With the United Nations counting more than 108 million people forcibly displaced at the end of 2022, Voice of America marked World Refugee Day 2023 on June 20 with the release of numerous original articles, explainers, interviews, radio and television segments and documentaries. VOA reaches and covers marginalized populations around the world, including displaced Ukrainians, Afghans, Venezuelans, Rohingyas, Ethiopians and others. VOA documents their challenges and shares their stories within their communities and with the world at large.
VOA’s News Center featured a number of explainers, infographics, articles and other pieces focused on displacement, including a special documentary, “From Fear to Freedom: A Uyghur’s Journey.” The documentary details the story of Kasim Kashgar, a Uyghur journalist who wrote for VOA for years under a pen name covering the plight of other Uyghurs and ethnic minorities while living in exile.
The Eurasia Division featured special coverage, including a VOA Russian interview with Karolina Billing, a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Ukraine. Billing provided the latest statistics on internally displaced persons and refugees from the war in Ukraine, which included more than 11 million displaced people and an additional 18 million people who require humanitarian assistance. Billing went on to explain that the UNHCR budget for the whole of the Ukraine response is capped at $1.1 billion.
The Africa Division highlighted the experiences of refugees with numerous radio and television programs. VOA’s Our Voices examined the plight of refugee women and girls and their particular vulnerability during times of war. The division also released a special podcast featuring a young Sudanese American writer whose memoir recounts his days living as a refugee in Cairo and ultimately resettling in the U.S. as a child. The podcast also featured Refugees International President Jeremy Konyndyk, who discussed the challenges faced at borders by people fleeing conflict, along with some of the responses by the international community and agencies providing help to the millions impacted by war.
The Latin America Division featured articles, explainers and special television segments. Included in their coverage was the story of Venezuelan boxer Eldric Sella, a refugee and Olympian who now lives and trains in Uruguay. Sella discusses the emotional challenges of not being able to officially represent his country. Despite it all, he proclaims, “with or without the flag, I represent Venezuela.”
The South and Central Asia Division featured numerous reports, including the story of Afghan refugees who make the perilous journey to reach Serbia in the hopes of reaching Western Europe. According the United Nations, Afghans made up approximately 35 percent of refugee arrivals in Serbia.
“VOA has long been a source of news and information for refugees,” explained Acting VOA Director Yolanda López. “Many VOA employees have experienced the hardship of what it means to be displaced and know how important it is to get accurate and objective news. At VOA, not only do we supply news and information to these vulnerable communities, but we give voice to the voiceless by telling their stories through multiple platforms and formats, including documentaries.”