News & Media


Refugee Total Hits 3 Million as Syrians Flee Growing Insecurity and Worsening Conditions
Syria’s intensifying refugee crisis will today surpass a record three million people, amid reports of increasingly horrifying  conditions inside the country - cities where populations are surrounded, people are going hungry and civilians are being targeted or indiscriminately killed. Almost half of all Syrians have now been forced to abandon their homes and flee for their lives. One in every eight Syrians has fled across the border, fully a million people more than a year ago. A ....
Afghan asylum-seeker rides 700 km to bring his case to Australian Parliament
For Rohullah Hussaini, it was a case of life or death that inspired him to endure a grueling four days of cycling to travel over 700 kilometres from Victorian town of Swan Hill to Canberra to present a petition about the plight of asylum-seekers to the Australian Parliament. “This riding is not for me,” said the exhausted and cold Rohullah on the steps of the Australian Parliament House on Tuesday. But he did it for an important reason: “I want to show people that I am a ....
Hounded from home, raped Congolese woman seeks refugee in Burundi
BUJUMBURA, Burundi, August 27 (UNHCR) – Four months ago, Mama Monique* was dragged out of her home in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and raped by four armed men, who had just murdered her husband. The crime was not carried out in some rural backwater, but in Goma, a city of several hundred thousand people and capital of North Kivu province. Yet nobody came to help her or offer condolences, instead neighbours shunned the 49-year-old Congolese businesswoman and acted as though ....
More than 20,000 people risk all on Indian Ocean to reach safety: UNHCR report
GENEVA, August 22 (UNHCR) – A new UNHCR report on irregular maritime movements in Southeast Asia estimates that 20,000 people risked their lives in sea crossings in the first half of this year. Many were Rohingya who fled Myanmar and arrived in the region suffering the effects of malnutrition and abuse during the journey. Several hundred people were also intercepted on boats heading to Australia. The report was produced by UNHCR's Bangkok-based Maritime Movements Monitoring Unit, ....
Refugees: A New Era of Forced Displacement
  The Melbourne School of Government, the Melbourne Law School and UNHCR-The UN Refugee Agency is pleased to present: Refugees: A New Era of Forced Displacement  Current Crises and the Challenges of the Humanitarian Response  Monday 8th September 2014 6.00pm-7.30pm A discussion of the current global displacement situation, the changing humanitarian landscape confronting UNHCR and the international community, and the operational challenges and dilemmas ....
UNHCR launches major aid push for Iraq with 100-ton airlift to Erbil
ERBIL, Iraq, August 20 (UNHCR) – A cargo jet carrying 100 tons of emergency relief supplies landed at Erbil in Iraq's Kurdistan region on Wednesday afternoon, launching a massive UN refugee agency aid operation for hundreds of thousands of people caught in Iraq's worsening humanitarian crisis. Aboard the Boeing 747 from Amman, Jordan were 3,300 tents, 20,000 plastic sheets, 18,500 kitchen sets and 16,500 jerry cans – the first consignment in an operation that aims at ....
Syrian woman gives birth to quintuplets weeks after fleeing Iraq
 QAMISHLI, Syria, August 20 (UNHCR) – A 27-year-old Syrian woman has given birth to quintuplets in northern Syria weeks after fleeing her home in neighbouring Iraq on foot. Tamam, an ethnic Yazidi, gave birth by Caesarean section last Thursday at a hospital in the city of Qamishli. "She gave birth in the seventh month of her pregnancy, but thank God the mother and babies are all in good health," a doctor at the private hospital told UNHCR. The five babies have not yet had ....
UNHCR in major air, land and sea humanitarian aid push into northern Iraq
ERBIL, Iraq, August 19 (UNHCR) – As it prepares to ramp up its response to the population displacement in northern Iraq, the UN refugee agency is working closely with the authorities in Iraq's Kurdistan region to meet the immense challenges of helping the tens of thousands who have sought shelter there. Barring delays, the stepped up air, road and sea operation will start with a four-day airlift using Boeing 747s from Aqaba in Jordan to Erbil, followed by road convoys from Turkey ....
