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World refugee day and its importance across the planet

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Feeling nostalgic when reviewing our childhood pictures, traveling back to our hometown, visiting distant relatives or talking to old friends are things that happen to everyone. All these emotions are common and universal, everyone feels like this at some point of their lives. Being able visit those places that made our early years, however, is a privilege that we do not realize we have, thinking everyone could go back in time and, perhaps, eat the same ice cream they used to when they were young.

Some people live overseas, some are just too far away from their old homes, and some cannot visit their grandparents house because it was sold after their passing, but there is something that few people can imagine: not being able to return because you fear for your life. This is what refugees go through. 

According to The United Nations Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, refugees are people who have fled their countries to escape conflict, violence, or persecution and have sought safety in another country. Stated in 1951 with the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the definition is a formal nomenclature to the constant fear that people feel of being who they are, until landing in a different state or country that may or may not be in a safer situation. However, it is not simple to leave everything you have behind to restart and not everyone has the conditions to do that safely.

A report published on June 13th by UNHCR shows that 117.3 million people were forced to move at the end of 2023, between which only 37.6 million were given the Refugee status. That means that of every 25 people that had to forcefully leave their homes, only 8 could reach safety and received guaranteed rights during the past year.

The main destination of those that are forcibly displaced, in contrary to popular belief, is in the same country that they are trying to leave: Internally Displaced People, or IDP, are 68.3 million people, composing the 58% majority. Crossing international borders takes not only courage, but resources and time, so moving to a place that feels a little bit safer or out of the conflict zone is a common alternative to being in the middle of life-threatening situations.

Among the 117.3 million people who left their homes, 6.9 million Asylum Seekers are waiting for their Refugee Status, claiming and fighting for international acknowledgement and their rights acceptance, while not having any legal recognition. These people already crossed borders, entering a country and formally applying for asylum and international protection, however this status can be rejected and when this happens, the asylum seeker becomes an illegal immigrant who may be asked to leave the country or even be deported.

These numbers are growing endlessly right now and, compared to the last decade, have already reached double. This can be seen as a reflection of the increase in armed conflicts and political crises around the world. The refugee percentage is completely related to the safety of peoples and communities all around the world, which is why it is extremely important to understand and support refugees. They are parents, children, students, doctors, lawyers, farmers… Refugees are the same as you and me, it only takes a crisis for us to need asylum like them, nothing else.

“Can you spot the refugee? No? That’s because they’re just like you and me.”

With the 50th anniversary of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees in 2001, it was decided the creation of the World Refugee Day on June 20th. The idea behind the commemoration was to “celebrate refugees’ contributions and seek to build empathy and understanding for their plight and their resilience to build a bright future” according to UNHCR. But the meaning behind this event has been changing and gaining more importance through the years. 

Recognizing their difficulties, encouraging and helping people in similar situations and supporting refugees by promoting their inclusion in jobs and services such as educational, healthcare and housing are some of the goals to create a well-being environment for refugees. “World Refugee Day is about honoring their strength and courage – and stepping up efforts to protect and support refugees on every step of their journey.” says António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General in the 2024 message about the World Refugee Day. Guterres also reminds the importance of solidarity and restructuring refugees’ lives in dignity emphasizing the idea that refugees can make significant contributions to the countries hosting them, if given the opportunity.

The World Refugee Day being an international celebration is a reminder of the world’s responsibility on those persons future and a call for assistance and welcome of refugees, bringing importance to the discussion and the resolve of the conflicts. Although the scars, the memories of the past and the pain, things won’t be the same ever again, but hopefully, on 20th June people who were forced from their homes can dream of the nostalgic infancy times once again.


The article above was edited by Ana Beatriz Aith.

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Mariana Lumy

Casper Libero '27

Journalist and student at Cásper Líbero in São Paulo, Brazil. In love with journalism since I was 15 years old. Now, with 18, I write about culture, health and social aspects that impact our daily life.