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Live blog 2020: On World Refugee Day, everyone can make a difference

Brazil. "My Future in Brazil" art contest

Live blog 2020: On World Refugee Day, everyone can make a difference

As COVID-19 has shown, solidarity is more important than ever. Join UNHCR today in celebrating refugees' courage and resilience worldwide.
20 June 2020
Refugees from the Janokoida shelter, in Pacaraima, Roraima, volunteer to participate on the art contest for the World Refugee Day 2020.

From concerts to cooking workshops, slam poetry to synchronized swimming, millions of people are taking part in events celebrating World Refugee Day at a time when global unity has never been more important.

The event, held on 20 June each year, honours the courage and determination of those who have been forced to abandon their homes and flee persecution and conflict.

This year, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is asking people from all walks of life to join #WithRefugees. Remember, everyone can make a difference, and every action counts.


Last Entry of the 2020 World Refugee Day Live Blog

New York, New York, USA

We know that nearly 80 million people have been forced to flee war, conflict and persecution to seek safey either somwhere else inside their own country, or outside their country. We know that hate and discrimination are making it difficult for many people in the world to build their best lives, love whom they want to love or be who they want to be. We know that COVID-19 is ravaging communities.

But we also know that it would be impossible to listen to the powerful words of Sudanese-American poet Emi, hear the young voices of the Amazon Canaries or listen to the fabulous Lebanese film director Nadine Labaki speak with young actor and former refugee Zain about his new life, without feeling hopeful.

Scroll through these entries. Get inspired. Recharge. And remember: Every action counts.

Here's something to keep you going:

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
When my trip to Kenya this month was canceled, I asked the artists of @ExileKeyFilms in Kakuma Refugee Camp to contribute to #songsofcomfort. Here is the message they wanted to share with the world. #songsofchange #blacklivesmatter #WorldRefugeeDay


Trinidad and Tobago

Listen to Every Action Counts, The Concert, featuring performers from Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria and Venezuela who spent some of their time in quarantine putting together this special show. Enjoy now or later!

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Check out Every Action Counts: The Concert, featuring passionate performers from Trinidad and Tobago, Nigeria and Venezuela, recorded during quarantine. Streaming now at ] @Refugees @ACNURAmericas #WorldRefugeeDay #RefugeeDay #WithRefugees


Pacaraima, Brazil

Listen to the Amazon Canaries sing! Made up of young people from the northern Brazliian border town of Pacaraima, as well as young people who came from across the border in Venezuela who now live in Brazil, the choir is known in Portuguese as Canarinhos da Amazônia.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
O Coral Canarinhos da Amazônia é formado por crianças e jovens refugiados e migrantes da Venezuela e por brasileiros. Confira a mensagem de esperança gravada pelas crianças para comemorar o #DiaDosRefugiados 🕊


San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala

Have you ever heard a song sung in Maya Kaqchikel, one of the indigenous languages spoken in Guatemala? Listen to a special World Refugee Day concert by Sara Curruchich, a Guatemalan singer-songwriter who regales audiences around the world with her soulful music in Spanish and Maya Kaqchikel.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Listos para el concierto de @SaraCurruchich ? En el #DíaDelRefugiado queremos unirnos a través de la música para rendir homenaje a las personas refugiadas, a las comunidades que les reciben, y a los trabajadores que las apoyan 🎸🎶 En el Facebook de #ACNUR a 15:00 (Guatemala)


Geneva, Switzerland

At the #AmplifyNow virtual conference, 50 participants from around the world discussed ways to imrprove education for refugees. They brainstormed lots of good ideas, including remote learning, online internships and more. You can peek in on their discussion here.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
📹 "Education in crisis & innovative pathways" session share back now LIVE on Facebook. Tune in! 👉 @KironEducation @CollegeRefugee


Galway, Ireland

Our High Profile Supporter Jess Murphy is a New Zealand-born chef and co-founder (with her husband, Dave) of Kai restaurant in Galway, Ireland. She has traveled to Lebanon and Jordan to meet with Syrian refugees and document their food culture. Here she showcases meals representing countries from which Ireland has welcomed refugees.

