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.
The Senseless Suffering Continues in the Central African Republic
A year after the Seleka, a coalition of predominantly Muslim rebel groups, seized power in Central African Republic (CAR), the impoverished country is mired in a worsening humanitarian crisis, marked by brutality and massive displacement. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, after visiting the capital Bangui last month, called the situation in Central African Republic "a humanitarian catastrophe of unspeakable proportions." The roots of the inter-communal conflict are complicated and have been marked in recent weeks by retaliatory attacks on civilians by the Seleka and the rival Christian Anti-Balaka militia. One in five people have fled their homes: some 625,000 are internally displaced and 312,000 are in neighbouring countries. Some 2.5 million people in CAR need help, but funding is low, and large parts of the country are too dangerous to reach. The displaced are spread all over, including more than 54,000 at Bangui's international airport. They need help and protection. Photographer Annibale Greco recently travelled with UNHCR to areas where the displaced have found shelter. These are his images.
Rescue at Sea on the Mediterranean
Every year tens of thousands of people risk their lives by crossing the Mediterranean on overcrowded and often unseaworthy boats in a bid to reach Europe. Many of them are fleeing violence and persecution and are in need of international protection. Thousands die every year trying to make it to places like Malta or Italy's tiny Lampedusa Island. It took the loss of some 600 people in boat sinkings last October to focus world attention on this humanitarian tragedy. Italy has since launched a rescue-at-sea operation using naval vessels, which have saved more than 10,000 people. Photographer Alfredo D'Amato, working with UNHCR, was on board the San Giusto, flagship of the Italian rescue flotilla, when rescued people were transferred to safety. His striking images follow.
A Mounting Struggle to Survive: Urban Refugees in Jordan
Much of the media coverage of Syrian refugees in Jordan has focused on the tens of thousands of people in settlements like Za'atri. But more than 80 per cent of arrivals live outside the camps, and are facing a mounting struggle to survive. After three years of conflict, they are finding it increasingly difficult to put a roof over their head, pay the bills and provide an education for their children.
Many have found homes near their point of entry, in the north of Jordan; often in disrepair, some still within earshot of shelling from across the border. Others have gone further south, looking for more affordable accommodation in Amman, Aqaba, Karak and the Jordan Valley. While most rent houses and apartments, a minority live in informal shelters.
From 2012-2013, UNHCR and the International Relief and Development non-governmental organization conducted more than 90,000 home visits to understand the situations of Syrian families and provide assistance where needed. The resulting report is an unprecedented look at the challenges 450,000 Syrians face when living outside the camps in Jordan, as they fight to make a new life far from home. Photographer Jared Kohler captured the life of some of these refugees.
Syria Crisis Third Anniversary: A Child of the Conflict
Ashraf was born the very day the Syria conflict began: March 15, 2011. He is the seventh child in a family from Homs. Within a week of his birth, the conflict arrived in his neighbourhood. For months his family rarely left the house. Some days there was non-stop bombing, others were eerily quiet. On the quiet days, Ashraf's mother made a run with him to the local health clinic for vaccinations and check-ups.
When Ashraf was about 18 months old, his aunt, uncle and cousin were murdered - their throats slit - as the boy slept nearby in his family's home. Terrified that they were next, Ashraf's family crammed into their car, taking a few precious belongings, and drove to the border.
They left behind their home, built by Ashraf's father and uncle. Within days the house was looted and destroyed. Photographer Andrew McConnell visited the family at their new home, in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, which was also built by Ashraf's father and uncle. Located on the edge of a muddy field, it is a patchwork of plastic sheeting, canvas and scrap metal. The floor is covered with blankets and mattresses from UNHCR. They now face new challenges such as the daily battle to keep the children warm, dry and protected from rats. Ashraf still starts at sudden loud noises, but the doctor told his mother that the boy would get used to it.
International Women's Day 2014
Every year on March 8, the UN refugee agency joins people around the world to celebrate International Women's Day. This year's theme, "Equality for Women is Progress for All," recognizes that we do not live in a world in which all women and girls are treated equally and without discrimination. UNHCR puts great importance on achieving progress in gender equality and advancing the empowerment of women.
But while many forcibly displaced women and girls around the world are making strides every day towards improving their lives and achieving equality, there are countless women who are victims of sexual violence and have no access to justice or support, girls who are unable to complete their education and fulfill their promise and mothers who cannot provide enough food for their children.
With this photo set, UNHCR celebrates the lives of forcibly displaced women and girls around the world, remembers their needs, and supports their right to a normal, safe and dignified life and to one day return home.