Today, June 20, is World Refugee Day. UNHCR is the UN’s refugee arm and responsible for refugee placement around the world. The past few years have been especially tumultuous for refugees. Refugee re-settlement in Europe and the United States has invoked resistance from Europeans and Americans. Syrian and Middle-Eastern refugee resettlement seemed promising in Germany, but Germany has since soured on allowing refugees and neighboring countries have been vociferously defiant in permitting resettlement. A multitude of problems in European countries have been blamed on refugees. Political parties that tout refugee restrictions have gained in popularity to unheralded heights. They have developed from fringe parties to moving the national dialogue and receiving substantial portions of votes. States in the United States have sued the federal government, demanding that refugees not be re-settled in their states. Migrants escaping from North Africa and the Middle East have been stranded at sea and drowned in the Mediterranean.
In the midst of worldwide controversy on refugee resettlement, the UN is celebrating World Refugee Day. Cities through the US are celebrating their local communities. For example, Columbus has a large Somali refugee population. Central New York is home to many refugees from the Yugoslav civil war. The UN is promoting stories of refugees who have seized their opportunities in their new countries and have excelled. The UN is also collecting signatures for a petition it will deliver to the UN General Assembly when it meets in New York City on September 19. The petition is requesting that governments around the world:
- Ensure every refugee child gets an education
- Ensure every refugee family has somewhere safe to live.
- Ensure every refugee can work or learn new skills to make a positive contribution to their community.