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No one chooses to be a refugee

Every minute eight people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror.

If conflict threatened your family, what would you do? Stay and risk your lives? Or try to flee, and risk kidnap, rape or torture?

For many refugees the choice is between the horrific or something worse.

What would you do?

© UNHCR/V.Tan. Sudanese refugees from Blue Nile state. Watch the video
Members of a Syrian family

Global Trends 2011

800,000 people forced to flee across borders in 2011

According to UNHCR's Global Trends report, released on Monday, 2011 was a record year for forced displacement. Following crises like the Arab Spring, more people became refugees than at any time since 2000.

Take a look at the numbers.

© UNHCR/A.Bronee. Congolese refugees arrive at the Nkamira Transit Centre in Rwanda

Refugee story

Pressure on water supplies as 35,000 refugees arrive in South Sudan

Two stories from amongst the thousands fleeing bombings in Sudan. Dungaz Tatalla, 56, and his family walked for 27 days from their village in Gabanid. Meanwhile, 80 year-old, Som Komdan, a recent arrival in the camp, questions whether alongside his new bed UNHCR can provide him with “a set of teeth with which to enjoy my meals in my old age?”

Read their stories.

Members of a Syrian family

In the news

Fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo has left more than 100,000 displaced

Violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is continuing to cause internal displacement, as well as thousands fleeing to Uganda and Rwanda where UNHCR has opened a new camp.

Within the DRC, 40,000 are sheltering in schools and churches.

What are we doing to help?

More news

© UNHCR/L.Padoan. A young Somali refugee in Dollo Ado’s Hilaweyn camp.

One year on from Horn of Africa Crisis

Amid continuing conflict and poor seasonal rains, many challenges remain for Somalia, as the exodus continues to camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

See what we are doing to help.

Amid violence in Myanmar, UNHCR calls on Bangladesh to keep its borders open

UNHCR is concerned about reports that Bangladesh has turned away boats from people fleeing conflict in Myanmar.

Read the full story.

UNHCR seeks £100 million to help Mali refugees, up sharply from earlier appeal

The deterioration of the situation in Mali is totally unexpected and is causing huge displacement.

UNHCR has been forced to almost quadruple its appeal for aid to £100 million. Most refugees are women and children in desperate need of assistance.

Read more.

Donate here.

Refugee Week

Refugee Week: 18th-24th June 2012

Refugee Week is a unique opportunity to discover and celebrate the contributions of refugees in the UK.

Find out about the hundreds of events taking place throughout the UK.

Teachers' Resources for Refugee Week  

Giving is Winning programme

Film: Casablanca at the V&A Museum, London

Friday 22 June, 6pm, 7.30pm and 7.50pm: For one night only, the V&A will be transformed into Rick's cafe as a backdrop to the greatest film ever made about exile. Admission free.

Find out more

Photography: 60 Years, 6 Lives, Paisley

Tuesday 19 June - Sunday 12 August, Paisley Museum, Scotland: Exhibition featuring portraits of six remarkable refugees who came to the UK seeking safety in each of the decades since 1951. Admission Free.

Find out more

Music: Round the Bloc at Rich Mix, London

Sat 23rd June, 2pm - 1am: An Eastern European finale to Refugee week with dance, theatre and music from Cerys Matthews and the London Bulgarian Choir, amongst others. Not to mention the screening of the Euro 2012 quarter finals. Admission free.

Find out more


- 2011 Global Trends Report

- State of the World's Refugees 2006-12

- Free e-book: Asylum, Migration and Humanitarian Action

- Protection concerns for Syrian refugees

- Eligibility guidelines for Pakistan's religious minorities

- Eligibility guidelines for Iraqi asylum seekers

- The 1951 Convention and protection for trafficking victims


Giving is winning

Become an Olympic Volunteer!

UNHCR is an official partner of the International Olympic Committee. Find out about the Giving is Winning programme collecting unused Olympic sportswear for refugees.

Find out more

Get involved - Spread the word

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