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YouTube and UNHCR launch short film series to mark World Refugee Day

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YouTube and UNHCR launch short film series to mark World Refugee Day

Refugees in Jordan, Germany, and Uganda collaborate with top YouTube Creators to bring their powerful stories to millions around the world.
20 June 2023
Three Stories of Hope Away From Home || We Were Here #worldrefugeeday

"We Were Here" is an original documentary series produced by UNHCR and YouTube that seeks to challenge stereotypes about refugees by focussing on the shared passions that unite us.

YouTube and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, announce today the release of a new film series that showcases the creativity and courage of refugees from three different regions of the world.

The short film series entitled “We Were Here”, which premieres on YouTube on 20 June, World Refugee Day, seeks to challenge stereotypes and perceptions about refugees by connecting refugees with some of YouTube's most influential content creators around shared interests such as music, growing food, and building toys.

The refugees and YouTube creators featured in the films include:

  • Bemeriki Busamwa, a refugee in Uganda from the Democratic Republic of Congo, shares his passion for teaching communities how to grow their own food with Welsh vegan chef Gaz Oakley.
  • Three Ukrainian sisters in Germany – Bethlehem, Siona, and Miriam – whose band was on the verge of stardom when war broke out in Ukraine, spend time in the studio with UK-based music producer Jax Jones.
  • Mohamed, a Syrian refugee and toymaker, welcomes Swedish inventor Simore Giertz into his workshop in Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan.

“Refugees leave so much behind to find safety, but they carry with them their creativity, and we have to work harder to give them the opportunity to pursue their passions," said Dominique Hyde, Director of UNHCR’s Division for External Relations. "UNHCR is delighted to partner with YouTube to spotlight the creative energy of refugees, and we are privileged that these refugee creators have allowed us to share their stories. We extend our thanks to YouTube and the three content creators for helping bring these experiences to their audiences.”

“We are proud to be sharing YouTube’s global platform and audience reach for World Refugee Day this year,” said Camilla Hill, YouTube Marketing Director. “The three YouTube creators have 6 million subscribers combined who will now have the privilege to be inspired by the powerful stories of refugees and to engage with their imagination, resilience, and creativity.”

The displacement crisis crossed a new threshold at the end of 2022, with the total number of people forcibly displaced globally exceeding 108.4 million for the first time.

For many, the enormity and complexity of the issues can feel overwhelming. It is easy to lose sight of the individuals affected by displacement and see only the scale of the situation. The “We Were Here” series aims to give people an opportunity to identify with individuals by connecting with something we all share –creativity. Refugees have hopes and dreams like anyone else, and being able to do what matters most to them has the power to impact the world. 

The series was created and produced by Uncommon Creative Studio in association with Lief, who bring together a team of award-winning filmmakers. The team includes renowned director Alma Har’el as executive producer, Oscar-nominated director Laura Checkoway, internationally acclaimed Jordanian director Mahmoud Al Massad, and British-Ghanaian rising star Curtis Essel. The film scores were overseen by music supervisor Bridget Samuels.

The series will be promoted across outdoor, cinema, and social – with each film launching on the YouTuber’s channel on World Refugee Day.

Note to editors


UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. UNHCR delivers life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, help to safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. We also work to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality. 

About YouTube

Launched in May 2005, YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch, and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small. YouTube is a Google company.

About World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It falls each year on 20 June and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. This year, World Refugee Day focuses on solutions and the power of inclusion for refugees. The theme is: Hope away from Home: A world where refugees are always included.

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