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An exclusive virtual reality, behind-the-scenes look at the United Nations Secretary-General’s humanitarian mission

Story by United Nations OCHA December 22nd, 2016

All photos: Giles Clarke/ Getty Images Reportage

In 2016, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travelled to more than 10 countries in five months, visiting some of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The missions aimed to draw global attention to the urgent needs of some 130 million people severely affected by armed conflicts and natural disasters.

Premiered during the Secretary-General’s final month in office, Home is an exclusive United Nations virtual reality film that offers a rare behind-the-scenes look at this journey.


In February, the Secretary-General travelled to North Kivu, a region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that has been ravaged by years of war.

United Nations Secretary-General arrives in North Kivu, DRC, as part of his Mission for Humanity.

The Mungote camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in DRC’s Kitchanga region was established in 2008. It now hosts more than 3,300 families—15,000 women, men and children who were forced to flee their homes because of the ongoing violence. Many of these families have been living here since the site opened, and they remain unable to return home.

The Secretary-General meets with a resident of the Mungote IDP camp, DRC.

Speaking to children while visiting a school, he gave a pep talk based on his own experience as a displaced child during the Korean war. He encouraged them to keep learning against all odds. “I know this is very difficult, but this world is for you,” he said. “You are the leaders of our future.”

Ban Ki-moon gave the children a pep talk based on his experience as a displaced child.
A mother and her two children in the Mungote camp.
Internally displaced children living in DRC’s Mungote camp.
Residents of DRC’s Mungote camp.
An IDP camp in DRC’s Kitchanga area.


The Secretary-General then flew to Malakal, South Sudan, where a brutal attack had taken place on a UN Protection of Civilians site less than two weeks before. South Sudan's long and bloody armed conflict has resulted in one of the world's worst humanitarian emergencies.

A woman living in the Malakal Protection of Civilians site, whose house was destroyed during the attack.

More than 2.3 million people—one in every five people in South Sudan—have been forced to flee their homes since the conflict began. These people include 1.66 million IDPs and nearly 644,900 refugees in neighbouring countries. Some 185,000 IDPs have sought refuge in UN Protection of Civilians sites. Thousands of homes have been ruined during the fighting, and many people have been displaced multiple times due to repeated attacks.

Extent of the damage to the Malakal Protection of Civilians site following the attack.
Residents organized a peaceful demonstration to voice their concerns during the high-level UN visit.
Two women who lost everything during the attack sitting in what remains of their shelter.


Millions of people have fled Syria since the conflict began in 2011, seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, namely Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. In March, the Secretary-General travelled to Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, which is now home to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

The Secretary-General lands in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon, a few miles from the Syrian border.
Two Syrian refugees share their story with Ban Ki-moon in their tent, Beqaa Valley, Lebanon.

Continuing on to Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, the Secretary-General was greeted by Ghada, a Syrian refugee, her husband and their five children. The family fled in search of peace, hoping to find a better life. But the conflict continues to rage on with no end in sight. Ghada explained: "I'm afraid for my children's future."

Mr. Ban and Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank meet with Syrian refugees in the settlement of Hay el Tanak  in Tripoli.
Ghada and her family fled war in Syria to take shelter in Lebanon. "I am afraid for my children's future," she said.
Ghada's children meet with Ban Ki-moon. They have stopped going to school since they fled Syria.


In Jordan, the Secretary-General visited Zaatari refugee camp. He was joined by Mrs. Ban and the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim.

Zaatari camp provides shelter to more than 100,000 refugees, half of whom are children.

Art on the walls of Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan.
Two young men standing in a street in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan.
Two young Syrian refugees who live in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan.

They met with residents who had fled ongoing violence in Syria. Zaad, 16, is one of them. She dreams of becoming a translator “to tell all the world what happened in Syria.”

Ban Ki-moon, his wife, and Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, speaking with 16-year-old Zaad in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan.