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Today's World Refugee Day theme: Hope

Briefing notes

Today's World Refugee Day theme: Hope

20 June 2006

Today is World Refugee Day and UNHCR, its partners and millions of refugees and displaced people around the globe from remote refugee camps to big cities, are marking the occasion in a variety of ways - all centred around the theme, "Hope". High Commissioner António Guterres is in Liberia, West Africa, where he is spending the day in the Bo Waterside area near the Liberia-Sierra Leone border, meeting returning refugees and displaced people as well as local residents. He is scheduled to welcome a repatriation convoy bringing Liberian refugees back from Sierra Leone, and will then accompany them on their journey home. UNHCR draws inspiration from the perseverance of the world's estimated 20.8 million people of concern to the agency - including some 8.4 million refugees - and the fact they never give up hope despite losing everything.

While global refugee figures had dropped 31 percent since 2001, returnees often still faced a bleak future back home. Greater focus is needed on ensuring countries move forward after conflict. The international community needs to devote much more attention to the transition between relief and development and to rebuilding societies ripped apart by violence so that refugees who go home, can stay home.

Around the world, a diverse range of events are under way to mark World Refugee Day. In Geneva, UNHCR's headquarters, the city's 140-metre-high fountain and public buildings around the country will be lit up in blue - the colour of the United Nations. Other countries are hosting a wide range of activities, such as film festivals, photo exhibitions, food bazaars, fashion shows, concerts and sports competitions - including lots of football matches.

In London, the Deputy High Commissioner Wendy Chamberlin is launching a year-long global campaign called, which aims to deliver education and sports programmes to 9 million refugee children around the world through awareness and fundraising. Two-thirds of the money raised will be distributed to support education in refugee communities. The remaining third will fund access for refugee youth to sport and play programmes by Right to Play, with an emphasis on getting girls and young women onto the playing field. The campaign is supported by UNHCR's founding campaign partners Nike Inc. and Microsoft - both also founding members of our Council of Business leaders - and Right to Play, a Toronto-based humanitarian agency dedicated to using sport and play to help children in refugee camps worldwide.