A Syrian refugee boy I met in a refugee camp in Southern Turkey in 2015.

The number of people forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution hit a record 82.4 million in 2020. That figure has doubled within a decade, with 1% of humanity now forcibly displaced, according to figures released on Friday by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

These are the statistics of global suffering. Behind the numbers are millions of men, women, and children, forced at gunpoint to abandon everything they own. These are people who live for years in limbo, often in danger and grappling with personal loss and trauma. They deserve urgent solutions.

As UN High Commissioner for…


I’ll say this for the conspiracists, they are nothing if not creative. The lies they spread to undermine vaccine confidence are getting weirder by the day. Now, in the latest cruel twist of the infodemic, they’ve pivoted to targeting the vaccinated and their loved ones.

All kinds of wild conspiracies have been circulating since the early days of the pandemic, but recently they have hit new heights of absurdity. I admit my jaw dropped at reports of people who had previously refused to wear masks putting them on to protect themselves from the vaccinated.

Let’s be clear, it is medically…


My job at the United Nations is to inform the public about the state of our world. That involves stories of ever-growing numbers of people suffering, wars erupting, a deadly virus spreading, economies collapsing and the planet taking revenge for being repeatedly abused.

This information matters. It is about the consensus of the science of climate change or guidance on protection from COVID-19. It represents the surging data of need — numbers of war refugees, girls forced to marry, fathers and mothers losing their incomes, families starving, children out of school, people trafficked, and workers exploited.

These are the statistics…


Writing morning pages from our vacation spot in Stoupa, Greece

Every morning I observe a small but life-changing ceremony. First, I grind coffee beans and slowly pour hot water over the grounds to make a flavorful brew. Depending on the season, I then sit by the early light from the window or out on my balcony. I take a deep breath, reach for my fountain pen, open my notebook, and begin to write.

What comes out is a stream of consciousness. I write anything, everything that comes into my head. I record all my thoughts, however fleeting or seemingly insignificant. Most liberating, however, is the knowledge that the words are…


© UNICEF/Bruno Amsellem/Divergence Lyon, France, March 19, lockdown day 3. Anne-Lise, journalist, teleworking for TV channel Euronews with 3-year-old daughter Violette keeping close.

Death threats, rape threats, humiliating doctored photos. These are the kinds of harrowing messages women journalists around the world receive every day. For female reporters working to dispel myths about COVID and vaccines, the pandemic has only exacerbated this digital onslaught.

The abuse is targeted, designed to silence women journalists, discredit their reporting, and undermine public trust in critical journalism and facts. During the pandemic, the abuse has focused on those tackling the infodemic. That’s according to a recent study commissioned by UNESCO.

Among the many reporters bearing the brunt of this online vitriol are two courageous women I recently…


Imagine you lost everything to a murderous regime. Your family, your friends, your home, your country, all gone. Would you be able to move on? I know I’d struggle. Recently I met someone who did just that, a Holocaust survivor who has dedicated his life to spreading peace and understanding.

Holocaust Memorial Ceremony “75 years after Auschwitz — Holocaust Education and Remembrance for Global Justice” — 📷UN Photo 1/27/2020

Rabbi Arthur Schneier has every reason to be bitter. And yet having survived the murder of 1.5 million Jewish children in Europe, the Austrian American diplomat and religious leader was determined to use his life to advocate for peace.

I recently spoke with him for my podcast, Awake at Night


Grappling with guilt has been one of my biggest challenges in these unequal COVID-19 times. Here is how I am dealing with it.

I’ve been feeling guilty a lot lately. The feeling last hit me recently while out in a restaurant in New York with friends. I was happy, but then I suddenly thought of friends in Europe who hadn’t been to a restaurant in months and the smile kind of froze on my face.

Before I knew it, my thoughts were full of people suffering far worse fates than not eating out. I saw nightmare scenes in Indian hospitals


Pramila Patten consoling survivors in a Protection of Civilians site in Juba, South Sudan in 2018. Photo by OSRSG-SVC. More here.

Some people I meet in the course of my work just floor me with their drive and passion. For these people, their role isn’t just a job, it’s a legacy, and they’re willing to withstand trauma and hardship to improve the lives of the people they’ve vowed to help. The UN’s Pramila Patten is one of those people.

Pramila is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict. I recently spoke to her for my podcast, Awake at Night, about her work to end rape as a weapon of war, what she calls “history’s greatest silence.”

Rape has been…


A refugee in Rwanda gets her first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

These are heart-wrenching days for all of us with an eye on global events. We are witnessing a shocking gulf widen between those with access to COVID vaccines and those without. WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus has called it grotesque. Looking at the figures, it’s hard to disagree.

The contrast is astounding. While a handful of countries celebrate, re-open, and reunite with loved ones, the rest of the world waits, watches, and suffers. This as the WHO reported more COVID cases in the past fortnight than in the first six months of the pandemic. Let that sink in for a second…


So, how are you? Let me guess. You aren’t thriving, but you aren’t exactly depressed either? Chances are you’re languishing, a state characterised by an absence of well-being. There’s a lot of it about. The term pre-dates the pandemic, but lockdown has likely driven millions into this dispirited mood.

The languishing struggle with focus and motivation. Not quite in crisis mode; they aren’t quite content. They just are, and they’re going nowhere fast. While this isn’t a mental illness, research suggests they risk falling more seriously ill further down the line. So, it’s worth taking seriously.

The good news is…

Melissa Fleming

Chief Communicator #UnitedNations promoting a peaceful, sustainable, just & humane world. Author: A Hope More Powerful than the Sea. Podcast: Awake at Night.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store