June 20, World Refugee Day – Imagine being forced to leave your home and rebuild your life in a new country, in a new language and a new culture. A refugee has done just that. By definition, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. In order to gain refugee status, a person must prove that he or she has a well-founded fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Refugees can be granted refugee status in a country of asylum, from which they can then be resettled into a third country, such as the U.S. For example, a Sudanese refugee here in the U.S. may have fled Sudan and lived in a refugee camp in Kenya, from where he was interviewed, granted refugee status and admitted to be a refugee in the U.S.
World Refugee Day, established in 2000 by a special UN General Assembly Resolution, is an opportunity to honor the strength and courage that refugees show throughout their daunting journey. It is also an occasion to recognize and celebrate the richness and diversity that refugees add to our societies. On and around June 20, the UN and many non-profit organizations all over the world will host demonstrations, conferences, festivals and exhibitions in support of refugees.
World Refugee Day offers social workers a reminder to celebrate successes of the past, re-commit to efforts addressing the root causes of refugee flight, and continue providing exceptional protection and care to refugees and asylum seekers.
Do one thing to learn and spread the word about forcibly displaced people around the world here http://www.unhcr.org/do1thing/index.php and find more information on NASW’s work with refugees here: http://www.socialworkers.org/practice/intl/issues/immigration.asp