World Refugee Day – 6.20.05

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UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie talking to
Afghans in Attock, Pakistan

World Refugee Day: “The United Nations General Assembly designated 20 June 2000 as World Refugee Day to recognize and celebrate the contribution of refugees throughout the world. Since then, World Refugee Day has become an annual commemoration marked by a variety of events in over a hundred countries. This year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will commemorate World Refugee Day for the fifth time with the inspirational theme: “Courage,” in order to draw the public’s attention to the millions of refugees world-wide who are forced to flee their homes.”

Protecting the World’s Vulnerable People: “The protection of some 17 million uprooted people is the core mandate of UNHCR. The agency does this in several ways. Using the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention as its major tool, it ensures the basic human rights of vulnerable persons and that refugees will not be returned involuntarily to a country where they face persecution. Longer term, the organization helps civilians repatriate to their homeland, integrate in countries of asylum or resettle in third countries. Using a world wide field network, it also seeks to provide at least a minimum of shelter, food, water and medical care in the immediate aftermath of any refugee exodus.”

It Takes Courage to Be a Refugee: “As ordinary people living peaceful lives, we rarely have to put our courage to the test. Refugees are ordinary people, too, except that through no fault of their own, they find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. As such, they are often required to dig deep into their own inner sources of strength in order, as another dictionary puts it, to find “the ability to overcome fear”.”

Refugees: Telling Their Stories: “A local Melbourne school-girl, Dragica Dacic, has won first place in the national 2004 High School Writing Competition 2004 for her story on a young Bosnian refugee. The High School Writing Competition is a yearly project that aims to encourage dialogue between young Australians and refugees, through the telling of personal stories. For the competition, Australian high school students are asked to interview a refugee in their local community and write a short article on their experiences.”