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World Refugee Day 2004: Belarus

World Refugee Day 2004: Belarus

20 June 2004

Georgian and Afghan refugee communities performing at the Festival of National Cultures in Grodno. © UNHCR Belarus

From 20 to 25 June, a festival titled "Days of Cinema about Refugees" took place in one of the central cinema houses in Minsk. Films and documentaries devoted to forced migration and refugee issues were shown. Approximately 3,000 people participated in this event. Key advertising elements leading up to the festival included the street banner, "Days of Cinema about Refugees", in the centre of town; an advertising campaign in the Minsk underground; radio ads on the FM station "Radio Rocks"; television announcements; and various types of publicity, distributed amongst all of the cinemas in Minsk.

The start of the event was marked on 20 June by an opening ceremony with speakers from UNHCR and the Minsk City Executive Committee. The event was covered by both Minsk-based and national television.

A series of roundtable discussions such as "Refugees and Belarus: the socio-historical aspect" was held, accompanied by screenings of documentary films. They took place at the Faculty of International Relations of the Belarusian State University.

Roundtable discussions on refugee issues were also held at the Faculty of Research Expertise at the Academy of the MIA and in the CCA "Evrika", in which European Humanitarian University students participated.

More than 1,000 children from all the regions of Belarus devoted their works to refugees as part of a competition titled "There is nothing better than your home." Drawings, poems and short stories came not only from the main Belarusian cities, but also from the small villages and towns. Some of the artwork was done by refugee children living in Belarus. The event culminated in a gala concert and an award ceremony for the winners. All participants who reached the final stage of the contest were given UNHCR diplomas and T-shirts featuring the World Refugee Day logo to remember the event.

The Festival of National Cultures included a street parade.

From 4 to 6 June, the UNHCR office in Belarus took part in the festivities of the nationwide Festival of National Cultures, which took place in Grodno. The festival, which has become a tradition, was covered in the press and in other media outlets. Georgian and Afghan refugee communities took part in the festival and presented their national cultures.

On the eve of World Refugee Day, the winners of the best academic work on refugee and migration issues were announced at a press conference and awarded scholarships. This project was jointly conducted by UNHCR, the Belarusian State University and the IPA for UN Studies, Information and Educational Programmes.

On 21 June, UNHCR held a press conference on World Refugee Day. The UNHCR Representative, together with the Head of Division on Refugees from the Department on Citizenship and Migration of the MIA, gave an account of recent developments regarding refugee issues in Belarus.