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Published on June 17th, 2020 | by Peter Cox

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Refugee Week

World Refugee Day

#EveryActionCounts

By Jana Lindschau, CCAT Campaigner

Halfway through the year, 2020 has already revealed itself as a year full of challenges and dramatic social change (UNHCR, 2020a). It has further shown us that we all play a role in making this world a safer, more inclusive, and just place. The COVID-19 pandemic saw us coming together in selfless acts helping our communities, protecting public health and supporting our front-line workers. Recent anti-racism protests around the globe show us the strength of collective determination to demand better and make our voices heard. The message that everyone can make a difference and #EveryActionCounts is at the heart of the UNHCR’s World Refugee Day campaign this year (UN, 2020a). Annually, the 20thof June marks World Refugee Day to honour refugees and celebrate the courage of people who have been forced to flee their homes, as well as to draw attention to their plight (UNHCR, 2020b).

In the 21stcentury, we witness a record level of forced migration (UN, 2020b). Nearly every 2 seconds, a person is forcibly displaced as a result of terror, war, conflict, persecution, and human rights violations (UN, 2020b). Additionally, natural disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, increase in frequency and intensity, adding to human-made calamities, that also include socio-economic deprivation. Recent figures from 2018 count 70.8 million forcibly displaced people worldwide (UN, 2020b). They are among the most vulnerable, aid-deserving people yet they are likely to experience uncountable hardships at every step of their way (UN, 2020a; ). Carrying with them their individual trauma, despair, and loss, refugees face a dangerous journey in which they suffer physical exhaustion, exploitation by smugglers and human traffickers, violence, harsh living conditions in camps, discrimination in host countries and uncertainties about what their future holds (UN, 2020b; UNHCR, 2020c; UNHCR, 2020d; Kingsley, 2019).

On the 20thof June, we honour refugees’ strength, value their history, achievements and contributions, and acknowledge their bravery. At the same time, we must recognise their burdens and hurdles along the way, and how international protection has failed the ones in need. People seeking safety and a future for themselves are being exploited, trafficked, and enslaved across borders, put on unseaworthy boats and often never seen again (UN, 2020b; UNHCR, 2020c; UNHCR, 2020d; Kingsley, 2019). On World Refugee Day, and every day, #EveryActionCounts as we need to extend our solidarity and strive for long-term solutions in which no one is left behind.

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