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World Refugee Day

The United Nations' (UN) World Refugee Day is observed on June 20 each year. This event honors the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.

UN world Refugee Day

World Refugee Day honors the spirit and courage of millions of refugees worldwide.

©iStockphoto.com/David Snyder

What Do People Do?

People honor the spirit and courage of millions of refugees worldwide on World Refugee Day. It is a day to recognize the contributions of refugees in their communities. Organizations such as Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) often get involved in various activities for the day. They may include:

  • Activist protests against using former prisons to detain migrants and asylum seekers.
  • Screenings of films about the lives of asylum seekers living in a western country.
  • Organization members visiting asylum seekers in detention to offer moral support.
  • Letters or petitions to governments on the treatment of asylum seekers in detention.

Some communities dedicate an entire week that includes World Refugee Day to encourage people to think about the lives of refugees and the human right to a secure place to that one can see as “home”.

Public Life

World Refugee Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.

Background

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.

Symbols

The UN Refugee Agency's (UNCHR) logo is often associated with the day. The colors used are either white on a blue background or blue on white background. The logo features olive branches that symbolize peace surrounding or protecting two hands facing each other, and in the middle a figure of a person protected by these hands. The logo is sometimes featured with the words “UNHCR”, followed by “The UN Refugee Agency” in smaller text to mark the logo.

The UNHCR in Canada uses a special World Refugee Day logo that features two figures – one smaller figure on the left and a taller figure on the right. They are protected by brackets or half circles. The words “World Refugee Day” are placed at the centre top of the figures, and “20 June” is placed at under the figures at the centre. All elements of the logo are the one color – green.

World Refugee Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday Type
2010SunJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2011MonJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2012WedJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2013ThuJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2014FriJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2015SatJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2016MonJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2017TueJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2018WedJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2019ThuJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance
2020SatJun 20World Refugee DayUnited Nations observance

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