Many of us are aware that the world is currently facing the biggest crisis of forcibly displaced people in history. The UN estimates around 65.3 million people* have been forced to flee their homes because of persecution, war, or violence. That’s almost 1.5 times the population of Spain.
When a person flees their country’s border for one of these reasons they’re defined as a refugee under international law.
Even though a person may want to return, they can’t because of issues related to race, religion, nationality, sexuality, gender, or membership in a particular social group. Among the 65.3 million displaced persons in the world, roughly 21.3 million* are refugees.
During World Refugee Day, held each year on June 20th, the world comes together to recognize the courage and determination of the millions of people who’ve been forced to flee their homes and are now living all over the globe. It’s a moment to reconnect ourselves with the fact that these statistics are made up of individuals, each with a different story and set of struggles.
For many years other countries and regions have held their own Refugee Days. A distinct, international day was decided upon in 2000 when the United Nations General Assembly and Organization of African Unity (OAU) agreed to have World Refugee Day coincide with Africa Refugee Day. The first international celebration of World Refugee Day was held the following year on June 20th, 2001. This important day also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by facts and numbers and not know how you can get involved. The important thing is to know that you can! Just as statistics are made up of millions of individuals, a solution is possible if millions of individuals stand together to create change. Here are three ways you can get involved:
Attend: If you live in Madrid, attend one of MFR’s local fundraising events! In June, Madrid for Refugees is collaborating with the Refugee Food Festival to allow refugee chefs to showcase their talents while bringing all cultures together over a delicious meal. Keep checking the MFR events page for updates on which chefs and restaurants are participating. For those of you outside of Madrid, find out what’s happening in your neck of the woods! World Refugee Day is an international celebration, with events in many major cities.
Give: Refugees arrive at reception centers in need of essentials. Madrid for Refugees is always accepting donations of new and unopened shampoo, soap, conditioner, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors and shaving cream, diapers, feminine hygiene products, makeup, and more. Click here for more details on how to donate items or to make a financial contribution.
Share: Like the MFR Facebook page and use #WithRefugees to share how you’re celebrating World Refugee Day. Even after June 20th, continue to raise awareness of the movement in a respectful way.
*Statistics and image sourced from the United Nations Refugee Agency