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Live blog 2023: World Refugee Day celebrates the power of inclusion

Women clap and dance together.

Live blog 2023: World Refugee Day celebrates the power of inclusion

19 June 2023

Women dance together at Nayakanda refugee camp in Burundi.

Welcome to the World Refugee Day 2023 live blog, bringing you stories and events from around the globe showcasing the talents and resilience of refugees and the generous communities hosting them.

The theme of this year's event is "Hope away from home", highlighting the need to give refugees the opportunity to study, work and live healthy lives wherever they find safety. Inclusion is the best way to help refugees restart their lives, contribute to their new communities and prepare them for a successful return home when conditions allow.

With global forced displacement at record levels, the need for solutions and hope for millions of people fleeing conflict and persecution has never been greater. We can all play our part, so follow our updates throughout the day to get inspired and see what can happen when we stand #WithRefugees.

Last entry of World Refugee Day 2023 live blog

That's it for this year's World Refugee Day celebrations. We hope that – like us – you've been inspired by the stories and images from around the world of refugees and their hosts coming together to dance, sing, cook, play and celebrate our common humanity. Finally, a reminder that while World Refugee Day happens just once a year, every day is an opportunity to connect with refugees and others forced to flee, make them feel welcome and included in our communities, and give them hope away from home.

A woman beats a drum surrounded by people clapping and dancing.

Somali refugees celebrate World Refugee Day at the Mirqaan settlement in eastern Ethiopia. 

Belgrade, Serbia

Few residents of the Serbian capital would have missed the fact that it was World Refugee Day, with UNHCR's "Hope Away from Home" video projected onto the side of the 42-storey Belgrade Tower in downtown, and the city's Slavija Square bathed in blue light.


Denver, USA

Meet Methusella, a young Congolese refugee who was resettled to the Mile-High City in 2015 from a camp in Uganda. His story is a shining example of what refugees can achieve when welcomed by their new communities, becoming president of his college soccer club, interning with a US Senator at the Capitol in Washington D.C., and co-founding his own non-profit to give back to the community. Further strengthening the case for inclusion, four mayors from other US cities tell us why welcoming refugees ultimately benefits everyone.


Kakuma, Kenya

We return to Kenya, where a farm cooperative led by Somali refugee Abdulaziz Lugazo is providing sustenance and and income to refugees and locals alike. UNHCR's Filippo Grandi met Abdulaziz and visited the farm, describing the project as an example of the inclusive approach that offers benefits and hope to both refugees and their host communities.

A smiling man stands in a field where crops grow.

Abdoulaziz Lugazo joined the cooperative so he could make use of his farming knowledge and provide for his family. 

Tirana, Albania

Tirana Municipality has teamed up with UNHCR to light up the Albanian capital's historic Clock Tower blue in support of refugees.


Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva played host to French artist JR and his Inside Out project, which aims to give visibility to often marginalized and unseen people and groups by taking their portraits and displaying them prominently in public places. Today, JR's photo booth truck was at the asylum-seeker and refugee hosting Centre Rigot, opposite UNHCR's headquarters, where residents' photos were printed in black and white and hung on the building's facade.

Missing media item.

Pretoria, South Africa

The "Living Ubuntu" event at Pretoria's Freedom Park earlier today was a celebration of dance, music and poetry. It was also an opportunity to see performances by some of the finalists from a talent show run by the South African Refugee Led Network. 



YouTube and UNHCR have collaborated on a new short film series entitled “We Were Here” that was released today in support of World Refugee Day. The films aim to challenge stereotypes and perceptions by connecting refugees with some of YouTube's most influential content creators and focusing on their shared interests such as music, growing food, and building toys.

"We Were Here" is an original documentary series produced by UNHCR and YouTube that seeks to challenge stereotypes about refugees by focussing on the shared passions that unite us.

Warsaw, Poland

Refugees and locals gathered in Warsaw on Sunday to commemorate the strength and resilience of refugees with performances by Ukrainian musicians, art workshops for children and adults and sports activities.

A young boy plays the violin at an outdoor event.

A child plays the violin during a World Refugee Day event in Warsaw.


As we noted in a previous post, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi is in Kenya for World Refugee Day. Earlier, he issued a statement to mark the day calling on everyone from government leaders to citizens to do more to include refugees in local communities and give them hope. "We can – and must – do more to offer such hope, opportunities, and solutions to refugees, wherever they are and whatever the context," he said.

UNHCR's Filippo Grandi delivers a speech from a podium in a refugee camp.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi addresses refugees, members of the host community and other invited guests at the Kalobeyei refugee settlement, Kenya, on 20 June.

Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh

At the world’s largest refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar, various events have been taking place, including performances by Rohingya musicians, a “live art” show and an exhibition of Rohingya photographers’ work. A specially designed tuk tuk also travelled around the camps broadcasting traditional Rohingya music.


Liepaja, Latvia

In the city of Liepaja on Latvia's Baltic Sea coast, locals and refugees from Ukraine gathered for a combined celebration of World Refugee Day and traditional midsummer festivities. The event organized by Shelter Safe House featured storytelling, local dishes and Latvian and Ukrainian songs, with everyone getting into the spirit of things!


Get inspired!

With 110 million people worldwide forced to flee their homes, finding solutions can sometimes seem daunting. To help, we've put together a list of 5 simple things you can do to give refugees hope wherever you are in the world.


Mirqaan, Ethiopia

Refugees and Ethiopians joined together for a friendly soccer match to mark World Refugee Day at Mirqaan, a new settlement in Ethiopia’s Somali region opened recently to house people fleeing clashes in Somalia’s Lascaanood City.

Missing media item.

New York, USA

Queen’s Night Market, an open-air night market in the New York City borough of Queens, dedicated Saturday night to raising awareness and funds for UNHCR’s response to forced displacement around the world. Vendors representing culinary traditions from around the world, including refugees, came together to sell their food.

A woman makes the peace sign while she and others serve food from a stall.

Chef Lebjulet brings flavours from her home country of Venezuela to the Queens Night Market. She works for Eat Offbeat, a restaurant that employs resettled refugees and immigrants as chefs.

Tbilisi, Georgia

UNHCR Georgia has been hosting its annual Solidarity Walk amid the stunning backdrop of the Tbilisi Botanical Gardens. Refugees from different countries were joined by city residents, officials and partners for a day of celebration and musical performances.

Three performers sing on an outdoor stage backed by cliffs.

Three refugee performers from Iran sing a song about freedom on stage at the Tbilisi Botanical Gardens in the Georgian capital.


Education. Access to health care. Job opportunities. Artistic expression. Freedom of movement. Peace. These are some of the things that refugees from around the world told us give them hope away from home. What about you?


Baton Rouge, USA

After fleeing violence in Sierra Leone as a child, Dauda Sesay spent more than a decade in a refugee camp in Gambia before being relocated to the US in 2009. There he co-founded an organization that helps other refugees become self-reliant and give back to their communities, and advocates on refugee issues for several national bodies. He's written a powerful op-ed for World Refugee Day urging people to open their hearts to refugees and include them in finding solutions to the challenges they face. "Don't merely acknowledge our pain; act upon it," he writes.

A man sits in a conference room with other delegates in the background.

Dauda Sesay attends the 2022 Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement in Geneva, Switzerland, as the first refugee adviser to the US delegation.

Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, is spending this year's World Refugee Day in Kenya, which hosts around half a million refugees from other countries in East and Central Africa. While there he visited Kakuma refugee camp in the northwest of the country, meeting residents and members of the local community who put on a show including dancing and musical performances.



Traditionally, carp-shaped windsocks known as “koinobori” are flown in Japan to celebrate Children’s Day. Shibuya Źarny, a fashion designer who came to Japan from Myanmar as a refugee in 1993, partnered with manufacturer Tokunaga Koinobori to produce these blue carp streamers for World Refugee Day. Municipalities, private companies and members of the public are flying them to raise awareness about the plight of refugee children.

Blue wind socks designed to look like carp blow in front of a building in Japan.

Blue carp streamers, designed by Shibuya Źarny, fly in front of Okayama Castle in Japan for World Refugee Day.

Bangkok, Thailand

Over 30 tuk tuks decorated with “Hope Away from Home” banners are circulating across Bangkok throughout June to spread the word about the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day.

A woman looks out of the back of a stationary tuk tuk.

Sonya Singha (Kat), a UNHCR High Profile Supporter, in one of the "Hope Away from Home" tuk tuks.

Stockholm, Sweden

A “Pass the Mic” event taking place on Tuesday evening in Stockholm will involve individuals with a refugee background taking to the stage to tell their own stories. The speakers from Afghanistan, Syria and Ukraine will share their personal experiences of fleeing home, of separation and uncertainty, but also of hope and building a new life in Sweden.


Athens, Greece

The Cooking #WithRefugees Festival organized by UNHCR and partners, is taking place in Athens until 22 June. Greek chefs from four restaurants are teaming up with refugee chefs from Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine and Cameroon to serve fusion dishes that showcase the power of inclusion.

Two men hold two dishes in a professional kitchen.

Syrian refugee Adel Boshi (right) and chef Gogo Delogianni hold two Syrian dishes they prepared together at Stoa Fix restaurant in Athens.