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Live Blog: World Refugee Day kicks off amid record displacement

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Live Blog: World Refugee Day kicks off amid record displacement

From Asia to the Americas, UNHCR is leading celebrations of the lives of men, women and children finding new hope after escaping danger.
20 June 2016
Participants ride on Sunday in a bicycle rally organized by UNHCR to mark World Refugee Day 2016 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

GENEVA, June 20 (UNHCR) – Millions of people across the globe, led by artists, musicians and even chefs, are marking World Refugee Day with a series of celebratory events that stand in stark contrast to grim figures showing that wars and persecution have driven more people from their homes than at any time since records began.

From Asia to the Americas, people are using the event – which falls each year on June 20 – to honour the courage and resilience of those who have been forced to flee their homes to reach safety. Many are also promoting UNHCR's petition by showing that they stand #WithRefugees. Check back here throughout the day for updates.

Washington, D.C., USA

Attending an interfaith iftar reception with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt urged the world not to turn its back on conflicts that had displaced 65 million people. "If I ask people for anything on this day, it is to take a moment and to truly grasp what a refugee crisis of today’s magnitude means for peace and security of the world," she told reporters.

"We face a very clear choice: to continue as we are and see displacement and insecurity grow, or, to come together with other nations and find a new approach, one that does not focus solely on aid and resettlement, but on solution, stability and returns." She added: "Strength lies in mastering and channeling our emotions so that we pursue policies that reduce – not inflame – threats to our security."

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Intolerance, xenophobia don't build security: #UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt & @JohnKerry agree @Refugees


Madrid, Spain

The Puerta de Alcalá is illuminated blue for World Refugee Day.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
In Madrid, Spain, the Puerta de Alcalá is illuminated blue for World Refugee Day. @ACNURspain #WithRefugees


Florence, Italy

The world-famous Palazzo Vecchio is lit up in blue for World Refugee Day – one of many such gestures across Italy, to which many refugees fleeing war and persecution have turned for help.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Palazzo Vecchio in Florence lit up in blue for World Refugee Day #WithRefugees


For the second year in a row, a concert will be held in Florence to celebrate World Refugee Day. Fifteen rock bands will be on stage to stand #WithRefugees. During the course of the evening refugees will also take to the stage to share their stories, hopes and dreams. A documentary film about the importance of access to education for Syrian refugee children will also be shown. ​

Florence, Italy
The World Refugee Day 2016 concert kicks off at Visarno Arena in Florence. Fifteen bands will take to the stage to stand #WithRefugees. General Stratocuster and the Marshals were the first band on stage.


Beirut, Lebanon

To mark World Refugee Day, Syrian, Iraqi, Kurdish and Indian musicians put on an amazing multi-cultural concert in Beirut, a city many now call home.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Amazing Syrian, Iraqi, Kurd and Indian talent at #WorldRefugeeDay event in Beirut. #WithRefugees


Juba, South Sudan

Ethiopian refugees and South Sudanese local models take part in a fashion show in Juba, South Sudan, to mark World Refugee Day. South Sudan hosts more than 270,000 refugees, primarily from Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia.

World Refugee Day in Juba, South Sudan
Refugee and South Sudanese models take to the catwalk with traditional clothes for World Refugee Day in Juba, South Sudan.


Baghdad, Iraq

Renowned oud player Naseer Shamma today treated residents of Al Salam camp in Baghdad to a concert resonating wtih history. The stringed instrument dates back thousands of years to the early pharaonic era.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Oud musician @NShamma gives concert for IDPS at Al Salam camp #Baghdad on World Refugee Day with @UNHCRIraq @theIRC


Tokyo, Japan

Commuters walk past portraits of refugees at Tokyo’s Omotesando metro station. Each day some six million people use Tokyo’s subway system. The display aims to put a human face on the word “refugee” for those making the journey to and from work.

Commuters in Tokyo's Omotesando district are treated to a series of stunning black-and-white portraits of refugees living in Japan, taken by photographer Naotaka Miyamoto.

Seoul, South Korea

A video featuring UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Jung Woo-sung is screened outside Seoul City Hall in solidarity #WithRefugees. It shows the actor, model and director on mission in Lebanon for the Refugee Agency, and has been playing in the spot since June 7.

A video featuring UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Jung Woo-sung in Lebanon, is being screened outside Seoul City Hall.


Budapest, Hungary

Last summer thousands of refugees fleeing war and persecution passed through Keleti train station in Hungary's capital. Many, but not all, moved on elsewhere. To mark World Refugee Day, UNHCR, refugees and volunteers opened a photo exhibition telling their stories.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
#WithRefugees #Hungary: UNHCR, refugees&volunteers open photo exhibition for public at the Keleti train station


Gore, Chad

Chad has hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees for decades. There are currently about 370,000 refugees from Sudan, Nigeria and the Central African Republic living in the country. Even on World Refugee Day, UNHCR is assisting around 2,000 new arrivals from recent clashes in CAR.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
On #WorldRefugeeDay #UNHCR & partners are providing protection & assist. to abt 2000 new #refugees from #CARcrisis


Mexico City, Mexico

Actors perform a play for children in Mexico City to mark World Refugee Day. The show – entitled "Little and Extraordinary Things" or "Cosas Pequeñas y Extraordinarias" in Spanish – was written and directed by Daniela Arroio and Micaela Gramajo. Mexico currently hosts thousands of Central American refugees fleeing gang and other violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Children's play Mexico City
Actors in Mexico City perform a children's play to mark World Refugee Day.


