This year, World Refugee Day — June 20, 2021 — is a global opportunity and recognition of our remarkable brothers and sisters. Designated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the day “shines a light on the rights, needs, and dreams of refugees, helping to mobilize political will and resources so refugees can not only survive but thrive.”
We honor the millions of refugees Jesuit Refugee Service has accompanied over the past 40 years — we know that our commitment to walk with the most vulnerable in their darkest hours is what makes for a brighter future. After such a trying year, we’re looking back at five refugee stories that inspired us to keep pushing faster, higher, and stronger!
JRS South Sudan: Fostering Peace through Sports
In June, a large crowd of 1,000 people filled with boys and girls, both young and old, gathered together at St. Mary’s Park in Yambio Town, South Sudan, to enjoy a soccer match between the town’s two secondary schools: Abangite College and King’s College.
The match was dubbed as Unity F.C vs. Peace F.C. and participants learned about topics like the causes of conflict, theories of change, and the importance of listening and effective communication.
JRS Ethiopia: The Power of Refugee Integration
Urban refugees residing in Addis Ababa face far greater challenges than those living in camps where basic amenities such as food, water, and shelter are available. In response to these harsh circumstances, JRS started the first and only urban Refugee Community Center (RCC) in Addis Ababa in 1996. The RCC responds to the unmet needs with a range of services and support to urban refugees and asylum seekers.
JRS Thailand: Finding a Safe Haven in Sports
Cricket is part of a community outreach program launched by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Thailand to help refugees deal with stress. Initiated in 2018 by the JRS’s Psychosocial Community Unit, the program promotes refugees’ participation in sports. Through JRS sports activities, refugee men living throughout Bangkok come together to relieve stress by embracing play.
JRS Ethiopia: Refugee Dancers Bring Rhythm to their Lives in Exile
After her family fled the same government she performed for, Luwam too followed. Her father was one of the 400,000 Eritreans forced to serve an indefinite military sentence. Growing up, she only saw him a handful of times. Eventually her family decided it had been enough and left to seek refuge in Ethiopia. Since her second day in the Mai Ani camp, Luwam has been a dedicated member of the Semai dance crew where she teaches and practices traditional Tigrinya dances.
On June 17, we hosted US Olympic Swimmer, Katie Ledecky, refugee athletes, and the International Orchestra of Refugees to celebrate the day.
Missed the program? Rewatch is now available here.