June 20th is World Refugee Day

Support refugees across the globe to be protected and included in health care, education and sport this year on World Refugee Day (20th June) .

Together we heal, learn and shine.

The shared experience of COVID-19 has showed us that we only succeed if we stand together. We have all had to do our part to keep each other safe. Refugees and displaced people have stepped up despite the challenges. Given the chance, refugees will continue to contribute to a stronger, safer and more vibrant world.

People forced to flee often struggle to find a doctor when they are sick. They can also struggle to find schools for their children or a place for them to run around and play.

World Refugee Day celebrates the strength and courage of people forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is a time to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognise their resilience in rebuilding their lives.

World Refugee Day also shines a light on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees. It is an opportunity to help mobilise political will and resources so refugees can not only survive but also thrive. International days like World Refugee Day help to focus attention on the plight of those fleeing conflict or persecution. However it is important to protect and improve the lives of refugees every single day.

Refugees and displaced people are just like you and me

Every minute 30 people leave everything behind to escape conflict or persecution.

What would you do if conflict threatened your family? Stay and risk your lives or try to flee, and risk kidnap, rape or torture?

We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees – over half of whom are under the age of 18. Over a half of all global refugees come from Afghanistan, South Sudan and Syria.

There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.

It is heartbreaking to see borders being closed, people perishing in transit, and refugees and migrants alike being shunned – in violation of human rights and international law. The human cost is profound with millions of jobs lost, millions of children thrust out of school, and lives haunted by trauma and intolerance.

TOGETHER is a United Nations campaign that promotes respect safety and dignity for refugees and migrants. Its aim is to counter the rise in xenophobia, intolerance, racism and discrimination by:

  • changing negative perceptions and attitudes towards refugees and migrants; and
  • strengthening the social contract between host countries and communities, and refugees and migrants.

Definitions of displaced people and NZ’s response to refugees

There are several types of forcibly displaced persons.

  • 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.
  • Asylum seekers say they are refugees and have fled their homes as refugees do, but their claim to refugee status is not yet definitively evaluated in the country to which they fled.
  • Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are people who have not crossed an international border but have moved to a different region from the one they call home within their own country.

Migrants make the decision to move based on choice so are very different from refugees. They choose to move to better their circumstances such as to escape poverty and unemployment or to reunite with family members, and are often able to decide where they will migrate to.

New Zealand currently resettles up to 1,000 refugees every year through the Refugee Quota Programme. We are only 1 of 37 countries that regularly accept refugees annually.

Sources: NZ Red Cross Refugee Services and United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Published on Tuesday, June 1st, 2021, under Events
Page last updated: 28/05/2021

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