Tsore, Ethiopia

Sudanese and South Sudanese refugees made a human tower at Ethiopia's Tsore camp and stood tall #WithRefugees. Ethiopia hosts the largest refugee population in Africa with more than 734,000 people from South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Yemen and other countries. Tsore is the newest of the country's 24 refugee camps.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
#withrefugees- amazing acrobatics by #Sudanese, #southSudanese in Tsore Refugee camp #Ethiopia on WRd2016


Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo

More than 380,000 refugees from countries including Central African Republic, South Sudan and Burundi have sought safety in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this city in the east of the country, hundreds of refugees and locals ran through the streets in a show of solidarity #WithRefugees.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
200 #runners – refugees and locals – in #Goma, #DRCongo, run 13km to show solidarity #WithRefugees. @refugees.


Za’atari Camp, Jordan

UNHCR staff and youth volunteers took up paints and brushes to brighten up the former kitchens at Za’atari camp, which is home to some 80,000 Syrian refugees.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Youth volunteers in @ZaatariCamp transform old communal kitchens into community spaces and mark #WorldRefugeeDay


Nairobi, Kenya

A refugee team is set to make history in August when they compete in the Olympic Games under the IOC flag. At the heart of the team are five South Sudanese runners. They were serenaded at a ceremony in Nairobi today, along with their trainer, Tegla Loroupe, the world champion Kenyan runner who started a foundation to promote peace through sports.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
#TeamRefugees getting serenaded with a song about wishing them luck & standing #WithRefugees. @UNHCR_Kenya


Paris, France

Ten restaurants across Paris are taking part in the three-day Refugee Food Festival. Refugee chefs are pulling on uniforms and cooking up dishes from their countries of origin. The dishes are then placed on the menu.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Paris Refugee Food Festival - Mohammad, Syrian refugee & chef, cooks for trendy restaurant 'Poulette' #WithRefugees


New Delhi, India

On a typical day, 2.4 million commuters ride New Delhi’s bustling 160-stop metro system. On World Refugee Day, commuters passing through Rajiv Chowk, the subway’s busiest station, took a moment to stand #WithRefugees.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Commuters at Delhi’s busiest metro pause to stand #WithRefugees through exhibition of Raghu Rai and refugee photos.


Kathmandu, Nepal

Cyclists took to the streets of the Nepali capital on Sunday in solidarity with more than 65 million people driven from their homes around the world by war and persecution. In Nepal itself, more than 500,000 people lost their homes when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake tore through the Himalayan kingdom in April 2015, flattening thousands of villages and towns and seriously damaging the capital.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Short video clip of Cycle Rally to mark the World Refugee Day in Kathmandu #WithRefugees #Nepal


Tehran, Iran

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi marked World Refugee Day with UNHCR colleagues in the Iranian capital on Saturday. Grandi praised Iran for its decades-long work helping millions of refugees at great cost. He also noted that the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan made it very difficult for people to go back. The priority now, he said, is helping young refugees.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
.@RefugeesChief Filippo Grandi with UNHCR officials at a World Refugee Day ceremony in Tehran, Iran. #WithRefugees


Damascus, Syria

UNHCR colleagues in the Syrian capital marked World Refugee Day a little early with a friendly game of football. Joining them on the pitch were refugees from Somalia, Sudan and Iraq – who fled their own countries but are now surrounded by another conflict – as well as staff from other UN agencies working inside Syria.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
Viva @Refugees team! @UNHCRinSYRIA staff played a friendly soccer match #WithRefugees team to celebrate #WRD2016


Yaoundé, Cameroon

A walk through the Cameroonian capital in solidarity with refugeees drew a spirited turnout on Saturday. Cameroon is generously hosting 350,000 refugees from Central African Republic, Nigeria and Sudan.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
“Dreams and hopes for a better future”, walking in solidarity w/ #refugees in #Yaounde. We stand #WithRefugees #WRD


Dublin, Ireland

The 6th Fair Play Football cup kicked off over the weekend with a high-profile supporter in the stands: Irish President Michael Higgins. Some 20 teams with 500 participants – including refugees, asylum-seekers and other players – are taking part in the tournament this year.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
The @PresidentIRL stands #WithRefugees and @Refugees Will you? Sign the petition


Lesvos, Greece

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met refugees this weekend on the Greek island of Lesvos, which became a key entry point last year for refugees seeking safety in Europe. He called on countries in the region to respond with a humane and human rights-based approach, instead of border closures, barriers and bigotry. “Today, I met refugees from some of the world's most troubled places," Ban said. "They have lived through a nightmare. And that nightmare is not over.”

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
World must fully share the responsibility; it is our political & moral obligation: Ban Ki-moon #WithRefugees #Lesbos