Ethiopia overtakes Kenya as Africa's biggest refugee-hosting country
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, August 19 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency announced on Tuesday that Ethiopia has overtaken Kenya to become the largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, sheltering 629,718 refugees as of the end of July. Kenya, in comparison, is host to 575,334 registered refugees and asylum-seekers. The main factor in the increased numbers is the conflict in South Sudan, which erupted in mid-December last year and has sent 188,000 refugees into Ethiopia since the beginning of ....
World Humanitarian Day: 19 August
In 2003, the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad claimed the lives of 22 humanitarian workers. Five years later, the United Nations General Assembly declared the 19 August World Humanitarian Day, an opportunity to remember those who have given their lives to help and protect the millions of vulnerable people around the world. It is a chance for us to remember and reflect upon the gravity and importance of the work being done by humanitarians every day. Last year, 457 humanitarian workers ....
UNHCR steps up aid as Yazidis stream into Syria from Iraq's Mount Sinjar
QAMISHLY, Syria, August 14 (UNHCR) – As members of Iraq's threatened Yazidi community continue to flow into Syria from northern Iraq, UNHCR has begun providing aid and transporting new arrivals from the mountainous border area to the Newroz camp some 60 kilometres to the west. Tens of thousands of mainly Yazidi people have fled to Syria since militants captured Sinjar and other northern Iraq towns in early August. Most have crossed back quickly, via the Semalka/Peshkabour border ....
Ukraine: Sorting through the Wreckage
Conflict has changed the city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. “We used to have such a beautiful, calm, tidy city,” says Angelina, a social worker. Today, it is full of destroyed homes and infrastructure, a casualty of the fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian forces. More than half of the inhabitants – some 70,000 people – fled the city during the combat earlier this year. In recent weeks, with the city back under government control, some ....
Thousands find shelter in Iraqi Kurdistan after escaping Mount Sinjar
ERBIL, Iraq, 2014 (UNHCR) – Thousands of people have managed to reach northern Iraq's Kurdistan region via Syria over the past three days after escaping from Mount Sinjar, where they faced starvation, lack of water, and threats to their safety. The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that its NGO partners estimated that as many as 35,000 people had managed to reach Iraqi Kurdistan's Dohuk governorate. "The new arrivals are exhausted, dehydrated and many have suffered sun or ....
UNHCR distributes aid to hundreds of Lebanese, Syrians fleeing fighting in Arsal
BEIRUT, Lebanon, August 8 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency, working with the government and other partners in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, is distributing vital aid to Lebanese civilians and Syrian refugees who have fled fighting between the military and armed groups in the town of Arsal, close to the Syrian border. The aid includes hygiene and baby kits, mattresses, blankets, bread and canned food. Lebanese municipal authorities estimate that more than 2,000 Lebanese and Syrian people, ....
Flight to Dohuk. A new wave of displacement in Iraq
A new wave of displacement has hit Iraq, following the seizure of three northern communities from government control. “We want the government, civil society, the United Nations, Americans, humanity, NGO’s, to just save these people from the danger zone. We don’t want cars, or money, or donations, or food. We want that they get water and food to those trapped, or get them out, otherwise it will be a ....
Separated Iraqi families fear for relatives
SHEKHADI, Iraq, August 6 (UNHCR) – It's impossible to know how many people are now staying in this tiny mountain village in northern Iraq. Hundreds, maybe thousands line the lane weaving through Shekhadi, a place of pilgrimage for Iraq's Yezidi minority. Mothers rock their infant children in wooden cradles, families sleep on mats laid on concrete in the shadow of stone buildings or in the shade of trees. Most appear to be waiting, hoping for good news from their home city of ....
