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Jimmy Cliff and his new album 'Refugees'

Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff has released his first album in over a decade to shine a light on people forced to flee. Titled “Refugees – which includes a piece by the same name – continues Cliff’s long tradition of thought-provoking anthems.  

Keen to ensure that everyone who hears the album knows how they can support refugees, Cliff teamed up with his record label, Universal Music Enterprises, and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

As a humanitarian, I wrote the song due to emotional feelings towards freedom taken away from human beings. None of us should be forced by violence, economics, war, or persecution to leave our country against our will.

– Jimmy Cliff

With a career stretching back over 50 years, Jamaican musician Jimmy Cliff is often known as the “Grandfather of Reggae”. Best known for songs such as “Many Rivers to Cross” and “The Harder They Come”, Cliff helped popularize reggae music around the world. He is the only living musician to hold the Jamaican Order of Merit, the country’s highest honour for arts and science.

Cliff says he views refugees as ordinary people who are also “quite extraordinary people, because they make miracles happen”. He describes negative attitudes towards them as stemming from “ignorance and wrong judgement” as well as the harmful effects of racism.

In an ideal world, he says, refugees would not exist anymore. “I know it’s utopian,” he says, adding that for now he will settle for them having “equality/equity, truth, and justice”.

5 ways you can help refugees today

1. Donate money – Donating to UNHCR, the UN refugee Agency, will allow us to continue to provide protection, emergency assistance, healthcare and critical support to families forced to flee.

2. Advocate for refugees – Engage with your networks, community leaders and elected official about welcoming refugees in your community. You can also support organizations that raise awareness about refugee issues. In your everyday life you can encourage a culture of acceptance and break down misconceptions that make it harder for refugees to integrate into places where they found asylum.

3. Help where you are – You can offer shelter, support, or even a job to refugees who are arriving in your community. If you have extra space in your home, consider hosting a refugee temporarily. Empowering refugees by giving them a job is one of the best ways to help them, as it doesn’t only provide them with funds, but it also helps them to integrate into the local community. You can also support refugee-run initiatives or business. Donating your time by volunteering is another great way to help refugees. Some examples of places to volunteer at are schools, distribution centres and fundraising centres. 

4. Share links to our UNHCR HELP pages – UNHCR has HELP websites for refugees, providing information on particular topics (for example scholarships for refugees, information on asylum procedures, contacts of nearest UNHCR office and much more). Sharing links to HELP pages increases their visibility and helps refugees access services and finding the information they need.

5. Educate yourself and others – Find out more about the different situations around the world from reliable sources and share the information. You can also sign up for our UNHCR newsletter to stay on top of latest updates. Start conversations about refugees and human rights with verified information. Help the younger generation learn about the refugee experience. You can also read, watch, listen to and share refugee stories. Amplify their voices. Keep an eye on our Instagram channel for useful material, updates on what situations refugees are facing and what we are doing to help them.