Friday, June 20, 2008
Today is World Refugee Day: Give Refugees a Hand
Today, June 20th, is World Refugee Day, a day to raise awareness about refugees' rights, and to honor their experiences.
Yesterday's Huffington Post article, 500,000 Iraqis Refugees in 2007, reported that, "A half-million Iraqis fled their embattled country in 2007, the third consecutive year more Iraqis were displaced than any other nationality . . ."
That's a statistic you don't often see in the news.
According to the UN Dispatch, "last year, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees assisted the highest-ever number of refugees and displaced in the organization's history. Today, there is a total of 11.4 million refugees outside their countries, as well as 26 million others displaced internally by conflict or persecution at the end of 2007." The Dispatch also reports that the reason for the increase is the war in Iraq.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR) has a number of ways that you can get involved:
* Donate to UNCHR ($80 provides 20 wool blankets)
* Raise money with the Give Refugees a Hand Facebook application. A sponsor of UNCHR will donate $.10 for every person who adds the application, and if you upload a photo of your, "protecting hands" (like I did to the left), an additional $1.00 will be donated on your behalf.
*Become a fan of their Facebook page.
* Follow their Twitter feed.
* Watch and pass on a PSA by Angelina Jolie, who has been a UNCHR Goodwill Ambassador since 2001, on YouTube.
Amnesty International has a World Refugee Day Tool Kit that you can download, and provides recommendations for small events that you can organize at your home like a letter writing meeting, or a film screening of Chasing Freedom, Darfur Diaries, or Well-Founded Fear.
Finally, World Refugee Day is also a day of celebration. Check out the photo of Rwandese dancers performing on World Refugee Day in the International Rescue Committee's post, Kenya: Rains can't dampen World Refugee Day. You can also find a list of World Refugee Day activities happening all over the world on the Forced Migration Current Awareness Blog
World Refugee Day