Women and girls make up nearly half of the 258 million people worldwide who have crossed international borders to escape danger or pursue opportunity. Amidst unprecedented levels of forced displacement – with 68.5 million people driven from their homes by the end of 2017 – about half of refugees, too, are women and girls.
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Refugees & IDPs
Mercy Akout is a firm believer in educating women and young girls. A South Sudanese refugee living in Kenya's camp, Mercy escaped forced child marriage to become a vocal activist, fighting for women's rights. She works in her community, encouraging families to send their daughters to school and stop harmful cultural practices like child marriage.
In the four days it took her family to flee from violence in Myanmar to safety in Bangladesh, 25-year-old Tahara endured a journey plagued by monsoon rains, armed forces and lack of food. When she crossed the border, UNHCR met her most urgent needs, including health care and nutrition for her four-month-old daughter Shahana.
Founder Samira Harnish, an Iraqi immigrant, is named Nansen Award regional finalist from the Americas.
When she first arrived in Jordan as a refugee from Sudan five years ago, Waed was painfully shy, refusing to talk to anyone outside her family. Now, sprinting around a basketball court flinging passes and shouting encouragement to her teammates, she says she is unrecognizable from the girl she once was. Waed attributes her transformation to Reclaim Childhood, a non-profit sports programme for refugee and local girls in Jordan.
1.3 million refugees are currently hosted by Jordan, a country that continues to demonstrate humanitarian leadership in the Syrian refugee crisis. In 2012, UN Women opened its first Oasis— a centre for refugee women and girls to access emergency aid and specialized gender-based violence services at Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan. Over time, the scope and impact of the Oasis model has expanded to encompass multi-sectoral services that build women’s resilience and empowerment. Currently, UN Women operates four Oasis centres in two Jordanian camps: Za’atari and Azraq.
In August 2015, she and her younger sister Yusra took the same hazardous route to Lesvos themselves, as refugees fleeing the war in their native Syria.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UNICEF today launched a joint initiative to increase protection for the growing numbers of children and others with specific needs arriving in Europe. The agencies plan to scale up 20 Child and Family Protection Support Hubs, known as "Blue Dots," along the most frequently used migration routes in Europe.
Afghan refugee teacher Aqeela Asifi, who won the prestigious 2015 UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award for her extraordinary humanitarian work on behalf of refugees, has been included in the top 10 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2016. She has been widely recognised for her brave and tireless dedication to education for Afghan refugee girls in Pakistan - while herself overcoming the struggles of life in exile.
KULE REFUGEE CAMP, Ethiopia - Before the war came and she and her family fled, Nyahok Reath loved watching United Nations aid planes taking off from the airport near her home in South Sudan. The 13-year-old decided she would do all she could to become a pilot.