Twenty-two-year-old O’Plérou Grebet visits the banks of Abidjan’s lagoon frequently. Moving around the city requires crossing the water, and his observations during these journeys help him creatively

Twenty-two-year-old O’Plérou Grebet visits the banks of Abidjan’s lagoon frequently. Moving around the city requires crossing the water, and his observations during these journeys help him creatively. © UNHCR/Roberto Valussi

Geneva – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has partnered with Twitter and 22-year-old Ivorian artist O’Plérou for the launch of the 2020 World Refugee Day emoji. The emoji, two hands linked together in the shape of a heart, symbolizes solidarity and diversity.

World Refugee Day is marked on 20 June each year to celebrate the courage and resilience of the tens of millions of people forced to flee their homes due to war or persecution.

Twitter will activate the 2020 World Refugee Day emoji with the hashtags #WorldRefugeeDay, #RefugeeDay and #WithRefugees in 12 languages. The emoji is live until 23 June.

Twitter’s George Salama, Head of Public Policy, Government and Philanthropy for Middle East and North Africa, said: “Twitter was created so that anyone, anywhere, can answer the question ‘What’s happening?’ In doing so, it has become a place for global communities including journalists, human rights activists and citizens to connect on issues that matter, share information, and speak truth to power. On #WorldRefugeeDay, we are proud to continue our partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with the creation of this emoji, which aims to generate awareness through the power of the service, to demonstrate solidarity and to honour the resilience of refugees worldwide.”

O’Plérou, the emoji designer, is passionate about bringing attention to refugees around the world. Friends of his family had to flee Côte d’Ivoire during the 2010 political crisis. “Refugees are people just like us,” he said. “Through my work, I try to showcase diversity so we can better understand each other and achieve greater solidarity.”

O’Plérou hit world headlines in 2019 after creating 365 emojis to portray the beauty of West African culture and combat negative stereotypes. He was named in Forbes’ Africa 30 Under 30 list of young men and women forging the continent’s future with creative and innovative ideas in the fields of business, art, technology and sports.

This year’s World Refugee Day comes at a time of increased forced displacement and against a backdrop of dramatic social change. The COVID-19 pandemic and recent anti-racism protests have underscored the need for a more inclusive and equitable world. UNHCR and its partners have been stepping up their efforts to protect millions of refugees and other forcibly displaced and stateless people.

“This emoji is a visual expression of diversity, inclusion and solidarity – and the power of hope over fear,” said Gisella Lomax, Head of Social Media at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. “Sharing it is just one way to show support for the world’s forcibly displaced people on World Refugee Day and beyond.”

UNHCR and Twitter have collaborated on creative content on several occasions, including the World Refugee Day emoji and the innovative 2019 #KnitForRefugees campaign – an awareness and fundraising effort with a unique twist: creating the first-ever scarves made from retweets. The campaign wrapped up at the first Global Refugee Forum and won a Shorty Award in March this year.

Media Contacts: 

UNHCR:

TWITTER: 

Hashtags

#RefugeeDay #WorldRefugeeDay #WithRefugees #مع_اللاجئين #Aveclesréfugiés #JournéeDuRéfugié #ConLosRefugiados #DíaDelRefugiado #DoItLuquluqu #Weltflüchtlingstag #ComOsRefugiados #HariPelarianSedunia #HariPengungsiSedunia #世界難民の日  #세계난민의날  #วันผู้ลี้ภัยโลก #DiaDosRefugiados #विश्वशरणार्थीदिवस #GiornataMondialeDelRifugiato

Q&A with O’Plérou

https://www.unhcr.org/news/stories/2020/6/5ee26da54/young-ivorian-artist-designs-2020-world-refugee-day-emoji.html

Link to photos of O’Plérou:

https://media.unhcr.org/Share/kw3225d08r2t7402wn7faup01mfbl6r5

Originally published on UNHCR on 15 June 2020

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