World Refugee Day 2003: Belarus
World Refugee Day, 20 June 2003
On April 5, refugees from Afghanistan and Georgia joined UNHCR in the opening of the Republican Festival of National Cultures, which was broadcast on television countrywide. Held under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, the festival highlighted 22 national minority groups living in Belarus.
The celebration mood prevailed as authorities of the city of Minsk put up a World Refugee Day banner in the city centre. A nationwide drawing and essay competition titled "We are so different, that is why we are so beautiful" was launched among secondary school students, and the best works were exhibited from June 6-20 at the National Museum of History and Culture of Belarus. The winners were awarded prizes during the gala concert at the Theatre of a Young Spectator on June 20.
A concert dedicated to World Refugee Day was held at the Palace of Republic in Minsk, with the participation of refugee and Belarusian children. Renowned television announcer Svetlana Borovskaya hosted the show. Among the audience were refugee leaders, government officials, diplomats, representatives of various organisations, and journalists. Speeches were made on behalf of the government and UNHCR. An exhibition on UNHCR's history and activities in Belarus was set up for the occasion.
Students from 19 higher institutions participated in a contest on the theme of refugees, forced migration and tolerance education, organised by the IPA for UN Studies, Information and Educational Programmes. Four winners received certificates on June 19, and their research will be sponsored by UNHCR.
UNHCR developed three public service announcements about refugees that were broadcast on the First National Channel from June 15-19. Two of the clips were about Belarusian refugees during World War I, and the other showed a refugee family living in Belarus. A documentary film, "A Woman with the Koran", produced by UNHCR in co-operation with Belarusian Television studio FIT, was screened on the same channel on June 15 and 19.