Live Blog: World Refugee Day is held amid record displacement
GENEVA – From dance parties to food festivals and urban hikes, millions of people around the world are taking part in events to celebrate World Refugee Day at a time when the number of children, women and men uprooted by wars and persecution has broken all records.
The event, held on 20 June each year, honours the courage and determination of those who have been forced to flee their homes. This year, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is asking people from all walks of life to join the #StepWIthRefugees global challenge in solidarity with refugees who each year trek 1 billion miles to reach the nearest point of safety.
Check back here throughout the day for updates:
New York, United States
The iconic Empire State building turned UN blue to honour World Refugee Day.
UNHCR, WeWork and coffee entrepreneurs Everyman Coffee and Refoodee celebrated refugees in the community with a joyful event that featured food cooked by refugees, live poetry, coffee tasting and shopping of goods made by and in support of refugees.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Latin Vox Machine, an orchestra of 100 Latin American musicians, filled up Buenos Aires' Centro Cultural Kirchner for a special free concert on World Refugee Day. Latin Vox Machine was founded in Argentina in 2017. Most of its musicians come from Venezuela but there are also artists from Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Syria in the band, among other countries.
Asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, Central African Republic and Ukraine attended the opening of an excursion about forced migration through the eyes of artists of the 20th century held in the State Tretyakov gallery, as part of the inter-museum festival “Point of Displacement”.
Renowned Azerbaijani piano player Isfar Sarabski performed at the International Mugham Centre in Baku, where UNHCR held an event with the Government of Azerbaijan to mark World Refugee Day. Together with his quartet, Sarabski played two extended pieces, both composed by him. The talented piano player won the Montreux Jazz Festival solo piano competition in 2009, at the age of 19.
Clowns Without Borders entertained thousands of children at Melkadida refugee camp, which hosts more than 200,000 refugees. The team of four clowns from Spain performed magic tricks and brought joy to the crowd of children and grown-ups.
The Lima Symphony Project, an orchestra formed by Venezuelan and Peruvian musicians, surprised travelers at Terminal Plaza Norte in the Peruvian capital with an impromptu concert.
Estonia celebrated World Refugee Day and the opening of the Estonian Refugee Council's new centre in Tallinn. Dami showed the guests some vibrant dance moves from her home country of Nigeria. The centre will be a platform where refugee cooks will be given the opportunity to start their catering enterprises, with the support of UNHCR.
Violin professor Hong Anh Shapiro is a former refugee from Vietnam who now heads the violin school Violonissimo in Switzerland. Her students performed at UNHCR's headquarters to celebrate World Refugee Day.
Juba, South Sudan
Refugees and UNHCR staff stepped on the catwalk at the 2019 World Refugee Day celebrations in Juba that took place at UNHCR's compound.
Some 2,000 children and parents enjoyed an open-air puppet show in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe. The play, called “Neighbours,” promotes strong bonds between host communities and refugees.
Tokyo Skytree, the world's tallest tower and one of Tokyo's most popular sightseeing locations, is among 15 Japanese landmarks that are glowing UN Blue to mark World Refugee Day. Last October, the International Olympic Committee announced that a Refugee Olympic Team will compete in the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Kutupalong refugee settlement, Bangladesh
Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have marked World Refugee Day by calling on the world to join the 2 Billion Kilometres to Safety campaign. The global campaign invites people to show solidarity with refugees by running, walking or cycling to achieve a cumulative total of two billion kilometres.
Most of the 740,00 Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar since August 2017 made the journey on foot through forests.
London, United Kingdom
A variety of World Refugee Day celebrations have been taking place at London's iconic St Paul's Cathedral, with performances by actors Emily Watson and Rufus Hound, cellist Steven Isserlis and a refugee choir. Last week, the UK pledged to welcome between 5,000 and 6,000 refugees in 2020–2021.
Mtendeli refugee camp, Tanzania
In Tanzania, refugees from Burundi have been celebrating World Refugee Day with traditional drumming and dancing. The East African nation is home to over 312,000 refugees. Almost half of them live in Nyarugusu camp in Kigoma.
UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi is celebrating World Refugee Day in Jordan, a “courageous country” that despite its small size currently hosts more than 755,000 refugees from 57 nations.
