Venezuela Film Night - Tribute to UNHCR for Refugee and Migrant Crisis a documentary premiere and special talk by Praya Lundberg, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and our media partners
Currently, over 4.5 million refugees and migrants continue to leave Venezuela to escape violence, insecurity and threats as well as lack of food, medicine and essential services. The vast majority seek asylum in countries within Latin America and the Caribbean making it the largest exodus in the region’s recent history.
In September 2019, UNHCR invited Praya Lundberg, our Goodwill Ambassador, and media partners to undertake visit Colombia, the country hosting the largest number of Venezuelan refugees in the world. As a result, Praya, 3 Miti News, Mangata Productions, THE STANDARD and The Reporters produced several documentaries and news episodes to raise awareness of the crisis. The documentaries will be showcased for the first time in Bangkok complemented by a special talk on the Venezuela refugee and migrant crisis.
Date: Friday 24 January 2020 from
Time: 18.00 – 21.00 hrs.
Venue: MasterCard Cinema, SF World Cinema CentralWorld
Support today, to provide shelters and humanitarian assistance to Venezuelan refugees and migrants http://unh.cr/5e2179fc87
Rarely seen without his toy camera and mic – tools of the trade he hopes to enter – 10-year-old Moisés interviews his fellow Venezuelans about their journeys to Brazil.
As far as TV equipment is concerned, Moisés’ homemade video camera, which he patched together out of cardboard and tape, leaves quite a bit to be desired. Although the 10-year-old is loath to acknowledge it, the fact is that the camera very clearly does not record anything at all. But for Moisés, that is utterly beside the point.
For him, the point is to get the story – no matter whether or not it ends up being preserved for posterity. As he plies the pathways between the rows of tents in the temporary shelter in the northern Brazilian state of Roraima where he and his family have spent the past year, Moisés is always on the lookout for a good story.
“I ask people about what their journeys from Venezuela to Brazil were like,” explains the cub reporter. “The responsibilities of a journalist are to tell the news, to speak with people, and to report well.”
“His first words were at five years old. He called out the name of his sister, Valentina.”
Poised and articulate beyond his years, Moisés appears well on his way to a successful career in journalism. Holding his plastic microphone aloft, he scans the spaces between the tent rows for potential interview subjects, making a beeline to those who catch his fancy. More often than not, they accept his interview requests and end up sharing their whole, often heartbreaking stories to Moisés.
An estimated 4.6 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela are outside their country. The vast majority have made their way to other South American nations, including Portuguese-speaking Brazil, which has received an estimated 224,000 Venezuelans. They fled food and medicine shortages, galloping hyper-inflation, widespread insecurity, persecution, and the breakdown of public services. Most arrive overland, crossing the border into the remote Amazonian state of Roraima.
Moisés and his family made the trip over a year ago, making their way by bus due southward from their hometown, the northern city of El Tigre, to Pacaraima, a remote border town on the Brazilian side of the nearly 2,200-kilometer-long land border between the two countries which has become the main point of entry for Venezuelan refugees and migrants seeking safety in Brazil.
The family managed to make their way from Pacaraima to the state capital, Boa Vista, where they secured a place in the Rondon 3 temporary shelter, which receives support from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and partners. Moisés, his mother, grandmother, 13-year-old sister, and godmother share a small shelter, sleeping cheek-by-jowl on foam mattresses.
Since he arrived, Moisés and his omnipresent microphone have become fixtures in the shelter. By now, he knows the stories of many of his neighbours. But because, like any good journalist, Moisés asks more questions than he answers, he tends to keep his own story mostly to himself.
His grandmother, Nelly, offers some insights into the child’s past.
“Moisés is a very sensitive boy,” she explains, adding that he suffers from a form of autism that may have resulted from the malaria his mother contracted while pregnant with him, which left her hospitalized for the first four months of Moisés’ life. “His first words were at five years old. He called out the name of his sister, Valentina.”
“He has a great imagination and a vivid internal life.”
Following his mother’s illness, Moisés went to live with his father, staying there until he was removed from the home at age three as a result of malnourishment and mistreatment. His father now lives in Italy, and with his mother now battling cancer, Grandma Nelly is now the legal guardian for Moisés and his sister.
