UNHCR and IOM Announce a Writing Competition to Highlight the Positive Contributions of Refugees/Migrants in South Africa


To mark this year’s World Refugee Day the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), jointly with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), invites all young writers between the ages of 16 to 30, residing in South Africa, to enter a writing competition telling a refugee/migrant story. The contest titled “Shared Wishes, Shared Dreams” aims to promote the positive contributions of refugees and migrants in South African communities.

Participants are invited to write a short story (max. 500 words) either fiction or non-fiction, that will address some of the negative perceptions about refugees/migrants in South Africa who are more often seen as a problem to be solved rather than as potentially exceptional people who can be entrepreneurs and innovators. The competition is open for submissions until 30 May 2014.

“Despite living lives of desperation and struggle, many refugees in South Africa have managed to triumph over adversity and rebuild their lives. This year we’re putting the limelight not on where refugees come from, but on what they bring, including diverse skills and their determination and courage that helped them succeed when they were forced to leave their homes in the first place. Their positive contributions are often overlooked in our national conversations,” says Tina Ghelli, UNHCR’s spokesperson for Southern Africa.

“Today we live in a global world. We trade with each other. We do business with each other. We make friends and even marry across borders.

We eat each other’s food and even learn each other’s language. This does not just make the world a more interesting place. It also brings a spread of economic, social and cultural benefits,” adds Gaone Dixon, IOM South Africa Communications Officer.

Submissions should be original, attention-grabbing and thought-provoking in order to ignite dialogue on the positive contributions of migrants in South Africa, as well as promote social cohesion and tolerance of refugees and migrants.

One contest winner and two runners-up will be selected and announced on World Refugee Day, 20 June 2014. The competition winner will receive an Apple MacBook AIR in recognition of achievement while the first and second runners-up will receive a LENOVO Laptop and a SONY Digital Camera respectively.

Interested contestants can visit http://www.iamamigrant.co.za for a detailed competition brief as well as rules and regulations. Alternatively they can follow updates on our Facebook pages at http://www.facebook.com/UNHCRSouthernAfrica or http://www.facebook.com/IOMSouthAfrica

To submit your work please fill out the “Shared Wishes, Shared Dreams” entry form and either email it with your submissions to nmahlangu@iom.int or hand deliver it to IOM’s offices in Pretoria; Sanlam Building 3rd Floor 353 Festival Street, Hatfield.