Live Blog: World Refugee Day marked across Africa as global displacement hits record high.

From East, Central and West Africa, celebrations mark the spirit and courage of the millions of people forced to flee their homes.

These refugee women from Rwanda sell their handmade accessories at a market to celebrate World Refugee Day in Kinshasa, DRC.
© UNHCR/Fabien Faivre

From fashion shows to dance, sports events to walks - millions of people around Africa are taking part in various activities to mark World Refugee Day. Today, as we celebrate the spirit, strength and courage of the millions of women, men and children forced to flee, we also take note of the staggering levels of forced displacement globally - which have continued to rise to record levels.


World Refugee Day falls each year on June 20 and is dedicated to recognize the courage and endurance of those who have been forced to flee from their homes by conflict, war and persecution. Many are taking this opportunity to show their solidarity with refugees by taking part in the ongoing #StepWithRefugees campaign.

Check back here throughout the day for updates from Africa and from around the world.

Kebribeyah camp, Ethiopia

Somali singer Yurub Geeny joined refugees in Kebribeyah camp in the Somali region of Ethiopia to celebrate World Refugee Day. The singer, who's widely loved and celebrated by refugees in the region, was in the camp for a week to mark World Refugee week. She performed for the refugees and danced with them, mentored refugee talents and even took plenty of selfies with them. She also gave a short speech on the dangers of onward movement.

  • Somali singer Yurub Geenyo (in pink) performs at World Refugee Day event in Kebribeyah camp in the Somali region of Ethiopia.
    Somali singer Yurub Geenyo (in pink) performs at World Refugee Day event in Kebribeyah camp in the Somali region of Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Amal Jibril
  • Somali singer Yurub Geenyo (in pink) performs at the World Refugee Day event in Kebribeyah camp in the Somali region of Ethiopia.
    Somali singer Yurub Geenyo (in pink) performs at the World Refugee Day event in Kebribeyah camp in the Somali region of Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Amal Jibril
  • Somali refugees sing and dance at the World Refugee Dy event in Kebribeyah camp in the Somali region of Ethiopia.
    Somali refugees sing and dance at the World Refugee Dy event in Kebribeyah camp in the Somali region of Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Amal Jibril

Goudoubo camp, Burkina Faso

The event was marked with various activities including song,dance and tree planting in Goudoubo camp, which hosts mostly Malian refugees. 

  • These refugee boys watch from their vantage point, as World Refugee Day festivities unfold in Goudoubo camp, Burkina Faso.
    These refugee boys watch from their vantage point, as World Refugee Day festivities unfold in Goudoubo camp, Burkina Faso.  © UNHCR/Moussa Bougma
  • A Malian refugee and a UNHCR staffer plant a tree together to mark World Refugee Day in Goudoubo camp, Burkina Faso.
    A Malian refugee and a UNHCR staffer plant a tree together to mark World Refugee Day in Goudoubo camp, Burkina Faso. © UNHCR/Moussa Bougma
  • Refugee women met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNHCR, before World Refugee Day festivities kicked off in Goudouba camp, Burkina Faso.
    Refugee women met with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNHCR, before World Refugee Day festivities kicked off in Goudouba camp, Burkina Faso. © UNHCR/Moussa Bougma

Rwamwanja settlement, Uganda

UNHCR, the Office of the Prime Minister in Uganda, partner agencies and Ugandans joined refugees to mark World Refugee Day with colourful events in Rwamwanja refugee settlement, in south-western Uganda. Large numbers of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and Rwanda attended the event. 

Refugees presented various cultural songs and dances, contemporary performances, dramas depicting the lives of refugees and even martial arts such as taekwondo. Hundreds of people participated in solidarity walks and runs, organised by UNHCR partners in line with the #StepWithRefugees campaign.

Conservation of environment was the main theme for the celebrations and participants planted hundreds of trees to show their commitment to environmental protection across Uganda.

  • South Sudanese refugees perform a cultural dance during World refugee day celebrations in Rwamwanja settlement, Uganda.
    South Sudanese refugees perform a cultural dance during World refugee day celebrations in Rwamwanja settlement, Uganda. © UNHCR/Duniya Aslam Khan
  • A Ugandan brass band marches towards the World Refugee Day venue in Rwamwanja settlement, western Uganda.
    A Ugandan brass band marches towards the World Refugee Day venue in Rwamwanja settlement, western Uganda. © UNHCR/Duniya Aslam Khan
  • Congolese refugees and Ugandan children present a song about environmental protection at the World Refugee Day event in Rwamwanja settlement, Uganda.
    Congolese refugees and Ugandan children present a song about environmental protection at the World Refugee Day event in Rwamwanja settlement, Uganda. © UNHCR/Duniya Aslam Khan
  • Congolese refugees participate in a cultural fashion show in Uganda's Rwamwanja settlement.
    Congolese refugees participate in a cultural fashion show in Uganda's Rwamwanja settlement.  © UNHCR/Duniya Aslam Khan
  • Kemlin Furley, Head of UNHCR External Relations and Communication plants a tree at a primary school in Rwamwanja settlement, Uganda.
    Kemlin Furley, Head of UNHCR External Relations and Communication plants a tree at a primary school in Rwamwanja settlement, Uganda.  © UNHCR/Duniya Aslam Khan
  • South Sudanese refugee, Flora who also leads the refugee Taekwondo team in Kampala, Uganda performs at the World Refugee Day event in Rwamwanga settlement, Uganda.
    South Sudanese refugee, Flora who also leads the refugee Taekwondo team in Kampala, Uganda performs at the World Refugee Day event in Rwamwanga settlement, Uganda. © UNHCR/Duniya Aslam Khan

Tsore camp, Ethiopia

The camp, in western Ethiopia, reverberated with energy and excitement as the more than 14,000 Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees came out to take part in the #StepWithRefugees march.

