Artists, cultural institutions and the art world are playing an increasingly important role in speaking out against injustices, raising public awareness on today’s social issues and creating spaces that allow for a dialogue between host communities and refugees.
Art can be used as a powerful advocacy tool to communicate stories. Art can also provide a tool for self-development and personal expression, in addition to the numerous benefits of using art as a therapeutic practise.
Whether it’s through photography, painting, film or one of the many other mediums available to express one’s creativity, art provides a platform to raise awareness and encourages displaced people to realise their own potential.
In 2020 UNHCR celebrated its 70th Anniversary and UNHCR Ukraine its 25th Anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, a floral bed was created in the European square in Kyiv. UNHCR, sometimes referred to as the “conscience of the world”, was created in 1950 and has a mandate to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) as well as address their problems around the world.
UNHCR has been working in Ukraine since 1994. Achievements include support to the development of national legislation relating to the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons. UNHCR Ukraine has contributed to the implementation of an effective asylum system in Ukraine and also provided humanitarian assistance.
UNHCR created a short film to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of its foundation and its 25 Year of presence in Ukraine.
The film looks at the daily challenges faced by IDPs through the prism of historical events in Ukraine. Actors Lenara Osmanova and Oleksandr Polchenko, who both star in the short film, have themselves experienced forcible displacement first hand.
UNHCR opened an art-installation “Invisible Children: Under the Risk of Statelessness” in the Gulliver Mall in Kyiv
On 12 November 2020, a show was projected on the facade of the Gulliver Mall in Kyiv (1-A Sportyvna Square). A giant teddy bear holding a birth certificate was exhibited in the entrance hall of the Gulliver Mall for four days, until 15 November. This installation titled “Invisible Children: Under the Risk of Statelessness” evokes the risk of statelessness among children born in non-government controlled parts of Ukraine and who have not yet obtained a Ukrainian birth certificate.
On World Cancer Day, UNHCR in collaboration with Kyiv Sand Theater Golden Lion, told the story of a stateless woman through sand animation.
UNHCR made a photo project “Photo on the Passport”, dedicated to the 5th Anniversary of the #IBelong campaign, the global campaign to eradicate statelessness by 2024. Well-known Ukrainian photographer Oleksandr Chekmenev joined the UNHCR campaign to eradicate statelessness in Ukraine. He traveled to remote areas of Ukraine to meet with residents of Roma settlements who do not have a Ukrainian passport, as well as with pensioners who still hold Soviet passports. The photo project was exhibited in the Museum of Kyiv and in Verhovna Rada of Ukraine.
Over the Wall – Ukraine Mural Project. Kensuke Miyazaki, a Japanese artist, came to Ukraine in 2017 and painted two murals in Kyiv and Mariupol, together with refugees and children. Maruipol, a city in Eastern Ukraine, suffered damage in the 2014 crisis. School No. 68, bombed during that crisis, still shows signs of damage. With the support of UNHCR Ukraine, Kensuke Miyazaki created a mural to convey a message of peace. In addition, as 2017 marks the 25th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Japan, to commemorate the friendship between the two countries, he drew a mural together with refugee children from Syria and Afghanistan at Art-zavod Platforma, in Kyiv.
UNHCR opened a mural in Kyiv to mark the 5th Anniversary of the Statelessness Eradication Campaign #IBelong and bring attention to the importance of combating statelessness in the country that currently has the largest number of stateless people in Europe.
The author of the mural, artist Kateryna Rudakova, was inspired by a news story about a 6-year-old boy who drew himself a Ukrainian passport with his colour pencils. With this theme the artist wanted to convey the idea that obtaining such basic civic documents can be problematic for certain categories of the population, including vulnerable and marginalized communities. The Roma people, for example, are at heightened risk of statelessness. The mural can be found at 11, Yaroslavskaya Street, Kyiv.