The 19th and 20th June mark important social justice days for celebrating and showing support for refugees and asylum seekers around the world. The 19th June is the first day of National Refugee Week in Australia, and 20th is the UN-declared World Refugee Day.
Both have the purpose of encouraging us to welcome refugees into our communities, and to celebrate their contribution to society, while increasing awareness and understanding of the lived experiences of those seeking asylum around the world and in Australia.
In light of the 2015-16 Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) Social Justice Statement, “For those who’ve come across the seas: Justice for refugees and asylum seekers,” these are important days for Australian Catholics to reflect on the experiences of those who have sought, or are currently seeking, asylum in Australia.
The NRW theme for 2015-17 is “With courage let us all combine” – a message taken from our Australian National Anthem, just as is the title of the ACBC Social Justice Statement. The Refugee Council of Australia chose the theme:
Taken from the second verse of the national anthem, the theme celebrates the courage of refugees and of people who speak out against persecution and injustice. It serves as a call for unity and for positive action, encouraging Australians to improve our nation’s welcome for refugees and to acknowledge the skills and energy refugees bring to their new home.
National Refugee Week is an opporunity to educate oneself, to reflect upon the experiences of refugees who have come to Australia, and to celebrate the contribution that refugees have made to our society.
For more information on local National Refugee Week events, head to www.refugeeweek.org.au.
According to the United Nations, every minute eight people leave their homes to escape “war, persecution or terror,” becoming displaced. Many of these people become refugees seeking a better life in another country, and four-fifths of the countries that host these refugees are developing countries.
World Refugee Day is a chance for countries worldwide to acknowledge and celebrate the courage and perserverance of these people who have been displaced from their homes. This World Refugee Day, the United Nations are launching a petition called #WithRefugees, a way for us to show our support for the ongoing struggle of refugees worldwide.
From the World Refugee Day website:
By signing the #WithRefugees petition, people from across the globe can call on governments to work together and do their fair share for refugees.
The #WithRefugees petition will be delivered to UN headquarters in New York ahead of the UN General Assembly on September 19. The petition asks governments to:
•?Ensure every refugee child gets an education.
•?Ensure every refugee family has somewhere safe to live.
•?Ensure every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community.
Add your name to the petition to show that the world stands #WithRefugees.
For more information about World Refugee Day and to sign the #WithRefugees petition, head to www.unhcr.org/refugeeday or www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday.