Welcome to the World Refugee Day 2021 live blog! This year, we are highlighting events and stories from around the world that showcase refugees as well as the countries, organizations and communities that support and welcome them.
On World Refugee Day, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, joins with others around the world to honour the more than 80 million people who have been forced to flee war, conflicts and persecution and rebuild their lives far from home. We also celebrate the people who have opened their countries, communities and even their homes to those who seek safety and peace.
The COVID-19 pandemic has strained our health care systems, forced children out of school and sometimes kept us from those we love most. Refugees have stepped up despite the challenges they face – working on the front lines as nurses and doctors, inventing ways to keep people from spreading germs in close quarters, distributing information on how to stay healthy and safe and more.
Given the chance, refugees will continue to contribute to a stronger, safer and more vibrant world. Together #WithRefugees, we can achieve anything.
Last entry of the 2021 World Refugee Live Blog – New York/Burkina Faso
Despite the pandemic, war, violence and persecution continued this year. Last week, UNHCR reported that 82.4 million people have been forcibly displaced from home – having sought shelter across borders or within their own country.
We cannot accept this – because each of those numbers is a person, someone who wants only to live free of fear. So this World Refugee Day, we celebrate refugees and the communities that make them feel welcome. But we also have a message: We all must do more.
“The way the international community tries to address conflict and insecurity is broken”
In Burkina Faso for #WorldRefugeeDay, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie called on the world to focus on finding solutions to reduce refugee numbers globally. https://t.co/1Shvl5z7sR pic.twitter.com/j66G3GjRR8
— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) June 21, 2021
Finally, a special thank you.
This year, Afghan-Canadian artist and former refugee Hangama Amiri designed the World Refugee Day Twitter emoji. She has a special thank you message, but first we want to thank her: Thank you, Hangama, for capturing home and hope so beautifully.
“No one chooses to be a refugee. We all deserve to have a home and to be safe, ” are the words I shared with @TorontoStar on this #WorldRefugeeDay I would like to thank @Refugees @Twitter for selecting me to design this year’s emoji. Thank you all for sharing your solidarity!
— Hangama Amiri (@hangama_art) June 20, 2021
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, in Colombia on World Refugee Day.
This #WorldRefugeeDay, let’s remember all of the LGBTIQ+ refugees around the world searching for a place to be who they are in peace. We love this exhibit and are so pleased to see it in Pride House, Japan. You can visit it online!
#PHTL is excited to showcase the photo exhibit “Am I Wrong to Love?” with @UNHCR_Tokyo for #WorldRefugeeDay
Curated by @JayuCanada with support from @UNHCRCanada it features portraits & first-person stories of LGBTIQ+ refugees
Explore it online too! ー＞https://t.co/FHstCB52Se
— Pride House Tokyo（プライドハウス東京） (@PrideHouseTokyo) June 18, 2021
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Poetry slam! Congolese slammer Feza Ketya expresses her feelings along with young Burundian and Rwandan refugees in Goma.“This text has no beginning or end. I wrote it at random a bit like the mess in my head.”
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
More blue for World Refugee Day!
Kingdom Tower in Riyadh lit in blue in solidarity with refugees and forcibly displaced people around the world.#WorldRefugeeDay
— مفوضية اللاجئين في دول الخليج (@UNHCR_GCC) June 20, 2021
Oxford, United Kingdom
Looking for great reads for your kids? Check out Lantana Publishing’s books on refugees to get started!
Looking for #RefugeeWeek reads for your young ones? Check out @TripFiction‘s 10 extraordinary, hard-hitting children’s & YA books that raise awareness of the refugee crisis. Thanks for including ESCAPE by @mingandwah & TOMORROW by @Nadinekaadan! 📖: https://t.co/EbtVWe0T5m pic.twitter.com/pVzvqskLMf
— Lantana Publishing (@lantanapub) June 17, 2021
Seventeen-year-old Bhutanese refugee Kul Bahadur plays guitar and performs a song expressing love for his home country during a festive virtual ceremony to mark #WorldRefugeeDay on 20 June 2021 in Damak, Province 1 in Nepal. The event was co-organized by @UNHCR Nepal and @LWF Nepal and with the participation of representatives from the refugee community, local and federal Government, NGOs and international community. Watch the performance here
UNHCR Nordic and Baltic Countries co-organized a lively event with young refugees from the Täby reception center in Stockholm, Sweden. In a nod to the theme of refugee inclusion in sports, several friendly football matches were held between the refugees, locals and UNHCR colleagues and activities for all ages were available as children participated in UNHCR’s Youth #WithRefugees Art Contest Dreamball challenge.
Clarkston, Georgia, United States
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Kat Graham went to Georgia, USA to meet refugees who are making their communities brighter!
