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.
Ingushetia: Internally Displaced Chechens
When fighting broke out between government troops and rebel forces in Chechnya in 1999, over 200,000 people fled the republic, most of them to the neighbouring republic of Ingushetia. Today, tens of thousands of Chechens remain displaced in Ingushetia, unwilling to go home because of continuing security concerns.
As of early December 2003, some 62,000 displaced Chechens were living in temporary settlements or in private accommodation. Those living in settlements face constant threats of eviction, often by owners who wish to use their buildings again.
Another 7,900 displaced Chechens live in tents in three remaining camps – Satsita, Sputnik, and Bart.
The authorities have repeatedly called for the closure of tent camps and the return of the displaced people to Chechnya. Three camps have been closed in the past year – Iman camp at Aki Yurt, "Bella" or B camp, and "Alina" or A camp. Chechens from the latter two camps who did not wish to go home were allowed to move to Satsita camp or other existing temporary settlements in Ingushetia.
Refugee Youth: Facing the future
They have seen atrocities many people cannot imagine, survived trauma most of their peers will never experience. Caught between adult burdens and childhood innocence, refugee youth around the world have continued to face the future with hope and courage.
In 2003, UNHCR dedicated World Refugee Day to refugee youth, spotlighting their plight and needs while celebrating their strengths and potential to help themselves and their communities.
This gallery looks at young refugees and how they attempt to cope with life during or after exile. From the Bosnian teenager finding her home destroyed, to the boy seeing his native Eritrea for the first time. From the displaced Liberian girl juggling daily chores with her baby brother, to the young returnees attending school in Vietnam. No matter how dire the situation, these young refugees have embraced the future with optimism and enthusiasm, their only hope in escaping the trap of exile and poverty.
Afghanistan: Rebuilding a War-Torn Country
The cycle of life has started again in Afghanistan as returnees put their shoulders to the wheel to rebuild their war-torn country.
Return is only the first step on Afghanistan's long road to recovery. UNHCR is helping returnees settle back home with repatriation packages, shelter kits, mine-awareness training and vaccination against diseases. Slowly but surely, Afghans across the land are reuniting with loved ones, reconstructing homes, going back to school and resuming work. A new phase in their lives has begun.
Watch the process of return, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction unfold in Afghanistan through this gallery.
Women and girls make up about 50 percent of the world's refugee population, and they are clearly the most vulnerable. At the same time, it is the women who carry out the crucial tasks in refugee camps – caring for their children, participating in self-development projects, and keeping their uprooted families together.
To honour them and to draw attention to their plight, the High Commissioner for Refugees decided to dedicate World Refugee Day on June 20, 2002, to women refugees.
The photographs in this gallery show some of the many roles uprooted women play around the world. They vividly portray a wide range of emotions, from the determination of Macedonian mothers taking their children home from Kosovo and the hope of Sierra Leonean girls in a Guinean camp, to the tears of joy from two reunited sisters. Most importantly, they bring to life the tremendous human dignity and courage of women refugees even in the most difficult of circumstances.