World Refugee Day 2019- What It Means & What You Can Do

In 1951, 145 State parties ratified a legal document defining the term ‘refugee’ outlining the rights of the displaced, as well as the legal obligations states have to protect them. On the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the UN General Assembly decided that June 20th would be celebrated as World Refugee Day from 2001 onwards.

The theme of this year’s Refugee Week, ‘You, me and those who came before’, is an invitation to explore the lives of refugees – and those who have welcomed them – throughout the generations. #GENERATIONS #WithRefugees

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According to the UNHCR, there are 65.3 million forcibly displaced people around the world. More than 21 million of these people are refugees and 10 million are stateless. 51% of refugees are under the age of 18.

While some have settled in new countries most continue to live in refugee camps, waiting for it to be safe enough to return home or to be resettled in a different country. The average length of displacement is now 17 years or more, with entire generations being born and raised in refugee camps, resulting in them spending a significant portion of their lives as refugees.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres, reminds us that ‘the problems are war and hatred, not people who flee.’ Europe has seen the divide of “people carry[ing] signs with the slogan “Refugees Welcome”; others set[ting] asylum homes on fire. While many push for values of tolerance and openness, others are full of fear, afraid of the arrival of so many people from a different continent, with different religions and cultures. Opportunistic right-wing politicians exploit these fears to make gains in elections.” The purpose of World Refugee Day is to raise awareness of the situation they are in but of the world we live in as a collective. The reality of the situation is that we are currently living in the middle of one of the worst refugee crises recorded, and in order to change this we must realise that as individuals, neighbours, organisations and governments, we are capable of helping displaced people live with dignity, find safe and happy homes for however long they may need.

What Can You Do?

There are a number of other ways to advocate for refugees and their rights by supporting organisations fighting for policy change, taking part in awareness raising campaigns and pushing for institutions to provide them with fairer and easier access to education and job opportunities. You can encourage schools and universities to support refugees by offering scholarships and placements or even just promote those who do within your community to keep people informed. There are platforms such as Seek UK that aim to remove the many barriers that hinder refugees’ ability to get employed, so if you are in a position of power or influence within your workplace, you can personally help by providing employment opportunities for refugees.

Another obvious but impactful way to make a difference is to DONATE money, food and clothes. However, an alternative to this (and if you are capable of doing so) is donating your time and work with an international charity like Help Refugees which provides direct assistance to hundreds to thousands of refugees in camps and borders by clothing, food and aid everyday. If you have any valuable skills you can share them with local charities who work to integrate refugees within your community or charities seeking to expand their outreach.

With all these options, it is important to remember that activism can be as easy as showing solidarity and support for empowering initiatives and organisations that work with and for refugees like these below:

Happy World Refugee Day 2019

#WithRefugees #WithRefugees #WithRefugees

Article by Social Media & Content Manager Yaz Omran

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