She works hard to ensure the children’s lives are as peaceful – and joyful – as they can be, considering the circumstances.
“If he has a hard day at school, Moisés will come home and tell me that he needs time for the smoke to clear from his head,” Nelly smiles. “He has a great imagination and a vivid internal life.”
With so much going on inside him, Moisés processes his experiences – and a world of thoughts – through interactions that are mediated through a toy microphone and the lens of an imaginary camera.
“I wanted to become a journalist because of what’s happening in Venezuela,” Moisés says. “There’s a lot of hunger. There’s no light.”
But there is light, love, and wisdom inside of Moisés. For his family. For his friends. For the other Venezuelan refugees all around him.
Gripping on tightly to his plastic microphone, Moisés announces he has a message for other children around the world.
“Children should be good to each other. Friends are really important and family is really important,” he says. “Don’t treat me badly, and I won’t treat you badly and we can treat each other well.”
In a development welcomed by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the Thai Cabinet approved on 24 December 2019 the establishment of a screening mechanism to distinguish people who need international protection from economic migrants. This follows the Cabinet’s January 2017 approval of a proposal to finalise and implement such a mechanism.
Thailand is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and does not have specific asylum legislation. Consequently, refugees and asylum-seekers who do not otherwise have a legal right to stay in Thailand are treated as illegal migrants.
After entering into force, it is hoped that the screening mechanism will regularise the stay of persons in need of international protection in Thailand and lend predictability to the asylum space.
“Today’s approval represents the commitment of the Royal Thai Government (RTG) to take concrete steps towards ensuring the protection space for refugees and asylum-seekers on its territory,” said Mr. Giuseppe De Vincentiis, UNHCR’s Representative in Thailand.
“It will be important that the screening mechanism is implemented in line with international standards and general asylum principles and UNHCR stands ready to support the RTG in this regard.”
The approval by the Cabinet follows a pledge made by the RTG to strengthen the capacity and skills of its officers in order to effectively implement the screening mechanism, during the first-ever Global Refugee Forum convened by UNHCR in Geneva earlier this month.
The Global Refugee Forum was held one year following affirmation of the Global Compact on Refugees, a framework for more predictable and equitable responsibility-sharing, recognizing that a sustainable solution to refugee situations cannot be achieved without international cooperation.
The approval is also a concrete outcome of the pledge made by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha at the September 2016 Leaders’ Summit on Refugees at the United Nations in New York to establish such a mechanism.
A high-level meeting in Geneva of governments, international financial organizations, business leaders, humanitarian and development actors, refugees, and civil society representatives has secured wide-ranging and substantial commitments of support for refugees and the communities they live in, notably with important pledges of new long-term support for inclusion.
In all, over 770 pledges had been made from across the spectrum as of mid-Wednesday afternoon at the Global Refugee Forum, attended by some 3,000 participants, including refugees, and 750 delegations. These were in areas from employment, to places in schools for refugee children, new government policies, solutions like resettlement, clean energy, infrastructure and better support for host communities and countries.
Substantial support came from governments, civil society, refugee groups, sports associations, faith groups and the private sector, partnerships being key to successful outcomes for refugees and often under-resourced host countries.
For a complete list of pledges, see the dashboard here. Further pledges are expected in the near future and indicators to assess success, for example in jobs created, school places and reduction of poverty levels, have been established to track progress. A stock-taking meeting will occur in two years.
“Public support for asylum has wavered in recent years. And in many cases communities that host refugees have felt overwhelmed or forgotten,” said UN High Commissioner Filippo Grandi. “But refugee situations are ‘crises’ only when we let them become so, by thinking short term, by failing to plan or work together across sectors, and by neglecting the communities they arrive in. At this Forum, we have seen a decisive shift towards the longer-term view.”
An initial analysis indicates that there were also major financial pledges. Over US$ 4.7 billion was pledged by the World Bank Group, through a dedicated funding window for refugees and host communities, as well as a separate funding window to boost the private sector and create jobs, with refugees and host communities also considered in the latter. There was a similar announcement from the Inter-American Development Bank of US$ 1 billion. In addition, a broad range of states and other stakeholders pledged financial support for refugees and their host communities of over USD 2 billion. These aim at substantially strengthening support for inclusion and long-term development needs in host communities – recognition that for the majority of the 25.9 million refugees worldwide, exile lasts years or even decades.
