Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Today is World Refugee Day!

A group of rescued people on the deck of an Italian naval vessel as the sun sets in the Mediterranean. ©UNHCR/A. D'Amato
Each day war forces thousands of families to flee their homes.People like you, people like me. To escape the violence, they leave everything behind – everything except their hopes and dreams for a safer future. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency believes all refugees deserve to live in safety.

Take the case of Wafaa Tabra. She dreams of making her family whole again. She fled the war in Syria with her three children. Wafaa, 33, says: “I used to be a fashion designer in Syria. I studied sewing and fashion design at the Mamoun International Center in Damascus. Most of all, I loved making wedding dresses.”

“Then the war came. It destroyed everything. My husband left our home eleven months ago. I haven’t seen him since. He managed to reach Germany. I hoped to join him via the reunification program, but it was taking too long. Then, my children’s school was destroyed. My brother died in a bombing, and friends and relatives were killed. We lived in constant fear. Staying in Syria was too dangerous. Maybe I could have endured it, but they couldn’t [her children]. I decided I had to leave.”

“I’ve been in Greece for two months. We slept in a small tent in a gas station. For weeks, we hoped the border would open. Then, a month ago, we moved to another camp. We have a large tent to ourselves now. We draw, paint and play. Art helps us to forget our difficulties. But my children miss their father.”

“ Now, I dream. I dream of continuing my education, of making dresses again. I dream of my children returning to school. Most of all, I dream of making my family whole again.”

Wafaa fled her hometown of Aleppo, Syria, in February 2016. She had hoped to join her husband in Germany, who left their war-torn home one year ago. But her family’s flight from war came to a halt in Greece, after countries along the Balkans route tightened borders in March.

June 20 is the day the world commemorates the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees like Wafaa. Held every year, World Refugee Day also marks a key moment for the public to show support for families forced to flee.

In September 2016, global leaders agreed to work towards a Global Compact for refugees in 2018 where all parts of society stand together #WithRefugees and do their fair share instead of leaving individual states to bear the burden of mass forced displacement.

The UN Refugee Agency is working to ensure the following:

  • Every refugee child gets an education
  • Every refugee family has somewhere safe to live
  • Every refugee can work or learn new skills to support their families.

In a world where one in every 113 people have been forced to flee their homes because of war or persecution it’s vital we demonstrate the global public stands #WithRefugees.

Please stand #WithRefugees!