At this year’s UN General Assembly in New York, world leaders gather to discuss solutions to the refugee and migrant crisis. One of UNICEF’s main goals is to remind them that over half of the refugees in the world right now are children, and that this crisis is first and foremost a children’s crisis.
To raise awareness on social media and especially on Instagram, UNICEF reached out to some of the biggest illustrators on the channel. We asked them: What do you wish for refugee and migrant children? Many answered the call, among them industry hotshots like Jean Jullien who has over half a million followers and usually works for outlets like The Guardian and brands like Nike, and Christoph Niemann who regularly draws the covers of The New Yorker. Many of them took personal interest in the issue and shared their thoughts along the way.
Have a look on our Instagram or scroll through the illustrations below.
“There may be different opinions on how to solve the refugee crisis politically. There should be no different opinions that the weakest victims — the children who are trying to save their bare lives— need our support, compassion and humanity.”
“This work represents children of conflict areas playing in a peaceful atmosphere near their homes. I wanted to show the contrast of a cozy place with nature, stars and moonlight instead of bombs that were surrounding them during war.”
“I took a long time because I wanted to think of something clever and cutting to draw — but I couldn’t — the thing is too sad.”
“My hope is that we can find a way to help protect them and make them feel like the imaginative creative kids that they are after all that they’ve been through.”
“For the children of refugee families fleeing oppression and warfare, imagination and memories of a happier time are often the only threads of hope that they have. Let’s not forget about the children who are effected by war and devastation. Let’s help give them a brighter future. After all, imagination is only a temporary escape.”
Meera Lee Patel
“My hope for refugee children is that they are welcomed into a new country and seen not as strangers, but for who they really are: beautiful bodies of love, hope, inspiration, and creativity. All children, and especially refugees, should always have the chance to move from the places that no longer nurture them towards ones that offer change, color, and growth.”
“I wanted to create a world, a type of peaceful and wonderful feeling that any children at that age should be able to feel. And we, should do anything we can help to provide that feeling for them.”
“We adults fight each other all the time, weapons are our last solution. Kids don`t understand those fights, but they understand when they witness the fire on their rooftop, in their neighborhood, even death when they suppose to be young, naive and happy.
Can we give the word ” HOME” back to them? Can we?”
One step further
In addition to having great content, and content we don’t normally have on our feeds, this allowed us to tap into the audiences of the illustrators, who were re-posting on their channels. Some of them have a following of up to half a million, and from a completely different area of interest too, people we don’t normally reach through Instagram. Creative Blog “it’snicethat” picked up the story and further spread the message.
To take the idea further, we asked our audience to come up with their own artwork, using the hashtag #illustrators4children. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with hundreds of amateur and professional illustrators joining in and sharing their artworks on Instagram. In the gallery below you can see some of those we liked most. Choosing a unique hashtag (#illustrators4children) proved to be key in tracking the contributions. However, many artists chose to add some of our other hashtags too, like #childrenfirst, #childrenuprooted or simply #unicef, which made us very happy.
Submissions from our followers