Thailand: World Refugee Day with the urban refugees in Bangkok

17 July 2017

Children playing during World Refugee Day, Bangkok, Thailand. (Nimco, JRS Thailand)

Bangkok, July 2017 –“This is not about sharing a burden. It is about sharing a global responsibility, based not only upon the broad idea of our common humanity but also on the very specific obligations of international law. The root problems are war and hatred, not people who flee; refugees are among the first victims of terrorism.” — UN Secretary-General, António Guterres

World Refugee Day is observed every year by people around the globe on the 20th of June in order to raise public awareness about refugee’s situations throughout the world. This day has been celebrated since 2001 when the United Nations General Assembly instituted it. It was established in order to honor refugees’ courage and contributions to their communities. It provides an opportunity to bring refugees and the community together in a friendly environment where they can share their cultures, talk to one another and build a sense of community.

The UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) theme for 2017 World Refugee Day was “Embracing refugees to celebrate our common humanity”.

For this occasion, JRS in collaboration with other organizations celebrated World Refugee Day with the asylum seekers and refugees communities in Bangkok. All the activities were dedicated to celebrate World Refugee Day in solidarity with refugees all around the world.

JRS and its partners organized three different events in order to help refugees share their perspectives and to encourage continued hope. On the 17th and 19th of June, two events were held in Bangkok. Asylum seekers and refugees from different communities were invited to the event. Sri Lankan, Vietnamese and Sudanese communities presented and shared their cultural food, and some games were also prepared for the children.

On the 6th of July, the third event occurred. One hundred persons from the Somali, Pakistani, and Sri Lankan communities participated. During this event, members of these communities shared their points of view and had discussions. Somali youth participated in games and dances. The Bangkok Refugee Youth Club prepared lunch.

This kind of celebration is a reminder to the community that integration is one of the pillars of solidarity. Integration and hospitality are not only about opening our borders, but opening our communities. The latter does not result from the decisions of a few leaders, but from our own personal decisions. The power to change our countries starts with our communities. As the Pope Francis said during the World Day of migrants and refugees: ‘Our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate’.

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