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UNHCR’s latest campaign honours survival stories of refugees via sea shanty song

Australia – To mark the World Refugee Day for Australia, which is celebrated on 20 June, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights, and building a better future for displaced people, has launched a new campaign, aimed at telling the story of the reluctant sailor, refugee survivors, as well as honouring their courage and resilience.

Created in partnership with creative agency BMF and production company FINCH, the new campaign, which is titled ‘Reluctant Shanty’, features TikTok star Nathan Evans – the modern, global face of sea shanty music – and three Australian refugees. Evans will be helping launch ‘The Reluctant Shanty’ song, which was created and inspired by interviews with five refugees.

Doug Hamilton, creative director at BMF, shared that sea shanties are a 400-year-old genre of music developed by sailors to tell stories of adventure at sea, but today, not all sailors want to go to sea. 

“‘The Reluctant Shanty’ is the first shanty based on the experiences of refugees, who’ve embarked on dangerous journeys by sea, in search of safety and survived to tell their story,” said Hamilton.

Meanwhile, Kyra Bartley, director at FINCH, commented, “The most important part of this project for me was making sure that the humanity of our three heroes shone through. The elevated visual approach gave us the symbolism and cinematic scope we needed, whilst still maintaining a raw intimacy that cuts right through to your heart.” 

The campaign will be available across TikTok, PR, and Instagram.