Observed on June 20th on an annual basis, World Refugee Day is an international observance which is designed to raise awareness of the plight of refugees all over the world. Each and every minute, over 25 people leave their home and everything they own to escape war, terror, and/or persecution. Which is why it is so important for all citizens and governments of the world to think of these refugees, and the issues they face, on this observance day and work together to solve the problem once and for all.
History of World Refugee Day
Traditionally, there have been several organizations that observed a day for refugees. Most notable is the Roman Catholic Church who celebrates a World Day of Migrants and Refugees in January and has celebrated it since Pope Pius X instituted it in 1914. Africa also had a World Refugee Day. However, it wouldn’t be until the end of the 20th century that the United Nations decided to address the issue with an observance holiday. World Refugee Day was officially created in the year 2000 when the United Nation’s General Assembly passed Resolution 55/76 on December 4th of that year. The following year became the first official year of this holiday.
World Refugee Day Customs & Traditions
This observance day isn’t just to bring attention to the plight of refugees or to encourage people to act on their behalf. It is also a day in which people can honor the bravery, strength and determination of these men, women and children who have to leave the only life they’ve known to avoid terror and war. Which is why many people hold services to honor refugees who eventually ended up making it.
Every year, the United Nations Refugee Agency, otherwise known as the UNHCR, announces a theme for World Refugee Day. This theme gives those who celebrate this holiday a particular part of the refugee problem to focus their attention on and address. Some of the past themes announced by the UNHCR on World Refugee Day include “Home” in 2009; “One Refugee Forced to Flee is Too Many” in 2010; and, “We Stand With Refugees” in 2016.
World Refugee Day is also a day for activists to get involved. They can do so by protesting the use of prisons to detain refugees and asylum seekers and petition their governments to act on the behalf of refugees. It is also a day when people and organization meet with real asylum seekers to lend them their help and support. Those who can’t help on a hands-on basis can still help the plight of the millions upon millions of people who become refugees every year by using the hashtag #worldrefugeeday to bring attention to them and to show your support.