World Refugee Day 20 June

The Day offers a chance to raise awareness of the plight of refugees around the world and of the efforts to protect their human rights.

PHOTO:©UNHCR

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.

Asylum Seekers

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

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are people who have not crossed an international border but have moved to a different region than the one they call home within their own country.

Stateless Persons

Stateless persons do not have a recognized nationality and do not belong to any country.

Statelessness situations are usually caused by discrimination against certain groups. Their lack of identification — a citizenship certificate — can exclude them from access to important government services, including health care, education or employment.

Returnees

Returnees are former refugees who return to their own countries or regions of origin after time in exile. Returnees need continuous support and reintegration assistance to ensure that they can rebuild their lives at home.

For years, many countries and regions have been holding their own events similar to World Refugee Day. One of the most widespread events is Africa Refugee Day, which is celebrated on June 20 in many countries. the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to express its solidarity with Africa on December 4, 2000.

The resolution noted that 2001 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees, and that the Organization of African Unity (OAU) agreed to have International Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day on June 20. The Assembly therefore decided that June 20 would be celebrated as World Refugee Day from 2001 onwards. This day was designated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to bring attention to the plight of approximately 14 million refugees around the world.

Mai Nguyen