Melissa Fleming sheds light on their devastating plight and remarkable resilience of refugees.

Why you should listen

Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications at the United Nations, calls on all of us to think of refugees as more than just temporary guests, languishing in limbo and waiting for the war to end back home. Rather, they should receive education, training and work, enabling them to triumph over their trauma and become agents of positive change and social transformation. 

Fleming notes that more than 82 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them are more than 26 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18. But she believes that citing statistics to illustrate human suffering only leaves people numb. Instead, she tells the compelling human stories to reach people's hearts and stir them to help. 

Fleming's 2017 book A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea was born out of the story of a young Syrian refugee, Doaa Al Zamel, who survived one of the worst refugee shipwrecks on the Mediterranean Sea, saving a baby girl, which she first told in her 2015 TED Talk.

Melissa Fleming’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Melissa Fleming

In Brief

How small lies turn into big lies, what everyday objects tell us about inequality, and robots that lend a helping hand during disasters

November 4, 2016

Just a few of the intriguing headlines involving members of the TED community this week: The cascading effect of small lies. Tali Sharot is the senior author on a paper published in Nature Neuroscience that sheds light on the possible slippery-slope effect of telling small, self-serving lies. Using an fMRI scanning device to monitor the […]

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