Nokia and The Humanitarian Cooperative use VR to show impact of ongoing refugee crisis


Nokia and The Humanitarian Cooperative use virtual reality to show impact of ongoing refugee crisis through a new lens and to support the efforts of UNHCR.


Nokia and The Humanitarian Cooperative (THC) have created a 10-minute, documentary-style virtual reality film to raise awareness of the current refugee crisis and to support the work of The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The film screens today at a UNHCR event in Geneva, Switzerland.

Around the world, the number of people uprooted by conflict and persecution shows no sign of abating and has worsened in recent years. Today, more than 65 million* people are displaced either inside their own country or as refugees. UNHCR works to protect refugees, the internally displaced and stateless people. To support these efforts, and to promote dialogue on the plight of these people, Nokia collaborated with talented filmmakers to find new ways of raising awareness of these human catastrophes.

Equipped with Nokia's professional virtual reality camera OZO, filmmakers David Gough and Thomas Maddens embarked on a journey to tell the story of Omar, a 9-year-old Syrian boy who had to leave his home just outside Aleppo and spent three years at a refugee camp in Lebanon, before finally being resettled in Finland.

Screening today at the ninth annual UNHCR High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges in Geneva, Switzerland, the short film is captured by OZO in premium 3D 360 audio and video, providing the audience with a truly immersive experience of the harrowing life of a refugee. The joint production is an example of how new, innovative technologies are changing the way people communicate and empathize with each other, and shows how technology can be used to support humanitarian causes around the world.

UNHCR's High Commissioner's Dialogue is an annual event that brings together key practitioners and experts on refugee affairs. This year's theme, Children on the Move, recognizes the growing plight of young people who are fleeing violence and war, and struggling to reach safety.

Edith Champagne, Head of Video, UNHCR, said: "This production was a way to tell a very human and touching story with the latest video technology. Omar and his family were resettled in Finland after fleeing Syria, but every day countless families and children fleeing conflict are on the move, in urgent need of safety and protection. The opportunity Nokia offered UNHCR and the Humanitarian Cooperative has resulted in a powerful approach to bringing the courage and resilience of refugees to new audiences."

Filmmaker David Gough said: "It's more important than ever to look for new ways to tell humanitarian stories and none is more pressing right now than the refugee crisis. Working with the Nokia OZO camera and UNHCR on this project has been a huge step forward for us at The Humanitarian Cooperative in the way we can use virtual reality to tell human stories."

Minna Aila, head of Corporate Affairs at Nokia, said: "Our technology helps convey the daily reality of life in a refugee camp, prompting viewers to think about how they would react if it happened to them, and how they would want the world to react. Nokia's ambition is to create technology that serves mankind; it's not only about making tech human, but making it humanitarian as well."

The film will be made available to the public in January 2017. A short trailer that gives a glimpse of the story behind the project can be watched here.

* UNHCR's 2015 Global Trends report found that 65.3 million people were displaced by the end of 2015, including 40.8 million internally displaced, 21.3 million refugees, and 3.2 million asylum seekers. See the Global Trends report


For over 65 years, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been protecting the rights and well-being of refugees all over the world, providing vital assistance to refugees, asylum-seekers, internally displaced and stateless people and advocating with governments and others to uphold their rights.

About The Humanitarian Cooperative

A group of filmmakers, animators and creatives committed to using their story-telling as a force for change. With over two decades experience crafting stories and communications through all established mediums and throughout the developing world, The Humanitarian Cooperative specialises in building creative partnerships for good.