Pretoria, South Africa

Our Southern Africa office held a virtual photo exhibit for World Refugee Day. The photo below was taken by Hélène Caux at the Maratane camp in northern Mozambique. Take a look at all of the stunning work from the photo exhibit here.


Brazil. "My Future in Brazil" art contest
Refugees from the Janokoida shelter, in Pacaraima, Roraima, volunteer to participate on the art contest for the World Refugee Day 2020.


Kalemie, the Democratic Republic of the Congo

On World Refugee Day, these Burundian farmers received agricultural tools. The group of farmers, who are all refugees, grows cabbage, onions and tomatoes to sell at the local market. Nearly 50 families work together.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
On this #WorldRefugeeDay , Burundian refugee farmers received agricultural tools in Kalemie, DR Congo. Nearly 50 families are involved in farming activities where they grow 🥬, 🧅 & 🍅. The group harvests the fresh produce and sells it at the local market.



In Panama, dancers working with our partner, Programa Enlaces, present "Sueños" (Dreams), a contemporary dance piece choreographed in part by Panamanian and refugee young people for World Refugee Day.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
When refugees flee, they not only take some of their belongings. Their dreams come with them too. This #RefugeeDay Panamanian and refugee youth present Sueños, a contemporary dance piece representing the hopes, dreams and longing of refugees worldwide


Liverpool, UK

We are honoured to work with star footballer Mohamed Salah and the Vodafone Foundation to expand the Instant Network Schools Digital Learning Programme, which has already helped more than 86,500 refugee students to support more than half a million young people.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
“Education is just like football. It’s for everyone.” ⚽ An important message from @LFC star @MoSalah on #WorldRefugeeDay. Thank you Mo and @VodafoneFdn for your incredible support. 🙌


Bogotá, Colombia

Humanity in harmony. Today we are thrilled to be able to hear The New World Orchestra joined by artists, journalists and others to perform the song "Human", by the band ChocQuibTown.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Humanidad en Armonía es nuestro llamado en el #DíadelRefugiado y del Desplazado, recordando lo más esencial: Somos Humanos. Hoy 5pm, la Orquesta Nuevo Mundo, artistas e influenciadores reflexionan sobre lo que significa dejarlo todo para proteger la vida:



Lebanese director Nadine Labaki spoke with former refugee and actor Zain about his new life in Norway. Nadine "discovered" the young actor and cast him in her film "Capernaum", the highest-grossing Middle Eastern film in history. Capernaum was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards and selected for the Palm d'Or at Cannes.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
On #WorldRefugeeDay, @NadineLabaki asked Zain to tell us about his life in Norway. Watch this video to hear what this incredible former refugee has to say about his new life.


Geneva, Switzerland

Young refugees and migrants spoke of their hopes, dreams and the challenges of exile in a wide-ranging discussion with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi in Geneva today.

“I want to study, I want to work, and I want to make a success of my life,” Magaly, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said in the exchange at UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency’s headquarters in Geneva.

The 17-year-old, who hopes to turn a passion for sewing into a career in couture, was among five young people taking part. Looking to the future, Mamadou, 21, from Guinea-Conakry, and Gabi, 22, from Guinea-Bissau, spoke of wanting to give back to their communities. Twenty- one-year-old Somali Deeqa, meanwhile, dreamt even bigger: “I want to be president of Somalia,” she said.

The conversation covered integration, racism, detention, dangerous journeys, the role of UNHCR, and the challenges of finding work. Grandi said the exchange refuted negative perceptions of refugees as either a threat, or more often, as “poor, miserable and suffering people.”

“What you have shown me is quite the contrary – you are people who have hope, energy, resourcefulness, strength, and who want to succeed,” he said.

The High Commissioner later met with Afghan children who were among a group of 23 flown to Switzerland in mid-May from Greece under a family reunification programme.

Fifteen-year-old Asman (not her real name) told how harsh economic conditions in Iran drove her to Greece. She spent six months living in a tent at an informal settlement on the Island of Samos, where she witnessed violent attacks.

