Seeking peace. Striving for justice. Together.
We must work together to mobilize the political will and leadership to prevent and end the conflicts that trigger refugee flows. ... Despite budget constraints everywhere, we must not turn away from those in need. Refugees leave because they have no choice. We must choose to help.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
For more than a decade now, cities, states, and countries have celebratedJune 20 is World Refugee Day. Find a prayer by Sera Chung, a prayer by Mark Koenig, and resources from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, invites us to take 1 minute to support a family that has been forced to flee.
This day was marked for many years as African Refugee Day, but on 4 December 2000 the UN General Assembly and the Organization of African Unity agreed to recognize 20 June as World Refugee Day, which included African Refugee Day.
World Refugee Day was created to honor the courage and strength of all the men, women, and children who have been forced to leave their homes. A refugee is “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group”. There are about 42 million displaced people currently in the world. 42 million children, mothers and fathers have been forced from their homes and from their countries. They have been forced to leave all they had behind, most likely never being able to return.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, advocates for the international protection of displaced people at the time of need. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country. In more than five decades, the agency has helped people restart their lives. Today, a staff of some 7,685 people in more than 125 countries continues to help some 33.9 million persons. UNHCR provides protection to millions of uprooted or stateless people and is committed to increasing its ability to respond to complex emergency situations. The agency provides life-saving assistance to help with shelter, health, water and education. It provides durable solutions by helping with local integration, resettlement and voluntary repatriation. UNHCR also helps to minimize the environmental impact of refugee operations.
Cities, states and countries throughout the world celebrate World Refugee Day in a multitude of different ways. Events are being held in New York City from 2pm until 4 in the Tilman Chapel, Church Center of the UN. This year the theme for events being held is, “1 family torn apart by war is too many”. The Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations along with the Mennonite Central Committee have organized an afternoon of events in honor of World Refuge Day. There will be a photo exhibit organized by a young Palestinian who works with the Lajee Center in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem. A documentary film based will be shown. A panel discussion will focus on the issues facing Palestinian refugees. Speakers on the panel will include a Palestinian 1948 refugee, a third generation refugee currently living in the US, and staff representatives from the UN Agency UNRWA and the Mennonite Central Committee, organizations that have been working on the ground for almost 65 years. All events will be on June 20 from 2pm until 4 in the Tillman Chapel, Church Center for the UN.
The 9:15 AM chapel service in the Tillman Chapel will be led by the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and will focus on World Refugee Day with an emphasis on Palestinian refugees.
We who follow Jesus, remember not only his call that we love one another - we remember that he was once a refugee. Joseph and Mary fled with Jesus to Egypt for safety. In his name, we observe World Refugee Day.
Thanks to Anna Folz for this post.