This #WorldRefugeeDay, meet amazing people who are making our communities stronger. I recently went to Clarkston, Georgia and had the honor of meeting incredible @refugees who are making a difference. Together we can achieve anything. @UNHCRUSA pic.twitter.com/6xn1gnMQe7
— Kat Graham (@KatGraham) June 16, 2021
On 19 June, to mark World Refugee Day, buildings and monuments in 40 Spanish cities lit up blue to honour the millions of people fleeing wars, violence, persecution and human rights violations. Thank you to all of the cities who participated and to those who shared the awesome photos! #NocheAzul #DíadelRefugiado
Anoche monumentos y edificios de toda España se tiñeron de azul para conmemorar el #DíadelRefugiado.
Abrimos hilo con 📷 magníficas. Empezamos con A Coruña, Alcobendas, Benidorm y el Estadio de San Mamés en Bilbao ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/sKcwaTkYLG
— ACNUR España (@ACNURspain) June 20, 2021
As part of their pledge to change the refugee narrative, IKEA has launched their new campaign in support of refugee inclusion. We encourage all IKEA co-workers and customers to support this important cause! Together #WithRefugees
Refugees bring value to the communities they become a part of. But the media often tells a different story. IKEA’s ambition is to help change that narrative —because the way we see each other matters. On World Refugee Day 2021, IKEA chooses to see the potential in all of us. pic.twitter.com/Afeak5TVGY
— IKEA (@IKEA) June 20, 2021
The biggest social media account in the world has featured the first Syrian refugee woman pilot, our Goodwill Ambassador Maya Ghazal.
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World Refugee Day face masks spotted!
#WorldRefugeeDay is an occasion to extend empathy and understanding for the plight of the displaced and to build public solidarity to help them rebuild their lives.
Here in Georgia, we united for a Solidarity Walk to say we stand #WithRefugees 💙 @usingeo @kkuchava @ungeorgia pic.twitter.com/r2U8dT2UsQ
— UNHCR Georgia (@UNHCRGeorgia) June 20, 2021
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Actress, influencer and now UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Tanya Burr celebrates World Refugee Day.
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In the U.S. capital, World Refugee Day celebrations kicked off with cultural activities hosted by The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, with musical performances by Mélat, the daughter of Ethiopian refugees and R&B artist, and Cesar Orozco & Kamarata Jazz, Venezuelan/Cuban inspired music, yoga and dance workshops and more with One Journey, a grassroots advocacy group.
When they ask how show number 1 went…
— Mélat (@beholdmelat) June 19, 2021
Goodnight from Kyoto! Toji Temple is a Shingon Buddhist temple in Kyoto City, Japan, built 1200 years ago. It has been named a world heritage site. The Temple participated in UNHCR Japan’s nationwide blue light-up initiative for World Refugee Day, shining blue in honour of those who have been forced to flee their homes.
Maban County, South Sudan
On World Refugee Day, in #SouthSudan we celebrate the fact that with help from welcoming communities, kind neighbours & international support, @refugees can find the strength to heal, learn & even shine ⭐️
— UNHCR South Sudan (@UNHCRSouthSudan) June 20, 2021
A refugee boy from Afghanistan, Ferdavs, was among the attendees of a comic workshop held at the Tverskaya 15 inclusive center in Moscow. The “Run can’t stay” comic book is a joint project between UNHCR Russia and the Samokat publishing house. It features the stories of 7 refugee children from Yemen, Afghanistan, South Sudan, CAR, Palestine, Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo living in Russia and studying at local schools. The book, based on real-life stories and written by Alexei Oleynnikov with illustrations by students, contains information about the countries of origin and the reasons people had to flee.
In the UK, Refugee Week has been running since 14 June with a host of events across the country including arts festivals, exhibitions, film screenings and football tournaments. The theme in the UK this year is “We Cannot Walk Alone.” Check out this interview with Dr Waheed Arian, an ex-Afghan refugee now working on the frontline for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). We will also be joining refugee supporters in Devon next week to mark the long-standing tradition of offering sanctuary to those in need.
The World Economic Forum’s Radio Davos has released a podcast for World Refugee Day featuring a discussion between UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Victor Ochen, who was internally displaced for 20 years in northern Uganda, on the impact of COVID-19 on people forced to flee.
— World Economic Forum (@wef) June 20, 2021
Combining two elements of this year’s motto “Together we heal, learn and shine”, today saw the inauguration of a new nursing and healthcare lab for Jordanian and refugee students at the Luminus Technical University College in the capital Amman, supported by UNHCR. Syrian nursing student Aya said: “Education is important for everyone. It helps a person develop, but also develops our community.”
