World Refugee Day campaign kicks off in Geneva

News Stories, 6 June 2002

© UNHCR/S.Hopper
UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador Barbara Hendricks opening the photo exhibition in Geneva.

GENEVA, June 6 (UNHCR) The campaign for World Refugee Day kicked off on Wednesday evening with the opening of a photo exhibition on women refugees by American-born classical singer Barbara Hendricks. The exhibition, held at the FNAC Rive store in Geneva, features 10 photos of refugee women around the world and will run until World Refugee Day on June 20.

"It is a gift for me to be able to speak on behalf of women refugees," said Hendricks, who is UNHCR Honorary Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador. "With all that I am blessed with in life, they are telling me I am not allowed to give in because they never gave in."

She added, "Once you have been in a refugee camp, it is impossible to remain indifferent. An exhibition like this is an opportunity to look into these women's eyes and admire their courage, their beauty, their dignity."

With women refugees as the theme of this year's World Refugee Day, UNHCR hopes to make both the public and governments more aware of the plight and determination of refugee women around the world.

In Geneva, where the UN refugee agency is based, the photo exhibition marks the start of a series of discussions on refugee women and general awareness on refugees. Besides a book launch on the humanitarian challenge in Kosovo and the lighting up of the Jet d'eau on Lake LĂ©man, one of this year's highlights is UNHCR's participation in the annual Bol d'Or sailboat race on June 15-16. One of the boats will bear the refugee agency's flag and be run by the crew, two UNHCR staff and two refugee women.

Elsewhere in the world, World Refugee Day celebrations will range from symposia to concerts, theatre and dance events, art and photo exhibitions, children's art and poetry competitions, community fundraisers and a variety of TV and radio programmes.

From June 10-20, an online auction of signed memorabilia from celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep and Philippe Starck will be held on eBay, with proceeds going to UNHCR. High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers will be in Oslo, Norway on June 20 to present the Nansen Refugee Award to the captain, crew and owner of the Tampa, a Norwegian container ship that rescued more than 400 asylum seekers in the Indian Ocean last August.