theme of this year's contest is "Real People, Real Needs" and a winner from each of three age groups - elementary, middle and high school -- was presented with an award at the event. In addition, Rose Mapendo, a refugee from eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, who has started her own NGO for victims of conflict, was presented with the USA's Humanitarian of the Year award.
Pakistan: Finding Refuge
Pakistani civilians continue to stream out of the region around the Swat Valley to find shelter in Mardana
More than 2 million people, according to local authorities, have been forced from their homes following Pakistani efforts to drive militants out of the region around north-west Pakistan's Swat Valley. Some 200,000 are living in camps set up by the Pakistani government and supplied by UNHCR and other agencies. The remainder are staying in schools or other communal buildings or being hosted by families. The heat is intense, reaching 45 degrees Celsius, and many of the displaced are suffering from heat-related infections and water-borne illnesses, although conditions are improving. UNHCR is providing tents, cooking sets, plastic sheeting and jerry cans, among other aid items. Award-winning photographer Alixandra Fazzina has spent the last two weeks documenting the plight of the internally displaced, from their arrival in safe areas, to the camps, schools and homes in which they now find themselves.
Pakistan: Fleeing to Safety
More than 1.5 million people flee their homes in North-West Pakistan.
Fighting between the army and Taliban militants in and around the Swat Valley in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province has displaced more than 1.5 million people since the beginning of May. Some of the displaced are being sheltered in camps set up by the government and supplied by UNHCR. Others - the majority, in fact - are staying in public buildings, such as schools, or with friends and extended family members. Living conditions are harsh. With the onset of summer, rising temperatures are contributing to a range of ailments, especially for villagers from Swat accustomed to a cooler climate. Pakistan's displacement crisis has triggered an outpouring of generosity at home. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is urging a "massive" assistance effort from abroad as well.
Displaced in North Kivu: A Life on the Run
Fighting rages on in various parts of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with seemingly no end in sight for hundreds of thousands of Congolese forced to flee violence and instability over the past two years. The ebb and flow of conflict has left many people constantly on the move, while many families have been separated. At least 1 million people are displaced in North Kivu, the hardest hit province. After years of conflict, more than 1,000 people still die every day - mostly of hunger and treatable diseases. In some areas, two out of three women have been raped. Abductions persist and children are forcefully recruited to fight. Outbreaks of cholera and other diseases have increased as the situation deteriorates and humanitarian agencies struggle to respond to the needs of the displaced.
When the displacement crisis worsened in North Kivu in 2007, the UN refugee agency sent emergency teams to the area and set up operations in several camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Assistance efforts have also included registering displaced people and distributing non-food aid. UNHCR carries out protection monitoring to identify human rights abuses and other problems faced by IDPs in North and South Kivu.