The winners of UNHCR’s first-ever Youth with Refugees Art Contest was announced on 22 July 2020. One of the five winners in Cartoon Category is Kayla Abigail Salim (23) from Surabaya, Indonesia who submitted an artwork that reflects how each and every person, including refugees, can play a role in fighting against the Covid-19.
“We are very pleased with this achievement and we’re sending our deep appreciation to Kayla. In Indonesia, we work to advocate for refugees’ inclusion in the national system as the country and the people face this pandemic together. Kayla’s remarkable artwork resonates very well with our advocacy and what UNHCR and all our partners work to achieve in Indonesia,” said Ann Maymann, UNHCR Representative in Indonesia.
More than 2,000 participants from 100 countries submitted drawings and comic strips. One in four participants were themselves refugees or asylum-seekers.
The other four winners in the Cartoon Category are contestants from Thailand, Cameroon, UK and a Congolese refugee contestant in Uganda. Additionally, UNHCR is also awarding seven global prizes, five regional prizes and 20 special mentions.
The list of winners, alongside their testimonies and artwork can be found here. All winners are receiving a box of pencils offered by Caran d’Ache, the world renowned Swiss manufacturer of pens, pencils and writing accessories, a partner of UNHCR for the art contest.
Launched in April 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the contest encouraged young people aged 12-25 to reflect creatively on the theme: “everyone counts in the fight against the virus, including refugees.”
Alongside their drawings, the participants shared powerful reflections and messages of solidarity.
“All of us, including refugees have different backgrounds. But one thing we have in common is the urge to fight Coronavirus. No matter how small, the efforts that we’ve made and the refugees have made, matter,” Kayla commented on the idea behind her artwork.
“No one should be left behind, including refugees, during these difficult times. And this means that refugees need to be given the access to medical services and facilities as needed, and to also be given the opportunity to be part of solution to the problem when they are able to,” said Ann adding to Kayla’s comment.
The winners were selected by a jury of influencers, artists, animation experts, refugees and partners. This included several UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors and high-profile supporters such as Japanese musician MIYAVI, Syrian refugee pilot Maya Ghazal, British actor Douglas Booth, American actress Kat Graham and British actress Gugu Mbatha Raw.
Also serving on the jury were Geoffrey Wexler, Chief, International, at Studio Ponoc; Roland Kelts, journalist and author of Japanamerica; Nina Cosford, artist and Caran d’Ache ambassador; and O’Plérou, Ivorian emoji designer. Several members of UNHCR’s Global Youth Advisory Council also served on the jury, namely: refugees Foni Joyce Vuni, from South Sudan; Arash Bordbar, from Iran; and Faridah Luanda, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as Ismael Gamboa-Ocampo, an internally displaced person in Colombia.
UNHCR seeks to inspire younger generations to be more inclusive of people forced to flee violence and persecution. We do so through a range of initiatives that encourage young people to learn, be creative, debate, volunteer and shape solutions.
Earning a diploma in Graphic Design from France’s Lycée René Goscinny, Kayla became interested in refugee issues during her stay and study in Paris, when she did a small refugee related research for one of her video campaign assignments. “I hope that my artwork can help to inspire many more young people to care for refugees,” said Kayla.