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Our Turn - Let’s Stand Up for Human Rights A Photo Essay on Human Rights Day

10 December 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic endangers everyone on the planet - especially the most vulnerable in society, including refugees, asylum seekers and stateless people. On this Human Rights Day, as every other day, the United Nations - through UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency - is striving to help those typically left behind, and has stepped up services to protect the health, dignity and human rights of displaced people across India.

At the core of our work are the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 14 which states that “everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution,” and Article 15, which says “everyone has the right to a nationality.”

Learning Protection Skills

Photo: ©UNHCR/Kaynat Salami

A trainer from Delhi Police teaches refugee girls and women self-defence. The classes, organized by UNHCR’s partner NGO Ummid Ki Udan, teach them how to protect themselves and boost their self-esteem. Gender-based violence is a serious violation of human rights, and refugee women and girls are at much higher risk due to a lack of safety nets and poor socio-economic conditions.

Nurturing future change-makers

Photo: ©UNHCR/Ali Johar

Rohingya refugee Tasmida Johar, 21, is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in India through UNHCR’s DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) scholarship programme. Since its inception, the DAFI scholarship programme has supported hundreds of refugee students in India to pursue higher education and attain their dreams.

Returning to ancestral lands

Photo: ©UNHCR/Raghu Rai

Young Afghan Sikhs dance in a community centre in Delhi. Fleeing war and persecution, they have returned to their ancestral homeland. UNHCR is supporting the Government of India to ensure they find a lasting home in India.

Building dignity and self-reliance

Photo: ©UNHCR/Raghu Rai

An Afghan refugee in Delhi, proudly displays a dress she has sown. UNHCR vocational training centers around the country help build artisanal skills, entrepreneurship, and self-reliance. One of the most effective ways displaced people can rebuild their lives with dignity is through the opportunity to work. Decent work for everyone is also provided through Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. UNHCR supports refugees to integrate, find employment and contribute back to host communities in India.

The power of music

Photo: ©UNHCR/Wahidullah Faizi

Muan Pi, a CHIN Refugee from Myanmar, poses with his guitar in Delhi. ”Music moves me, educates me, and makes me grow. It is my everything,” he says. Mentored by Grammy Award-winning artist Ricky Kej for over two-months, he is one of 24 refugee musicians in India lending their talents to a celebration of the power of music. Their song titled 'Shine Your Light- (Song by Refugee)' was released on 14 October 2020.

Safer menstruation

Photo: ©UNHCR/Waseem Akram

Refugee women and girls in Mewat, Haryana receive sanitary napkins and an awareness talk on reproductive health and hygiene. Refugee girls and women often lack the ability to manage their menstruation safely and with dignity due to a lack of adequate facilities, products and knowledge. UNHCR works closely with NGOs and communities to offer quality sexual and reproductive health services to refugees across India.

Putting bread on the table

Photo: ©UNHCR/Abdullah

“With five dependent family members, we would not survive without the financial support of UNHCR,” said 60-year-old Mohammad Ismail. Due to old age, he is unable to work and provide for his family. Cash and vouchers help the displaced meet a variety of needs, including access to food, water, healthcare, shelter, that allow them to build and support livelihoods, and to facilitate voluntary repatriation.

Connecting artisans to markets

Photo: ©UNHCR/Wahidullah Faizi

Afghan artisan and asylum-seeker Gul Jan Barami works on knitting the delicate designs on ornaments for the holiday collection of MADE51. A UNHCR initiative, MADE51 connects refugees to global markets through an online store, allowing them to regain economic independence and dignity. “I give all the love and care for what I make. My happiness comes from knowing my work is valued,” she says.