20th June (’22): World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day is an international day organised every year on 20 June by the United Nations. It is designed to celebrate and honour refugees from around the world. The day was first established on 20 June 2001, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

The event aims to recognise the strength of the refugees who have fled the conflict and persecution of their country in hope of finding sanctuary and living a better life. World Refugee Day builds the concept of understanding for their plight which shows one’s resilience and courage in the rebuilding of their future.

The day is an opportunity for everyone to experience, understand and celebrate the rich diversity of the communities of refugees. Events such as theatre, dance, films, and music aim to allow refugee community organisations, voluntary and statutory organisations, local councils, and schools to host events during the week in order to honour the cause.

World Refugee Day is also celebrated through World Refugee Week and is designed to provide an important chance for asylum seekers and refugees to be seen, listened to and valued by the community that they are living in.

A refugee is an individual who leaves their country due to the ramifications of war, conflict persecutions and violence that they have faced within their home country. Through undertaking the process of crossing international borders, some refugees are often found to leave everything behind carrying only the minimal clothing and possessions; with the plan to find safety and haven in a different country.

The 1951 Refugee Convention acknowledges a refugee as an individual who is unable to return to their country of origin owing to the founded fear of being affected by their race, religion, participation of a social group or in different political opinions.

Refugees play a role in the globe as when they are positioned to have access to the legal employment opportunities in their host country, they are able to utilises their knowledge to assist in filling the gap of a country’s labour market. These inclusions in society create a more diverse in culture and multiculturalisation which provides the community with the opportunity to learn from each other.

Majority of the refugees come from backgrounds where they have been formally employed and can assist their new country in contributing to the security of the country as well as their revenue. Through having refugees in a country, the hosts also need to prepare for an increase in the cost of services such as access to healthcare of education which is provided by the government. They are also able to create the ability to contribute to society by acting as a mediator in different intercultural exchanges, this means that the country will be able to experience a more effective socio-cultural diversity within the community.

On 4 December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 55/76 acknowledged that, 2001 and onwards, 20 June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. The resolution saw that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The convention had commemorated refugees to honour, raise awareness and solicit support to those affected around the globe.

African Refugee Day had been formally celebrated in several countries prior to 2000. The UN noted that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on 20 June.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees started the #WithRefugees petition to send a message to the people of the action, solidarity, and responsibility on behalf of refugees to governments worldwide. There have been projects and resources that have been put into place which aims to spread the word to educate people about the way of life for refugees. The United Nations works along with the community to try to end the refugee crisis and find homes for displaced people worldwide.

In 1967, the United Nations had expanded the number of people who would apply for a refugee status because of the acts of the 1951 Convention which had defined a refugee as an individual or person who had been forced to flee their homes because of World War II. This came to be known as the 1967 Protocol. The protocol at the time had removed the time limitations and geographical definitions of what it meant to be a refugee.

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