June 20th is World Refugee Day and the theme for 2020 is “Every Action Counts”. It is a reminder of the huge contributions made by refugees towards a more inclusive and equal society.
A refugee has a specific meaning. She or he is someone who seeks protection owing to a well-founded fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Membership of a particular social group includes those who fear persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender, or are victims of trafficking.
Refugees flee their countries, generally with very little, but memories of the homes and families they have left behind. In most cases, the traumatic experiences they have suffered are because of their beliefs or attributes about themselves that they cannot change. In fact, prior to the last century “the practice of sheltering those compelled to flight was not perceived as a burden, but rather as a necessary incident of power, and indeed as a source of communal enrichment” (Professor Hathaway “The Law of Refugee Status”). And refugees have enriched many societies. Some, or their children, have reached prominence and include: Albert Einstein, Chagall, Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Madeleine Albright, Henry Kissinger, Jackie Chan, Marlene Dietrich, Victor Hugo (… and the list goes on and on).
But “every action counts” is not just about prominent refugees but about all refugees and how they enrich society.
There are now 70.8 million forcibly displaced people in the world of which, 26 million are refugees (over half of which are under the age of 18). 57% of UNHCR’s refugees (11.7 million people) come from three countries; South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria.
World Refugee Day and week is a celebration of their contribution and that everyone can make a difference because every action counts. The UNCHR, the guardians of the Convention on Refugees, put out a statement for the 20 June 2020 reminding us that we all have a part to play:
The COVID-19 pandemic and the recent anti-racism protests have shown us how desperately we need to fight for a more inclusive and equal world: a world where no one is left behind. It has never been clearer that all of us have a role to play in order to bring about change. Everyone can make a difference. This is at the heart of UNHCR’s World Refugee Day campaign. This year, we aim to remind the world that everyone, including refugees, can contribute to society and Every Action Counts in the effort to create a more just, inclusive, and equal world
Lets create a more just, inclusive and equal world.