The private sector made the widest range of commitments ever for the forcibly displaced. Providing employment opportunities for refugees has also seen strong support - crucial for allowing refugees to be regain dignity and give back to the communities they live in. In addition to humanitarian and development pledges, more than US$ 250 million was pledged by business groups. At least 15,000 jobs will be available to refugees through these initiatives. There will also be some 125,000 hours per year of pro bono legal counselling.
The Forum has had six main areas of focus: Education, work, energy and infrastructure, shared responsibility, protection, and solutions like resettlement. Most pledges have been made in the areas of protection and education, the former involving in many cases changes to legal and policy environments to promote inclusion, and the latter creating places potentially for many more refugee children to go to school and improve their life prospects.
The question of how best to create conditions for safe and voluntary return of refugees has also been a major theme. There have been commitments from a number of countries-of-origin relating to voluntary return and reintegration of refugees and other displaced communities.
The Forum is a key element of the new Global Compact on Refugees that was affirmed by UN member states in New York in December 2018. Under the Compact, Global Refugee Forums take place every four years, meaning the next is scheduled for late 2023.
On 17 and 18 December 2019, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Government of Switzerland will jointly host in Geneva a world meeting on refugees, the first-ever Global Refugee Forum (GRF). The two-day global conference is the first gathering at the Ministerial level to follow up on the practical implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees, affirmed at the UN in New York in December 2018.
More than 70 million people today are forcibly displaced by violence and persecution around the world. The aim of the Global Refugee Forum is to accelerate actions by governments, the private sector, international institutions and organisations, the non-governmental sector, and civil society in implementing the new Global Compact on Refugees. The Global Refugee Forum is meant to generate impactful commitments and other pledges from these actors, geared towards making tangible, long-term policy and practice shifts to improve the lives of refugees and host communities worldwide.
The contributions that will be made at the Forum are expected to take numerous forms including, for example, financial, material, and technical assistance; resettlement places and complementary safe and legal pathways for admission of refugees; and other actions, such as legal and policy changes to enable greater refugee inclusion in national systems through a whole of society approach.
The Forum will bring together leaders and influential figures from all of these areas. In addition to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres is expected to attend. The participation of Heads of State/Government for co-convening countries will be confirmed closer to the event.
The Global Refugee Forum will also be an occasion for the international community to showcase and exchange good practices at national, regional or global levels.
The first Global Refugee Forum will focus on six thematic areas: arrangements for burden and responsibility-sharing, education, jobs and livelihoods, energy and infrastructure, solutions, and protection capacity.
More than 12,000 Syrian refugees have sought shelter in neighbouring Iraq since the latest influx began a fortnight ago, according to teams from UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. The refugee population at recently opened Bardarash camp has exceeded 11,000 people and more than 800 are now sheltered at Gawilan transit site. Both sites are approximately 150 kilometres east of Syria-Iraq border. UNHCR and the authorities are working on reuniting refugees from the camp with their family members residing in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (KRI).
UNHCR is supporting the response led by the KRI authorities and it is working closely with them to ready other locations, in the event that both sites reach their capacity.
Refugee families at both locations are receiving the same services and humanitarian assistance. These include hot meals, transportation, registration, shelter and protection services. UNHCR teams also conduct protection monitoring, child protection and identification of unaccompanied children and persons with specific needs, starting already at border reception centres. We are maintaining this support and relief for all the newly arrived refugees.
We are grateful to all those involved in this ongoing humanitarian response, including the KRI authorities and all of our partners, who are working 24/7 to accommodate refugees and provide them with safe shelter, basic services and protection. We have also deployed additional UNHCR staff from our Baghdad office to support our teams in Erbil and Dohuk to respond to the needs of the newly arrived refugees.
UNHCR Thailand in partnership with LIFEiS Group, led by CEO and Thai singer Nop Ponchamni is pleased to invite you to a charity lifestyle event “LIFEiS BEAUTiFUL - No Boundaries for Sharing” to raise funds supporting those affected by the global refugee crisis.
