World Refugee Day


By Jasmine Keating

Sunday 20th June marks World Refugee Day – a day to raise awareness of the plight of refugee’s around the world whilst also celebrating the incredible achievements refugees make in the face of severe adversity.

Over the past decade the number of refugees around the world has more than doubled (Concern USA, 2020). The UNHCR (2020) predicted in mid-2020 there were 80 million forcibly displaced people throughout the world, of these 26.3 million are refugees. 67% of people were from the following five countries, Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.

It is estimated there are now over 1 million Rohingya refugees who have been forced out of Myanmar due to violence (Guardian, 2021). Many of those people have escaped to Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh where they have been faced with further trauma after a fire in March 2021 killed at least 11 people, with 400 missing and 45,000 displaced (UN News, 2021).

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought further difficulties for people living in refugee camps as overcrowding, poor sanitation, inadequate communication, lack of nutrition and a lack of healthcare resources has put people at heightened risk. To try and prevent the virus from entering the Kutupalong Refugee Camp lockdown was imposed. Whilst essential services continued to run, services such as education and mental health support were hindered due to a lack of aid workers in the camp (The Star, 2020; Nature, 2020).

Taking the disruption caused by Covid-19 into account, on reflection it feels pivotal that the theme for World Refugee Day this year is ‘Together we Heal, Learn and Shine’ (UNHCR, 2021). With a focus on improving access to healthcare, nutrition, mental health services, education and sport this theme highlights the importance of providing a holistic package of support for refugees.

With the recent G7 Summit focusing on climate change it is important to highlight the detrimental impact the climate crisis will have on people as they are forced to flee their homes due to environmental disaster. In 2017, of the 30.6 million people displaced across 135 countries, 60% were internally displaced due to a climate-related disaster (Climate Refugees). We must act now to reduce the number of climate refugees in the long-term.

Positive News Stories:

  • The International Olympic Committee has named 29 athletes from 11 countries for the refugee team at the Tokyo Olympics (UNHCR, 2021).
  • Hangama Amiri, a refugee from Afghanistan, has created the Twitter emoji for World Refugee Day. Use the hashtags #WorldRefugeeDay, #WithRefugees and #RefugeeDay to activate the emoji! (UNHCR, 2021)
  • A group of people in Godmanchester have been sponsoring a refugee family from Syria and put their money together to buy the family their own home (Cambridge News, 2021).
  • Sesame Street have created Rohingya Muppets to help refugee children living in Kutupalong Refugee Camp overcome trauma and to educate them about coronavirus (The Guardian, 2020).


Want to Find Out More? Our Recommendations:


TV Show: Stateless (available on Netflix).

Documentary: For Sama (available for free on All 4).

Nonfiction Book: The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil.

Fiction Book: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri .

What You Can Do:

  • Volunteer – Find a volunteering opportunity on – Filter the opportunities by selecting ‘Causes’, then ‘Refugees’.


Agence France-Presse in Cox’s Bazar, (2021). Bangladesh: ‘massive’ fire in Rohingya refugee camps forces 50,000 to flee. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

Climate Refugees, (2021). Crisis Looms. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

Concern Worldwide, (2021). The Largest Refugee Crises to Know in 2021. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

Luxon, D. (2021). The Cambridgeshire town that bought a Syrian refugee family a home. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

Nature, (2020). ‘Distancing is impossible’: refugee camps race to avert coronavirus catastrophe. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

Reuters, (2020). Sesame Street creates Rohingya Muppets to help refugee children. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

The Star, (2020). Rohingya camps closed off. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

UNHCR, (2021). Afghan-Canadian refugee artist designs World Refugee Day Twitter emoji. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

UNHCR, (2020). Refugee Data Finder. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

UNHCR, (2021). Refugee athletes aiming to succeed and inspire in Tokyo. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

UNHCR, (2021). World Refugee Day. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].

UN News, (2021). UN emergency fund allocates $14 million for Rohingya refugees left homeless by massive fire. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15th June 2021].