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.
Returnees in Myanmar
During the early 1990s, more than 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled across the border into Bangladesh, citing human rights abuses by Myanmar's military government. In exile, refugees received shelter and assistance in 20 camps in the Cox's Bazaar region of Bangladesh. More than 230,000 of the Rohingya Muslims have returned since 1992, but about 22,000 still live in camps in Bangladesh. To promote stability in returnee communities in Myanmar and to help this group of re-integrate into their country, UNHCR and its partner agencies provide monitors to insure the protection and safety of the returnees as well as vocational training, income generation schemes, adult literacy programs and primary education.
Chad: Relocation from the Border to Refugee Camps
Since fighting broke out in Sudan's western region of Darfur last year, more than 110,000 Sudanese refugees have fled into Chad. They are scattered along a 600-km stretch of desert borderland under a scorching sun during the day and freezing temperatures during the night.
Access to these refugees in this inhospitable region is difficult. Staff of the UN refugee agency drive for days to locate them. Bombing in the border zone and cross-border raids by militia from Sudan put the refugees at risk and underscore the urgent need to move them to camps in the interior. In addition, the approach of the rainy season in May will make the sandy roads impassable. Aid workers are racing against time in an attempt bring emergency relief to these refugees.
Western Sahara Family Visits
Emotions are running high in the Sahara desert as families split for nearly three decades by conflict over sovereignty of the Western Sahara Territory are being briefly reunited by a UNHCR family visit scheme.
Living in five windswept and isolated camps around Tindouf in south-western Algeria for the last 28 years, the refugees have been almost totally cut off from their relatives in the Territory. So when the UN refugee agency launched its five-day family visit scheme in March this year, there were tears of joy as well as apprehension at the prospect of reunion.
The visit scheme is proving extremely popular, with more than 800 people already having visited their relatives and another 18,000 signed up to go. In addition to the family visit scheme, the UN refugee agency has opened telephone centres in some of the camps, creating another channel through which long-lost family members can make contact.
Photos taken in June 2004.
Destruction and Displacement in Darfur, Sudan
An estimated one million people have been displaced within Sudan's western region of Darfur by fighting that erupted in early 2003. Militia have reportedly killed and raped villagers and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes in Darfur.
Many of the displaced people are living in squalid, makeshift encampments, where they continue to fear attacks by marauding militia.
UNHCR became operational in Darfur in June 2004 following a request from the UN country team for the refugee agency to share its expertise in protection, camp management and site planning. UNHCR has opened offices in Nyala and El Geneina and plans to establish a presence in El Fasher. UNHCR teams have begun evaluating existing camps for displaced persons to improve the layout and design and have begun training governmental camp managers in protection and the rights of displaced people.
Portraits of Darfur's Refugees
Nearly 200,000 refugees, the majority of them women and children, have fled across the border from Sudan into Chad since the outbreak of conflict in Sudan's Darfur region in March 2003. The refugees have left behind their homes and often loved ones in Darfur, where militias have reportedly killed and raped villagers, looted and burned houses and possessions and driven people from their homes.
Most of the refugees in eastern Chad are sheltered in 11 camps established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, where they receive humanitarian aid, shelter, water and basic services.
Life in the camps is not easy in the desert environment of eastern Chad, where water and firewood are extremely scarce. Sandstorms are a regular feature during the dry months and torrential rains flood the landscape in the wet season.
Yet in the faces of the refugees, dignity and hope remain in spite of the hardships and the violence they have suffered.