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January 24, 2019

Examples of how UNHCR helped refugees in 2018

South Sudanese children can smile after fleeing renewed fighting between government and rebel forces in mid-2016 and reaching safety in neighboring Uganda.

Every two seconds, someone is forced to flee their home. A mom or dad. A husband or wife. A son or daughter. In a desperate search for safety, they leave everything behind — their loved ones, their livelihoods, their possessions.

But in 2018, one thing was certain: USA for UNHCR donors opened their hearts to those in greatest need. Thanks to our donors, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, was on the ground wherever refugees needed help, providing protection and assistance, including emergency shelter, food, water and healthcare.

These are just a few highlights of what USA for UNHCR donor support helped to provide:


A UNHCR staff member talks to an internally displaced family, including father Bampek, 45, his wife Vemy, 41, and their daughters (from left) Almaida, 12, Nelfi, 4, and Vita, 16, outside a family tent.

On September 28, 2018, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami displaced 200,000 Indonesians. Thanks to donor support, UNHCR immediately sprang into action — delivering 2,054 tents in October to shelter approximately 10,000 of the most vulnerable people. UNHCR also distributed sleeping mats, mosquito nets and solar lamps.

Among the recipients of aid was Titin, 34, who was left homeless when the earthquake destroyed her house: “I can’t live there anymore,” she said, sadly. “But I thank UNHCR for the tents that you are providing. I don’t know where I’d live now if it weren’t here in your tent.”


Rohingya refugees prepare for the monsoon by building new reinforced shelters with materials supplied by UNHCR.

When Rohingya refugees were forced to flee violence and persecution in Myanmar in August 2017, there was little time to plan either the location or construction of emergency shelters. Refugees built makeshift shelters from bamboo and sheeting that UNHCR procured locally. To protect their shelters from monsoon flooding and landslides, refugees received 91,000 shelter upgrade kits and 85,000 monsoon preparation kits thanks to donor support throughout 2018. The shelter kits included bamboo poles, rope, plastic tarps and tools needed to build safer structures. The monsoon preparation kits helped families anchor their homes against the powerful monsoon rains.

Khadija was forced to flee Myanmar with her family when armed forces attacked and burned her village. When she arrived in Bangladesh, her family built a shelter on a steep hillside. During a storm, water and mud rushed down the hill and swept away their shelter. The sudden landslide was devastating. Even though her family survived, they lost most of their belongings.

Thanks to the support of USA for UNHCR donors, Khadija’s family built a new shelter in a safer area protected from the devastating effects of heavy rains. The new shelter has more space and access to improved water and sanitation facilities to keep her family healthy.


Syrian refugee Mona, 6 months, is held by her aunt Samira, 38, in the apartment they share with their family in a substandard building in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

In 2018, the war in Syria crossed the seven-year mark. For the women, men and children trapped inside this ravaged country, daily life is a desperate struggle to survive — and winter is especially brutal. Thanks to donor support, UNHCR provided 611,323 Syrians with winter relief supplies in November and December — lifesaving items like thermal blankets, plastic sheeting to weatherproof shelters, warm clothing and sleeping bags.

UNHCR also provides winter relief items to Syrian refugees in neighboring countries including Lebanon and Jordan. Mona’s family was forced to flee violence and persecution in Syria and lived in an unheated, windowless building in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. With donor support, UNHCR was able to install insulation, windows and plumbing in the building. The family also received cash assistance for heating fuel and food.



In 2018, Yemen became our world’s worst humanitarian crisis — with millions of people on the brink of famine and the world’s worst cholera outbreak. UNHCR helped 1.2 million people in Yemen who were forced to flee their homes with emergency relief items and cash assistance throughout the year.

To protect the most vulnerable people in Yemen, UNHCR designed and built eco huts with the help of displaced Yemenis. Along with providing shelter from the rain, the huts — made of mud, dung and grass — insulate against extreme heat and dust. Just as important, they provide peace of mind. Mohammed, whose family was uprooted by the war, explained: “[T]oday after we got the shelters, we forgot about our past suffering.”

Resolve to help refugees in 2019...

Monthly giving is the most convenient, effective and efficient way you can help people fleeing conflict. Start making a lifesaving difference today. Please become USA for UNHCR’s newest monthly donor.