The IRC Marks World Refugee Day 2003
To mark World Refugee Day 2003 and celebrate the courage and contributions of refugees, IRC offices around the world are holding lectures, film screenings, exhibits and other events and presentations on the official day, June 20, and throughout the week.
The United Nations has designated the theme of this year's celebration, "Refugee Youth: Building the Future," to highlight the special needs of adolescents uprooted by war and violence.
"Children and youth who live through war suffer immeasurably from dislocation, loss of family members and disruption of education and other normal activities," says George Rupp, the IRC's president. "The IRC works to restore opportunity and hope for these young people. On this World Refugee Day, we pay tribute to their remarkable determination and resilience."
Global Events - The following are a sampling of IRC events to mark World Refugee Day.
Burundi - At a camp for Congolese refugees in northwestern Cibitoke Province, the IRC's education and youth health awareness programs are holding events to mark the day. Celebrations include drum performances, dances, poetry and theatrical presentations and a quiz on AIDS prevention.
Ethiopia - At a camp along the western border with Sudan, World Refugee Day activities are focusing on HIV/AIDS awareness. Sudanese refugee youth will give presentations and perform songs and plays with health messages. At a northern refugee camp along the Eritrean border, Kunama refugee youth will hold sports competitions.
Sierra Leone - The IRC and a local partner, Right to Play, are sponsoring several events in three refugee camps that shelter Liberian refugees. In Gondame, Gerihun and Jembe camps, refugee adolescents and children will hang banners relating to the theme and hold marches. Refugee adolescents will organize sporting events for younger children. There will also be youth presentations and cultural, theatrical and musical performances.
Uganda - In northern Uganda, a World Refugee Day festival will be held in the Kiryandongo refugee settlement (population 30,000) where the IRC provides assistance for mostly Sudanese refugees. Activities will include dance performances, sporting events and speeches by district and settlement officials.
United Kingdom - IRC-UK holds its second annual lecture to mark World Refugee Day and World Refugee Week UK. Paddy Ashdown, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina and a former member of the British Parliament, is speaking about peace-building initiatives for Bosnia in a lecture entitled "Broken Communities, Shattered Lives; Winning the Savage War of Peace." The event takes place on June 19 in Westminster. The High Representative, a position appointed through the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, oversees the implementation of the Bosnian peace accords.
Arizona - The IRC office in Phoenix, in collaboration with several other resettlement agencies, has organized an interactive exhibit aimed at portraying phases of the refugee experience. Visitors walk through three rooms. The first represents life in a refugee's country of origin, the second the experience of living in a refugee camp, and the third, resettlement in a third country. The exhibit is at Phoenix's City Hall, and runs from June 16 to June 20.
In Tucson on June 20, the IRC and sister resettlement agencies hold an event featuring the journey of Somali Bantu refugees from Somalia, to Kenya, and finally to Arizona. At Cyril's Church, there will be a slide show and speakers, followed by traditional songs, dances and drumming performed by refugees from several countries including Afghanistan and Bosnia.
California - On June 22, 2003, the IRC in San Diego will celebrate the United Nations World Refugee Day at the War Memorial Building in Balboa Park (the building is just north of the Zoo parking lot on Park Blvd). 11 am - 4pm. We will also celebrate the IRC's 70th anniversary of service to victims of war.
The event will recognize the plight of millions of refugees worldwide as well as celebrate the contributions of refugees to our community. The event will feature food, music, and dance from refugee cultures as well as several films produced locally about refugees. The Lost Boys of Sudan will build a typical refugee dwelling out of Bamboo and talk about their childhood spent in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. There will also be several exhibits: Murals painted by refugee women and youth in San Diego (the attached graphic was made by Iraqi women), a gallery of photo essays made by refugee teens, and a UNHCR refugee tent.
There will be kids activities as well including a puppet show.
Other activities include henna body painting, a raffle, and African crafts for sale.
For more information or a complete schedule of the day, please contact Sharon at (619) 641-7518 or email@example.com.
Georgia - In Decatur, IRC staff members participate in several panels during a three-day conference this week marking World Refugee Day, sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Resources. Refugee youth, resettled by the IRC, take part in a musical performance. On June 21, there will be a Community Service Day in an Atlanta area where many refugees have settled.
New York - The IRC is co-sponsoring a celebration of the lives and work of refugee youth on June 20 at the Ford Foundation. The event, which is open to the public, was spearheaded by the Global Action Project. The IRC's Rebecca Winthrop provides opening remarks and discusses the plight of adolescent refugees, whose special needs are often overlooked. Will Coley of the American Friends Service Committee talks about adolescents seeking asylum in the United States and how the asylum process works. Young refugees from Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Bosnia tell stories of their flight from war and resettlement in United States. The event takes place from 12-5pm at 320 East 43rd Street. To learn more, visit www.global-action.org or call Rebecca Winthrop, 212-551-3049.
On June 24, the IRC and the Leadership Council on Children Affected by Armed Conflict, hosts an event at the IRC?s New York office to mark World Refugee Day. The featured speaker is Hassan Bility, a Liberian journalist and human rights activist who was repeatedly arrested and tortured by Liberian authorities for his candid reporting about the Liberian civil war. He discusses his years of persecution and eventual resettlement by the IRC in the United States. He will be joined by several refugee adolescents who will discuss their experiences of fleeing conflict and adjusting to life in the United States. For more information, write clayl@theIRC.org.
Texas - The IRC's Dallas office, hosts "A Toast to New Beginnings" on June 25, a benefit dinner with speakers and performances to raise funds for IRC programs that assist newly arrived refugees in the Dallas area. Michael Jacobs, founder of the Dallas Holocaust Memorial Center, will speak about his childhood in Poland under Nazi rule. A group of Sudanese young men, The Lost Boys of Sudan, will perform a traditional dance, with a Sudanese elder, IRC caseworker Japlan Kir, explaining its significance.
Virginia - In Charlottesville, the Light House Youth Media Festival held a screening on June 16, featuring short films produced by refugee teens who resettled in the Charlottesville area, which explore their integration into their adopted community.
Washington - The IRC's Seattle resettlement office participated in the production of two films that are being shown June 19 as part of World Refugee Day celebrations. "Settling in Seattle: Refugee Youth in America" was directed by Lisa Russell and profiles four young refugees from Iraq, Vietnam, Kosovo and Sudan. The second, "A Great Wonder about the Lost Youth of Sudan" was directed by Kim Shelton and explores the lives of three Sudanese Lost Boys who resettled in the Seattle area. A panel of refugee teens will answer questions following the screenings. Read more about the films and the event here.