Helping a blind boy to focus on his dreams in Turkey
MIDYAT REFUGEE CAMP, Turkey, August 4 (UNHCR) – Ashraf says everyone wrenched from their home and forced to become a refugee, finds life a struggle: "When you come to a new country, it's as if everyone is blind." Not everyone is as cheerful and resilient as the 15-year-old, forced to flee from Aleppo in northern Syria to Turkey with six other members of his family almost a year ago. In his case, blind is not just a metaphor: Ashraf and his brother are visually ....
UNHCR distributes aid to thousands of Iraqis fleeing attacks in Ninewa
ERBIL, Iraq, August 5 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency has started distributing emergency aid to thousands of people displaced by the latest outbreak of violence in northern Iraq's Ninewa governorate. Officials in the Iraq's Kurdistan region say some 30,000 people (6,600 families) have fled the fighting that erupted at the weekend between ethnic Kurdish forces and armed opposition groups, who reportedly captured three communities. The Iraqi government says up to 200,000 may ....
Situation worsens in Ukraine with over 117,000 now displaced
GENEVA, August 5 (UNHCR) – Amid a worsening situation in eastern Ukraine, the UN refugee agency on Tuesday estimated that more than 117,000 people are now displaced inside Ukraine. "In the past seven days more than 6,200 people have been forced from their homes," UNHCR's Vincent Cochetel told journalists in Geneva. As of August 1, an estimated 168,000 people have crossed into Russia so far this year. Cochetel noted that the number of people displaced from the Luhansk and ....
UNHCR completes challenging repatriation of almost 120,000 Congolese refugees
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of the Congo, August 5 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency has successfully completed the voluntary repatriation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) of almost 120,000 refugees from neighbouring Republic of Congo. Local boats last Wednesday took the final 81 Congolese refugees across the Oubangui River from the town of Betou in Republic of Congo to reception centres run by UNHCR in the Equateur province towns of Siforco, Izato and Dongo. Their ....
IKEA Foundation helps restore sense of home for Syrian refugees in Iraq
ARBAT REFUGEE CAMP, Iraq, July 30 (UNHCR) – Since arriving from Syria nearly a year ago, 52-year-old Halima Murad and her family have been at the mercy of Iraq's extreme weather in this camp near the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah. In their tiny tent in the comparatively safe Iraqi Kurdistan region, the six of them have been exposed to winter temperatures dropping to zero Celsius, blistering summer temperatures of 45 degrees, and dust storms to boot. So she was particularly ....
Iraq: Thousands uprooted from home
Ten days ago, a warehouse in the middle of empty wheatgrass fields became home to 5,000 displaced Iraqis. Yehya, his wife and four children fled their home town of Telafar with only a few belongings after their town was bombed. "When I picked up my bag, things and ID ready to leave, I knew there would be no return." He and the other families in the warehouse are waiting to fly to other Iraqi cities where they may find more suitable housing. Watch the full story ....
Young refugee sisters survive on wild grass as they trek alone to safety
GAMBELLA, Ethiopia, 25 July (UNHCR) -- Twelve-year-old Nyawech Chuol can barely stop sobbing long enough to tell the story of the night South Sudan's civil war came to her home. She and her eight-year-old sister, Nyalouk, traumatized into silence, lost their family after a gun battle – and now they are completely alone n a foreign land. Nyawech says they were fast asleep some weeks ago when the conflict that has swept South Sudan for the last seven months reached her village, ....
A refugee teenager wonders when his family will be whole again
Sporting a new haircut, 13-year-old Malak walks casually into the cramped apartment he currently calls home. The hairstyle is a cross between a mullet and a Mohawk, and his father is not impressed. “This is not the only thing he has done lately without my permission,” says Fewaz, 44, lifting two fingers to his mouth and pretending to smoke. Like fathers and teenage sons everywhere, the pair sometimes struggle to coexist. Yet a powerful bond holds them ....
