Together we heal, learn, and shine
Every year on 20 June, World Refugee Day is celebrated. This day is celebrated to promote understanding and highlight the difficulties refugees face from the time they flee their homes for protection till their re-settlements in a new country. This year the theme of Refugee’s Day is healing. Why healing– because healing is the ability to recover from any painful situation or experience and move forward. Refugees are those people who leave their homelands due to threats to their lives, terror, war, prosecution, conflict or any other crises.
According to UNHCR refugees can be anyone who seek protection, regardless of who they are or what they believe. Those people must be treated with dignity and that is non-negotiable because seeking safety is a human right. Additionally, refugees can come from all over the world. To get out of danger, they might take a plane, a boat, or travel on foot. What remains universal is the right to seek safety. Lastly, Whatever the threat may be: war, violence, persecution – everyone deserves protection.
‘At least 89.3 million people around the world have been forced to flee their homes. Among them are nearly 27.1 million refugees, around half of whom are under the age of 18’UNHCR
History of World Refugee Day & Refugee Week
World Refugee Day was held worldwide for the first time on 20 June 2001. It was celebrated to commemorate the 50th anniversary of 1951 Convention related to the Status of Refugees. Initially, it was known as Africa Refugee Day, and then the United Nations General Assembly officially designated it as an International Day of Refugees in December 2000. Refugee Week was first held in 1998 and since then every year around World Refugee Day it is celebrated. Refugee Week is also a growing global movement.
Why celebrate World Refugee Day/Week?
World Refugee Day is important to celebrate because it helps to highlight the fact that seeking safety is a basic human right. It is the day to reinforce that like other humans, refugees have the rights, needs and dreams to live. The rights of refugees are to be protected every day and World Refugee Day just helps to bring global attention to this. Refugees often leave their homes with nothing or with limited resources. Not only this, refugees contribute a huge amount to society, giving back to the countries they settle in and this is a time to celebrate those contributions and the value people add to society.
Events going on this week
A variety of events are organised in many countries around the world in support of the refugees. These activities include but are not limited to, musical events, art galleries, solidarity walks, reading clubs, awareness sessions, exhibitions and writing contests. These activities are organised by the government, the refugees themselves, the host communities, charities, celebrities, teachers and school children or the general public, among others.
In the UK to coincide with the World Refugee Day, many events are taking place from 20 to 26 June this year. The objectives behind those events are to encourage people to learn from the refugees the resilience and courage to move forward as well as how “art, creativity and community” can help people to heal.
Events taking place include:
- Refugee Week Festival 2022 by Afghanistan and Central Asian Association, 26 June from 10 am, Gunnersbury Park, London
- Under the Same Sun: Singing Our Lives, 26 June, 5 pm, Union Chapel, London
- Refugees Week Cultural Football Tournament 25 June 2022, 11 to 17:00, Nottingham
And a little closer to home, there are lots of things going on in Birmingham and the Black country which include:
- A Season in France – A special fundraiser screening raising money for Wolverhampton Amnesty International. Lighthouse cinema Wolverhampton – Tuesday 21st June at 6pm
- Performances from Birmingham’s varied communities on Thursday 23rd June 2022 4.00pm to 7.00pm Centrala – Unit 4, Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley St, Birmingham
- Refugee Week Festival at the MAC, Birmingham. A celebration of music and arts taking place in Birmingham.