Illustrations to honour the Nansen Award 2015 Winner – Aqeela Asifi

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The UNHCR helps us celebrate great feats of bravery and kindness to refugees – those who win it are truly extraordinary.

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Aqeela Asifi’s story and achievements are astounding

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Today we have the highest rates of displaced people since WWII. Let’s celebrate those who work to protect, educate and give those people hope.

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The UNHCR Nansen Awards : Who Was Fridtjof Nansen?

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This illustration was to help the UNHCR spread the word about the upcoming Nansen Awards that honour extraordinary service to the forcibly displaced.

Fridtjof Nansen was an extraordinary polymath, the founding father of the UNHCR and basically a dude in all respects. Reading about him for this project has left me a bit in awe. Here’s a quote that gives you an idea of the sort of man he was. So bleak and so magnificent

“Here I sit in the still winter night on the drifting ice-floe, and see only stars above me. Far off I see the threads of life twisting themselves into the intricate web which stretches unbroken from life’s sweet morning dawn to the eternal death-stillness of ice. Thought follows thought—you pick the whole to pieces, and it seems so small—but high above all towers one form … Why did you take this voyage? … Could I do otherwise? Can the river arrest its course and run up hill? My plan has come to nothing. That palace of theory which I reared, in pride and self-confidence, high above all silly objections has fallen like a house of cards at the first breath of wind. Build up the most ingenious theories and you may be sure of one thing—that fact will defy them all. Was I so very sure? Yes, at times; but that was self-deception, intoxication. A secret doubt lurked behind all the reasoning. It seemed as though the longer I defended my theory, the nearer I came to doubting it. But no, there is not getting over the evidence of that Siberian drift-wood. But if, after all, we are on the wrong track, what then? Only disappointed human hopes, nothing more. And even if we perish, what will it matter in the endless cycles of eternity?”

NB: It is a bit naughty to put penguins in here as they only live in the South Pole and Nansen never got there…apologies to strict ornithologists.

World Refugee Day 2015: Illustration for the UN High Commission for Refugees

‘…the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. ‘

I was asked by the UNHCR to produce an illustration for World Refugee Day 2015 – what an honour! I illustrated a recipe for people to make in honour of the occasion – a recipe with a very lovely story behind it.

Read about Yaquob and his support and love for his unique and talented brothers Naeem and Yazdan on the UNHCR World Refugee Day Website. And get cooking!

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And see the illustration on the UNHCR Facebook Page:

Illustration for the UN High Commission for Refugees and UNIQLO

Here is an illustration I did to celebrate the partnership of the UNHCR and UNIQLO and the benefits for refugees. What a cool company!

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Ali Mohammad, 32, comes from Hama, the fourth-largest city in war-torn Syria. He fled with his wife and their four small children (two boys, two girls).

Since they had to leave quite suddenly, they escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs. They walked for days to reach the border, crossing rugged and dangerous terrain along the way. Without jackets or jumpers, it was very cold.

Now the young family are safe in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp, where they received clothes donated by our long-standing partner, UNIQLO.

Ali and his wife, and their four young children, look forward to the day when they can return to Syria – and make use of their washing line back home.

See it on the UNHCR account HERE

The UN Refugee Agency in South Sudan – Refugees Reflect on What They Left Behind

I was commissioned recently by the UN Refugee Agency to create some illustrations that told the story of refugees from South Sudan, reflecting on the everyday objects they had left behind in their flight from war. The images are to be used in Social Media campaigns to draw attention to the humanitarian effects of civil war in South Sudan. There is something very poignant and human about people’s sadness at the loss of commonplace objects. It reminds us that whilst the violence of war is instantly scarring, the long-term social effects are just as terrible, and often overlooked by the world as a whole.  It was a sincerely moving experience for me, and I would like to thank the UNHCR team for the opportunity.

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Illustrations for the UNHCR – Mahmoud’s story


Yesterday I created a set of four drawings for the UN Refugee Agency to illustrate the experiences of nine year old Mahmoud, who’s story of relocation from Syria to Sweden is a truly touching one. watch the video HERE. 

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He fled from Syria and after living an unhappy life in Cairo, Egypt, was relocated this year with his family to Sweden. Watch the video and see how he changes from a scared, quiet little boy into a smiley, inquisitive, happy one. Follow the brilliant work of the UNHCR HERE

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The brief was to produce images for a social media campaign that would help spread good news stories from the UNHCR. An inspirational subject matter, a tight turnaround and one very dynamic social media manager made this a truly rewarding and enjoyable challenge. Hopefully the images will be useful in directing people’s attention towards the UNHCR and their work.

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Melissa Fleming – Let’s help Refugees thrive, not just survive.

Melissa Fleming, Head of Communications and Chief Spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and she has given an extraordinary talk on TED about how to help refugee thrive. Rather than letting people languish in the misery and boredom experienced in refugee camps, why not teach them vital skills that will help them one day rebuild their shattered homelands and at the same time keep them focused on nurturing future peace? This is a beautiful talk and seems to suggest a very tangible and sensible solution to one of the largest humanitarian issues of our world. Do listen to it HERE and hopefully enjoy the illustrations I’ve done to go with it.

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