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Take action this World Refugee Day

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Painting by Ermias Tsadik, a local artist who resettled in the Seattle area in 2011. Learn how to support artists from refugee communities and other ways to take action this World Refugee Day.

Photo: Charles Bartlett/IRC

World Refugee Day is a time to celebrate the many ways people from refugee communities enrich Washington state, a time to raise awareness of the challenges facing refugee communities locally and globally, and a time to take action in support of our refugee neighbors.

This World Refugee Day we face a difficult reality. 79.5 million people – 1% of humanity – have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution. At the same time, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for displaced people to safely return home or to begin building again in a new country.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Refugee Act, which created our modern refugee resettlement program and enshrined into law our nation’s commitment to welcoming refugees. But we’re hardly in a position to celebrate this milestone. This year the U.S. will resettle no more than 18,000 refugees, by far the lowest number in the past four decades. Drastic cuts to the resettlement program have left thousands in harm’s way overseas, kept families unnecessarily separated, and caused immense harm to refugee communities here in Washington state. Efforts to increasingly deny refugees safety and stability in the U.S. have also coincided with relentless attacks on the rights and livelihoods of asylum-seekers, TPS recipients, undocumented communities, and other immigrants.  

Refugee resettlement cuts have impacted some communities more than others. For instance, refugees who are Muslim made up 46% of arrivals in 2016, but just 16% in 2019. In recent years the U.S. has welcomed very few refugees who’ve fled Syria, Iraq, and Somalia – among the largest and most prolonged refugee situations in the world. As displacement from places like South Sudan and Venezuela has skyrocketed, opportunities for resettlement have not followed.

To respond to these worrying trends, push back against harmful refugee and immigration policies, and to create a community that’s truly welcoming for all refugees and immigrants, none of us can stay on the sideline. Let World Refugee Day serve as a day to not only raise awareness, but a day to commit to ongoing action. Here are some ideas to help get you started:

Have questions about any of the above opportunities? Contact us at Seattle [at] Rescue.org. Thank you for making #RefugeesWelcome this World Refugee Day and everyday!