 

Juba, South Sudan

The day was marked by colorful festivities in Juba where refugees joined UNHCR staff who took part in a catwalk to exhibit cultural dresses. There were cultural dances and exhibitions by various dance groups and women's groups.

  • An Acholi dance group performs at the World Refugee Day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan.
    An Acholi dance group performs at the World Refugee Day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan.  © UNHCR/Elizabeth Stuart
  • A member of the Acholi dance group smiles as she performs at the World Refugee Day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan.
    A member of the Acholi dance group smiles as she performs at the World Refugee Day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan. © UNHCR/Elizabeth Stuart
  • An Ethiopian refugee displays a beaded item on display at the World Refugee Day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan.
    An Ethiopian refugee displays a beaded item on display at the World Refugee Day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan. © UNHCR/Elizabeth Stuart
  • Refugees displayed and sold beaded goods at the World Refugee Day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan.
    Refugees displayed and sold beaded goods at the World Refugee Day celebrations in Juba, South Sudan.  © UNHCR/Elizabeth Stuart
  • UNHCR staff joined refugees on the catwalk to mark World Refugee Day in Juba, South Sudan.
    UNHCR staff joined refugees on the catwalk to mark World Refugee Day in Juba, South Sudan. © UNHCR/Elizabeth Stuart

Melkadida, Ethiopia

Clowns Without Borders put on a show in Melkadida to mark World Refugee Day. The team of four clowns from Spain performed in front of thousands, doing magic tricks and bringing joy to the audience of children and adults in the camp which hosts more than 200,000 refugees.

  • A refugee child watches as members of the Clowns Without Borders perform a trick in Melkadida, Ethiopia during World refugee Day celebrations.
    A refugee child watches as members of the Clowns Without Borders perform a trick in Melkadida, Ethiopia during World refugee Day celebrations. © UNHCR/Ariadne Kypriadi
  • The Clowns Without Borders visited Melkadida camp in Ethiopia and performed tricks in front of thousands of refugees for World Refugee Day.
    The Clowns Without Borders visited Melkadida camp in Ethiopia and performed tricks in front of thousands of refugees for World Refugee Day. © UNHCR/Ariadne Kypriadi
  • Part of the crowd watches in awe as a clown from Clowns Without Borders performs tricks in Melkadida camp, Ethiopia.
    Part of the crowd watches in awe as a clown from Clowns Without Borders performs tricks in Melkadida camp, Ethiopia.  © UNHCR/Ariadne Kypriadi
  • A refugee child watches as members of the Clowns Without Borders perform a trick in Melkadida, Ethiopia during World refugee Day celebrations.
    A refugee child watches as members of the Clowns Without Borders perform a trick in Melkadida, Ethiopia during World refugee Day celebrations. © UNHCR/Ariadne Kypriadi

Mtendeli camp, Tanzania

Part of the day's festivities in Tanzania's Mtendeli camp included this energetic cultural dance from Burundi. Tanzania hosts over 189,000 refugees, mainly from Burundi.

 

Niamey, Niger

A safe start for over 100 refugees and asylum seekers who were evacuated from Libya to Niger hours before World Refugee Day. They are among more than 1,200 vulnerable people who have been evacuated to safety this year.

 

Ogoja, Nigeria

Gearing up for the main event, residents of Ogoja, in Nigeria's Cross River State joined UNHCR to participate in a #StepWithRefugees walk. Some 130 people took part in the walk, clocking in a combined distance of over 100 kilometres in solidarity with the millions who have been forced to flee globally. Cross River State is home to over 36,000 Cameroonian refugees. 

  • Residents of Ogoja in Nigeria's Cross River State take part in a \X68StepWithRefugees walk to commemorate World Refugee Day.
    Residents of Ogoja in Nigeria's Cross River State take part in a \X6EStepWithRefugees walk to commemorate World Refugee Day. © UNHCR/Tony Aseh
  • Residents of Ogoja in Nigeria's Cross River State take part in a \X6DStepWithRefugees walk to commemorate World Refugee Day.
    Residents of Ogoja in Nigeria's Cross River State take part in a \X64StepWithRefugees walk to commemorate World Refugee Day. © UNHCR/Tony Aseh
  • Residents of Ogoja in Nigeria's Cross River State take part in a \X52StepWithRefugees walk to commemorate World Refugee Day.
    Residents of Ogoja in Nigeria's Cross River State take part in a \X66StepWithRefugees walk to commemorate World Refugee Day. © UNHCR/Tony Aseh

Berbera, Somaliland

In the run up to World Refugee Day, UNHCR organized a #StepWithRefugees walk in solidarity with families forced to flee their homes.The walk was led by the Governor of Sahil, Ahmed Osman Hassan and the Mayor of Berbera, Abdishakur Mahamoud Hassan. Officials from the Somaliland Immigration Department and the Civil Aviation and Airports Authority were also in attendance.  