A thousand desperate souls find safety aboard the San Giorgio
UNHCR - 24 July 2014. In a single day, a thousand desperate souls find safety aboard the San Giorgio, part of the Mare Nostrum search and rescue operation.   Without the binoculars, it didn’t look like much. Just a haze of blue and orange, bobbing gently on the horizon. Lifting the lenses to my eyes, I was able to make out more: a dilapidated boat, a sea of life vests and over 200 people packed on board.  “You will feel the impact when they arrive,” the captain ....
UNHCR seeks 210m dollars in revised appeal for refugees from Central African Republic
GENEVA, July 22 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency and its partners today appealed for greater donor support to cope with the continuing outflow and deteriorating condition of refugees from the Central African Republic. On Tuesday UNHCR together with 16 other humanitarian agencies revised the Regional Refugee Response Plan for the CAR situation, seeking US$210 million to assist the growing refugee numbers in four asylum countries – Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ....
Hendricks commends efforts to end statelessness in Côte d'Ivoire
ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire, July 22 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency's Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks recently met with stateless people in Côte d'Ivoire, where she saw first-hand how government efforts are helping to resolve a problem affecting hundreds of thousands of people countrywide. Hendricks visited the West African country, which has one of the biggest stateless populations on the continent, last month to raise awareness in the ....
Iraq: High Commissioner visits displaced Iraqis
 This week UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is visiting Iraq to meet with families displaced by conflict in recent weeks. After listening to accounts of their difficult journeys to safety, Guterres called for more support to help deal with the crisis. He will also visit some of the 300,000 Syrian refugees currently living in camps in northern Iraq. "There is no humanitarian solution for this tragedy," stated the High Commissioner at a press ....
Stateless in Serbia: how to survive without existing
BELGRADE, Serbia, July 17 (UNHCR) – Raman* is not asking for much. "I just want to be a regular citizen," says the 27-year-old Roma, whose life has been in a legal limbo for years because he is not fully recognized as a citizen by any country. The young man was born in Kosovo in 1987, when the Balkans territory was a part of Yugoslavia, but his birth was never registered. "At that time, we did not know anything about birth registration and documents, nor how they would ....
A Syrian family's escape to Samos Island
Most people know Samos Island as an idyllic holiday retreat in Greece. But for Ali, it has become a prison. A father of three, he escaped Syria with two of his children, fleeing the bombs that devastated his hometown of Raqqa. Money was tight and, without enough to pay smugglers’ fees for his whole family, he was forced to leave his wife and youngest daughter behind. Carrying a heavy heart, he travelled for two days before reaching Turkey. There, Ali and his two older children ....
U.S. official wants more aid for refugees flowing into Ethiopia
GAMBELLA, Ethiopia, 14 July (UNHCR) – U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard expressed shock at the number of South Sudanese refugees flowing into Ethiopia and said she had to persuade the U.S. public to increase their assistance. Richard, the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM), was visiting camps in western Ethiopia where 167,000 refugees have arrived since South Sudan descended into civil war last December. "I am ....
Iraqi IDP family: an uncertain life in an unfinished building
CHAMCHAMAL, Iraq, 14 July (UNHCR) – Under a scorching sun, small girls and boys run barefoot through the dusty streets of an unfinished subdivision in the northern Iraqi town of Chamchamal. Colorful carpets cover the windows to block out the heat and laundry swings on ropes strung between cement blocks. Over the past two weeks an extended family of 80 from the central Iraq city of Fallujah have made these unfinished houses their temporary homes. They've been on the run from a ....
Crossing to safety, and heartache: A blind couple's escape to Europe
LAVRION CAMP, Greece — Jihan is one of millions who have fled the violence in Syria. A mother of two, forced into exile. Like many, she escaped with her husband and children to Turkey, where they boarded a boat and risked everything during a treacherous journey to safety. Unlike most, she is blind.  At sea, the cries of her fellow passengers, the turbulent waves and the tightening clasp of her sons’ hands told her all she needed to know. They had hoped to find land in ....
