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What is World Refugee Day?

By- Angela Padrón

Every day, thousands of families flee the violence that has taken over their countries to seek safety and freedom. Many years ago, several countries decided to bring this cause to the forefront by taking action to help asylum seekers. They wanted to do something to recognize refugees around the world and to send a message to governments that something must be done to help. Their goal was to assist refugees secure a place in the world that they could consider “home.”

In 2000, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) agreed to have International Refugee Day on June 20th, the same day as Africa Refugee Day. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees wanted to bring attention to the hardships of approximately 14 million refugees around the world. The United Nations General Assembly then adopted a resolution on December 4, 2000 to express its solidarity with Africa. The Assembly decided that June 20th would be celebrated as World Refugee Day from that day forward.

On World Refugee Day, people commemorate the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees. People around the world are encouraged to do their part to help refugees and their families. Several organizations, including Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee (IRC), hold events or conduct activities to bring more awareness to the cause.

This year, on June 20th, students, families, and teachers can take part in World Refugee Day activities. Here are several things people can do to help bring awareness to the plight of refugees:

-Protest peacefully against governments using former prisons to detain migrants and asylum seekers

-Watch documentaries about the lives of asylum seekers and refugees

-Work with organizations to visit asylum seekers who are being detained and offer moral support

-Write letters or sign petitions to send to governments advocating for the fair treatment of refugees living in detention

-Petition the United States and other Western governments to accept more refugees into their population

-Collect donations of clothing or food to send to organizations that can provide these goods to refugees in need

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