51,000 reasons to be hopeful 

UK supporters and partners funded £18 million of relief programmes around the world last year.


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Photo: ©UK for UNHCR / Mark Macdonald

A message from our CEO, Emma Cherniavsky:

As humanitarians, we are constantly thinking about urgent needs, making sure the people we serve can reach safety, feel protected and rebuild their lives.  

The urge to keep looking forward and reacting to an issue or emergency is compelling. 

But looking backwards is just as critical. It helps us to evaluate and learn. It is also a powerful reminder of our mission as we witness the impact that UK support and partnerships are having globally.  

UK private sector is helping save lives 

As we launch our 2023 Annual Report amidst a troubled global landscape, I’m reminded that today we have over 51,000 reasons to be hopeful. 

This is how many donations we received from individuals, foundations and companies across the UK in 2023. From community fundraisers taking on challenges, to emergency appeal donations, to businesses sharing their expertise and resources to support humanitarian operations. 

This incredible solidarity funded over £18 million of relief and protection for people who had lost everything after fleeing conflict and persecution, or survived devasting natural disasters. 

In Ukraine, for example, where it helped fund generators to keep families warm after missile strikes destroyed power plants. Or at Sudan’s border crossings, protecting people fleeing the outbreak of a conflict that has now displaced over 8 million people.  

In other countries, such as Jordan and Lebanon, UK partnerships supported cash assistance programmes to help families buy basic supplies, and funded university scholarships for refugee students. 

Compassion for refugees is high

It is easy to be overwhelmed by media headlines or the loudest voices. But compassion runs deep across our society.  

Last year, IPSOS found that: 

84% of people across Great Britain believe that people fleeing war and persecution should be allowed to seek refuge in another country, including Great Britain.  

This was up from 80% the previous year – one of the highest scores across all 29 countries polled. 

We see this every day in our charity’s interactions across the UK. Not just through donations, but through many acts of kindness and solidarity.  

I felt this when I first saw the men’s and women’s teams of Nottingham Forest FC, and their fans, proudly wearing the UNHCR logo on their shirt fronts. 

It see it through the tens of thousands of social media followers helping us fight misinformation every day, such as our Teach AI campaign to combat bias in open source platforms.  

Each action is an affirmation that compassion matters. 

Co-creators, not tick boxes

“Include us at the table, make us co-creators. Don’t just tick a box that a refugee was in the room. Give refugees a voice.”

These are the words of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and former refugee, Mary Maker, and they express our ambition at UK for UNHCR.  

Our campaign Beyond the Headlines supported this mission, working directly with refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine who are now living in the UK. We are enormously grateful to them for their courage in sharing their personal stories with an audience of millions to raise awareness of UNHCR’s humanitarian work, and to photographer Patty Boyd for her creative collaboration.  

We now have more than 30 refugee storytellers across the UK, from ten countries, who share their experiences and support our fundraising efforts. Their voices are powerful, authentic and vital. 

Let’s keep going!

Already, 2024 has presented enormous humanitarian challenges.  

Our sister agency, UNRWA, continues to respond inside Gaza, while UNHCR is leading refugee protection and assistance in other conflicts and emergencies around the world. Many UN agencies, including UNHCR, are struggling to maintain their field programmes due to a combination of rising needs and significant funding cuts.  

Global displacement and migration continue to polarise national policy debates, especially with so many elections taking place this year. 

To play our part in meeting these challenges and helping refugees build a better future, our charity keeps moving forward in the UK through fundraising, mobilising, storytelling and advocating for refugees.  

Meanwhile, across the world in over 130 countries, day and night, our UNHCR colleagues continue to deliver relief and protection for millions of refugees, internally displaced people, asylum seekers and stateless people.  

But let’s also take a moment to reflect on the enormous compassion and solidarity that makes UNHCR’s work possible every day. To all of our UK supporters and partners, a heartfelt thank you for ensuring refugees are not forgotten. 

Emma Cherniavsky 



Learn more about the impact of UK support for refugees by visiting our Annual Report 2023.  

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