UNHCR seeks massive boost in funding for South Sudan refugees
GENEVA, 11 July 9 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency and its partners appealed on Friday for US$658 million to respond to South Sudan's growing regional refugee crisis, with as many as 715,000 refugees expected by the end of the year. The appeal to donors was a revision from $371 million requested in March, when the refugee population was forecast at 340,000 – less than half the new figure. "The ongoing conflict and worsening humanitarian situation inside the ....
UNHCR airlift delivering relief for 50,000 IDPs in northeast Syria
DAMASCUS, Syria, 10 July (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency has launched a series of daily flights from Damascus to the northeast of Syria to bring emergency aid to 50,000 Syrians displaced by the fighting inside their country. The 11 round-trip flights by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees began on Wednesday, with the chartered Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane leaving Damascus in the morning with supplies for internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees in Hassakeh ....
How you can help refugees and asylum-seekers
With over 50 million people displaced and escalating conflicts worldwide, it can be overwhelming thinking about the global refugee crisis and even harder to know how you can help. However, there are a few simple things that any individual can do to assist in tackling this challenging issue: 1. Get educated Being informed and informing others about the plight of displaced people is a crucial part of UNHCR’s work. Education spreads tolerance and understanding and fosters constructive ....
UNHCR works through the night to register Syrians reaching Jordan
AMMAN, Jordan, July 10 (UNHCR) – In the bleak early hours of the morning a Syrian family of five slowly steps out of a bus after a long journey from Jordan's border with Syria. Despite overwhelming fatigue, this is a moment of great relief. They are finally safe. "We left our home in Syria 13 days ago. We left our home at five o'clock in the morning and continued walking until seven at night; we walked for long hours with brief stops in between. We had only bread to eat ....
Syrian refugees in Iraq move to a new camp in Kurdistan
SULYMANIAH, Iraq, 9 July (UNHCR) – Amid the growing displacement of Iraqis fleeing war in their homeland, UNHCR is continuing to help thousands of Syrian refugees who had fled to Iraq to escape their own conflict. The UN refugee agency has opened a new long-term refugee camp in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region for some of the 225,000 Syrians who registered as refugees in Iraq over the past two years. The 3,000 residents of the Arbat transit camp in Sulymaniah are moving to a new ....
Stockholm, Sweden, July 8 (UNHCR) – School children in Sweden are seeing the world through new eyes – the eyes of refugees, thanks to a groundbreaking UNHCR educational project that aims to combat intolerance. 'Hello Sweden', conducted in cooperation with the anti-bullying organization 'Friends' and funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery, offers schools a short movie, a comic book and a stage play that convey the experiences of unaccompanied refugee children in ....
Syrian refugee women fight for survival as they head families alone
AMMAN, Jordan, July 8 (UNHCR) – More than 145,000 Syrian refugee families in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan – or one in four of all households – are headed by women facing a lone fight for survival, a new UNHCR report reveals today. The report lifts the veil on a daily struggle to make ends meet, as the women battle to maintain their dignity and care for their families in run-down, overcrowded homes, insecure makeshift shelters and tents. Many live under the threat of ....
Returns to Sri Lanka of individuals intercepted at sea: UNHCR statement
CANBERRA, Australia, 7 July 2014 (UNHCR) - UNHCR is deeply concerned by Australia’s announcement yesterday that it has returned some 41 asylum-seekers to Sri Lanka intercepted them at sea, as well as the fate of a further 153 asylum-seekers of Sri Lankan origin who are now subject to an Australian High Court injunction on their return. UNHCR understands that “enhanced screening procedures” were used as a basis for determining whether the 41 individuals involved raised claims ....
Reports of interceptions at sea: UNHCR Statement
03/07/2014 UNHCR has followed with profound concern recent reports in the media and from the community in relation to the interception at sea of individuals who may be seeking Australia’s protection. UNHCR does not have official confirmation of these reports. When boats presumed to be carrying asylum-seekers are intercepted, UNHCR’s position is that requests for international protection should be considered within the territory of the intercepting state, consistent with ....
