A look at the realities of climate change the UN Refugee Agency’s operations in Africa face today.

By Amy Lynn Smith — Independent Writer + Strategist

Illustration by Shanice da Costa.

You can hear it in their voices. They talk about the impact of climate change on the people in Chad and Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria, with a sense of urgency, sometimes sharp and edgy.

At times, they’re somber and troubled. At others, they’re on the verge of outrage, holding back frustration about the inevitability of what they see.

They’re worried, and with good reason. Climate change is making life increasingly hard for everyone in…


The culture at UNHCR’s Innovation Service provided the ideal environment for developing a fully accessible website.

By Amy Lynn Smith — Writer + Strategist

If you think the Internet and digital technology have opened up the world to everyone who can connect to it, you’d only be partly right. Of course, connectivity remains an issue in many parts of the world, but a universal challenge is how to make an online experience fully accessible for people with disabilities, who are often marginalized when it comes to digital access. …


In UNHCR’s Innovation Fellowship Programme, diversity and equality are highly valued and contribute to productive collaboration among participants.

By Amy Lynn Smith — Writer + Strategist

Innovation is for everyone. It’s not something reserved for a particular type of person, people of particular races or cultures, or people who work in specific areas such as technology. Anyone can imagine and develop a better way of doing things, and the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) Innovation Service’s Innovation Fellowship Programme provides an inclusive environment where everyone can learn and brainstorm together. …


The UN Refugee Agency embarks on a new results based management journey.

By Ritu Shroff, Director of the Division of Strategic Planning and Results (DSPR)

Tiana Anyano gives out prizes at an event for adolescents that brought together Venezuelan refugees, displaced Colombians and the host community in Cúcuta, Colombia. Photo: Laura Lozano.

For Tiana Anyano, my colleague working on the border between Colombia and Venezuela, no two days are the same. When I visited the border town of Cucuta a couple of years back, she and her colleagues were working tirelessly to offer protection to the steady stream of Venezuelans that cross into Colombia. As I stood on the Colombian side of the Simon Bolivar bridge watching thousands cross over, I learned about the “caminantes”, those who…


A U.S.-based team used unique research approaches to learn what Americans really think about refugees — and how to leverage communications to rally greater support.

By Amy Lynn Smith — Independent Writer + Strategist

Communication is a powerful tool, when used effectively. But simply putting ideas out there and hoping they’ll reach an audience won’t get you very far — if anywhere at all. There has to be strategic thinking and data behind it: Who are you trying to reach? Do you know what they care about, so you can tailor a message that reaches and resonates with them? …


A case study from Jordan on how best to run a call center

By Alice Schaus, Associate Regional Innovation Officer, with contributions from Rasha Batarseh (Associated Cash-Based Intervention Officer)

“Working with the Helpline reminds me to be aware of every word I say all the time because I’m talking with the most vulnerable people. Sometimes it seems like the hardest job in the world, but it is not like that all the time. It can be really rewarding especially when you manage to guide the person who needs help, or when you are the one delivering the good news to…


How can we best support displaced people to share their own stories?

This article was originally published by Keeya-Lee Ayre, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager, from the GSMA — a close collaborator and partner organization of UNHCR’s Innovation Service.

In March 2020, the GSMA and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) asked Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Barranquilla, Colombia, to tell us about the importance of mobile connectivity in their lives. They shared their own stories using the medium of their choice, with control over creative direction and narrative.

When developing this project, we started with a simple question: how can…


Eighteen-year-old Rohingya refugee and Burmese language instructor Nur Ayna teaches a young student at Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: UNHCR

This article was originally published by UN Global Pulse — a close collaborator and partner of UNHCR’s Innovation Service.

By UN Global Pulse — Joseph Bullock, Data Scientist and researcher, Felicia Vacarelu, Communications Lead and Shivani Ishwar, Communicatons Intern.

The spread of COVID-19 has presented many challenges to healthcare systems worldwide, often affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations the most. In settlements for refugees and internally-displaced persons (IDPs), which often suffer from overcrowding, insufficient sanitation, and particularly rapid disease spread, the pandemic presents a significant threat — as will any future epidemics or other health crises.

In a recent paper…


A comparison between two call center models implemented in Kenya and Lebanon.

By Alice Schaus, Associate Regional Innovation Officer, with contributions from Glenn Ong’uti Mangare, Associate Protection Officer, and Joe Sargi, Senior Communication Associate.

Illustration by Hans Park.

This blogpost is the third in our four-part series on the history of call centres in the humanitarian space and how they have been tested creatively across the sector. You can find part one here and the second article in the series here.

Our last blog post covered what to consider when deciding whether to invest in a call centre. …


Interagency Feedback Referral Response Mechanism Uganda.

By Alice Schaus, Associate Regional Innovation Officer, and Damjan Nikolovski, Community Connectivity Coordinator.

This post is the second in the Innovation Service’s series on call centers and provides guidance to humanitarian organizations considering whether a call center might be part of their broader community engagement strategy. If you missed the first article, you can find it here.

Initially, a team of twelve agents who spoke a total of sixteen languages was set-up for the pilot period. Due to the popularity of the call center, the call center has expanded to a team of thirty…

UNHCR Innovation Service

UNHCR’s Innovation Service embeds new approaches and methodologies to address the growing humanitarian needs of today and more critically — the future.

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