World Refugee Day

A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”, according to the United Nations (UN) 1951 Refugee Convention. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters. “World Refugee Day”, international observance observed June 20 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. This event honors the courage, strength, and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict, and violence. On 4th December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly in Resolution 55/76 decided that, from 2001, 20th June would be celebrated as World Refugee Day. In this resolution, the General Assembly noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. World Refugee Day is a global observance and not a public holiday. It is commemorated to honor all refugees, raise awareness, and solicit support. Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in the world. The 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol help protect them. They are the only global legal instruments explicitly covering the most important aspects of a refugee’s life. According to their provisions, refugees deserve, as a minimum, the same standards of treatment enjoyed by other foreign nationals in a given country and, in many cases, the same treatment as nationals.

World Refugee Day shines a light on the rights, needs, and dreams of refugees, helping to mobilize political will and resources so refugees can not only survive but also thrive. While it is important to protect and improve the lives of refugees every single day, international days like World Refugee Day help to focus global attention on the plight of those fleeing conflict or persecution. Many activities held on World Refugee Day create opportunities to support refugees. Each year on June 20 the United Nations (UN), United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and countless civic groups around the world host World Refugee Day events in order to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees and internally displaced persons worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict, and persecution. The annual commemoration is marked by a variety of events in more than 100 countries, involving government officials, humanitarian aid workers, celebrities, civilians and the forcibly displaced themselves. Some basic rights, including the right to be protected from refoulement, apply to all refugees. A refugee becomes entitled to other rights the longer they remain in the host country, which is based on the recognition that the longer they remain as refugees, the more rights they need. People honor the spirit and courage of millions of refugees worldwide on World Refugee Day. It is a day to recognize the contributions of refugees in their communities. Organizations such as Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) often get involved in various activities for the day.