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World Refugee Day 2003: Sierra Leone

World Refugee Day 2003: Sierra Leone

20 June 2003

A concert in Freetown with a clear message of peace and co–existence. © UNHCR/F.Fontanini

In Freetown, refugee students joined the local community, government officials, aid workers and marching bands in a procession through the main streets led by a special World Refugee Day bus with banners painted by refugee youth.

To celebrate both World Refugee Day and African Child Day, a song and dance competition was held, and complete meals were served to some 1,000 children. A Jordanian medical team offered free medical services to children in need. These activities were followed by an exciting concert by a famous local artist, Steady Bongo, who conveyed messages of peace to the young audience.

Sierra Leonean artist Steady Bongo thrilled the crowds.

Roundtable discussions were initiated by refugee youth involved in a special project called Voice of the Children. Government and UN officials also participated in debates on issues such as education and HIV/AIDS.

UNHCR's film about refugee youth, "Facing our Future", was screened on primetime national TV for one week.

In Bo district, World Refugee Day was marked with speeches, games, sport competitions, dramas, music and dance in town and in all the refugee camps.

Refugees at Largo camp in Kenema district had an unusual experience on June 20 when they were connected in a webcast, through the Internet and satellite, to students in Bern and the audience of the World Refugee Day classical concert in Geneva, Switzerland. Together with Kasulu camp in Tanzania, Largo camp will be the beneficiary of the 200,000 Swiss francs raised through the concert for education projects.

Jembe camp hosted a panel discussion on the theme, "Young refugees: Building the future", which involved representatives from all the eight refugee camps in Kenema district.

In Kono district, returnees, local authorities and aid workers paraded through Koidu town to commemorate the day. A ceremony was held at the Fachima Hall. The chairperson of the Koidu New Sembehun Town Council conveyed messages of encouragement to the returnees, especially the young generation. Role plays were staged to show how youth can contribute to local development. The highlight of the occasion was a football match between girls' teams.

A procession was organised to mark World Refugee Day in Pujehun district. The local authorities, citizens, refugees, UN peacekeepers and aid workers all converged at the Zimmi court Barrie. A refugee made a speech, asking the international community to help restore peace in Liberia so that the refugees can go home.

In Kailahun district, a radio discussion programme on the theme, "Young refugees: Building the future", was held at Kailahun FM station. The discussion was followed by a football match between refugees and aid workers, traditional dance, as well as a skit by the kids' club.