Syria: A Heartbreaking Human Tragedy
After 1,100 days of conflict, the Syrian people are suffering mightily. A generation of children is growing up traumatized, and countries in the region are buckling under the pressure of taking in so many refugees -- nearly 3 million to date. UNHCR and its partners are calling on donors to fund a $3.74 billion programme across Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt to save lives, prevent harm, protect the vulnerable and strengthen the capacity and resilience of refugees and host ....
Fresh fighting in Pakistan's North Waziristan displaces more than 75,000
MATUN, Afghanistan, July 2 (UNHCR) – A military offensive in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region has forced more than 75,000 people to flee their homes over the past two weeks, seeking shelter across the border in Afghanistan's Khost and Paktika provinces. Many left suddenly, with very few possessions. "We could only manage to get ourselves out of Miranshah," one man told UNHCR staff, referring to the capital of the mountainous North Waziristan region. "We ....
New resettlement places offered for Syrian refugees
Geneva, 27 June 2014 – New offers of resettlement or humanitarian admissions for Syrian refugees were today pledged by Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland and Uruguay. In all, 565 new places were announced during a high-level meeting of 42 countries, taking the total number of offers received since mid-2013 to more than 34,700 places. In addition, the United States has pledged open-ended resettlement numbers. The majority of offers to date come from European states, with Germany having offered ....
Hunger, and hard choices, for Africa’s struggling refugees
Driven by fear, hunger and thirst, women and children from the Central African Republic flee to safety in southern Chad, ending a harrowing trek through the Central African bush. They join 2.4 million other refugees at some 200 sites in 22 African countries who depend on regular food aid from the World Food Progamme (WFP). To see full story please click here http://tracks.unhcr.org/2014/07/hunger-and-hard-choices-for-africas-struggling-refugees/ Story by Ron ....
Ebb and flow of forced displacement in Iraq
ERBIL, Iraq, June 30 (UNHCR) – Over the weekend, classrooms at the Hekma primary and secondary school in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil looked more like packed dormitories. Mattresses lined the walls and personal belongings were neatly arrayed beside them. Some 700 displaced Iraqis had made Hekma their temporary home. UNHCR and other aid agencies provided emergency support, and the local community in Erbil, in Iraq's Kurdistan region, also stepped up to help. During the ....
Thousands flee fresh violence in Central African Republic town of Bambari
BANGUI, Central African Republic, June 27 (UNHCR) – Fresh violence and reprisal attacks in and around the Central African Republic town of Bambari has displaced thousands of people and left at least 45 people dead and scores wounded this week. The violence began early on Monday when armed elements attacked a camp just south of Bambari housing Muslims from the Peul ethnic group. The attack prompted retaliation inside Bambari against other armed elements and the civilian population. Those ....
Sharp rise in Ukrainian displacement, with more than 50,000 internally displaced
GENEVA, June 27 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency said on Friday that forced displacement is rising in Ukraine with an estimated 54,400 people internally displaced – 12,000 from Crimea and the rest from the Eastern region. Over the past week, the number of internally displaced increased by more than 16,400. "Increases are also being seen in the numbers of Ukrainians in Russia and other countries, although so far only a relatively small number have applied for refugee ....
UNHCR World Refugee Day 2014 Art Competition Exhibition: Finalists
UNHCR would like to congratulate the 12 finalists of the Children’s Art Exhibition held in June this year as part of our World Refugee Day activities. More than 500 students from Australia and New Zealand schools participated in the Art competition. Students were asked to reflect on UNHCR’s World Refugee Day theme “1 Family Torn Apart by War is Too Many.”   UNHCR would like to thank all participants for their insightful and creative artworks and their teachers ....

UNHCR Regional Office Canberra

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is an impartial, non-political humanitarian organisation mandated by the United Nations to protect refugees and seek ways to help them restart their lives. UNHCR's Regional Office in Canberra covers Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific, and is focused on three key areas: legal protection, resettlement and public information.