Sudanese-American slam poet Emi Mahmoud has supported UNHCR’s work since 2016.
Emi visited Jordan in March 2018, where she spent time with Syrian refugees in Zaatari and Azraq camps as well as some of the 81% living in urban settlements who are benefiting from UNHCR’s innovative cash assistance programme funded through the Lifeline Appeal.
Born in Khartoum, Sudan, before later moving to the United States, Emi has used her talents to raise awareness of the continued violence in Darfur and the wider refugee cause. To mark the announcement of the millionth South Sudanese refugee entering Uganda, in August 2017 Emi released ‘Head over Heels’, a unique and sobering poem written after being asked to comment on crisis. You can learn more about the South Sudan emergency and how to support UNHCR’s work here.
Emi has witnessed UNHCR’s frontline work in the field, meeting refugees in Uganda and also through travelling to Lesvos, Greece to speak with Syrian refugees who had survived the perilous sea crossing from Turkey. During this visit she performed a poem dedicated to Alan Kurdi on the first anniversary of his death, and the many people who have lost their lives seeking safety from conflict and persecution. Emi has also represented UNHCR at various high profile events, including the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society in Paris, and the 2017 anniversary event for the #IBelong campaign on statelessness.
Emi has been a committed supporter of various UNHCR campaigns. She added her voice to our #WithRefugees campaign film alongside other fellow high profile supporters, refugees and UNHCR staff from around the world, and later performed at the historic hand in of the #WithRefugees petition at the 2016 UN General Assembly in New York. In 2016 Emi also joined our Nansen Refugee Award ceremony, performing ‘Bird Watching on Lesvos Island’, another poem written following her meetings with refugees in Greece.