Media release

Refugees share what home means to them in short film released to mark Refugee Week  

  • A short film exhibition has been launched by UK for UNHCR at the Barbican and online, sharing first-hand stories from people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes.
  • The exhibition has been curated using imagery from the UK for UNHCR’s ‘Gallery of the (New) Home’ that was launched in 2022 to shine a light on the notion of home.
  • Visit the short film exhibition from 19 June to 9 July in the foyer at the Barbican, to learn about what home means to people who have been forced to flee theirs. No tickets required. 

20.06.22 June  UK for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s national charity partner for the UK, has launched a short film exhibition of their online gallery, ‘Gallery of the (New) Home’ at the Barbican and online to celebrate Refugee Week (19-25th June). 

The film features nine refugees from Bangladesh, Burundi, South Sudan, Syria and Uganda, and one internally displaced person in Ukraine who submitted images to the charity’s ‘Gallery of the (New) Home,’, sharing what home means to them after being forced to flee their own. They share inspirational stories of strength, revealing how the notion of home changes when you’ve been displaced. 

Home is something that everyone can relate to, with the film encouraging viewers to think about what home means to them and connect to experiences of refugees. For Kana Josée, who was born in Rwanda to Burundian refugee parents and then fled conflict multiple times before finding sanctuary in Europe, home means stability and belonging. 

Kana Josée, a former refugee, said: “I know what it feels like to be forced to flee, moving from country to country in search of safety. In those moments, you don’t know what your future holds and it’s easy to lose hope towards finding a home, so when asked what home means to me, it was simple – it’s somewhere that’s stable and my family and I truly feel like we belong, and that is what we’ve found here in the UK. 

“I was born in Rwanda to Burundian refugee parents so for me, being a refugee is generational. When the Rwandan Genocide began in 1994, my family and I fled to DRC [the Democratic Republic of Congo] and then moved from there to Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa until I was eventually resettled in The Netherlands. 

“I now live in the UK with my family which is where home is. I live here with my two beautiful children where there is so much love and happiness. It’s a place where we can relax together, host family and friends and look forward to our futures, something I will never take for granted.” 

In the Global Trends Report released last week by UNHCR, it was revealed that by the end of 2022, a record 108.4 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes, an increase of 19.1 million from 2021. The most common reasons for people having to flee their homes included war, persecution, violence and human rights abuses. 

More than three in four refugees needing protection are currently hosted by low or middle income countries and with ongoing crises in Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, among others, UK for UNHCR is asking people to watch the short film to hear directly from those who have been forced to flee their homes and gain a deeper understanding of just how important home is. 

Emma Cherniavsky, Chief Executive of UK for UNHCR, said: “Hearing directly from those who have had no choice but to flee their home is something that is truly moving and inspiring. This short film is a testament to what’s possible when we work together to support refugees. I hope it will encourage us all to consider what home means to us, and what we can do to help refugees feel at home in our communities.“

The ‘Gallery of the (New) Home’s’ short-film exhibition is open at the Barbican from 19 June to 9 July, where UK for UNHCR is also hosting screenings of films for Refugee Week, The Swimmers and Captains of Za’atari on 20 and 22 June, respectively. The Swimmers will be followed by a panel discussion with Sally El Hosaini, the film’s director, Vicky Tennant, UNHCR’s Representative to the UK, and Zahra Shaheer, one of the 2023 Refugee Week ambassadors, hosted by Emma Cherniavsky, Chief Executive of UK for UNHCR. Captains of Za’atari will be introduced by a special guest.  

People can show their solidarity with refugees by submitting their own image to ‘Gallery of the (New) Home,’ showing what home means to them at

To view the short film online, visit

For more information on UK for UNHCR’s short film exhibition at the Barbican or to secure a spot at one of the screenings, please visit this page


Notes to Editors

For more information, please contact: 

[email protected]

The full Global Trends 2022 report is available at

To view UK for UNHCR’s full short film, visit

To view the 90-second version of UK for UNHCR’s short film visit

About UK for UNHCR

UK for UNHCR is the UN Refugee Agency’s national charity partner for the UK. We build solidarity, create partnerships and raise funds across the UK to help deliver global humanitarian relief for refugees through UNHCR’s work.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, leads international action to protect people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. It delivers life-saving assistance like shelter, food and water, helps safeguard fundamental human rights, and develops solutions that ensure people have a safe place to call home where they can build a better future. UNHCR also works to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality.

About Refugee Week

Refugee Week is a nationwide programme celebrating the contribution of refugees to the UK and encourages a better understanding between communities. An established part of the UK’s cultural calendar, Refugee Week is now one of the leading national initiatives working to counter the widespread negative media coverage, defending the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities.

Highlight submissions to ‘The Gallery of the (New) Home’ 

“This picture of me and my mother reminds me of home sweet home all the time! I feel like homes are places where memories are made, where you are surrounded by the humblest of belongings that makes you smile, decorated with personal touches and sentimental items that ooze your personality and style, where you begin each day, and where you rest your head each night, but most importantly home is where your heart is.” – Gai, South Sudan

“Al-Arada Al-Shamiya is a Syrian traditional clothing, and it represents home for me. Although I couldn’t carry anything with me from Syria, I bought the costume after I settled in Exeter to remind me of the ancient and beautiful capital, Damascus. Whenever I wear it and show it to other people, I remember Syria before the conflict, and this is how I want people to always remember my country.” – Khaled, Syria

“Home is like the window on a good or terrible day; in all seasons, it acts as a protective barrier and a glimpse of hope, as well as a place to remember, grieve, rejoice, and join together to raise new generations. It is the bridge between the inner and outside worlds. It is a place of meditation and observation, as well as the source of human transformation.” – William, Bangladesh

“My dog Roxy makes me feel at home when she meets me with hugs and her special “singing” greeting. She is the one who I miss the most when I’m away from home because she is my home.” – Natalia, Ukraine

“Mum’s cooking to this day, as an adult with two pre-teenagers, I still see my mum as my home. This is not limited to visiting her at her place, but also when she comes over to visit us or to stay. Her cooking can make any place a home for me. The aromas of her cooking fill up the space and turn it into a cosy and homey place, where I feel safe and happy. Her cooking even has that magical quality over my children, who thankfully have not had the same experiences as myself, but who are nomads, nonetheless.” – Baharak, Iran

“These are a miniature version of a pair of shoes called ‘Klash’. They’ve been worn in Kurdistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey for hundreds of years, some even claim that Zoroaster in 600 BC was the first person to wear them! Seeing these little shoes reminds me of the depth of history that I come from. It reminds me that even though my physical home may be transient my cultural and ancestral homes stand firm.” – Mevan, Kurdistan, Iraq

“The Jasmine flower in Damascus has its unique significance. Anyone who visits Damascus will notice how this particular flower is found everywhere in the city. The smell literally makes one fall in love with the city. Most of the locals will tell you that the Jasmine flower is what they love the most about the place. There are so many potential photos I could have sent, I found it hard to choose just one because everything reminds me of Syria for example, the sea, the sky, the water, and family. Especially the Eid holiday because I know for a fact that I will never be able to experience the joy and celebrate Eid as I used to in Syria.” – Haya, Syria

“Home to me means belonging and stability. The picture of the passport means a lot to me! I was born a refugee and lived in so many countries with refugee status. So, since getting my citizenship, it gave me a great feeling that I belong somewhere! The image of me and my daughter in the living room means that I have a stable home. A home where I feel safe with my kids, and a home where I can host my family and friends.” – Kana Josée, Burundi

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