“It is a big relief to be here,” said Asman, who joined her 20-year-old brother in Switzerland. “There is much more tolerance and acceptance here.”

Given a chance at a new life, she plans to study, become a doctor and “help refugees.”


New York, New York, USA

Join us NOW (or later if you miss it) for a virtual concert from the UN Chamber Music Society.



Today, a young refugee from Syria has taken over the UN Youth Envoy's Twitter account. Ask this amazing young man about his work to help his peers stay mentally fit.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
.@KarimAlbrem, a young refugee from Syria is taking over my Twitter today on #WorldRefugeeDay Committed to the well-being of his community, he works to improve mental health amongst his peers Ask him your questions & Join the conversation! 🕐10 AM EDT 🔗@UNYouthEnvoy


Yei, South Sudan

Feel the energy as a group of refugees and their South Sudanese hosts in Yei come together for a celebratory performance of Nuban dance.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
On #WorldRefugeeDay in #SouthSudan refugees gather with their #SouthSudanese neighbors to dance and sing. #COVID19 has us distancing this year. But you can’t quench that celebratory spirit. Enjoy a virtual performance from these Nuban dancers!


South African actress and activist Nomzamo Mbatha is a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.

In 2018 she travelled to South Sudan, where she met internally displaced people in Juba and visited Maban refugee camp, considered to be the most remote refugee camp in the world. The people she met in South Sudan made a lasting impression, including UNHCR's own Eujin Byun.

To mark World Refugee Day, Nomzamo caught up with Eujin, who is now based in Kenya, to talk about how refugees and dislpaced people in Kenya and South Sudan are coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
A journey that has altered my view on life and view on humanity. A true labour of love that is most fulfilling. I got to catch up with my friend @eujin2 for #WorldRefugeeDay and it is an honor to continue to stand #WithRefugees through this pandemic ♥️ @Refugees


Mindanao, Philippines

Atom Araullo is one of the best known faces in broadcast journalism in the Philippines, and has risen to prominence after his extensive coverage of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. A UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, he is speaking out for millions of people uprooted from their homes worldwide who now face the additional danger of COVID-19.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
They have already lost so much: their homes, their livelihood, and for many, loved ones too. Now, they are facing the added uncertainty of a global pandemic. @Refugees are more vulnerable than ever. Ahead #WorldRefugeeDay, everyone can make a difference. Every action counts.


Shanghai, China

German retiree Sonja Muehlberger recalls growing up as a refugee in Shanghai during WWII in the latest of a series of video stories by UNHCR China and Xinhua News Agency. They include profiles of Rafedin, a fashion brand made by Iraqi girls in Jordan, and Syrian refugee Yusra Mardini who competed in the pool at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
"I was born in Shanghai," 80-yr-old Sonja Muehlberger fondly remembers her childhood in the Chinese city, where her Jewish family took refugee after fleeing Europe. UNHCR representative in China Sivanka Dhanapala shares her story #RefugeeDay #EveryoneCanMakeDifference @Refugees


Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The 99-story Kingdom Tower, the tallest building in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, is illuminated in UN Blue to mark #WorldRefugeeDay.


Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom Tower lights in UN blue for World Refugee Day 2020
The Kingdom Tower, Riyadh, lit up in UN Blue for World Refugee Day.


Madrid, Spain

Refugee musicians from Venezuela and Syria struck up Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ at an event at Madrid’s historic Teatro Lara. In a surprise close, Spanish singer Nach and Colombian artist Juanes’ launched their latest single #Pasarán. You can watch the full event here.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
🎵 Escucha hermano la canción de la alegría 🎵 Fantástica música la que une a Omar, refugiado sirio, y a Marta, Edilyn y Zabdiel, tres jóvenes venezolanos de la @CruzOrquesta En el #DíadelRefugiado, los focos, sobre ellos. Para el evento completo ➡️


