From our b-listed blog-
Please remember the millions of people around the world forced from their homes, whose only hope of return is to not be forgotten,” says Angelina Jolie, a Goodwill Ambassador with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. She has released a 30-second World Refugee Day video. For this day, June 20th, she speaks on thousands who “flee from conflict and persecution [and] might be prevented from returning home for years — or forever.”
We must think of stories like those of John – the volatile North Kivu province stole the lives of this fifteen-year-old Congolese refugee’s family last year. He says he now only dreams of a mattress and the chance to learn English. With the help of the UNHCR, he has applied for an asylum in Kenya and he now lives just that much closer to a dream come true. John is one of around 50,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers in Nairobi, Kenya, including 951 unaccompanied minors, who have escaped from the conflict in North Kivu.
There are more than 40 million uprooted people around the world. The theme, this year is “home.” John says he has no desire to return to North Kivu, where the violence has driven more than 1 million from their homes. UNHCR says, “Help us help them to find a place to call home.” It is time for us to think about what it means to be one of those millions of individual human beings. UNHCR helps John and others find new homes and new futures through resettlement, voluntary repatriation and local integration. According to the UNHCR, most refugees prefer to return to their home countries despite continuing or escalating conflict, which makes the search for homes and the return to normal living increasingly difficult.
In honor of World Refugee Day the International Detention Coalition (IDC) is urging governments to stop the detention of refugees and asylum seekers and to work together with UN and civil society to ensure their protection. They say-
There has been a disturbing and growing trend in the past year of industrialized countries funding, pressuring and providing incentives to neighboring countries to detain asylum seekers…There is evidence that detention is not an effective deterrent of asylum seekers. Punitive detention policies fail to consider the conditions that force people to flee their homes. They further traumatize refugees fleeing persecution, torture and conflict. Deterrence policies shift the burden to neighboring countries. It encourages harsh and harmful border policies that do not resolve the issue of irregular migration and people fleeing for protection. These issues must be tackled through international, regional and national cooperation, within a framework of refugee protection.
From June 18-20, the UNHCR is planning World Refugee Day events around the world to highlight the plight of refugees under its care and to advocate for the help they need. Get involved in soccer games, film festivals, photo exhibitions, food bazaars, fashion shows, concerts and sports competitions, workshops, speeches, poetry recitals and more. In addition, you can participate in the following upcoming major events: A Historic Refugee Discussion,” with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr; and “World Refugee Day performance by Marta Gomez”, which is free and open to the public. You can also organize an event in your area. In honor of World Refugee Day, the Empire State Building in NYC will light up in UNHCR blue.
Photo courtesy of oxfam.org.uk