To celebrate its 70th anniversary, UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, has launched the first collection of charity NFTs to raise funds for Afghanistan.
Hani Abbas is the Syrian-Palestinian cartoonist who created the images of the Non-Fungible Tokens.
Charity NFTs: UNHCR’s first collection
Hani Abbas reportedly worked with national partner association Switzerland for UNHCR to launch the agency’s first NFT (Non Fungible Token) sale.
Abbas has created seven cartoons, from which ten copies of each will be converted into unique digital assets and sold as NFTs on OpenSea’s marketplace to raise funds for UNHCR’s crisis response in Afghanistan.
The collection, called “Windows“, refers to the significant experiences of Abbas, who grew up in Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp on the southern outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus.
In the interview, Abbas is reported to have described this collection as follows:
“What is the meaning of windows in my heart? They are our windows to see the country, to see people – to connect with them and hear them. In 2011, after four months of the conflict I drew the first window – a destroyed building with just a window still standing, and a young man waiting outside with a flower to see his love, who was gone. It represents what we’ve lost. I’ve drawn other figures who have left everything else behind but take a window with them, because the window is their memory. I have my own ideas and feelings about the images, but I hope everyone who looks at them can see the effect of war on people. I hope all the people who have problems in their countries can get out”.
NFT helps Afghanistan: UNHCR’s mission
Like Abbas who managed to escape with his family in his life, first moving to Lebanon and then seeking asylum in Switzerland, UNHCR has also managed to enter and explore the NFT world for its charitable purposes.
In fact, the money raised from the sale will be used to support the population in Afghanistan. UNHCR’s decision to start with Abbas is also due to the popularity the cartoonist has gained over the years.
Abbas has appeared in publications such as Le Temps et La Liberté in Switzerland and Le Monde in France. He is also a member of the organization Cartooning for Peace, a network of press cartoonists committed to promoting freedom and democracy. In 2014, Abbas received the International Editorial Cartooning Award in Geneva.
Asked specifically about NFTs, Abbas replied:
“I don’t have any experience of this – I just do the drawings! But every cartoonist wants their work to be seen, and I support these new ideas. Anything that will help people and explain the hard conditions and problems they face, and allow other people to support them. It’s a new idea, and when I heard about it, I loved it. We hope now it succeeds in focusing attention on the problems of [Afghans], and makes money for them of course, because they need it”.
Non-Fungible Tokens for charity
UNHCR seems not to be the first to join the world of Non-Fungible Tokens for charity. Last summer, even His Holiness Pope Francis launched his first collection of NFT artwork, with proceeds going to the Scholas Occurrentes Foundation.
So, while UNHCR thinks about supporting a population at war and the Pope a foundation for education, someone else has used the NFT formula of charity for environmental problems.
Back in March 2020, F1® Delta Time launched an NFT “Australia Edition 2020” with a charity auction specifically to support forest fire recovery efforts in Australia.
The same idea was replicated in Italy last July, when the cultural association The AB Factory, with the participation of Antonio Marras of HACKATAO and other international artists, made their digital NFT works available to support Sardinia, which was hit by a violent fire.