“It is important to remind the world of Jordan’s example,” he told an event in the capital, Amman, to mark the occasion. “We should not forget that you are sharing more than just space, that you are giving a lot to refugees, and the international community must give back.”
Grandi visited a refugee bazaar held in Amman’s historic downtown, where he chatted with dozens of refugee vendors selling everything from savoury cheese pastries to recycled handicrafts and fragrant Aleppo soap.
Syrian refugee Bassam, who recycles garment factory off-cuts into purses, notebooks and bags, showed the High Commissioner his products and told him: “Refugees have ideas. They are people with knowledge, skills and crafts."
In a speech, Grandi praised Amman as a City of Light for its role in hosting refugees. The Jordanian capital is part of a growing global network of municipalities that are opting to embrace refugees and the opportunities they bring. From Sao Paulo to Vienna, these Cities of Light are giving hope to the world’s most vulnerable by offering sanctuary and the chance to become part of the social fabric.
Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Forcibly displaced children in Goma drew pictures capturing what being a refugee means to them. Almost five million people are internally displaced by conflict inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and over 790,000 have fled to neighbouring countries
Bidibidi refugee settlement, Uganda
Swaying and shaking their hips, residents of Bidibidi refugee settlement in Uganda celebrated with dance. The country hosted more than 1.1 million refugees and asylum seekers as of October 2018, mainly from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Scouts have set up non-formal education in camps such as one in Dzaleka, Malawi, to help young refugees learn life skills, build self-confidence and become leaders. On World Refugee Day the scouting movement pledged its solidairty with the displaced.
Smiles all round: Children watch a puppet show in Tajikistan to celebrate World Refugee Day. This year, UNHCR and partners hope around 2,500 children at risk of statelessness in the Central Asian republic will be issued birth certificates, ensuring they can access schools, healthcare, and – one day – find work.
UNHCR staff, Venezuelan refugees and displaced Colombians were among 2,000 runners who took part in a half marathon in Cúcuta. The Colombian city borders Venezuela and is one of the principal crossing points for people fleeing the deepening political, economic and human rights crisis there.
More than 100 vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers found safety in Niger on World Refugee Day after being evacuated on a charter flight from Libya. They were among 1,297 who have been evacuated to safety on the flights this year, 711 of whom went to Niger.
New York, USA
UN Secretary-General António Guterres paid tribute to the courage and resilience of 70 million forcibly displaced people in a World Refugee Day address.
Rwamwanja refugee settlement, Uganda
Drummers and trombonists led a procession to plant trees at Rwamwanja refugee settlement in south-west Uganda. The environmental drive seeks to replace forest cover lost in the restless search for firewood.
A commuter train rattles through the Thai capital, decked out in UNHCR colours. The train is promoting the #StepWIthRefugees global challenge in solidarity with refugees who each year trek 1 billion miles in search of safety.
Kinshasa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
In a display of entrepreneurial flair, Rwandan refugees sell handmade sandals, handbags and headscarfs at a market in Kinshasa to celebrate World Refugee Day. The DRC hosted more than 536,000 refugees in 2018, while 4.5 million people were also displaced inside the country.
Children wait for a performance to start at the Greek Theatre of Syracuse, in south-east Sicily. Artists, actors and dancers performed before enthusiastic crowds at the ancient theatre, which dates back some 2,500 years and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Refugees and local residents braved showers to walk Sydney's famous harbour. The urban hike contributed an estimated 1 million paces to the #StepWithRefugees campaign.
Bhutanese refugees and their Nepalese hosts danced to a fusion beat in Nepal. For decades, the mountain nation has been a generous host to refugees, particularly to the over 100,000 refugees from Bhutan, 90 per cent of whom have now been resettled to third countries.
Diners relax on the terrace at Caffè Nemorense during a World Refugee Day food festival in Rome. The +Gusto event, organized by UNHCR and its partners, gave refugee chefs and waiters from 11 Italian restaurants the chance to showcase recipes from all over the world.
A delegation of refugee students take part in the #StepWithRefugees challenge in Berlin ahead of World Refugee Day, contributing over 350,000 steps to the global campaign.