On June 20, nations, communities, congregations and individuals across the globe will observe World Refugee Day. World Refugee Day was established in 2001 to recognize the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. This convention is the foundational document guaranteeing basic rights for refugees who have fled persecution in their home country – particularly protection from being returned to a country where they face danger or death.
As the violent Syrian civil war continues into its sixth year, the number of refugees in the world in desperate need of resettlement has climbed higher and higher. Currently, there are over five million Syrian refugees who have fled violence at home. Despite the immense need for compassion and hospitality, U.S. policy and rhetoric is more hostile than ever to refugees. Throughout the 2017 fiscal year, the number of refugees resettled in the U.S. has declined steadily in 46 states, and the number of newly admitted refugees has slowed to a trickle of just 400 individuals per week, down from nearly 2,500 per week in October 2016.
At this rate, the U.S. will only resettle 50,000 refugees in the 2017 fiscal year. This is simply not an adequate response to a crisis of this scope. During the week of June 12-16, leading up to World Refugee Day, we are joining our interfaith partners in a push to make 100,000 calls to our Members of Congress urging them to support measures to welcome more refugees.
The weeks leading up to World Refugee Day are an important time to raise awareness and activate your community to support refugees. Here are five ways you can commemorate this important day:
The words of Rabbi Pesner’s reflection on World Refugee Day in 2016 continue to ring true and stir us to action: “Jews and Muslims, refugees and immigrants, we are all the children of Abraham, and we must stand up together to call out Islamophobia and bigotry in America and to actively welcome refugees of all religious backgrounds.”
For more on the refugee crisis, check out the RAC’s issue page.