British writer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Neil Gaiman is marking the day by handing over his Instagram account to South Sudanese refugee and activist Nhial Deng. Check his feed throughout the day to hear more about Nhial’s incredible journey.
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With more than 6.7 million Syrian refugees around the world, people often overlook the fact that some 24,000 refugees from other countries currently live in Syria. Seven of them have shared their stories to mark World Refugee Day.
Today is #Worldrefugeeday
Many don’t know this, but there are refugees living in Syria
Syria hosts over 24,000 refugees & asylum seekers
In fact, historically, it has been 1 of the largest refugee hosting countries
— UNHCR Syria (@UNHCRinSYRIA) June 20, 2021
In Geneva this morning, hundreds of people took part in a 5km run organised by the nonprofit Together Run to symbolize the journey of millions of refugees around the world who have fled their homes in search of safety. Among the runners was UNHCR’s own Deputy High Commissioner Kelly T. Clements, who shared her thoughts on how sport can connect refugees to their communities and help them to shine.
This #WorldRefugeeDay I’m in Geneva, Switzerland, taking part in the Together Refugee Run.
I’m running today because I can, but many people run because they don’t have another choice. Please take action, do what you can, and help others.
— Kelly T. Clements (@KellyTClements) June 20, 2021
Ivorian refugee Aurélie Kouassi loves football but struggles to find other girls who her share her passion at the Egyeikrom Camp in Ghana. For now, she plays with the boys but her goal is to play for a top football club, and go to university.
Aurelie, Ivoirian refugee in 🇬🇭Ghana has a passion for football⚽ and aspires to be a great footballer in the future.
Here’s her story👇
⚽ Together, we shine✨
— UNHCR West & Central Africa (@UNHCRWestAfrica) June 20, 2021
Home to the largest refugee population in Central Asia, Tajikistan marked World Refugee Day by organising an event in the city of Vahdat during which sports equipment was donated to schools attended by refugees and locals. Pupils showed their appreciation with a Taekwondo demonstration.
Italy’s World Refugee Day activities this year included the Awareness Festival, which aims to promote the inclusion of refugees and migrants through participation in sport. Over 100 young people aged 16-26 came together for a day of football and celebration.
Did you know that the Caribbean island of Aruba is home to the world’s largest per capital population of internationally displaced people, mostly from Venezuela? At the end of last month ahead of World Refugee Day, dance groups made up of locals, refugees and migrants organised a flash mob on the white sands of Eagle Beach.
At the Rukla refugee reception centre in Lithuania, refugees from the centre and other parts of the country came togther with locals to enjoy activities including singing, dancing and… a foam party! The latter seemed to go down particularly well with younger participants.
Inclusion in sport is one of the themes of this year’s WRD, so what better way to mark the occasion in Greece – location of the first ever marathon – than by organising a short distance marathon. On the Greek island of Leros, refugee children took part in the race alongside islanders including staff and pupils from local schools.
Omar’s Film School in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, trains young Rohingya refugees on photography and videography so they can tell their own stories. UNHCR teamed up with the School to make this short film for World Refugee Day.
This #WorldRefugeeDay , we have teamed up with @omar_film to meet Rohingya refugees who heal, learn & shine everyday. @omar_film have dedicated themselves to preserving the Rohingya culture & heritage & to raising awareness in their community through film, photos & social media pic.twitter.com/VWLBUyGbjV
— UNHCR in Bangladesh (@UNHCR_BGD) June 20, 2021
Olympic marathon runner and former refugee Yonas Kinde will be spending World Refugee Day running a special training programme while he thinks about refugees around the world, particularly children. “This is the time to think about those people,” he said. “It’s a very special day.”
Olympian, student, refugee.
Yonas Kinde reminds us this #WorldRefugeeDay that together, we can achieve anything.
— Gonzalo Vargas Llosa (@llosa_gonzalo) June 20, 2021
London, United Kingdom
In an interview with Reuters for World Refugee Day, actor and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett said the uncertainty faced by many of us during COVID-19 has been the reality for most refugees “year in, year out”, and urged people to reflect on how to create a safer, more humane and inclusive world.
As the world grapples with unpredictability, this year’s #WorldRefugeeDay offers a chance to reflect on the uncertainty faced by refugees, actor Cate Blanchett, a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency, told Reuters https://t.co/CJUd2rS9Hm pic.twitter.com/CI4AiGaQzp
— Reuters (@Reuters) June 20, 2021
This year, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi is in Colombia for World Refugee Day. As well as meeting Venezuelan refugees and migrants living in the country, he also delivered a message expressing solidarity and admiration for refugees around the world.
