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World Refugee Day: June 20.

It has been almost 20 years since the UN General Assembly decided that June 20 would be celebrated as World Refugee Day (A/RES/55/76). Twenty years ago (2001) marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Why Should We Care?

While World Refugee Day is to honour the strength and courage of refugees, people are nevertheless forced to flee their home lands because of conflict or natural disaster.  In fact every minute 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror!

Do you know any Refugees?

A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country owing to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion”, according to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention. Many refugees are in exile to escape the effects of natural or human-made disasters.

Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in the world, therefore the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol were enacted to help protect them. They are the only global legal instruments explicitly covering the most important aspects of a refugee’s life. According to their provisions, refugees deserve, as a minimum, the same standards of treatment enjoyed by other foreign nationals in a given country and, in many cases, the same treatment as nationals.

The Rights contained in the 1951 Convention include:

  • The right not to be expelled, except under certain, strictly defined conditions;
  • The right not to be punished for illegal entry into the territory of a contracting State;
  • The right to work;
  • The right to housing;
  • The right to education;
  • The right to public relief and assistance;
  • The right to freedom of religion;
  • The right to access the courts;
  • The right to freedom of movement within the territory;
  • The right to be issued identity and travel documents.

Some basic rights, including the right to be protected from refoulement, apply to all refugees. A refugee becomes entitled to other rights the longer they remain in the host country, which is based on the recognition that the longer they remain as refugees, the more rights they need.

For more go to United Nations: World Refugee Day

Image by Robert Lentz: Jesus the Asylum Seeker

 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger – a refugee – and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Matthew 25:35, 36

For more – read Canadian Soccer star Alphonso Davies who plays for Bayern Munich: “I want people to know about the importance of helping refugees“:

The 20-year-old, who is one of the most highly rated young players in the world, is the first footballer to be named as a global goodwill ambassador for UNHCR, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency.

Davies was born in a refugee camp in Ghana to Liberian parents who had fled civil war in that country. The family were resettled to Canada when Davies was five.

‘I want people to know about the importance of helping refugees, wherever they are, in camps or cities, in neighbouring countries or countries of resettlement such as Canada,’ he said.