World Refugee Day: Every Action Counts

World Refugee Day LogoWorld Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It falls each year on June 20 and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognise their resilience in rebuilding their lives.


The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent anti-racism protests have shown us how desperately we need to fight for a more inclusive and equal world: a world where no one is left behind. It has never been clearer that all of us have a role to play in order to bring about change. Everyone can make a difference. This is at the heart of UNHCR’s World Refugee Day campaign. This year, we aim to remind the world that everyone, including refugees, can contribute to society and Every Action Counts

 in the effort to create a more just, inclusive, and equal world. 

What is World Refugee Day?

World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It falls each year on June 20 and celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.

Why is World Refugee Day important?

World Refugee Day shines a light on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees, helping to mobilize political will and resources so refugees can not only survive but also thrive. While it is important to protect and improve the lives of refugees every single day, international days like World Refugee Day help to focus global attention on the plight of those fleeing conflict or persecution. Many activities held on World Refugee Day create opportunities to support refugees.

When is World Refugee Day? When did World Refugee Day start?

World Refugee Day falls each year on June 20 and is dedicated to refugees around the globe. World Refugee Day was held globally for the first time on June 20, 2001, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. It was originally known as Africa Refugee Day, before the United Nations General Assembly officially designated it as an international day in December 2000.

What happens on World Refugee Day?

Each year, World Refugee Day is marked by a variety of events in many countries around the globe in support of refugees. These activities are led by or involve refugees themselves, government officials, host communities, companies, celebrities, school children and the general public, among others. On this page you can find out which UNHCR activities are happening on World Refugee Day 2020.

UNHCR agency work
UNHCR agency work brings peace and stability to the lives of refugees

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi today pledged to do all he could to help millions of forcibly displaced people “not just to get by, but also to thrive.”

In a video address to mark World Refugee Day, Grandi said he had been “deeply moved” and “inspired” by the refugees he had met during his 35-year career, praising their courage and determination.

However, he noted that while UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, works hard to mobilize the world’s support, funding is low and resettlement places are too few. “On this World Refugee Day, and also every day, my colleagues and I pledge to do all we can to help you – not just to get by, but also to thrive,” Grandi said.

This week, UNHCR issued its annual Global Trends report, which showed the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide had risen to over 70 million by the end of 2018, the highest number in the organization’s history.

Grandi said that despite the fact that more people have been forcibly displaced than ever before, “better ways” have been developed to mobilize the world to help the displaced.

“My colleagues and I pledge to do all we can to help you.”

In December, the UN General Assembly passed the Global Compact on Refugees, which seeks a more predictable and equitable sharing of responsibility to find lasting solutions for the displaced.

Acknowledging the challenges, Grandi said: “Some countries are introducing restrictions that are hurting your access to asylum. Boats are hindered from rescuing drowning refugees. Peace talks are slow to bear fruit. “But many generous countries and communities are still welcoming places,” he continued. “And new partners from development and the private sector are offering investment and expertise. Ordinary people are donating and volunteering. Voices of humanity are holding their ground.”

Grandi has said he hopes the world will build on these positive examples and redouble its solidarity with refugees on June 20. “On this World Refugee Day, we must have hope,” he concluded in his address.

 

The UN Refugee Agency Logo

 

 

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