On World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th, we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees.
First celebrated on June 20, 2001, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, World Refugee Day is a key moment in time to communicate with the world about who refugees are and why they require protection.
On World Refugee Day we celebrate refugees' contributions and seek to build empathy and understanding for their plight and their resilience to build a bright future.
This year’s World Refugee Day theme is the power of inclusion, reminding us that together we can do anything.
USA for UNHCR believes in the power of refugee voices, and as we celebrate inclusion, we strengthen our commitment to uplifting those voices as they tell their own stories, in their own way. For World Refugee Day 2021, USA for UNHCR will be honoring refugee narratives with In Our Own Voices, putting refugees at the center of all World Refugee Day activities.
Join the celebration by sharing and amplifying refugee voices this World Refugee Day and using the hashtag #refugeevoices.
Earlier this year, USA for UNHCR asked young refugees across the United States to share their stories in the Refugee Youth Storyteller’s Celebration. This World Refugee Day, we are featuring five stories that were entered in the celebration, including one that has been transformed into an animated video about the life of the storyteller.
Learn more about our amazing young refugee storytellers — Chantale, Night Jean, Dana, Bijaya and Abdallah — below. And check out our featured storyteller, Abdallah, in a brand new animated video.
After losing her parents and fleeing violence & persecution in the DRC, Chantale has become a leader in her community and a trailblazer for refugee girls around the world.
When she was only 13 years old, Chantale Zuzi was forced to flee her home in the DRC after losing her parents in a massacre and having her life threatened due to her albinism. Since then, she has resettled in the United States and is using her voice to advocate for refugee girls and help uplift other young women.
Night Jean spent 16 years in a refugee camp. Now as a poet, motivational speaker and youth mentor, he is using his voice to advocate and empower other youth in his community.
Night Jean spent the first 16 years of his life in a refugee camp. Even after being resettled in the United States, he continued to face many challenges. But everything began to change when he learned English, graduated high school and discovered a passion for poetry and uplifting others.
At just 12 years old, Dana is the youngest advocate for refugees in Florida. She uses her story and art to educate legislators and help others better understand refugees.
As the youngest refugee advocate in Florida, 12-year-old Dana uses her story and her art to help spread awareness and educate others about displaced populations. She believes that kindness and compassion are the best ways to fight ignorance and misinformation.
For Bijaya, resettling in the U.S. opened a world of opportunity. Now he shares his voice and leads his community through civil service.
Resettling in the United States opened a world of opportunity for Bijaya. After being born and raised in a refugee camp in Nepal, he grew up feeling helpless and stranded. Now resettled in Rochester, NY, Bijaya is committed to serving his community and becoming a voice for those who have been forced into silence.
Abdallah is a young resettled refugee, EMT and medical interpreter who is using his experiences to uplift others and pursue a career in medicine.
Abdallah is a resettled refugee from Iraq who overcame countless challenges to pursue his education. Now, he’s an EMT and med student with dreams of becoming a doctor who can improve the healthcare system.
This World Refugee Day, USA for UNHCR is celebrating with two live-virtual events. Join us on June 17, 2021 at 3pm EST for Celebrating Refugee Storytellers — a fireside chat with our featured refugee storyteller, Abdallah Al-Obaidi, and the animation team that helped bring his story to life. This chat will discuss the importance of inclusion and of giving refugees the chance to tell their own stories followed by the premiere of Abdallah’s animated story!
Then tune into our Instagram livestream on June 21, 2021 at 12pm EST for a conversation with Chantale Zuzi, an amazing young refugee storyteller from the In Our Own Voices series, Maliha Abidi, the artist and activist who illustrated this year's World Refugee Day stories, and Rachel Rudwall, an Emmy-nominated producer, host, camera operator and writer.
"World Refugee Day is an expression of solidarity with people who have been uprooted from their homes by war or persecution . . . This not about sharing a burden. It is about sharing a global responsibility, based not only the broad idea of our common humanity but also on the very specific obligations of international law.”
–António Guterres, UN Secretary-General