Live Blog 2021: This World Refugee Day, we are stronger together

UNHCR Live Blog for World Refugee Day 2021: Join us as we celebrate WRD in Africa

On World Refugee Day, UNHCR honours the courage of those who have been forced to flee war and persecution as well as the people around the world who have welcomed refugees into their communities
© UNHCR/Antoine Tardy

Welcome to the World Refugee Day 2021 Africa Live Blog! This year, we are highlighting events and stories from around Africa that showcase refugees as well as the countries, organizations and communities that support and welcome them. 

Each World Refugee Day, 20 June, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, joins with others around the world to honour the more than 80 million people who have been forced to flee war, conflicts and persecution and rebuild their lives far from home. We also celebrate the people who have opened their countries, communities and even their homes to those who seek safety and peace.

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained our healthcare systems, forced children out of school and sometimes kept us from those we love. Refugees have stepped up despite the challenges they face – working on the front lines as nurses and doctors, inventing ways to keep people from spreading germs in close quarters, distributing information on how to stay healthy and safe and more.

Given the chance, refugees will continue to contribute to a stronger, safer and more vibrant world. Together #withrefugees we can achieve anything.

In case you missed it:

What does home mean to you? Show us during our TikTokForGood challenge! 


The World Refugee Day emoji:

This year, UNHCR and Twitter partnered with Afghan-Canadian artist, Hangama Amiri, to create the 2021 World Refugee Day emoji. You can read a Q/A with the artist here


Message from the Bureau Director, East, Horn & Great Lakes Region

Watch this apt message from Clementine Nkweta Salami, UNHCR Bureau Director for East, Horn & Great Lakes region, Africa. 


Upper Nile State, South Sudan

Dedicated surgeon and Nansen Award winner Dr. Evan Atar, marked the day with the opening of a new maternity ward, constructed with proceeds from his 2018 Award. 


Maban County, South Sudan

And in Maban County, there was music and dance to mark the day.


Pretoria, South Africa

The Director of our Southern Africa Bureau joined refugees and other congregants to mark the day with a mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King, including refugees who sang in the choir.


Bidibidi refugee settlement, Uganda

Refugees in Bidibidi settlement painted this beautiful mural to commemorate World Refugee Day in Uganda.


Kigoma, Tanzania

Brought together in the name of sports, refugee women footballers from Nduta and Nyarugusu camps beat the host community team in Kigoma. Together we shine!


Goma, the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Poetry slam! Congolese slammer Feza Ketya expressed her feelings alongside other young Burundian and Rwandan refugees in Goma.

”This text has no beginning or end. I wrote it at random a bit like the mess in my head.”

In DRC, celebrating refugees and the community that welcomes them in Goma.   © UNHCR


Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Our colleagues linked up with refugees in the DRC for a World Refugee Day dance challenge. Check out their moves!

UNHCR staff and local Congolese also joined refugee artists to paint a large mural at our office in Kinshasa as part of the commemoration of World Refugee Day in the capital. The mural depicted the message: "Everyone has the right to a nationality."

  • Congolese join refugees to paint a mural for World Refugee Day at the UNHCR office in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
    Congolese join refugees to paint a mural for World Refugee Day at the UNHCR office in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. © UNHCR/Vittoria Moretti
  • A refugee artist works on a mural to commemorate World Refugee Day in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
    A refugee artist works on a mural to commemorate World Refugee Day in Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. © UNHCR/Scott Dibala

Meanwhile, a virtual photo exhibition titled "Together we can achieve anything,""Ensemble On Peut Tout Réussir" was held to celebrate people who have embraced refugees by opening their borders, communities and their homes. This year, we are calling for greater inclusion of refugees in health systems, schools and sports.

Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 350,000 people displaced by Goma volcano eruption urgently need humanitarian assistance

Suzanne Nyamfura (60) is staying with a host family in Sake after she fled Goma in the wake of Mt. Nyiragongo's eruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.   © UNHCR/Guerchom Ndebo


The motto of this year’s World Refugee Day is “Together we heal, learn and shine.” In Nigeria’s Adagom 1 Settlement, young Bridget from Cameroon showed Nigerian actress and High-Profile Supporter Judith Audu how to learn together by inviting her to spend the day at her primary school.


Kampala, Uganda 

Victor spent most of his life in war zones. For World Refugee Day, he sat down with Refugees Chief Filippo Grandi for an intimate conversation on trauma passed down through generations, the need for peace and what it means when you don’t know if you can be resilient anymore.  


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 

Celebrations have begun in Addis Ababa, where UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Betty G and young refugees gathered to discuss. – and sing about– the life changing power of education. 



Working with Vodafone Foundation and refugee communities, UNHCR turns classrooms into multimedia hubs. See how it works! 



This World Refugee Day, UNHCR’s theme is “together we heal, learn and shine,” and we call for the inclusion of refugees in healthcare, education and sport. These kids drew what this means to them!