I am in Colombia 🇨🇴 to celebrate #WorldRefugeeDay in recognition of efforts made by the people and government to give Venezuelan refugees and migrants access to public services and work through the “temporary protection” 10-year status.
An example for the region and the world. pic.twitter.com/d7ctDJcpXz
— Filippo Grandi (@FilippoGrandi) June 19, 2021
The moto of this year’s World Refugee Day is “Together we heal, learn and shine.” In Nigeria’s Adagom 1 Settlement, young Bridget from Cameroon showed Nigerian actor and High-Profile Supporter Judith Audu how to learn together by inviting her to spend the day at her primary school.
— UNHCR West & Central Africa (@UNHCRWestAfrica) June 19, 2021
Victor spent most of his life in war-zones. For World Refugee Day, he sat down with Refugees Chief @FilippoGrandi for an intimate conversation on trauma passed down through generations, the need for peace and what it means when you don’t know if you can be resilient anymore.
“I transformed my trauma, my pain and my suffering into an opportunity for leadership.”@Victor_OCHEN sits down to share his thoughts with our chief @FilippoGrandi.#WorldRefugeeDay pic.twitter.com/n9TuJ30jea
— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) June 19, 2021
This might be the first-ever World Refugee Day boat!
— Pauline Eluère (@Pauline_Eluere) June 17, 2021
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Celebrations have begun in Addis Ababa, where UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Betty G and young refugees gathered to discuss – and sing about – the life changing power of education.
Thank you @ItsBettyG – UNHCRs Goodwill Ambassador – for her strong dedication & support for #refugees … and for her beautiful song today at our #WorldRefugeeDay event in Addis Ababa, co-hosted with @EthRefugee @JesuitRefugee #WISE @tellingthereal #WithRefugees pic.twitter.com/Ok9TA5fTcT
— UNHCR Ethiopia (@UNHCREthiopia) June 18, 2021
For the second year in a row, UNIQLO is running its global World Refugee Day campaign online and in retail stores worldwide. The week long campaign starts today and includes social media posts, posters and a WRD website, as well as a donation of two million AIRism masks to UNHCR to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to people forced to flee.
— UNHCR駐日事務所 (@UNHCR_Tokyo) June 18, 2021
Mimi Kayeye – a participant in UNHCR’s Journalist Mentorship Programme for Refugees – has written a powerful account for Harper’s Bazar UK of her experience twice fleeing her home in Burundi before settling in Australia as a refugee.
— Kristy Siegfried (@klsiegfried) June 18, 2021
New York, USA
In the lead up to WRD, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi joined US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield and former refugees Bahati Ernestine Hategekimana, Daniela María Pérez Obando and Abdallah Al-Obaidi for a virtual panel on the importance of acceptance and inclusion.
“I was 6 when a bomb went off @ my school and I found myself hiding in an empty fridge under the stairs,” Abdallah, now 22, has just been accepted to @TuftsMedSchool
— Dana Sleiman l دانا سليمان (@DanaSleiman) June 16, 2021
Working with Vodafone Foundation and refugee communities, UNHCR turns classrooms into multimedia hubs. See how it works!
As connectivity transforms the world, those with most to gain are often last to benefit.
Find out how #InstantNetworkSchools with @UNHCRMozambique will connect 9,000 @refugees, asylum seekers and students to quality digital education.🇲🇿https://t.co/MH28hADkCM#WorldRefugeeDay pic.twitter.com/0VBxUBVcEY
— Vodafone Foundation (@VodafoneFdn) June 17, 2021
What does home mean to you? Show us during our TikTokForGood challenge!
— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) June 16, 2021
This World Refugee Day, UNHCR’s theme is “together we heal, learn and shine,” and we call for the inclusion of refugees in healthcare, education and sport. These kids drew what this means to them!
As part of events marking #WorldRefugeeDay in #Cameroon 🇨🇲, #refugee & 🇨🇲 kids in 6 primary #schools in the outskirts of #Yaounde were asked to #draw what “together we heal, learn & shine” meant to them.
— UNHCR Cameroon (@RefugeesCmr) June 16, 2021
This year, UNHCR and Twitter partnered with Afghan-Canadian artist, Hangama Amiri, to create the 2021 World Refugee Day emoji. Click here to read a Q/A with the artist.
This year, for the first time, the emoji has been created by a refugee artist, Hangama Amiri @hangama_art.
— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) June 14, 2021
Alphonso Davies, superstar footballer and a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, talks about the power of sport to change lives in this special World Refugee Day interview with Canadian magazine, Global Heroes.
He’s a shining example of the what happens when you let refugees dream and give them the opportunity to succeed.
— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) June 19, 2021
Originally published on UNHCR on 20 June 2021