LIFEiS BEAUTiFUL - No Boundaries for Sharing is a free-admission event to be held during 9-10 November 2019 at Lido Connect. Participants can enjoy a range of creative and social activities, delicious food, a flea market, street art, a visual art performance (Kor Bor Vor and NEV3R), DJ sets from DJ Pichy, DJ Ben and DJ Maft Sai (Zudrangma Records), a charity concert (Sunday, 10 Nov) by Nop Ponchamni and friends (Triump Kingdom, P.O.P, Two Days Ago Kids, Yokee Playboy). They will also have the opportunity to explore an actual refugee housing unit (RHU).
Special edition tote bags designed by renowned Thai illustrators; An Officer Dies (Golf-Thitipoom Phetsangkhat), Benzilla (Benz-Parinya Sirisinsuk), Happy Pomme Studio (Pomme-Tachamapan Chanchamrassang), Phannapast Taychamaythakool (Yoon) and Rukkit (Rukkit Kuanhawate) are available to purchase at the event or pre-ordered from Lazada.
*For every purchase of a LIFEiS BEAUTiFUL tote bag, a stationary set will be distributed to refugee children in Thailand.
There will also be series of movies, short films and documentaries (once per week) such as, Life is Beautiful, Capernaum, Lost and Found and Midnight Traveler showcased every Sunday (17 Nov - 8 Dec 2019) by Documentary Club.
Former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, who led UNHCR from 1991 to 2000, passed away in Tokyo, Japan, her family has announced.
“Mrs. Ogata was a visionary leader who steered UNHCR through one of the most momentous decades in its history, transforming the lives of millions of refugees and others devastated by war, ethnic cleansing and genocide, and helping redefine humanitarian action in a fast evolving geopolitical landscape,” said High Commissioner Filippo Grandi. “She was a committed internationalist and a friend to the United Nations throughout her life.”
Mrs. Ogata became High Commissioner shortly after the Cold War came to an end, triggering profound changes in the global political landscape and uprooting tens of millions of people. Under her leadership, UNHCR mounted large-scale emergency operations in response to crises in the former Soviet Union, Iraq, the Balkans, Somalia, the Great Lakes, and East Timor, as well as helping millions of refugees return home in large-scale repatriation operations in Central America, Africa and Asia. For the first time, the agency took on a prominent role working directly in conflict zones to protect and support refugees and internally displaced people, and to help prevent further displacement.
A respected Japanese academic and skilled multilateral diplomat, Mrs Ogata was a tireless advocate for international solidarity with refugees, ensuring that resolving displacement crises was part of political negotiations and peace processes. She remained closely associated with the United Nations and the refugee cause after completion of her tenure as High Commissioner, pioneering the notion of “human security” and the use of development aid to help solve displacement in her capacity as President of JICA, the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
We at UNHCR extend deepest condolences to Mrs Ogata’s son Atsushi and her daughter Akiko, to all her family and to the government and people of Japan for their great loss.
Since the escalation of violence in north-east Syria last week, teams from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, have assisted some 60,000 people.
In north-east Syria, UNHCR has reached nearly 30,000 households, or an estimated 60,000 people with core relief items (CRIs). As of 23 October, UNHCR winter distributions have reached 7,400 families (more than 31,000 individuals) in Al-Hol, Areesha, Ein Issa (before it closed), Roj and Mahmoudli camps – this is around one third of the camp population in north-east Syria. Distributions are planned to cover an estimated 92,000 individuals, including both new arrivals and existing camp residents. Meanwhile, as of 23 October, UNHCR has assisted an estimated 5,500 households (over 28,700 individuals) from IDPs and host community members with CRIs in urban areas and collective shelters to in Al-Hassakeh, Mabada, and Qamishli. UNHCR has reached around 25 per cent of those displaced in 79 locations in Al-Hassakeh, Malikeyeh and Qamishli.
We continue to conduct through our protection partners assessments in communal shelters in Al-Hassakeh, Tal Tamer and Ar-Raqqa. Many newly displaced families have reportedly settled within the host communities and their needs are also being assessed.
