Melissa Fleming

Melissa Fleming

As head of communications and chief spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa Fleming leads all communications efforts around the globe. Operating in 120 countries, UNHCR provides shelter and help for over 30 million people who have fled wars and persecution. In her role, Melissa has introduced strategic communication planning designed to have more impact on the varied audiences, which include media, donors, governments and refugees themselves. She is also leading a rebranding project for UNHCR, and is launching a new digital platform for interactive engagement and individual giving. She joined UNHCR from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where she served for eight years as spokesperson and head of public information during the period the organisation made headlines for its inspection work in Iraq, Iran and North Korea and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. Prior to IAEA, she headed the press and information team at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and as a public affairs specialist at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

In the face of public apathy, can one human story illuminate a large-scale crisis? We put your questions to the head of communications of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

When 19 year old Doaa and her boyfriend Bassam, Syrian refugees trapped in a grinding existence in Egypt, handed over all of Bassam’s life savings to refugee smugglers for a journey on a rusting fishing boat, little could they have imagined the...

Building widespread empathy through individual storytelling

As head of communications for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Melissa continues to focus on single stories for building empathy and driving action to support those people fleeing from their homes. She explains to...

Head of Communications Service/Spokesperson for the High Commissioner, UN High Commission for Refugees  

Interview by David Phillips

These interviews focus on communications professionals who are leading international careers, hence the title. But for this issue, ‘Border Crosser’ seems particularly apt, given your role as head of the...