Every action counts: Commemorating World Refugee Day 2020 in Greece

World Refugee Day, commemorated every year on 20 June, is a key moment to remind the world that each day people are forced to flee their homes in search of safety and protection. It’s also a day to celebrate the resilience and courage of millions of uprooted people.

At the end of 2019, nearly 80 million people were displaced from their homes. Around the world, the number of conflicts has only increased. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that 1 out of every 100 people in the world has fled their homes.

These numbers are overwhelming – and it is important to remember that these represent real people whose lives have been torn apart, leaving their homes, family, jobs and schools behind.

In 2020, we mark World Refugee Day against a backdrop of dramatic social change. Not only have record numbers of people fled their homes to find safety – but the entire world is grappling with the devastation of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This global health crisis is evolving into an economic crisis, and in turn, has exposed raw social inequalities in our societies.

Racial discrimination and related intolerance are common causes of flight and can threaten the protection of asylum-seekers and refugees at all stages of the displacement cycles. More needs to be done in the fight against racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, including in Greece as highlighted this week in the annual report of the Racist Violence Recording Network.

These are challenging times. Yet, we have seen how the pandemic and the anti-racist movement have created a connectedness that transcends borders.  We have seen how ordinary people, including refugees, are stepping up and leaning in to help.  And we have witnessed in Greece, despite many remaining challenges, how citizens, local communities, mayors and civil servants, NGOs and many across the spectrum of society have offered support and hospitality in solidarity with people uprooted from their homes.


This World Refugee Day, UNHCR, together with refugee and host communities and partners in Greece are coming together to show that everyone can make a difference. Through the World Refugee Day microsites www.refugeeday.org and www.WithRefugees.gr we can join in dialogue for a more inclusive world, through simple steps such as:

  • Joining voices and sharing a strong solidarity video message with actress Natasa Exidaveloni, software developer Jean-Didier Totow, student Fatima Ahmadi, student Mohamad Barhi,  singer Myronas Stratis, actress Maria Konstandaki, chef Gogo Delogianni, and UNHCR staff.
  • Getting to know each other with chef Manolis Papoutsakis from Crete island who will talk today at 5 pm over Facebook live with chef Zahir Yawary about traditional Afghan cuisine during a Facebook live interview.
  • Calling on our cities to sign the Cities #WithRefugees solidarity statement and ensure that everyone can live in safety, become self-reliant, and give back to their local community.
  • Following PAOK Athletic Club which will highlight with a human banner how we can come together and how #EveryActionCounts in sports and life.
  • Sharing the awarded works and messages by students from across Greece who participated in UNHCR’s Student Contest titled “Things that don’t fit in a suitcase”
  • Attending a virtual or other event marking World Refugee Day. Here are some ideas.
  • Supporting the groups, volunteers and organisations doing life-saving work on the frontlines of the pandemic.

This World Refugee Day, UNHCR is appealing to everyone to help continue this global movement of solidarity and action.

Everyone can make a difference, and everyone action counts when it comes to promoting inclusion, respect, and dignity for all.