Berbera is a strategic city as it serves as an entry point for refugees and asylum seekers fleeing the war in Yemen. It's also one of the Cities of Light - a growing global network of municipalities that are opting to embrace refugees and the opportunities they bring by ensuring their inclusion in urban society.

 

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo 

Urban refugee entrepreneurs set up a vibrant market in downtown Kinshasa to mark the event. They showcased and sold handmade clothes, jewelry, art and food. 

  • These refugee women from Rwanda sell their handmade accessories at a market to celebrate World Refugee Day in Kinshasa, DRC.
    These refugee women from Rwanda sell their handmade accessories at a market to celebrate World Refugee Day in Kinshasa, DRC. © UNHCR/Fabien Faivre
  • A Congolese woman looks at photos on display at the outdoor photography exhibition in downtown Kinshasa, DRC.
    A Congolese woman looks at photos on display at the outdoor photography exhibition in downtown Kinshasa, DRC. © UNHCR/Fabien Faivre
  • A group gathers at the outdoor photography exhibition to mark World Refugee Day in downtown Kinshasa, DRC.
    A group gathers at the outdoor photography exhibition to mark World Refugee Day in downtown Kinshasa, DRC. © UNHCR/Fabien Faivre

Arua, Uganda

Staff in Arua, Northern Uganda, joined refugees and members of the host community to take part in a race dubbed the "Great Refugee Road Run" that included 3, 5 and 10 kilometre races, with nearly 50 participants. 

 

Hargeisa, Somaliland

Children, aged five to 13 years, from Ethiopian and Yemeni refugee and asylum seeker communities had a day of fun painting in Hargeisa.

  • A child gets ready to work on a drawing at a fun day organized to mark World Refugee Day in Hargeisa.
    A child gets ready to work on a drawing at a fun day organized to mark World Refugee Day in Hargeisa. © UNHCR/Njoki Mwangi
  • Children paint during a fun day organized by UNHCR in Hargeisa to commemorate World Refugee Day.
    Children paint during a fun day organized by UNHCR in Hargeisa to commemorate World Refugee Day. © UNHCR/Njoki Mwangi
  • A young girl paints during a fun day organized by UNHCR in Hargeisa to commemorate World Refugee Day.
    A young girl paints during a fun day organized by UNHCR in Hargeisa to commemorate World Refugee Day. © UNHCR/Njoki Mwangi

Kakuma, Kenya

In Kakuma camp and the adjacent Kalobeyei settlement, home to over 188,000 refugees, World Refugee Day festivities are underway. UNHCR has joined refugees and the host community to mark the day together with music, song and dance.

 

Jewi camp, Ethiopia

Refugees and their host community team mates had a friendly match in Jewi camp, in Ethiopia's Gambella region, as part of the day's celebrations to promote peaceful co-existence between the two communities. 

  • This football team made up of refugees and Ethiopians from the host community in Jewi, Ethiopia pose before their World Refugee Day friendly match.
    This football team made up of refugees and Ethiopians from the host community in Jewi, Ethiopia pose before their World Refugee Day friendly match. © UNHCR/Reath Riek
  •  Refugees and Ethiopians play together at a World Refugee Day friendly match in Jewi, Ethiopia.
    Refugees and Ethiopians play together at a World Refugee Day friendly match in Jewi, Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Reath Riek
  • Crowds gathered to watch a friendly match between refugees and Ethiopians in Jewi, Ethiopia.
    Crowds gathered to watch a friendly match between refugees and Ethiopians in Jewi, Ethiopia. © UNHCR/Reath Riek

Baidoa, Somalia

In Baidoa, sports brought refugees and humanitarian staff together to mark the day.

 

Rwamwanja settlement, Uganda

Celebrations are underway in western Uganda where people have come out in their hundreds to march in solidarity with refugees.

 

Melkadida, Ethiopia

High Profile Supporter Betty G is marking the day with this powerful reflection on the positive steps that Ethiopia has taken to support refugees and include them into hosting communities.

 

Dadaab, Kenya

Song and dance filled the air in Kenya's biggest refugee complex, which hosts over 250,000 refugees. 

 

Lusaka, Zambia

"We could all be refugees," Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu took a step with refugees for World Refugee Day. President Lungu, together with UNHCR country staff and government officials covered 10 kilometers to show their solidarity with the campaign. 

Zambia hosts more than 49,000 refugees. 

Zambia. WRD events

Zambian President Edgar Chagwa Lungu joins UNHCR staff and government officials as they warm up for a stepwithrefugees 10 kilometres walk in Lusaka, Zambia.   © UNHCR/Kelvin Shimo