World Refugee Day 2023

Today, June 20th, marks World Refugee Day. We at Hope Immigration wanted to take a moment to reflect on this day and share some information. 

If you have been with us for a while, you may remember a blog post about World Refugee Day from 2021. That was my very first blog post for Hope during my internship! I shared more about the history of refugees and my research. If you’d like to read that original post, you can do so here.

What Is World Refugee Day?

What is World Refugee Day, you may ask? It is an international day designated by the United Nations to honor and celebrate refugees all across the world. It was introduced in 2001 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention and has since taken place on the same date every year.

How Do You Celebrate?

There are so many ways to celebrate this important day. There are often local celebrations, especially if your area has a large and thriving refugee population, from parades to parties to concerts. But there are other ways you can get involved. You can volunteer for a local refugee resettlement agency, donate to an organization that supports refugees, or support a local refugee business. If you need more inspiration, the International Rescue Committee has this great list you can check out. Want to know how your country is celebrating? You can find out here!

In the Atlanta area, there are several events. We’ve copied the information for you at the end of this post. This is also a great list of refugee-owned businesses in Atlanta that you can check out!

Who Are Refugees?

That’s a great question! Terms like refugee, asylum seeker, and immigrant are so often used, but many do not know the distinct meanings. Refugee is officially defined in the 1951 Refugee Convention as an individual with “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” This means that someone was forced to leave their home country due to fearing for their lives for something out of their control, such as their religious beliefs or their skin color. Refugee status is also an official status that provides the individual with specific rights and protections. If they do not have refugee status yet, they are referred to as asylum seekers. To learn more, we suggest this article. 

But refugees are so much more than their circumstances and legal status. They contribute so much to the societies they settle in in so many ways. Did you know that you wouldn’t be reading this post without a refugee’s contributions? You can thank Nigerian refugee Philip Emeagwali for his contributions to the internet we all use every day with the formula he created. He came from Nigeria as a school dropout but then earned several degrees after coming to the US. How about everyone’s favorite search engine, Google? There would be no “Hey Google” without Sergey Brin, a refugee from Moscow, Russia. He fled Jewish persecution with his family in the 1970s and went on to found Google with Larry Page in 1998. But even in small ways, refugees impact our lives regularly. Read more about refugee inventions here!

How Can I Help?

One of the most important things you can do is educate yourself and others. There are many resources available to learn more about refugees and forced migration. Perhaps just a quick Google away! See what I did there?

Some of my favorite websites include the Migration Policy Institute, the UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration, the International Rescue Committee, USCIS, and the National Immigration Forum. There are also several organizations where you can either donate your money, time, or physical goods (such as clothing, furniture, toys, etc.) in support of local refugees, including Inspiritus, New American Pathways, International Rescue Committee, Catholic Charities Atlanta, Refugee Women’s Network. There are several ways you can get involved and support the refugees in your community; the International Rescue Committee has put together a more comprehensive list here.

So What’s Happening In Atlanta?

As promised, here are some of the events we recommend if you’d like to celebrate World Refugee Day this week!

Refuge Coffee Co.

Atlanta’s own Refuge Coffee Co. has an all-day celebration downtown. Join them for a day of festivities and celebration. Starting at 9:30 am at the Clarkston Community Center there will be a parade. The festival will continue at Refuge Coffee Co. with performances, activities, food, music, dance, and more! More info here.

Bombchel at Ponce City Market 

Attend a pop-up shop with various refugee makers followed by a panel discussion that supports Amani Women Center and Refuge Coffee Co! More info here.

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