World Refugee Day 2022
At the end of 2021, there were 89.3 million people around the world forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, with nearly 60% of them being Internally Displaced People (IDPs) according to UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Since February 24th this year, over 7.3 million border crossings from Ukraine alone have been reported and more than 7.1 million people are thought to be internally displaced, as of June 9, 2022. World Refugee Day is an opportunity to focus on and commend the resilience of those who have been forcibly displaced, supporting them as they preserve the culture of their homeland and allow it to blossom worldwide.
June 20 marks the anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees from 1951, which outlined many basic human rights for refugees, such as the rights to education, housing and work and the protection from punishment for illegal entry into a participating country. Though these rights have been and will continue to be fundamental to the support of refugees, World Refugee Day in 2022 serves to highlight the right that everyone has to seek safety and to honor refugees and celebrate their achievements globally.
As the recent development of the crisis in Ukraine brings more national attention to the situation of refugees worldwide, many look towards the great work done by international and local organizations for guidance. In New Haven, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services (IRIS) is providing a wide range of services to refugees and immigrants, helping them to establish their new lives and enrich communities across Connecticut. It also partners with other local groups such as Sanctuary Kitchen, Havenly, and Elena’s Light, which specialize in building economic opportunities and providing training and education and more specific services to women and children.
This year, IRIS and their partners are honoring World Refugee Day by hosting two events featuring speakers, artists, artisans, and poets that have resettled in local communities, providing a space for one to learn about foreign cultures and get to know each other. While the crises that have forced displacement require attention, it is also vital to understand that each country of origin is lush with its own culture independent of any war or conflict. These events will be held on June 17th in New Haven and on June 19th in Hartford.
The Program on Refugees, Forced Displacement, and Humanitarian Responses (PRFDHR) wants to highlight World Refugee Day and emphasize the importance of effective responses to these crises as we continue to promote interdisciplinary research and teaching on the experiences and effects of refugee situations. PRFDHR together with the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies (CLAIS) and European Studies Council (ESC) encourage everyone to honor World Refugee Day, such as by donating to organizations like UNHCR, attending local events, and recognizing the resilience of the human spirit as shown by displaced people everywhere.