World Refugee Day
Observed on June 20th annually, World Refugee Day is an international observance designed to raise awareness of the plight of refugees worldwide. Every minute, over 25 people leave their homes and everything they own to escape war, terror, and persecution.
It is therefore crucial for all citizens and governments of the world to consider 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, several organizations have observed a day for refugees. Most notably, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates a World Day of Migrants and Refugees in January, a tradition since Pope Pius X instituted it in 1914. Africa also had its own World Refugee Day.
However, it was not 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 Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 55/76 on December 4th of that year. The following year marked the first official observance of this holiday.
World Refugee Day Customs & Traditions
This observance day is not just to bring attention to the plight of refugees or to encourage people to act on their behalf. It is also a day to honor the bravery, strength, and determination of men, women, and children who have to leave the only life they’ve known to avoid terror and war.
This is why many people hold services to honor refugees who have made it. Every year, the United Nations Refugee Agency, otherwise known as the UNHCR, announces a theme for World Refugee Day. This theme allows those who celebrate this holiday to focus their attention on a particular aspect of the refugee problem and address it.
Some of the past themes announced by the UNHCR for 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 petitioning their governments to act on behalf of refugees.
It is also a day when people and organizations meet with real asylum seekers to lend them help and support. Those who cannot help on a hands-on basis can still aid the plight of the millions of people who become refugees every year by using the hashtag #worldrefugeeday to bring attention to them and show their support.