June 20th: World Refugee Day
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Each year, on June 20th, the world comes together to raise awareness and concern for refugees. World Refugee Day has been officially designated by the United Nations and is observed throughout the globe. According to the UN, the primary aim of the day is to honor refugees and “build empathy and understanding for their plight and recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.”
Every minute, twenty people worldwide are forced to leave their homes and even their countries due to persecution, war, or terror. Refugees flee their homes and government out of fear of being persecuted for their political opinion, religion, race, or ethnicity.
According to the United Nations, the protection of refugees is a human rights concern. The plight of refugees is a matter of international scrutiny and respect, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) acting as the global watchdog.
World Refugee Day was first held on June 20th, 2001, the fiftieth anniversary of the groundbreaking 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
The 2022 celebration focuses on what the UN calls the three Ws: Whoever, Wherever, and Whenever. The three Ws decree that everyone has the right to flee if they fear for their safety, whoever they are. If they do escape, they should be protected and welcomed wherever they are. Finally, they should get appropriate treatment whenever they flee to become refugees.
The celebrations every year involve events and talks organized by the government and community to raise awareness about the rights of refugees and bring their plight to light.
Nations housing refugees hold special events that bring attention to their struggles and efforts to fit into a new place that may well be nothing like what they are used to.
However, more than anything else, this year’s World Refugee Day is about solidarity in the face of mounting challenges. The world has had to act together and face the challenges posed by a pandemic for the last two years. The geopolitical condition today demands a similar action to make sure that refugees are cared for and that their rights are protected.
World Refugee Day is an essential tool to raise awareness and mobilize resources and political will to protect refugees, which has never been more critical than this June 20th.