National Activity Plan 2006: Denmark, Finland, Lithuania and Sweden

World Refugee Day, 20 June 2006

  • Collect from the state church / Danske Folkekirke on Sunday 18 June. (Denmark).
  • Information and fundraising campaigns in other religious communities, including Muslim community and non state Christian churches. (Denmark).
  • Debate in the parliament organized by Islamic and Christian Organizations. (Denmark).
  • Finnish Refugee Council and Amnesty International will organize nightly walks in cities all around Finland to symbolize the effort many refugee children have to make every day in order to get access to shelter and school. (Finland).
  • Seminar on African refugees in the Finnish parliament. (Finland).
  • Médecins sans Frontières and Clowns without Borders will develop a spring campaign to inform schools and others about refugee issues, and to promote student participation in a fundraising event 10 May (Sweden).
  • Mayor event to be organized in a main square of Stockholm with artists. (Sweden).
  • Main ceremony to be organized in Stockholm, with prominent participants, together with main religious communities in the country. (Sweden).
  • Participate at the Tylösand Conference which focuses on integration. The participants are municipality politicians from the whole country. (Sweden).
  • Organization of workshop or seminar for politicians in Gotland together with UNDP and the UN-Association. One week public awareness campaign. (Sweden).
  • In the Refugee Centre, events such as discussion clubs, to talk about integration from the refugee point of view, refugee women and children, tolerance and non-discrimination will be organized. Language classes will be organized for the guests. Also there will be a press conference and a National cuisine fair. (Lithuania).
  • Public concert with participation of refugees and famous singers/groups. (Lithuania).
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UNHCR country pages

Jihan's Story

Like millions, 34-year-old Jihan was willing to risk everything in order to escape war-torn Syria and find safety for her family. Unlike most, she is blind.

Nine months ago, she fled Damascus with her husband, Ashraf, 35, who is also losing his sight. Together with their two sons, they made their way to Turkey, boarding a boat with 40 others and setting out on the Mediterranean Sea. They hoped the journey would take eight hours. There was no guarantee they would make it alive.

After a treacherous voyage that lasted 45 hours, the family finally arrived at a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, called Milos - miles off course. Without support or assistance, they had to find their own way to Athens.

The police detained them for four days upon their arrival. They were cautioned to stay out of Athens, as well as three other Greek cities, leaving them stranded.

By now destitute and exhausted, the family were forced to split up - with Ashraf continuing the journey northwards in search of asylum and Jihan taking their two sons to Lavrion, an informal settlement about an hour's drive from the Greek capital.

Today, Jihan can only wait to be reunited with her husband, who has since been granted asylum in Denmark. The single room she shares with her two sons, Ahmed, 5, and Mohammad, 7, is tiny, and she worries about their education. Without an urgent, highly complex corneal transplant, her left eye will close forever.

"We came here for a better life and to find people who might better understand our situation," she says, sadly. "I am so upset when I see how little they do [understand]."

Jihan's Story

Mahmoud's Journey: A Young Syrian Survives Being Shot At, Detained and Bullied to Find a New Life in Sweden

A photo essay by Shawn Baldwin and Johan Bävman

A photograph of Syrian refugee, Mahmoud, shows the nine-year-old looking wistfully out of the window of an apartment block in the Egyptian capital, Cairo. Perhaps he is thinking of happier days at school in his home town of Aleppo or maybe he is wondering what life will be like when he and his family are resettled in Sweden. When the image was taken late last year, Mahmoud had not been able to attend school for two years. His family had fled Syria in October 2012. Like 300,000 other Syrians, they sought shelter in Egypt, where life was tough - and became tougher in 2013, when public opinion began to turn against the Syrians as Egypt struggled with its own problems. Mahmoud became the target of bullies, even at one point being physically attacked. Afterwards, he refused to leave the rented family apartment in 6th of October City, a drab, sand-swept satellite suburb of Cairo.

Mahmoud's father tried to send him to Italy on a smuggler's boat, but the vessel was fired on and the traumatized boy ended up spending five days in a local detention centre. Once back home, he fell target to the bullying once more. But his case came to the attention of UNHCR and the refugee agency recommended Mahmoud and his family for resettlement. In January 2014, Mahmoud and his family flew to Sweden to begin a new life in the small town of Torsby, where he runs and plays outside without fear - he even had his first snowball fight. And now he is back at school.

Mahmoud's Journey: A Young Syrian Survives Being Shot At, Detained and Bullied to Find a New Life in Sweden

Sweden: Mahmoud's EscapePlay video

Sweden: Mahmoud's Escape

Mahmoud was one of more than 300,000 Syrian refugees who have sought safety in Egypt since the conflict in his homeland began three years ago. The nine-year-old was so desperate to attend school that he risked his life to get to Europe. He was stopped and sent back to Egypt but is now making a fresh start in Sweden.