Awareness about refugees, World refugee day, UNHCR, UN 1951 Refugee ConventionAwareness about refugees, World refugee day, UNHCR, UN 1951 Refugee ConventionJune 20, 2001, has been designated by the United Nations as World Refugee Day. ((Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain, File)

As a mark of respect and to honour the courage and determination and resilience of refugees June 20, ever year is observed as World Refugee Day.

Why June 20?

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It has been designated by the United Nations (UN) to honour the courage of the refugees across the world. However, the global pandemic of coronavirus 2020 exposed the condition and vulnerability of those who are fleeing their countries or displaced within their countries. The pandemic forced many countries globally to close their borders to stop the spread of the virus. This meant those who were trying to move to other places were unable to get any help and were left without proper health care and faced huge economic crisis.

This day is observed globally to primarily create awareness about the refugees who are fleeing or displaced not because they are under privileged or poor but are running from conflicts, water crisis, climate change and internal crisis.

The UNHCR has set ”Together we heal, learn and shine’’ as a theme for World Refugee Day. This means that irrespective of their faiths, people all over the world have to work together to help in welcoming those stateless, displaced people, those who have been forced to flee their countries or those who are refugees.

According to the UNHCR, doing activities like arts, education, sports, or music together helps in building the confidence and skills of the people who have been moving in adverse situations.

When the first World Refugee Day was observed?

June 20, 2001, has been designated by the United Nations as World Refugee Day. This day has been dedicated to the refugees around the world. And this day also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the “1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.” Earlier it was known as Africa Refugee Day and in December 2020, the UN General Assembly designated it as an international day.

So who is a refugee?

No, not the poor and under privileged, but the UN 1951 Refugee Convention states those people who have fled their countries and homes because of “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her nationality, race, religion, political opinion or membership of a particular social group”.

These people overnight become homeless and stateless, seeking a place to live and earn livelihood. Besides wars, natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, landslides, cyclones force people to leave their home to find refuge.

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