First celebrated in 2001, World Refugee Day is held annually on June 20. The day marks a worldwide effort to raise awareness of the plight of refugees and recognize the contributions of forcibly displaced people. The annual commemoration is designated to honor “the strength, courage and resilience of refugees.” It is marked by events in more than 100 countries; in Raleigh it will include the screening of a documentary about Kenyan refugees, to be held at the Cameron Village Library at 6 p.m., sponsored by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.
Many people are not aware of World Refugee Day, but this year it is more important than ever. This is not merely because the global refugee crisis continues to displace millions of people around the world but also because our policy makers are demonstrating hostility rather than hospitality to those who have lost their homes to conflict, natural disasters, famine, and disease. At both the state and federal level, we have seen bills that would deny protection to refugees, decimate the U.S. refugee resettlement system, and inflict harm on children fleeing violence and persecution.
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church noted in his World Refugee Day message that the members of the Holy Family were refugees fleeing a harsh and violent regime in Palestine to find safety in Egypt. We must recognize that refugees are the product of war, oppression, famine, and violence. And for that reason, our faith calls us to give our help, our protection, our love. In the words of Bishop Curry, “In the name of Mary, Joseph and the Lord Jesus, aid all refugees today, for most of the refugees, like the Holy Family themselves, are families, and most are children.”
I hope that you will celebrate World Refugee Day by learning more about the refugee crisis and ways that you can help — through prayer, donation of funds, volunteering, exploring resources. and other means to offer support to refugees.