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2017 Donor Impact Report: In 2017, you did something amazing.


In 2017, you did something amazing.


By supporting UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, you delivered assistance to families who have been forced to flee war or persecution in their time of greatest need. Thanks to you, we made sure that they received shelter, essential supplies such as blankets and kitchen supplies, food, clean water, and access to vital services. Together, we also helped to protect their rights and give them a safe place to call home.

None of this would be possible without the support of generous, caring donors like you. This report showcases the lasting impact that our supporters made in 2017 on the lives of women, men and children who have lost so much.

From all of us here at UNHCR, thank you for all you do.



Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees


“Through determined action, we can truly share responsibility in addressing the plight of the uprooted - and offer them the prospect of a better future. – Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees




At UNHCR, everything we do helps protect people forced to flee their homes. Our teams work in some 130 countries worldwide, protecting and caring for millions every day. Your thoughtful and generous support makes this possible.

Here’s a look at the events and emergencies that marked 2017 and how we responded, together.

January: Braving the Cold

As temperatures in many regions drop below freezing, families fleeing war or persecution brace for a long winter away from home. In Greece, UNHCR transfers hundreds of people to better accommodation, while in Serbia, we work with partners to distribute critical winter supplies like thermal blankets and warm clothing. 


February: Crisis in South Sudan
As violence surges in South Sudan, the number of refugees fleeing for safety tops 1.5 million. This makes it the largest refugee crisis in Africa. Women and children make up 86 per cent of refugees arriving in Uganda. UNHCR teams on the ground do all they can to help meet their basic needs, thanks to donors like you.

March: Six years of war in Syria
Six years since the start of the Syria conflict, UNHCR urges the international community to increase support to help offset the suffering of millions of innocent civilians. “Ultimately, Syria’s conflict isn’t about numbers – it’s about people,” says UN Refugee Chief Filippo Grandi. “Families have been torn apart, innocent civilians killed, houses destroyed, businesses and livelihoods shattered.

April: Starvation threatens millions
Conflict and drought in the Horn of Africa, Yemen and Nigeria put families at risk of starvation, including refugees and people displaced in their own country. Over 20 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen experience or are at risk of famine. With your help, UNHCR and partners race to deliver emergency nutrition, health care, water and protection to displaced families.



May: A children’s crisis
After three years of escalating conflict in South Sudan, the number of children fleeing the nation in search of safety tops one million – 62 per cent of all South Sudanese refugees. Most arrive in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Sudan, and over 75,000 children have crossed South Sudan’s borders on their own. UNHCR staff are on the frontlines, providing life-saving assistance to children and families as they arrive.

June: Record forced displacement
Our latest Global Trends report reveals that one person is forced to flee their home every three seconds, on average. That equates to an unprecedented 65.6 million people uprooted by conflict and persecution at the end of 2016. June also marks the end of Ramadan – a time for reflection, gathering and giving for communities across the Muslim world. UNHCR helps lift spirits with food distributions and gatherings for refugees, while calling for people to donate their alms (or ‘zakat’) to help refugees in the Middle East. Thanks to generous individuals, foundations and corporate partners, the 2017 Ramadan campaign raised over $4 million in support of refugee families.

July: Families return to Mosul
The Iraqi government declares victory in Mosul, a city battered by fighting. Displaced residents begin repairing their war-damaged homes, as well as reopening shops and businesses. UNHCR steps up support for those returning home, distributing shelter kits and cash assistance to the most vulnerable families.


Rohingya family at Bangladesh border under assistance by UNHCR staff.
Rohingya family at Bangladesh border under assistance by UNHCR staff.


August: Rohingya emergency
Fresh violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state sends women, men and children fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh – walking for days through jungles and mountains or braving dangerous sea voyages to escape. By the end of the 2017, it will have become the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis. In the first 100 days, thanks to your generosity, UNHCR airlifts and ships emergency life-saving aid – including 178,000 blankets and 36,000 kitchen sets – and provides access to water and toilets to over 100,000 people, as well as medical attention and counselling to nearly 60,000.

September: Somali refugees return home
More than 100 refugees leave Yemen, in the first UNHCR-assisted spontaneous return for Somali refugees. Given the current life-threatening conditions in Yemen, UNHCR is supporting the voluntary return of Somali refugees, who make up 91 per cent of Yemen’s 280,000 refugees and asylum seekers. We provide support for up to 10,000 refugees who have decided to return, like Khartouma and her family, while continuing to assist those who remain in Yemen.

October: Civil registration for refugees in Ethiopia
In a historic first, Ethiopia begins civil registration for refugees – allowing refugees to register life events such as birth, death and marriage. This was made possible following an amendment to existing legislation by Ethiopia’s government, which UNHCR and UNICEF helped prepare. Registering a birth establishes a child’s legal identity and is critical to guaranteeing basic human rights.

November: Jordan’s Zaatari camp goes green.
Jordan’s Zaatari camp inaugurates its newly constructed solar plant, the largest ever built in a refugee camp. Funded by the German Government, the plant will bring free and clean energy to 80,000 Syrian refugees and the host community. It will improve living conditions and safety in the camp, reduce CO2 emissions by 13,000 tons per year, and increase access to electricity from 8 to 14 hours per day. This follows the opening of a solar farm in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp earlier in the year, funded by the IKEA Foundation’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign


December: First evacuation of refugees from Libya

The first group of 162 refugees from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen – including single mothers, children on their own and disabled people – are safely evacuated from Libya to Italy. All are in need of health care and counselling after being held captive in inhumane conditions and undergoing abuse from traffickers, smugglers and others on dangerous journeys across Africa. The group is accompanied from detention facilities by Libya-based UNHCR staff and flown to Italy, where our teams welcome and give them information. More evacuations follow.


Core relief items sent for emergencies in 2017

If you had just a few minutes to leave your home, what would you take with you? People forced to flee war or persecution often leave everything behind to make the dangerous journey to safety. In times of crisis, UNHCR leads efforts to rush in life-saving assistance – including shelter, food, water and medical care.

When an emergency strikes, our network of warehouses and stockpiles – strategically located across Africa, Asia and Europe – ensures we can respond. In 2017, thanks to caring donors like you, millions of items were shipped from our warehouses, stockpiles and directly from suppliers, including:


Blankets: 2,977,213

Sleeping mats: 2,438,895

Plastic sheets: 1,574,570

Jerry cans: 1,165,095

Kitchen sets: 841,839

Solar lamps: 812,149

Mosquito nets: 594,671

Buckets: 267,872

Family tents: 28,560



Read full report.