World Refugee Day, international observance observed June 20 each year, is dedicated to raising awareness of the situation of refugees throughout the world. Devastating conflicts and persecution uproot thousands of people from their homes and countries every year. According to the United Nations, every minute, 20 people are forced to leave behind everything, and escape conflict and war.
Theme of World Refugee Day 2020
The theme of World Refugee Day this year is "every action counts." Everyone can make a difference, says the world body and it is the responsibility of each one of us to make sure that no one is left behind. The focus is to bring about changes to make the world more inclusive.
Who is a refugee?
According to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, people who fled their homes and countries due to "a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion" is a refugee.
Imagine any of us being forced to flee our homes and country. It is a heart-breaking situation, where overnight people become stateless, thrown into an uncertain future. Often natural disasters like cyclones, floods and earthquakes force people to leave their homes.
History of World Refugee Day
On December 4, 2000 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution relating to the status of refugees, and decided that June 20 would be marked as World Refugee Day, to spread awareness and honour the resilience of refugees.
COVID-19 pandemic and refugee crisis
The UNHCR is working with governments to help the displaced people by stepping up sanitation and hygiene services. It is also working with people to create awareness. It is important to ensure that they are protected and get proper treatment if infected by the deadly virus, says the global body.
Apart from refugees, there are other UN-designated displaced persons such as asylum seekers, internally displaced people, or IDPs, who have not crossed international borders and stateless people who do not have a nationality.