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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.

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A Mounting Struggle to Survive: Urban Refugees in Jordan

Added: 17 Mar 2014

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

Added: 14 Mar 2014

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

Added: 07 Mar 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.

A Refugee Settlement Rises Again in Northern Uganda

Added: 28 Feb 2014

Fighting in South Sudan between government troops and rival forces since December has displaced tens of thousands of people, many of whom have sought shelter at temporary transit and reception centres just inside northern Uganda. The UN refugee agency has since early January reopened three former refugee settlements and moved an estimated 50,000 to these sites deeper inside Uganda, where it is easier to provide them with protection and assistance. After being taken by truck to one such settlement, Nyumanzi I, lying some 30 kilometres from the border, the new arrivals are given relief items such as food, blankets, mats and kitchenware as well as a plot of land from the government on which to build a shelter. The settlement has been filling up quickly. UNHCR and partners have been working around the clock to build roads, install water distribution networks and provide access to health care. By early February, homes and small shops had sprung up across the settlement as the South Sudanese got on with their lives while closely monitoring the situation back home in the hope of one day returning.

Central African Republic: Crossing the Oubangui to Home and Safety

Added: 26 Feb 2014

The escalating violence in Central African Republic (CAR) has caught everyone in its web, including refugees from countries such as Chad, Cameroon and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). For the Congolese living in places like the CAR capital, Bangui, or the town of Batalimo, home was just a short trip away across the Oubangui River. UNHCR earlier this year agreed to help those who wished to repatriate due to fear for their safety. The refugee agency has since mid-January facilitated the return home of hundreds of these refugees. The following photographs, taken earlier this month by UNHCR staff members Dalia Al Achi and Hugo Reichenberger, depict the repatriation of a group of 364 Congolese. The refugees portrayed were heading to the riverside town of Zongo in Democratic Republic of the Congo's Equateur province, where they spent a night in a transit centre before continuing to their hometowns. They were relieved to be leaving, and some were in poor health. The decision to return to the country they had fled during the years of civil war from 1996-2003 was not easy. Some 6,000 of the 17,000 Congolese refugees in Central African Republic have registered with UNHCR to go home.

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