Lima, Peru

When a call went out in Peru for refugees and their hosts to show their talents, more than 250 prople responded, submitting one-minute videos of classical dance performances, ballads, poetry and more. The quality is high and judges have a #WorldRefugeeDay challenge ahead as they choose a winner.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Over 250 contestants shared their talents to commemorate #WorldRefugeeDay in Peru🇵🇪 Dancing, magic, singing, acting, poetry. So much LOVE 💙 Discover more with @Refugees on @TuCausaEsMiCausa! Finalists to be announced by star judges: @ImproPatricia @RicardoMoran #JuliNaters


Los Angeles, California, USA

Miry's List in Los Angeles is celebrating #WorldRefugeeDay with food! Syrian cooks will be whipping up meals people can order and pick up curbside. The organization's mission is to welcome newly arrived refugees to the community. If you missed out on ordering this month, don't worry – there will be chances to order in the future!

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
2020 World Refugee Day: Emergency Action for 100 More Families with @HildaSolis, @marawilson, @mintmilana, @evankleiman, @mirywhitehill and more -



Miami, Florida, USA

Venezuelan superstar and UNHCR High Profile Supporter Danny Ocean regales fans worldwide with a Couch Concert on the eve of #WorldRefugeeDay.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Mañana LIVE (4pm EST) @kencen - @ACNURamericas #WorldRefugeeDay #DiaMundialDeLosRefugiados 🌍💙.


New York, New York, USA

A lively discussion and music happening in New York!

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
NOW: Tune in for a live discussion in honor of #WorldRefugeeDay (June 20th). @WNYC reporter @MattKatz00 is joined by the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) Director Ruvendrini Menikdiwela, refugee activists @asifsafdary, @NhialGD and others. Followed by a perfo


Rikuzentakata, Japan

Authorities in Rikuzentakata lit up the city's famed Miracle Pine Tree in UN Blue to honour #WorldRefugeeDay. The tree became a symbol of recovery in the city, which was one of the hardest hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.


Japan. The Miracle Pine Tree of the City of Rikuzentakata turns to UN Blue, the night before the World Refugee Day
The City of Rikuzentakata lights up the Miracle Pine Tree in UN Blue to honour World Refugee Day.


Thessaloniki, Greece

Greece hosts around 121,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Swimmers at a club in Thessaloniki spelled out a message of inclusion ahead of #WorldRefugeeDay.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
This #WorldRefugeeDay Thessaloniki’s PAOK Athletic Club forms human banner #EveryActionCounts captured by drone. @AC_PAOK shows how to come together and that every action counts in sports and life!


Belmopan, Belize

The cooking show 'A Taste of Central America' features an asylum seeker in Belize showing how to make pupusas, El Salvador’s mouth-watering national dish, and talking about what made her flee her country in search of safety.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
If you are up to try homemade #pupusas, join us in the kitchen #WithRefugees in Belize 📅19 June 🕒10 a.m. (BLZ time) Through this link 👉 #RefugeeDay


Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Betty G is one of Africa’s fastest rising music stars, catapulted to stardom following the release of her debut album ‘Manew Fitsum’ and appearances in Coke Studio Africa. A UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, she sent a message of support ahead of #WorldRefugeeDay.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
On World Refugee Day, we celebrate the refugees who are in the frontlines fighting COVID-19. Remember the worst of a crisis requires the best of humanity. Everyone can make a difference in the fight against this virus. Every action counts. #WorldRefugeeDay.


Sudanese-American slam poet Emi Mahmoud supports UNHCR’s work as a Goodwill Ambassador.

Her message ahead of #WorldRefugeeDay is one we all need to hear: 'Some things that haven't been stopped by COVID-19: wars, domestic violence, famine, pestilence, displacement – our will to live.'


Utica, New York, USA

Take a walk – real or virtual – and listen to refugees describe their journey to New York State as you take your own journey. Hop on a treadmill, walk around the block or just dance around your house. Just because we cannot walk together this year doesn't mean we can't share our stories. Put on your headphones and get moving! You can also read moving stories here.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Sign up today for A Walk In Their words and listen to 14 of our new neighbors talk about their journeys to New York. #worldrefugeeday #awalkintheirwords