World Refugee Day

Editorial spotlight: World Refugee Day

Date: Monday, June 19, 2017

Every year on 20 June we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of refugees around the world. Half of the 19.6 million refugees worldwide are women, with specific needs and vulnerabilities that are rarely at the forefront of humanitarian action. They face challenges in transit such as family separation, psychosocial stress and trauma, health complications, physical harm and injury, and heightened risks of exploitation and gender-based violence.

We must bring women’s voices, knowledge and leadership to the heart of humanitarian action

In a statement for World Refugee Day on 20 June, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and United Nations Population Fund Acting Executive Director Natalia Kanem call on the international community to recommit to placing women and girls equally with men and boys at the heart of humanitarian action for the world’s refugees. Read more»

Women refugees must have a say in the forms of assistance and protection they need, and shape policies and solutions designed to address the refugee crisis. With refugee crises and displacements becoming increasingly protracted—stretching over decades for some—access to economic opportunities, health care, including sexual and reproductive health services, and boosting women’s leadership capacities are critically important.

On World Refugee Day, we bring you the voices of women refugees and those who work with them. Join us as we stand together #WithRefugees as part of the UN Refugee Agency campaign.

Download our social media package with visual assets and messages on women refugees here.

Voices from the ground

Korotirida Minani found a second home in Nduta Refugee camp after fleeing from her hometown in Burundi in late 2015. Photo: UN Women/Deepika Nath

In Tanzania, refugee women find safety and embrace new lives 
In three Women’s Centres supported by UN Women in Tanzania, refugee women find safe spaces to network, learn new skills and recover from the trauma of war and sexual violence.  Many have picked up new trades and advocate for their own rights. Some have found new family and new lives. 


Hadeel Al-Zoubi, in orange, leading creative activities with Syrian refugee children to commemorate World Refugee Day in 2015 at the UN Women Oasis in the Za’tari refugee camp. Photo: UN Women/Christopher Herwig

Finding a new normal in the Za’atari refugee camp
“A woman said to me the other day, ‘before, we slept under bombs. We went to bed not knowing if we would wake up alive the next day. Here, I sleep in safety.’”
A day in the life of Hadeel Al-Zoubi, UN Women’s Senior Camp Assistant at the Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan, shows the challenges and resilience of refugee women, and what it means to work with them. 

Lenche Zdravkin. Photo: Mirjana Nedeva

From where I stand: Lenche Zdravkin
“It took me only two days to realize who they were and why they were passing by my house by the railway track…”
Lenche Zdravkin is a legend in fYROM Macedonia for her work with refugees. Her home is just across the railway track which thousands of refugees traversed, trying to reach a safe haven in Europe. 


Hackers learning about the situation for women and girls in crisis from Guro Katharina Vikør, Senior Advisor of the Humanitarian Section, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway. Photo: UN Women

Oslo Hackathon explores technology to empower women in humanitarian crisis
Imagine waking up one day and realizing that the place you’ve called home all your life, is no longer safe. As millions of refugees and displaced people set out to find a new life, they lack some of the basic services that make daily life possible. In Norway, innovators used technology to address some of these challenges.


Beyond Tanganyika
Step into UN Women’s first virtual reality experience. Finess is a refugee in the Lusenda Camp in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Political violence in her hometown in Burundi forced Finess to flee across Lake Tanganyika in the middle of the night, leaving behind two daughters. With the help of UN Women’s Safe Spaces, Finess learns new skills and begins to save money for her return journey to Burundi. Watch as Finess is reunited with her children and becomes a pillar of her new community in the refugee camp.


Photo essay: Stories of hope from a Cameroon refugee camp

Hawa, 23, was eight months pregnant when her husband was killed in the fighting in CAR. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

To the world they are known as “refugees”. Nameless, faceless, all the same. But each of them have a different story to tell, of their lives, who they lost, and how got here. Read more»


Video: 65 Million people currently displaced by violence | Half of them are women and girls