UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, marks its 70th anniversary this year. During the past seven decades, UNHCR has assisted millions of refugees fleeing conflict and persecution on all continents. It has stood the test of time by making the most of new technologies as new challenges arose. This article dives into the past to shine a spotlight on seven technologies that have shaped our work from 1950 to 2020.

1) 1950s — Telex


You may have received one as a Christmas gift. Smart speakers are changing how we consume information. What does it mean for the advocacy of organizations like UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency?

Emotive Brand.

Okay Google, how many refugees are there? Hey Alexa, do refugees help the economy? You can now ask these questions out loud while laying on your sofa or to settle a debate at the dinner table. A box on the other side of the room will provide the answer — if you are the owner of a smart speaker.

Voice-activated devices, powered by intelligent assistants like Google Assistant…


It’s the midst of a stormy winter, and the leader of a refugee group has succeeded in taking control of a power generator reserved for the wealthy. As the cold intensifies, he/she needs to manage the city where citizens now have equal rights. But the population grows divided as the city needs to absorb new waves of refugees seeking shelter.

This isn’t real life but the third scenario of Frostpunk, a city-building survival game developed by 11 bit studios and released by Microsoft Windows in April of last year. …


With growing numbers of refugees from new emergencies like Venezuela and older conflicts like Syria or South Sudan, as well as toxic narratives on the rise, the task at hand is rather daunting for actors like the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), who work to protect refugees worldwide.

But there is hope, too. UNHCR is not alone. In Europe alone, a third of people believe that supporting refugees is crucial, a measure of our basic social values. 15% of people interviewed even say they are willing to host refugees, according to research by More in Common.

So why is helping refugees…

Pauline Eluère

Strategic communicator and digital trends explorer 🚀 at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. E-mail: eluere@unhcr.org

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store