Plaza Voices: World Refugee Day

Naghem S. writes:

As of 2017, there were more than 68.5 million people forcibly displaced from their homes.

44,000 people are forced to flee their homes every day because of violence and persecution.

25.4 million people are refugees. 

A refugee is a person who has been forced to flee his or her home because of persecution, war, and violence. Two thirds of the world’s refugees come from five countries: Syria, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia. Civil wars, ethnic cleansing, and terrorist activity are the leading causes of refugees fleeing their homes. Many refugees who fled their homes are unable to return. 

June 20 is World Refugee Day, a day that is marked by the United Nations and countries around the world. This day honors and recognizes the strength, courage, and perseverance of millions of refugees worldwide.  

“Once a person becomes a refugee, they are likely to remain a refugee for many years. Many will be displaced for nearly two decades. It is a life in limbo.” (UNHCR)

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, there are more than 2.6 million refugees currently living in refugee camps. These camps are temporary settlements built to house people who have fled their home country, usually constructed while the crisis is taking place. Sometimes these camps are nothing more than tents in the desert; others become communities helping prepare people for a brighter future. People living in refugee camps face many problems and challenges including access to water, health care and electricity. 

Some refugees are eligible for resettlement to another country. Refugees can’t apply for resettlement themselves. UNHCR identifies vulnerable cases and people. Only the most vulnerable refugees are considered, which includes those in need of immediate medical care, women and girls at risk, and survivors of violence and torture.

It is important to note that people who have committed serious crimes or who might pose a security risk are not eligible for resettlement. Furthermore, individual countries decide which people to admit. In addition to the UNHCR vetting process, each country has their own vetting process for refugee resettlement. 

The refugee resettlement vetting process in the United States is one of the strictest in the world. The UNHCR will refer a refugee to be reconsidered for resettlement and will provide each host country with iris scans, fingerprints, facial scans and bio data. The U.S. government screens each refugee and processes their information through eight U.S. government agencies, five separate security databases, six background checks, and three in-person interviews. If the person is approved for resettlement in the United States, they will be assigned to one of the nine resettlement agencies who will be responsible for helping the person integrate into American society and become economically self-sufficient. 

It is vital to stand with refugees today, now more than ever before. These people who have lost their homes and families to circumstances outside of their control are our neighbors, friends, colleagues, and family members. They are us.

To learn more about the World Refugee Day, please join us for these free interactive library programs

The International Rescue Committee, one of Colorado's refugee resettlement agencies, will present information sessions on what it means to be a refugee. Learn about the refugee resettlement process and how we can come together to support our refugee communities.

World Refugee Day Kickoff Celebration 
Monday, June 3, 3-4 p.m. @ Pauline Robinson
Join us for a family celebration featuring Chihera, a Muchineripi family band. Create connections through the music of Zimbabwe and learn how we can come together to support our refugee communities. 

World Refugee Day- Refugee 101 Information Sessions hosted by the International Rescue Committee, one of Colorado’s refugee resettlement agencies:

Saturday, June 8, 2:30-3:30 p.m. @ Park Hill
Thursday, June 13, 5-6 p.m. @ Montbello
Friday, June 14, 1 p.m. @ Green Valley Ranch
Saturday, June 15, 2-3:30 p.m. @ Hampden
Tuesday, June 18, 5-7:30 p.m. @ Decker
Thursday, June 20, 2-4 p.m. @ Smiley
Saturday, June 22, 2:30-3:30 p.m. @ Schlessman Family

World Refugee Day Information Session and Lunch
Sunday, June 9, 1-3 p.m. @ Gonzales
Join us for an information session about the refugee resettlement process, and participate in a community lunch catered by the Sun Valley Kitchen. 

World Refugee Day Film Screening
Saturday, June 29, 1-3 p.m. @Barnum 
Celebrate World Refugee Day with the refugee-themed documentary Stateless, and participate in a film discussion with light snacks.

Plazas are an open community space where migrants from all over the world connect with people, information, and resources, building Denver’s global community. Come to practice a language, prepare for citizenship, pursue your goals, and create your future. Whatever you’re doing, we can help! Please see our web page for more information.

Written by Plaza Voices on May 29, 2019