If you are reading this comfortably from your home, know that millions of people out there do not even have a place called home.
Today, every year on June 20, we celebrates the lives and contributions of refugees everywhere.
Established in 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly, World Refugee Day was first celebrated in 2001. The date of June 20 was chosen to coincide with Africa Refugee Day.
Each year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) selects a theme and coordinates events across the globe.This year's World Refugee Day theme is "Celebrating refugee children and listening to their hopes and dreams".
World Refugee Day: Displacement in the 21st Century. A new paradigm
The refugee challenge in the 21st century is changing rapidly. People are forced to flee their homes for increasingly complicated and interlinked reasons. Some 40 million people worldwide are already uprooted by violence and persecution, and it is likely that the future will see more people on the run as a growing number of push factors compound one another to create conditions for further forced displacement.
Today people do not just flee persecution and war but also injustice, exclusion, environmental pressures, competition for scarce resources and all the miserable human consequences of dysfunctional states.
The task facing the international community in this new environment is to find ways to unlock the potential of refugees who have so much to offer if they are given the opportunity to regain control over their lives.
There are three ways we at the UN Refugee Agency are making this goal a reality: we protect, we build and we advocate. First, we protect refugee rights to safety, shelter and health, focusing special attention on the most vulnerable people, particularly women and girls.
Second, we work with our partners to build the capacity of refugees to fend for themselves once they are able to do so. And we work hard to find solutions so that refugees become self-sufficient as soon as possible.
Third, we advocate to draw attention to the plight of refugees and to raise the money necessary to get the job done. Our goal is to persuade people that it is our common responsibility to make a difference for those forced to pick-up and go through no fault of their own. Results on the ground show we are making progress. Last year, we helped hundreds of thousands of people return home. In Africa, bright spots include stepped-up repatriation to South Sudan and winding up of UNHCR's operations in Liberia and Angola. In April, we held a major conference in Geneva and mobilized international support for the millions fleeing conflict in Iraq. We cannot do this alone. But with your support UNHCR can begin to turn the tide, giving refugees hope for the future and new opportunities for their families and their communities.
"I hope we never, ever, have to flee again! You're in your village, peacefully preparing the midday meal. Suddenly, bullets fly, machetes flash, houses burn. You flee, barefoot, into the stony desert. Days pass. Bruised and bleeding, you scrabble in the dirt for roots and insects. Finally, you can run no more. Then, miraculously, there's food, water and shelter. All around you see thousands of refugees like you. Alone, bewildered, but safe, they have nothing left except indestructible hope of one day rebuilding their lives in peace. Please help us keep that flame of hope alive."
Each of us can perform a simple microjob:
Registers 150 exhausted refugees in order to assess their needs and trace their families.
Provides an all-season tent to shelter a family of 5 from the elements.
Puts a survival kit, which includes necessities such as blankets, and a cooking & heating stove, into the hands of a refugee family.
Pays for an emergency health kit to treat the injured and sick.
Sinks two wells to provide clean water for refugees.
Provides a therapeutic feeding kit, which helps feed 100 children.
Donate from Malaysia, TODAY!
Read also today's message from Amnesty International (Malaysia) and today's news from UNHCR -- which also mentions the recent UNHCR celebration in Kuala Lumpur (held on Friday June 15, 2007).