Our Staff
© USA for UNHCR/Nicholas Feeney

USA for UNHCR Staff Reflect on the Global Refugee Crisis

“I remember her sparkly bright and brown eyes. She sat in a plastic chair, hugging her knees as she rocked back and forth peeling an orange. Behind her clasped hands, she timidly uncovered a faint smile. Her name was Talia (above), and she was a 4-year-old girl who had just tragically fled her home in Venezuela with her family.

I can’t help but think of Talia eagerly walking into a classroom for her first day of school. She’d be in kindergarten now. Like all children, excited and ready to learn.” – Lauren Negrete, Senior Manager, Major Gifts

“I often think about Eid, Um Jihan and their four children – Syrian refugees who I met in the summer of 2018 in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. Jihan, the oldest daughter, would be 15 or 16 now. Because of the generosity of the Jordanian government, I know that she at least has a safe place to rest her head at night, but is she healthy? Is she in school? Do her dreams include returning to Syria one day?” – Junia Geisler, Senior Director, Communications

“I met Noorul at a bamboo treatment facility on a swelteringly hot day in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh just days before COVID-19 would upend the entire world … While he worked he told me the story of how he became a refugee. In Myanmar, his village was targeted and destroyed because he is Rohingya, a Muslim minority in the country.

More than two years later, the future still remains uncertain for Noorul’s family and all the Rohingya refugees living in Kutupalong. But we must keep sharing their stories and lifting their voices so we never forget that at the heart of every refugee crisis are individuals with hopes, dreams and aspirations.” – Nicholas Feeney, Senior Manager, Communications

“Two toddlers ran through the newly built shelters in Kalobeyei settlement, just outside of Kakuma refugee camp. Vivian, a mother to one of the children running through the camp, offered to show us her home … She beamed as she told us how she saved enough money in construction costs to build a chicken coop behind her home to both feed her children and provide a livelihood for her in the local refugee community. Vivian is from South Sudan, where more than 2.3 million refugees have been displaced.

Although my visit to Kakuma was nearly three years ago, the crises in South Sudan have yet to be resolved — an additional 20,000 refugees from South Sudan have reached Kakuma, bringing the total to 128,000.” – Nicole Smith, Senior Manager, Tech Initiatives & Strategic Partnerships