Among the immediate protection needs which have been identified are the lack of civil documentation, as people left their homes without papers and other belongings. Families have also been separated.
Some people are in need of psychological first aid and psychosocial support. UNHCR mobilized protection teams to identify critical protection needs of the most vulnerable, including people with specific needs, elderly people and those with disabilities and serious medical conditions.
Following the reported departure of camp administration/management from Ain Issa camp, located approximately some 45 km south of the border town of Tell Abiad, UNHCR mobilized outreach volunteers and community leaders to arrange the return of identification documents to camp residents who were without papers. As of today, humanitarian workers are unable to safely access the camp to provide critical life-saving assistance. Basic services, including food and water, are no longer being provided.
UNHCR estimates its initial additional funding needs inside Syria at US$31.5 million within the existing appeal for Syria (HRP). This is provisional given the fast evolving developments on the ground.
An estimated 180,000 people have been internally displaced since the start of the escalation of conflict in north-east Syria on 9 October, including nearly 80,000 children. Over 150,000 people are still displaced, while some 43,000 have returned to their places of origin in the past days, but the situation remains highly volatile, critical civilian infrastructure have been damaged and humanitarian needs continue to grow.
In addition, some 10,000 people crossed from north-east Syria into neighbouring Iraq as of 24 October. There is a steady increase in the daily number of arrivals at the Iraqi border, with up to 1,700 people arriving overnight. Three out of four are women and children, some of whom unaccompanied. They fled in fear of fighting from Kobani, Amoda and Qamishli and surrounding villages, and arrived at the border after days of travelling. Some need psycho-social first aid and support after witnessing explosions and shelling, including children.
In Iraq, UNHCR in close collaboration with local authorities and partners has established a new refugee camp in Duhok Governorate, Bardarash camp, now hosting over 8,000 of the newly arrived refugees from north-east Syria. Refugees were transferred from the border and provided with UNHCR family tents, hot meals, water, blankets and other essential items, as well as medical and psychosocial attention.
Their needs are currently being assessed by the local authorities and UNHCR.
One man our colleagues spoke to, who had arrived with his wife and six children, said the journey had been very difficult but they had fled in fear of their lives as shells fell near their home. He said he had seen people fleeing in all directions, including towards the Iraqi border.
UNHCR teams and partners continue to be on the ground in both Syria and Iraq despite the difficult circumstances, to provide life-saving protection and assistance to those who had to leave everything behind.
Due to the continuous influx, Bardarash refugee camp is expected to be full within the coming week, so UNHCR is currently discussing with the authorities a location for another camp.
A week after first refugees crossed from northeast Syria into Iraq, the arrivals to northern Iraq continue. UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, teams on the ground report that of this morning more than 7,100 have arrived since last Monday. Most of them - just under 7,000 - are sheltered at the Bardarash refugee camp, some 140 kilometres east of the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Most of the Syrian refugees come from cities and villages from northeast of Syria. Three out of four are women and children. There are unaccompanied children among the arrivals. Some refugees, especially children, require psycho-social first aid, and psycho-social support as they fled in fear in the midst of fighting. Some witnessed explosions and shelling. Refugees with relatives living in the area are allowed to leave the camp and join their families.
UNHCR and partners, together, with local authorities are providing a range of services that start from the border. These include reception, provision of hot meals, transportation to the camp, registration, shelter and protection services. Teams also conduct protection monitoring, child protection and identification of unaccompanied children and persons with specific needs, already at border reception centres.
The Bardarash camp has a water network, an electricity grid and a sewage system. These networks need expansion as more refugees arrive to the camp. The camp has a reception centre, a registration centre and storage units for humanitarian supplies. UNHCR partner, the local Board of Relief and Humanitarian Affairs, is in charge of camp management.
UNHCR is working with other aid agencies in support of the response led by the local authorities to deliver relief and services.
Prior to the latest arrivals, some 228,000 Syrian refugees have found shelter in Iraq, forced from their homes by more than eight years of conflict and destruction in Syria.
UNHCR's work is humanitarian, social and non-political. Its Statute and subsequent UN resolutions mandate the agency to provide international protection and seek durable solutions for refugees and other people of concern.