UNHCR Bahamas hosts World Refugee Day Event in Nassau
Family has no borders.
That is the powerful message behind the film Simple as Water. It follows Syrian refugee families across five different countries and provides insight into the plight of the 100 million people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, violence, or persecution.
For World Refugee Day, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, hosted a special reception and screening of the film Simple as Water, to help bring awareness to the challenges refugees encounter on their journeys and to give a human face to their struggles. While the families in Simple as Water are far removed from the Bahamas, the adversity they face is familiar to that confronted by thousands of refugees and asylum seekers in the Caribbean region, some of whom find themselves on the shores of the Bahamas.
“World Refugee Day is about celebrating the resilience of refugees in the Bahamas and around the world.” said Crispin Hall from the UNHCR office in the Bahamas. “The themes of this film are relevant everywhere - we look forward to continuing our work with the government and our partners to promote a welcoming and inclusive environment for people who seek protection in the Bahamas.”
The event was attended by dignitaries, government officials, and partner organizations, including United Nations Country Coordinator, Aneesah Abdullah, Ms. Kenrah Newry, Deputy Director of Legal Affairs, Mr. Kayla Greene-Smith, Assistant Director of Legal Affairs, and the Honorable Rhonda Jackson, Director General of Foreign Affairs of the Bahamas.
“That is why this year’s theme is so important,” said Jackson. “It calls on all of us to recognize that there is more to calling some place home, than it being a shelter. It’s about a feeling of comfort and security knowing that one has the right to seek safety should the need arise.”
Ms. Liv Feijen, Head of UNHCR’s Caribbean Unit in Washington, D.C. stressed that World Refugee Day is a day to highlight the importance of welcoming newcomers into our communities. “It is imperative to see refugees as an asset and not a burden, that they bring hopes, aspirations, experiences, and pieces of their culture with them to their new homes,” she said.
According to a refugee, who’s name has been omitted for protection reasons, it was important to him to be present at the event and share his story. “For me home is a place where you feel accepted where you feel entitled and where you feel loved,” he said. “I feel like I’m farther away from it because of where I am, the reason I feel so is because I’m reminded, because of my accent or how I dress, that I don’t belong. Coming here today was important because I’m meeting people who are willing to listen.”
While World Refugee Day honors the contributions of the millions of people around the world who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, war, or persecution, it is also a day to remember that we can all make a difference by standing with refugees.