UN World Refugee Day 2021 is themed Together We Can Achieve Anything
“Only together can we end this pandemic and recover. Only together can we revive our economies. And then, together, we can all get back to the things we love.”
–UN Secretary-General António Guterres
United Nations World Refugee Day is a day to build empathy and provide insight into the struggles and the resilience of the millions of people forced to leave their known lives behind and start anew. Each year on June 20th, World Refugee Day honors the tens of millions of humans forced to flee unbearable conditions with bravery and resilience. UN Refugee Day is also a day to applaud those countries and communities who have opened their borders to support and protect displaced persons on their way to better lives.
What would you take if you had to leave your home with only as much as you could carry?
What risks would you be willing to take to keep your family safe or to secure a better future for them?
Every day those in the world fleeing persecution, natural disasters, war, or famine have to face these questions. The numbers are astounding, and not just statistics, each number represents an individual human life. Each one uncertain what the future will hold. According to the 2020 UNHCR Global Trend Report one million children were born into displacement between 2018 and 2020. Making sure that their needs are met is not only important for their future success, but for the shape of global economies as well. Children are the future of this world.
In 2021 UN World Refugee Day lands amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic. The world came to a standstill last year, yet the struggles faced by refugees persisted. The pandemic did not prevent conflicts, so while the numbers of displaced people hit an all time high in 2020, because of COVID-19 there were also fewer routes of safe escape. The theme this year for UN World Refugee Day 2021 is “Together We Can Achieve Anything.” We know this to be true. With collective determination and shared resources the world’s most pressing problems can be solved. Now more than ever, we need to work together to choose love and collaboration over fear and divisiveness.
“We are witnessing a changed reality in that forced displacement nowadays is not only vastly more widespread but is simply no longer a short-term and temporary phenomenon.”
-Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
The heartbreaking reality is that most refugees flee due to ongoing human-made conflicts. Additionally the increased frequency of natural disasters due to the climate crisis impacts some of the most vulnerable populations from the poorest of regions.
Most recently, the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has forced over 45,000 people to flee over the border into Sudan. Tsige and her daughter had to stay behind as her husband and son fled to safety, not knowing when and how the family would meet up again.
Four generations later, my own family’s saga of fleeing persecution as Jews in Russia has been all but lost over time and assimilation. A tattered and faded newspaper clipping provides me just a glimpse of the story, the rest of which is forgotten with those who came before me. Their story gives me a feeling of solidarity and hope for those seeking a better future. I can’t imagine the agony of splitting up as a family to escape danger. Those in my family who came to the US by way of Cuba took years to reunite. In my own family’s story, I recognize that I am the future they hoped for: Safety, education, opportunities, and Home. The type of security all families want for future generations. To survive with the chance to thrive. Every human deserves that. Only by working together can we ensure a better future for all.
Together we heal, learn, and shine.
Here are a few ways to get involved from the UN Refugee Agency:
Donate to help protect refugees from COVID-19
Donate to create scholarships for young refugees to attend university
Watch one (or all) of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett’s Watchlist of recommended films:
Capernaum, directed by Nadine Labaki
Shoplifters, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
News from home, directed by Chantal Akerman
The Other Side of Hope, directed by Aki Kaurismaki
Babel, directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu
The Joy Luck Club, directed by Wayne Wang
Get a free copy of Tastes from Home: Recipes from the Refugee Community and unlock a donation tothe UNHCR in support of refugees and their families. #CookWithRefugees
Watch this video to be inspired and see the power in Supporting the Refugee Olympic and Paralympic Teams
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Elizabeth Atalay