World Refugee Day was first held on 20 June 2001 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees. The date was originally celebrated as African Refugee Day but it is now an international day, designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. It is held each year on June 20 and not only raises awareness and shines a global spotlight on the plight of refugees, but it is also a day to celebrate the strength and courage of those who were forced to flee. Many of the activities on World Refugee Day also create opportunities to support refugees. 

A refugee is someone who, regardless of age, is forced to flee their country and seek protection in another country owing to “a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion,”. We know that the past 15 months have been tough for everybody. But, can you imagine being driven out of your own home because of a fear of; being persecuted, genocide, or conflict? Environmental refugees are also being increasingly recognised, despite having no basis in international law. Whilst people may have the freedom to move, what about their freedom to stay?

The 2021 World Refugee Day theme is: Together we heal, learn and shine. The focus of this is on increasing access to health care including sexual and reproductive health, nutrition and mental health services, providing access to quality education and using sport to create safe and protective environments.

For more information, and links to donate please see the UN Refugee Agency UK website.

In the UK, 14–20 June will be Refugee Week. Please click here for everyday small actions we can all take to improve lives, communities and society around us.